North·The Arctic Kitchen

Swans are 'delicious' and legal to hunt in parts of Canada

This week's Arctic Kitchen recipe is cooked swan: a bird that is legal to hunt, depending on who you are and where you live.

'By far the juiciest swan I've ever made,' says Mike Jancke

Beneficiaries of the Nunavut Agreement have the right to hunt swans in Nunavut. (Submitted by Mike Jancke)

CBC North is telling the stories behind recipes posted on our Facebook group, The Arctic Kitchen: Recipes of the North. Join our group and follow along!

Did you know that hunting a swan is legal in some parts of Canada?  

It's true. 

In Nunavut, Inuit land claim beneficiaries have every right to hunt swans.

And when they migrate to the Arctic, Mike Jancke is ready and waiting.

"In the spring if they fly over the talu [a ground blind in Inuktitut], we'll try getting them," he said. 

It took Mike Jancke 25 minutes to pluck this swan. Still a few hairs left on there, but he says it was delicious. (Mike Jancke)

Jancke is a hunter living in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, and he loves to cook.

"I love everything about it," Jancke said. 

"Everything from catching the animal, processing, then figuring out what to do with which part of the animal ... Sure makes me feel good when people eat what I make and love it."

By far the juiciest swan I've ever made.- Mike Jancke, hunter living in Kugluktuk

Last spring he took down a swan with his shotgun and put it in his freezer. 

He cooked it in February, tried a new recipe, and it turned out better than he ever expected.

When cooking his swan, Jancke used a pack of Stove Top stuffing with two cups of cooked rice and a cup of mixed frozen veggies for the stuffing and extra garlic (Submitted by Mike Jancke)

It was so good he shared it on CBC North's Arctic Kitchen Facebook group.

"By far the juiciest swan I've ever made. I mixed a pack of Stove Top stuffing with two cups of cooked rice and a cup of mixed frozen veggies for the stuffing and extra garlic. Then cooked it for four hours on 350 [degrees]," he said in his post to the group.

Right to hunt

Little did he know, it would create quite the stir.

One member said, "It is a migratory bird. It is illegal to kill them!"

"Illegal is illegal," said another.

There were even members who reported his recipe to administrators.

When CBC contacted Environment and Climate Change Canada, it said "an Inuk has the right to harvest swans in the Nunavut Settlement Area up to the full level of his or her economic, social, and cultural needs."

The recipe has remained in the group and Jancke took a moderate tone answering all of the concerns and educating people about his right to hunt, cook and eat swans as an Inuit beneficiary.

Swans are legal to hunt in Nunavut if you are an Inuit beneficiary. (Submitted by Mike Jancke)

"I didn't see anything wrong with their negativity," he said. "They live a completely different lifestyle and don't understand ours."

Jancke said that after he shared links regarding beneficiary rights to hunt, "the negativity stopped."

When everyone simmered down, they were overwhelmingly interested in Jancke, his lifestyle and culture. And yes, that "delicious" swan recipe too.