Nunavut Wildlife

I was so pleased to read about this little local food market that is going to happen, I miss having the access to the local hunters in the north.. Interesting little story for you.. I had just moved to Iqaluit maybe a few weeks at most, and I was out walking around town, just checking things out, I was drawn to a house that had seal hides tacked on the walls, and as I rounded the corner, a older Inuit gentleman was skinning a seal, now I had only ever seen seals a few times in my life and most of them in a water zoo.. so I was very interested, I found his round knife amazing to watch and so I nodded and smiled and he nodded and smiled and started talking to me, only I couldn’t understand as it was not english, and say English only.. and wave him on to continue and he does.. still chattering away at me, and then he slices off a fresh raw thin peice of meat and offers it to me.. Now, you have to understand, I really like trying new food but I had no desire to eat raw seal.. but on the other hand, I felt that it would be culturally rude to refuse this offering.. I smiled and nodded my thanks and slammed back that slimy ahh peice of meat.. He offered me an eyeball next (which I would learn later is considered a treat and honor to be offered) but I will admit that he had me there, I declined as nicely as possable, which made him laugh at me as I said Thank you and continued on my way home. 

I tried whale a number of ways while in the north, including raw, which I did not care for, but I liked it deep fried, it tastes kinda like portabella mushrooms when cooked but in texture its more like pork rinds, your jaws get a good workout.. I miss the char most of all..

It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s going to happen.

The first country food market in years is to take place outside Inuksuk High School on the day of the craft fair on Nov. 27.

“Definitely seal and char and I’m working on caribou and maktaaq and possibly also clams and ptarmigan,” said Willie Hyndman, the market’s organizer.

By Nov. 15, eight Inuit hunters had confirmed they would be selling their catch outside the high school in tents Hyndman’s that Project Nunavut has purchased for the occasion.

Based on the amount of table space available, up to 16 vendors could potentially sell country food to the public.

Hyndman explained that since the harvesters will sell directly to the consumer, it won’t come under the rules about commercial harvests that would apply if they were selling to a supplier.

That means foods like seal — which does not have a commercial quota — will be available. It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s going to happen.

“It’s sort of a northern version of a farmers’ market,” he said.

With seal in season in the Iqaluit region this time of year, Hyndman said he hopes to offer a kind of tasting of the different seals from different parts of Nunavut.

“I’d like to present them side by side for a tasting to compare the different flavours,” he said.

Hyndman said he’s been told that Iqaluit-area seals are particularly tasty because they dive into deep waters to feed.

Seals from Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River dine almost exclusively on turbot, which affects their taste.

“There’s definitely a connoisseur culture among the hunters so there’s some great stories about where it comes from and what it eats,” he said.

Other possible fare includes char from Repulse Bay and caribou from Rankin Inlet.

Hyndman said he’s received the blessing of Iqaluit’s Amarok Hunters and Trappers Organization.

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