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Camp Clyde couleur tentes

Photo Labret 1901

Herve Paniaq

Herve Paniaq
The first animal I killed was one I did not catch. We would travel to Ikpiarjuk for our supplies in the springtime as there was no trading post in our area. After trapping foxes during the winter, we would go trade the fox skins in Ikpiarjuk and Mittimatalik, but that was before I could remember. We would go to Ikpiarjuk with my grandfather. We used to camp out in the bay of Ikpiarjuk, while our fathers went to trade. While we were camping on the ice, my father broke the ice by jumping on it. He caught something yellowish and I did not know what it was. Apparently it was a seal pup. They put it on top of the qamutik. They used to have a wooden stick that was used to remove snow from kamiit or skins called a tiluktuut. I was given this stick and used that to beat the seal up until it stopped moving, and everybody said I caught my first seal. And after that, we saw a seal that had wandered away from its breathing hole, which was called a paarnguliaq. My brother took my hand and brought along the dog whip which had a wooden handle. He used the handle to beat the seal. I caught a bigger one. Those are the animals that I recall vividly as the first ones.
(Pages 46-47)
Hervé Paniaq
Hervé Paniaq was born in Avvajja, in the region of Iglulik, on October 7, 1933. A missionary passing through the region at the time recorded his birth, which is why today Hervé knows the exact date. In those days, Inuit did not use calendars, Hervé points out. He was married to Tuurnaq, baptized Yvonne. All the children they brought up were adopted as the couple had none of their own.

Hervé's story revolves around hunting memories, the siqqitirniq ritual of conversion, games, vocabulary and the description of certain taboos. Once houses were built in Iglulik, he recalls, people gradually deserted the camp to move into them, and today nobody lives in Avvajja anymore.

With respect to taboos, Hervé recalls an incident where his grandmother had to resort to cannibalism to avoid a terrible death. "The way we see it, we don't think it's right for a human to eat another human.  She ate her husband and she ate her children when they were going through starvation." (Page 57) 

Hervé tells another famine story, one which illustrates the importance of keeping a secret that is potentially dangerous to the community. It is about a woman who gave birth to a still-born baby and, being frightened, did not want to tell her husband about the incident. "Yes, they went through hard times. [...] Because she kept a secret, they went hungry." (Page 60)