Home > North meets South > Inuit Recollections on the Military Presence in Iqaluit > Work at the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line Sites: Some Memories

Caribou in the Koroc River Valley, Torngat Mountains.

On the shore of Ungava Bay south of Killiniq.

Work at the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line Sites: Some Memories

Jimmy Komarjuk

"I was [at Fox 3] for two years. I was the only Inuk there the whole time. I worked at road construction as well as road maintenance. […] We were sent wherever there was a DEW Line site, even as far as Alaska. We were sent out from Fox Main all over the place. We never stopped."
In chapter twelve, Jimmy Komarjuk and Tomassie Naglingniq give an account of the life of Inuit workers and a description of the overall situation at the DEW line sites.

Jimmy Komarjuk was no longer living in Iqaluit when the Americans were there, but he mingled with the soldiers when he worked on the DEW line. He says that some qallunaat at the network’s sites were American, others were Canadian, but that they were all soldiers. Along with other Inuit he made the rounds between Iqaluit, where he was first trained, and the other sites in the network, from Alaska to Greenland. He explains how he was chosen for this work. He says there was always only one Inuit per site. However, language was not really a problem, even though he didn’t speak English.

Jimmy Komarjuk also shares his impressions of the South, where he went several times for training. He describes the sites, his work and the way he lived. He says that people did not know exactly why these sites were built, but they heard rumours about the risk of a Russian attack. He also tells us about his uncle, Peter Pitseolak.

It is pointed out that the Americans left toxic waste on Resolution Island. Jimmy Komarjuk does not know much about the situation, but Tomassie Naglingniq, who also worked at a DEW line site, says that it was the Canadians who asked for many contaminated materials to be buried. He talks about the way all this happened. Recently, he showed some people from the South the place where these materials were buried.