It was a quiet moment of triumph, a task finally completed, and one item scratched off the bucket list for five men who built their own iglu near Arviat this past week.
Four of the five Inuit – Jimmy Ishalook, Andrew Kuksuk, Jackson Kablutsiak and Nap Karetak – had first determined to build the iglu about two years ago and the fifth, Robert Karetak, answered the door when opportunity knocked to claim his share of the iglu-building glory.
Robert said the original group of four got into making traditional tools in a shack about two years ago.
He said they tackled a fairly wide variety of items, including stuff for their moms, sisters and aunts as the need arose.
“There were other times when they made ulus, different things for sewing and a pana (snow knife),” said Robert.
“It was just a bunch of projects they wanted to do and, when they made their first panas, they said they wanted to build an iglu.
“A couple of years passed and no iglu, so a night this past week they determined they were going to build one then, so they finally went and built the iglu using the panas they had made.”
Robert chuckled lightheartedly as he said it was more than likely his group of friends just finally decided to cross the iglu off their bucket list and be able to say they made one.
He said throughout the process, however, there was an element of getting a little closer to their culture at play.
“Building the tools yourself, and then going out to build an iglu using the tools you made is a process in itself.
“It’s kind of a test, too, to see if you can make one that’s not in a survival situation kind of thing.
“It was just something they talked about for a few years, saying they were going to make one, and they finally went out and did it.”
Robert said for most, if not all, the group members, this was the first iglu they had a hand in making, including himself.
He said two of them got a start on the iglu in the afternoon and the rest of the group came after supper, when they had finished work for the day, to help complete it.
“Some were cutting the blocks, some were transferring the blocks and at least two were inside piecing the iglu together.
“To be honest, once we were finished, everyone was pretty shocked that we were actually able to build one.
“There were some difficulties, but we’d change the blocks and start on a new one if one of the blocks broke.
“We just continued fitting and piecing the blocks until it was all complete, and, once it was done, it was pretty amazing to see, and we were all sitting in there pretty amazed that we actually built one.”
Robert said all together, counting the afternoon and evening work, it took the group roughly six hours to complete the iglu.
He said someone told the story of a person who was really fast at building an iglu and you had to admire skill like that.
“They were out on the land when one person was asked to take the dogs off of the sled and leash them.
“By the time he was done tying-up the dogs, he turned around and an iglu was done, so some people can be really, really fast at making one.
“But it was just more for the experience for us and to see how it would turn out.
“We weren’t looking for any kind of recognition or anything like that, but it is a fair size and some people have been going to look at it, so, hopefully, our triumph stays up for a long time.”