Elder-youth camp

Catherine A. Gagnon
Camp participants preparing the qamutik for a daily expedition

Since the beginning of this Inuit knowledge project, elders have expressed their desire that the collected TEK be shared with youth from the community. Organizing an elder-youth camp that would take place at a traditional goose hunting location came up as one meaningful way to satisfy this desire. The idea of organizing the camp received great support from the community.

A total of 18 participants attended the camp that took place at Ikpiugalik (Bylot Island) from 10 to 17 June 2006. Among the participants, 5 were elders/hunters, 10 youth, 1 interpreter, and 2 researchers (Catherine A. Gagnon and Dominique Berteaux). The objectives that guided the project were to:

  • encourage the transmission and practice of traditional knowledge related to geese and fox, but also to other components of the environment;
  • encourage youth to practice and maintain their language;
  • provide meaningful educational experiences through exchanges between elders and youth;
  • provide an occasion for meaningful exchanges between elders, youth, scientists and Parks Canada staff. All of whom have various roles to play in the understanding and preservation of the ecological integrity of the local environment;
  • document and communicate knowledge of geese, foxes and the local environment.

Over the week, daily activities included geese and seal hunting trips, goose egg-picking expeditions, visit our research camp, visit by park wardens to discuss Parks Canada history and mandate, visit to the Nunguvik archaeological site, walks, storytelling and sharing of knowledge about old geese and seal hunting techniques, old fox trapping techniques, traditional survival skills, healing and coping strategies. Youth were also taught how to prepare seal meat for caches and assisted to goose skinning by an elder. Other activities included the daily tasks surrounding camp maintenance: fetching water, cooking traditional food (boiled seal, geese and eggs), preparing bannock, taking care of wastes, preparing snowmobiles and qamutiks for daily expeditions, filling Coleman stoves with gas. Youth were encouraged to participate to all these activities. Other pastime activities included playing cards, a scavenger hunt, constructing a grub box for carrying eggs, singing, playing and listening to fiddle and accordion. The camp also provided researchers with an opportunity to discuss informally with the elders/hunters about some of the findings of the Inuit knowledge project.

Catherine A. Gagnon
Camp at Ikpiugalik on Bylot Island
Catherine A. Gagnon
Elder cooking goose eggs
Collection of knowledge Inuit knowledge on foxes