Interview with my Grandpa, James Konek about Climate Change
by Curtis Konek
September 11, 2011
I Interviewed my Grandpa, James Konek about Inuit health and climate change. James has been telling me stories about his life as a young boy even before I joined this Project. He has told me some stories about how Inuit lived and survived in the Arctic. My Grandpa said that Inuit used to be healthy, but they were also hungry at times. Inuit survived by following the animals around them, mostly caribou. They also had some fishing spots where they could catch fish to survive when there were no caribou around during the winter time. When I interviewed my Grandpa, I asked him some questions about what he has noticed about the changing climate change in the Arctic. He said that he has been watching the weather. He has learned how to predict the weather, what the weather going to be like the next day. He said that Inuit used to look at the sky to see how the weather was going to be like the next day. One thing he said was that the weather is warmer now and that there are less blizzards in Arviat. Normally when there are blizzards the houses across the street are not visable and the wind becomes stronger. There would be one week of storms and it would be really cold. James said that for the last 2 years there hasn’t really been a blizzard in Arviat. He said that the weather has changed a lot and that it’s getting harder to predict the weather. Another thing he said was about the moon. The moon used to disappear at the same spot for a very long time, but now the moon is moving. It’s more oval, wider and it appears for a little bit longer. Not like how it used to be.
Hearing my Grandpa’s stories is wonderful. He has done many things in life and knows so much about Inuit Qauyimayatukagit (Inuit Traditional Knowledge). He has been teaching me and Jordan a lot of things, telling us how it was like to live on the land.
Curtis Konek with a weather vane that he made with his Grandpa
by Amy Owingayak
August 31, 2011
Inuit have lived in the Arctic for many, many years. Before moving into a settlement, Inuit were living on the land using only animals for shelter, food and clothing. Therefore, my ancestors knew the animals’ routines and the importance of taking care of animals well. Inuit respect their land because it is their home and their hunting ground. Without the knowledge of the animals’ routines, the land or surviving in the arctic Inuit would have not make it through the harsh weather conditions.
Inuit knew that the animals followed the weather and also predicted the weather with their experience living on the land. To give example, Mitch Campbell, a wildlife biologist came to our meetings one night and told us about a story where he had a meeting with another biologist to talk about why the caribou were more inland. He could not find out the answer. Two of local elders walked in and were able to answer his question without any problems. This is one example about Inuit knowing their land and the animals because they have lived on the land for many years. Inuit have lived in the Arctic long enough to know the land well.
Long ago, before there were any white people upnorth, people were not allowed to live near the path of the Caribou when they arrive to the inuit land, because every summer they walk through the same path, and people did not go hunting right away as soon as they arrive, people waited for awhile for the Caribou gets abit fatter and their fur gets abit thicker
Historical video of Donald Suluk from Arviat (Eskimo Point) speaking about the Inuit’s relationship with the caribou as part of the Kaminuriak Caribou Herd Project.
Tape #9 from the Kaminuriak Series, credit: GNWT/NWT Archives/G-1994-010:CN-131