Family travels hundreds of kilometres, spends thousands to bring caribou feast to Pond Inlet

'We just wanted people to eat caribou during the Christmas season,' says Charlie Qavvataaq Inuarak, who spent about $20,000 on the trip from Pond Inlet to Hall Beach, Nunavut.

'We just wanted people to eat caribou during the Christmas season,' says elder

The family borrowed a few snowmobiles and qamutiks — traditional sleds — for the trip to Hall Beach, and talked to local hunters to find out where they should go hunting. (Michael Inuarak)

A family in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, went to great lengths to host a caribou feast for their community this month.

The family travelled 453 kilometres to Hall Beach, and in one week bagged 17 caribou to send all the way back to Pond Inlet on northern Baffin Island.

"We just wanted people to eat caribou during the Christmas season," said Charlie Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak, in Inuktitut.

The family travelled to Hall Beach, in the territory's Qikiqtaaluk region, and in one week bagged 17 caribou to send all the way back to Pond Inlet on northern Baffin Island. (CBC)

The elder from Pond Inlet travelled with his two sons and his grandson on the hunt. They flew from Pond Inlet to Igloolik at the end of November.

Once there, Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak bought a brand new snowmobile for the trip. They borrowed a few snowmobiles and qamutiks — traditional sleds — from family members, and talked to local hunters to find out where they should go hunting.

The family had to travel to Hall Beach to hunt caribou legally. Every Baffin Island community has been on a restricted quota system since 2015, due to a dwindling number of caribou.

Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak said there used to be a lot of caribou near Pond Inlet, but that's no longer the case. "So we travel very far, hundreds and hundreds [of] kilometres in very cold temperatures."

Residents joined the family at a caribou feast in Pond Inlet last Saturday. (Lysa Koonark)

After the successful hunt, the men sent hundreds of kilograms of caribou meat home on cargo, which Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak said was "very costly."

Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak's son said his father spent $15,000 on the new snowmobile, $500 on fuel, and $3,000 for plane tickets.

"I am not asking for anything in return," said Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak.

They had a community feast with the caribou in Pond Inlet on Saturday. Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak said many people in the community have been craving caribou for a long time.

The family bagged 17 caribou on the trip and sent it back to Pond Inlet on a cargo flight. (Michael Inuarak)

"Many were eager to eat the caribou and grabbed what they could when the feast started," he said.

Rhoda Koonoo was among the crowd. 

"There were so many people, I did not think I would have a chance to have some, but I did and was full," said Koonoo. 

"I am very grateful."

The men travelled to Hall Beach so they could legally hunt caribou. There are restrictions on Baffin Island due to dwindling caribou numbers. (Michael Inuarak)

Quvvaqtaaq Inuarak wants to keep the Inuit tradition of sharing alive.

"I am so connected to my parents, and we are comfortable sharing food. So we all ate together," he said. 

"It is my parents who taught me to share traditional food. It is the way we do things as Inuit."

With files from Salome Avva