There were lots of smiles to go around last weekend as Rankin Inlet’s hunters and trappers organization took a group of elders out for a boat trip to surrounding islands.
“To see the elders happy and the brightness on their face. I wasn’t missing that,” said HTO manager Andrew Akerolik.
The trip is part of a series of trips the HTO is offering to elders throughout the end of the summer.
The first one was originally scheduled to be on Aug. 16 but was rescheduled to Aug. 17 because of bad weather.
The group visited Marble Island, 25 kilometres from Rankin, as well as Angijuut, an island 10 kilometres northwest of Marble Island.
All of the elders on the trip had been boating before but for some it had been a long time.
“Some of them it had been 10 years since they were on a boat,” said Akerolik. “Some people said they did not think they would ever go on a boat again.”
Each boat had a guide and a helper on hand to make sure the elders felt comfortable. While the guides had knowledge of the land, it was the elders who ended up sharing their stories and knowledge of past trips. The group even ended up catching a caribou while they were out.
“They eventually told stories about being out on the land and on boat rides,” said “One of the guides mentioned that to me. He was excited and happy for the elders.”
One of the famous traditions of visiting Marble Island is that people must crawl onto shore if it is your first time there.
“All the elders had been there before so that was no issue for them,” said Akerolik.
Akerolik, who did not join the group for the ride, said he called some of the elders a few days after the trip.
“They were all excited,” he said.
Akerolik said there are at least two more boat trips planned for elders. The HTO is currently requesting anyone interested to sign up.
Doing something like this for elders is extremely important for Akerolik.
“They are the backbone of where we are today. They were brought up here and they grew up here.
“They know the land and the sea and the water. They are the backbone of our traditional knowledge. We can’t forget them.”
The HTO is also planning on doing a series of trip with youth in the next few weeks. Any youth interested in signing up can do so at the HTO office or at MUI.
“It’s an eye opener how much we forget our youth and our elders.” said Akerolik. “It’s important to have contact with them. Especially the lack of support for mental health in small communities.
We need to pass on our traditions to our youth.”