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Northern Light

I am back in the Arctic, a weather day delaying us getting out, sitting and thinking and starting this story. Nunavut is the place where I feel most at home and most comfortable. It is a people and a place that have not only captured my heart but my soul as well.

I have been blessed with an unimaginable welcome each time I have returned throughout the pandemic. As the wind and rain pound on the windows, the Inuit community is concerned about their cabins and boats as this is an extremely bad storm adding to an already very wet and cold summer.

The Arctic is the land of the Midnight Sun and Polar Night, where temperatures remain well below freezing for most of the year in what is considered one of the harshest environments on the planet. Vast expanses of land and the frozen ocean may appear desolate at first glance. However, the Arctic is far from barren, as it is home to the Inuit People who are not only incredibly capable, diverse and adaptive, but they are so warm and incredibly amazing to be in the company of. This is a distinct landscape home to wildlife not found anywhere else in the world!

One of the greatest achievements in human history has been the successful settlement of the Arctic by the Inuit people with its population living in a hunting-based culture that spans over 5,000 years. By the mid-20th century, significant changes began in Inuit society as permanent communities replaced seasonal communities.

Nunavut, with its 25 hamlets, saw a boom in new housing and numerous amenities associated with living in the south. The 21st century is marked by a flourishing growth in the Inuit population and a dynamic integration to modern society by accommodating change while maintaining close ties to a rich cultural hunting heritage, its customs and traditions. Harvesting and hunting remain at the heart of Inuit culture and way of life.

Every hunter, traveler and adventurer should experience Nunavut. To spend time in this incredibly rich culture and experience first-hand a hunting culture where gathering country food is as at the forefront of daily life. To witness the pride of young fathers taking out their children for the first time to hunt. Harvesting their first tuktu or nanuk.

To understand the importance of hunting, the world cannot be listening to the urban bigots living in concrete habitrails. We must look at cultures that rely on hunting for both sustenance and the cultural and traditional importance. 

Looking into the future of hunting, there are very few things in life that compare to where you get the satisfaction of taking your son or daughter, niece or nephew, a neighbour’s child or a child who you mentor, out hunting from the first time to the 20th time. The hunt is so much more than a hunt. The excitement we all remember the night before the hunt… the anticipation being so much that your stomach felt upset… not being able to sleep. The night before the hunt was like the night before Christmas!

Very few people have the opportunity to actually make a difference in a child’s life. We as hunters have the opportunity and ability to do this. Take the initiative to do something positive for young adventurers and you also will be doing something positive for hunting. Look at the faces in the photos. You cannot buy these smiles! Hunting is much more than taking an animal. It is learning to appreciate the areas we travel and the wildlife that inhabits it.

A hunter’s definition of hunting: to adventure and explore the world from your backyard to the furthest reaches of the planet. To appreciate the local traditions and cultures, the location in which you find yourself. To be respectful in your hunt and pursuit, never not appreciating where you are, so that success is measured on success of the entire adventure — the enjoyment, pride and appreciation of your catch.

Let’s share what we experience, the feeling of the clean cold on your face. Wind on your back.

The northern lights, the long shadows of spring, the feeling of the pursuit of your prey, eating and sharing the meat of your hunt. Summer fishing trips, that tug on the line that just about makes you pee your pants. Exploring your fall hunting spot. Planning your next world adventure. Enjoying seeing the young animals follow along and becoming independent. August, hunting begins again. Stepping on new ground, the new smells and geography. Fall winds bringing cooler weather, the sound of the geese heading south. Fresh fish or game in the frying pan.

I know that I never cross a creek where I don’t see how clear the water runs, every time I step on an ice floe the thrill of where I am. The feeling of the extreme cold on my face and the absolute pure smell of the air. The flash of the primer stove coming on. The spray from the waves on my face. How lucky I am to spend most of my life adventuring. Now my aim is to share this with as many youths as I can.

Over 20 years ago I became involved with SCI by exhibiting at the annual convention — factually only thinking selfishly that it was the best venue for me to market my hunts. After getting an education, my eyes were opened wide that SCI is much more than a venue for me to showcase my products.

SCI is the largest hunting conservation organization in the world. My deeper involvement has come out of my concern for the future of hunting. The threat coming at us from the urban centers with bigoted ideals. SCI invests more than any other hunting organization in the world, on hunter advocacy and fighting the constant fight on obscure hunting restrictions which would negatively impact hunting, more than most people realize.

For all of us as hunters, explorers, adventurers and outfitters, it is a vital time to join SCI as a member or as outfitters, to consider donations so that SCI can continue its mission to fight for hunters’ rights. We all need to realize that as protected as we feel when we are out on the land or in the mountains in a stand, that the threat we all face is real and SCI is there fighting for us.

Having two sons whom I was so fortunate to have been able to share the outdoors with and now two grandchildren, my decision to support SCI is how I feel we can ensure that I will be able to take them hunting and continue to have the same opportunities that we have enjoyed.

I am the president and CEO of Canada North Outfitting. Last year we celebrated our 40th year in business.

Due to travel restrictions, we were not able to operate, so we took the year to look at how we could better ourselves, stay involved and help the communities throughout Nunavut we work in, helping our guides and supporting community events. It was an unimaginably difficult year but an incredibly satisfying year.

Canada North wants to acknowledge our incredible partnerships throughout Nunavut. We are forever grateful for all of the Nunavummiut for welcoming us in this most amazing culture. We thank our clients from around the world who put their faith in and support in us to provide them with incredible Arctic adventures, unique cultural experiences and for appreciating and enjoying one of the harshest environments in the world.

Over the last two decades, however, the outfitting industry has seen much change throughout the world. Canada North Outfitting remains committed and supportive of the Inuit people, their culture and traditions. Our guide-training programs as well as supporting youth groups will continue to grow and evolve. We understand our clients’ desires for success on all fronts of an Arctic adventure. We will continue to provide incredible Arctic adventure and our commitment to bring our clients home safely and successfully.

We have survived the impact of COVID, and the challenges brought on by it. We have and will continue to remain absolutely committed to the Inuit People and our clients. We will continue to support SCI and its mission. We are, and will, continue to be a leader in educating and adapting to an ever-changing environment and climate.

To our clients, as nothing sums up your patience and understanding better: “One always measures friendships by how they show up in bad weather.” Churchill, for this we thank you.–Shane Black

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