Jan­uary/fe­bru­ary 2015, Cana­dian Geo­graphic high­lights Inuit oral tra­di­tion

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS -

“It’s a real re­minder to me of why I am proud to work where I work,” says Gilles Gag­nier, Cana­dian Geo­graphic’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and pub­lisher, of the mag­a­zine’s in­volve­ment in the 2015 Maleru­a­lik Ex­pe­di­tion. The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety-funded ex­pe­di­tion took place in Septem­ber and saw Louie Kamookak, an Inuit his­to­rian from Gjoa Haven, Nu­navut, take youth from the com­mu­nity to key sites re­lated to Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion of 1845. The aim? To pass on the oral his­to­ries that Kamookak has col­lected and pre­served in the Inuit tra­di­tion. Alanna Mitchell and pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­son Ful­ford ac­com­pa­nied the trip to pro­duce a fea­ture story for the Jan­uary/fe­bru­ary is­sue. The piece de­tails the ex­pe­di­tion and cel­e­brates Kamookak’s role in Franklin-re­lated Inuit oral his­tory (which proved in­stru­men­tal in the 2014 dis­cov­ery of HMS Ere­bus) as well as his mis­sion to share that knowl­edge with a new gen­er­a­tion. Those achieve­ments earned Kamookak the So­ci­ety’s 2015 Lawrence J. Burpee Medal, awarded to those who have gone to lengths to make Canada bet­ter known to Cana­di­ans and the world. “There’s still a haunt­ing, a mys­tery be­hind it from the sto­ries that were passed down,” Kamookak told Mitchell of the en­dur­ing draw of Franklin. A visit to an un­marked grave on Todd Is­land — which Inuit oral his­tory says holds the re­mains of a Franklin crew­man — re­in­forced that no­tion. There, as Mitchell shared in a post-ex­pe­di­tion blog, “some of the bones lie ex­posed to the harsh Arc­tic el­e­ments, spot­ted with lichen.” Real re­minders, in­deed.

Stu­dents ( top, on rock) and an Inuit el­der pause to take in the view dur­ing the 2015 Maleru­a­lik Ex­pe­di­tion, led by Louie Kamookak ( above).

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