An Ancient Bond with the Land

Arctic Whalers

Arctic Whalers Today

American and European commercial whalers had almost completely destroyed whale stocks in the Canadian Arctic by the early twentieth century. The traditional Inuit hunt lapsed, because of a collapse of whale populations and bans by government regulators.

By the 1990s, however, whale populations were beginning to recover, particularly in the Western Arctic. Eager to renew the important spiritual bond with the natural world which whaling represents, and to reassert their right to govern themselves, Inuit have begun hunting whales again. Although hunts are few in number, they have great symbolic importance - the reassertion of a political right and an ancient spiritual connection.

"The desire to whale was instilled into us by our forefathers. It continues today...."

Herbert Anungazuk, Inuit Elder, from
Hunting the Largest Animals

The Inuvialuit Hunt  ( 3 minutes 25 seconds )

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In 1991, the Inuvialuit (Inuit of the Western Canadian Arctic) undertook a successful bowhead hunt at Shingle Point, on the Yukon Arctic Coast. It was the first whale hunt in the area in over 60 years. The meat and skin from the whale were shared with all Inuvialuit, as an expression of solidarity and a renewed commitment to traditional values.

Credits for The Inuvialuit Hunt
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, First Peoples Hall, Zone 3, Contemporary Epilogues

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