Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

The solitude of the north is changing. George Angohiatok noticed this quite graphically a decade ago when, after returning to Iqaluktuuttiaq (or Cambridge Bay, as it was renamed by settlers), he observed an ice breaker moving through the same frozen waterways he had travelled by snow machine the day before. If the vessel had smashed that open lead through the frozen veneer of ice a day earlier, he would have been cut off for at least a few weeks until the ice refroze. George wonders whether, even with his headlights, he would have detected the steam that signals the transition from ice to water in winter through his goggles. The growing presence of ice breakers worries George. His Inuit ancestors moved east across the Arctic coast of North America thousands of years ago. Since that time, the waterways have been their highways, both in summer and winter. Traveling between camps and villages, the Inuit have followed the wildlife at the heart of their food security. The caribou herds of the far northern islands—the Dolphin and Union herd and the Peary herds—also stride out onto the sea ice during their migrations between summer and wintering areas. The herds contribute heavily to the Inuit’s essential needs—providing both a source of “country food” and clothing with fur that is warm beyond compare. In the past elders have used the leg bones for carving and to build shelters. The Dolphin and Union caribou herd. Photo © Xavier Fernandez Aguilar. Use of the sea and ice by…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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