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Photo Kenoojoak Cape Dorset

From All Saints Residential School to Trapping in the Delta

Abraham Okpik
We had to raise dogs, and the first couple of years I didn’t have any, so he gave me the old dogs. They raised their pups, and I managed for a couple of years. Later on I raised my own. It was part of learning how to go about things… If you didn’t, you might be left behind.

We learned how to follow the cycle of the seasons, and learned the times of the year when there were a lot of fish, whales, birds and eggs. We followed the cycle, which nature called us to do… You had to move around to survive, and I think that this was one of the things that we learned how to do.
In the spring, some of the older students at the residential school were asked to help load wood onto big boats, called scows, for the next winter’s fuel. In June, people would congregate in Aklavik to trade, to attend church and celebrate. The parents would bring their children home from the residential schools for the summer; some would even entrust their children to other travelling Inuit for the trip to and from school.

Abe left school to learn from his father – to fix and care for a boat motor, to raise and train a dogsled team, how to set traps and make nets. He learned that you had to keep moving if you wanted to survive. He also learned to respect the cycles of the seasons, the waxing and the waning of animal populations.