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Respect for Wildlife

Mariano Aupilaarjuk
We have always been told not to abuse wildlife because we believe this causes hardship to the animals. We were told not to make fun of wildlife so we and our children would have a good life. We were constantly told this. We were told to be fearful of something bad happening to us if we abused wildlife. We were told to take good care of our wildlife and our land. Caribou and beluga are abundant. Sometimes when they were too numerous we didn’t know how to kill large numbers of them. But now in the winter we use snow machines and we shoot them and they freeze. Some people just take the hindquarters. Some caribou only have the tongues taken and the rest is left behind. This is not a good thing to see. This is something we elders don’t like at all. This is not something we Inuit have just started thinking. A long time ago Inuit would prepare for the future. Because we did not want to experience hardship we were told not to kill wildlife just for the sake of killing them. (Page 33)
Respect for wildlife is a marked feature of Inuit culture, in the past as well
as in the present. In many respects it is at the core of the tiriguusiit,
maligait and piqujait. Although it is no longer assumed that game has an
inua, or spirit, animals are thought to be aware of what is done to them. If game
is not respected it will retaliate against the hunter or even the whole
community. In the past, that could mean starvation. Today, the emphasis is on
management of the wildlife. Respect for wildlife plays an important roll as
new and old traditions clash. Qallunaat are often insufficiently aware of the
impact respect for wildlife has on the interactions between Inuit and qallunaat.
Imaruittuq relates, “When we started dealing with land claims we had to talk
a lot about wildlife. This created a lot of fear amongst the elders. They used to
tell us not to quarrel about wildlife because this was a very dangerous thing to
do. We explained to them that we had to quarrel about the wildlife because we
were negotiating with the qallunaat and this was a qallunaat process. We
explained that we were legitimately negotiating over the wildlife. This is a
piqujaq that we must adhere to. We should not quarrel about wildlife or it will
take revenge on us” Respect for wildlife implies that people do not kill for fun.