Bowhead whale not fully harvested, no community feast planned for Iqaluit

Some of the whale spoiled in the sun before the community could finish harvesting it. There will no longer be a community feast.

There was some spoilage, and not enough people to help harvest the whale

Hunters harvested the skin, a delicacy known as muktuk, and blubber of a bowhead whale last week after a traditional hunt. (Michael Salomonie/CBC)

Not all of the meat was harvested from the bowhead whale killed near Iqaluit last week. The Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association (HTA) said there was some spoilage — a small portion on the head of the whale. 

This was only the second bowhead whale to be caught in more than 100 years in the area. It was harpooned on Aug. 14, sparking a major celebration in Iqaluit. A successful bowhead harvest can feed hundreds of people. 

"The harvest was ultimately successful," said Pitseolak Alainga, chairperson for the Amarok HTA, in Inuktitut. "The hard-working youth who participated did their best without complaining."

Hunters from Iqaluit celebrated on the water after successfully hunting a bowhead whale. (Michael Salomonie/CBC)

Butchering the animal exhausted the hunters, and efforts to get more volunteers failed.

"We called for more help from the residents, but not too many came," said Jeetaloo Kakee, one of the hunt elders, in Inuktitut.

Then the weather became too mild, according to Alainga. When the sun came out, the rest of the whale was spoiled.

"We didn't get a lot of help at times, but we did manage to remove a major portion," said Alainga.

Pitseolak Alainga, chairperson for the Amarok HTA, says they didn't get enough help harvesting the whale. (Travis Burke/CBC)

He said there is still muktuk available from the HTA office, but there won't be a community feast. 

The jawbones and ribs will become a showpiece in front of the hunters and trappers association office. 

With files from Michael Salomonie