Pangnirtung, Nunavut lands its bowhead whale

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Hunters from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, succeeded in catching a bowhead whale Tuesday afternoon near the historic whaling station at Kekerten Island in Cumberland Sound. (Photo courtesy of Timiusie Dialla / CBC.ca)
Hunters from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, succeeded in catching a bowhead whale Tuesday afternoon near the historic whaling station at Kekerten Island in Cumberland Sound. (Photo courtesy of Timiusie Dialla / CBC.ca)

There were celebrations in Pangnirtung, a predominantly Inuit community, in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, after hunters succeeded in catching a bowhead whale Tuesday afternoon.

The hunt took place near the historic whaling station at Kekerten Island in Cumberland Sound.

The whale was being butchered at the site on Wednesday.

Since the 1990s, a limited bowhead whale hunt has been allowed. Each year, three Nunavut communities are given licences to each harvest one of the massive whales.

Getting the opportunity to hunt a bowhead does not provide a guarantee that a whale will be caught, despite the months of planning that goes into such expeditions.

Pangnirtung is one of the three communities to be given permission this year to hunt a bowhead.

Co-captains Simeonie Keenainak and Charlie Qumuatuq led a team of about 35 hunters in six boats.

Madeleine Qumuatuq, Charlie’s sister, said she is grateful all went well.

“This is wonderful because it emphasizes our Inuit culture and family,” she said. “And I’m so grateful for stories which used to be told about past hunts and now we are witnesses to what used to be said.”

Qumuatuq says some women will be practising the celebration song for when the hunting party returns to Pangnirtung.

Qumuatuq said both Keenainak and her brother come from a line of bowhead hunters.

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