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Meet Louie Kamookak: champion of the Inuit oral tradition

Wonderful to see that my friend Louie Kamookak -- Inuit historian, Franklin expert, and public speaker -- has set up a website (click here). I'm looking forward to catching Louie in Ottawa on April 12, where he will participate in a panel discussion about Franklin and the Inuit oral tradition. It will be hosted by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  My own favorite story about Louie harks back to 1999. It starts with us beating south along the west coast of Boothia Peninsula in his motorboat. We were returning to Gjoa Haven after placing a plaque honoring  explorer John Rae. Louie said that, before we recrossed Rae Strait, he wanted to check out a spot he knew, where sometimes the hunting was good.  We entered a small bay, hauled the boat up onto a sandy beach, and climbed a ridge to scan the horizon. I saw nothing, but suddenly Louie said: “Caribou!” The animal must have been 120 yards away. Louie dropped to one knee, put his gun to his shoulder, and fired. Nothing happened. I thought he had missed. But then, the caribou dropped down dead where it stood. We raced across the tundra. Louie was jubilant: “Straight through the heart!” He skinned that animal, put the massive carcass on his back, and staggered with it back to the boat. “Meat will last all winter,” he said. And that's just a part of who Louie is. To the great tradition of Inuit explorers, adventurers, interpreters, and story-tellers -- a lineage that includes Eenoolooapik, Tattannoeck, Ouligbuck father and son, Tookoolito, and Ebierbing -- today we can add another name: Louie Kamookak.

Ken McGoogan
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1 comment:

Rocky Mountain Custom Leather said...

Such remarkable experiences you've had! (I wish I'd been there to nab the hide.)

Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.