In every culture, individual and collective memory is to be treasured and preserved. In the information era, there are numerous ways of conserving and transmitting such memory. Few of them, however, have as much impact as direct, face-to-face communication. Passed on in this way, the past takes root in the memory of the new generation, which is thus enriched with traditional stories, values and knowledge. This section presents school projects for preserving living memory.
In May 2006, pupils at the Arsaniq School in Kangiqsujuaq had the privilege of meeting Naala Nappaaluk, a community elder. This encounter resulted in a collection of drawings inspired by the memories transmitted to the children. Youthful imagination has been harnessed to retell the stories of a lifetime…
Produced by children at the Arsaniq School in Kangiqsujuaq as a writing project, the three legends presented here are based on Nunavik myths and traditional knowledge.
«Once upon a time in the Arctic, there was a young boy named Arnaituk. He was not like other people because when he was born in an igloo. He didn’t realize how special he was until his parents were killed by the Shaman, and he was left to raise himself. As he got older, he realized he has to kill the Shaman to avenge his parents. So one day Arnaituk packed up his stuff to go look for the Shaman. He started walking but the weather was getting worse, and he got lost not knowing where to look for the Shaman. Arnaituk decided to stop and rest a bit on his sled. Then he heard something behind him, it sounded like foot steps and then it started roaring. It was getting closer so Arnaituk turned around and saw that it was a polar bear.
Arnaituk said "Who are you?" The polar bear said "My name is Attasi." Then he shouted very loudly at Arnaituk "What are you doing on my land? Tell me this instant!" Arnaituk said "I'm looking for the Shaman who killed my parents." Attasi said "I know where he lives, but he is very powerful and you are weak. Do you want me to train you on how to throw a harpoon and aim better?"
Arnaituk wanted to be trained and he trained everyday and he got better and better. Eventually Arnaituk got so good that Attasi said he was ready to fight the Shaman. So together they went to the Shaman's village. Arnaituk said "Hey Shaman! I'm here to avenge my parents." Arnaituk throws his harpoon but he missed. Arnaituk runs to the Shaman and they fight. Arnaituk saw his harpoon and he ran as fast as he could and he throws it right at the Shaman and kills him instantly. After he killed the Shaman, Arnaituk thanked Attasi for his help, but told him he had to return home to his own village. The boy and the bear said goodbye. Arnaituk then headed home and when he got there all the villagers knew what he had done. When they saw him the villagers yelled "Hurray! for Arnaituk." They celebrated and they lived happily ever after.
«One morning Nanuk, a young Inuk man, was eating a fish when he heard a scream.
Outside a Shaman was in danger. He had been trying to create a new animal, a polar bear, but the animal was trying to kill him. Nanuk killed the polar bear so the Shaman wanted to give him a gift. The Shaman gave him a necklace he had made, but the Shaman forgot to tell him one thing. If he wore the necklace at night he would become a polar bear. Nanuk wore the necklace and when he woke up he saw blood on the snow and on his face. He did not remember what happened.
When he started to remember he thought it was just a dream. He remembered that he killed his family. When he went outside the igloo he saw that it was all true. He had become a polar bear and he had killed his family. He had nothing left. So he went to the Shaman for answers.
The Shaman told him " You must control your powers before they control you". And that is how Nanuk became a polar bear.»
«Once upon a time there was a man named Johnny. One winter day he was bored so he decided to go dog sledding. He had so much fun dog sledding that he ended up going all across Nunavik. This is the first time anyone ever did that.
Even though it was really cold in the middle of winter, Johnny kept going to all the villages all around Nunavik. People cheered him on when he came by the villages. It was like a race. When he came home he told his family that it was awesome. The wife asked him, "are you going to do it again next year?" Johnny said "Sure! I had a lot of fun and people were respectful to me, I should go every year with lots of dogsledders. I have made lots of friends now around Nunavik, and they were great. And I'm sure they would love to join me. I should go with you all next year so you could see all my friends".
The next year he went around and asked the dogsledders if they wanted to join the dogsled race the following year and they said yes. The next year, the first official Ivakkak race was held.»
On an island off the shores of Kangiqsujuaq are rocks engraved with faces dating from the time of the Tuniit. This site, known as Qajartalik, has inspired a student project at the Arsaniq School, where youngsters have made prints with faces evoking a long ago time. The project is called “The place where the stone speaks for faces that have lost their voices.”