Monday Morning Musings

Posted on August 31, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Government of Canada photo


Ok. I have a lot on my mind but before I head down three trails at once, let me start with some more information about the north as part of my (and your) ongoing education.

A few weeks ago, two people in the community shot caribous which, would not be considered “breaking news”. As I have mentioned in this space more than once, hunting is a way of life for the Inuit. It provides food for families and is shared with others in the community. I was the beneficiary of one of the hunter’s generosity receiving several pieces of fresh meat.

One of the hunters posted something that I found very interesting and instructive. She paid homage to the caribou and thanked it for giving its life in order to provide sustenance for her family.

We take food for granted in the south. I don’t think many of us who shop at large supermarkets ever stop in the meat section and thank a chicken or a cow for giving up their lives. Let’s not even go there and start a conversation about our food chain and where our food comes from.

It’s probably not much different back home when someone shoots a deer far out in the woods. I suspect that many hunters process their kill on the spot, as is the custom up here. No. not everyone back home does this. There is still this bizarre practice of strapping a deer to the hood of a truck and parking it at a local watering hole so that passersby can ooh and aah and marvel at the number of points on the antlers.

I mention these things because last week was “knife day” for indigenous people. Shown in the picture above (from the Government of Canada website), is an ulu. In Inuktitut, ulu means “woman’s knife”. These crescent shaped knives are tools used by Inuit women. They use these unique knives to harvest and skin animals as a source of food and clothing for their families. Men use different kinds of knives for hunting and fishing. Many women use the same ulu their whole life. Engravings on the handle have specific meaning to the woman’s personal and cultural identity. According to Inuit rights activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, when an Inuk woman dies, her ulu retains her energy making ulus powerful spiritual objects. (source: The Canadian Encyclopedia). I had the honor at last year’s staff Christmas party to sit with a group of Inuit women and sample country food. I had the opportunity to carve a piece of raw meat with an ulu.

The Inuit have such profound respect for the land and the animals that have sustained them for centuries.

There is so much to learn. Someone I met last year sent me a very interesting quote. While I have been hired to teach, I am here to learn. She said, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I love this. Thanks NC.

I’m getting the impression that many of you are fascinated with the north and are enjoying my posts. Some of you have even threatened to visit me. Of course, in a Covid world this is not possible, but you all know that the north is not all about beautiful sunsets, pristine air and water (both in abundance, by the way) and soaking up the culture. In other words, it’s not all ‘peaches and cream’. The challenges in the north are well documented but when you are a guest of the Inuit, you do get to appreciate the north in a powerful way. For every breathtaking sunrise, there are other things that happen that cause one dismay. Life tends to be that way for most of us.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything… even when it’s -53!

Last thoughts.

One reader admitted (privately!) that she has read most if not all 1,140 of my posts. I won’t mention her by name to avoid public shaming for her lack of judgment. She did make an interesting observation. She said “It’s like going to all these places and it hasn’t cost (me) a cent.”

Another friend admitted that my last post about ‘belonging’ brought a tear to her eye. I didn’t realize that I wrote so poorly!

Summer camps ended last Friday. I had an awesome time attending the camps reading books and singing songs. On the second last day, after I finished doing my thing, I turned to put my guitar back in its case. Before I could react, this little boy of about the age of 8, came up and put his arms around me and gave me the biggest hug. I almost lost it. Hugs are verboten during Covid but he caught me completely off guard. I must be getting old when something so simple can touch me so deeply.

Some things, the best things, are free and absolutely priceless. I will never forget this moment.

Have a great week.



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