Tunnuq was born in 1928 in a place called Tuklirutit. Her people were called, Harvaqtuurmiut, because they lived in the land surrounding the lower Kazan River system. Soon after Tunnuq was born, she was brought by dog team to Baker Lake to be baptized. There she was given the Christian name, Elisapee.

During the spring her family spent much time by Harvaqtuuq (Kazan River) when the caribou began to cross. The land and in particular the crossing areas were treated with utmost respect in accordance with traditional beliefs so that the caribou would cross where expected. Their importance could not be overstated as these animals were indeed the essence of life to these people.

In May, 1944, Elisapee, 16 years old, married Moses Ookaulleeyak, aged 42. “There were some very hard times after I got married. We were at a place called Kitgavik and we were very hungry. I had my first child, Havaa, at that time. My husband would try to fish because there were no caribou around. He had hurt himself and couldn’t walk for a time. He would crawl on his stomach to go fishing.” It took 5 days to travel by dog team to Baker Lake to trade. When her family acquired rifles Elisapee killed tuktu with her .22. “I got lots of caribou. We needed them for clothing to survive the winters and for food and other things.”

At the end of the 1950’s her family moved to Baker Lake where Elisapee worked at the Health Care Center. Elisapee is a spirited, little woman who is very popular at youth camps where she enjoys passing on traditional knowledge. Elisapee Tunnuq passed away in February, 2008.

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Elisapee Tunnuq
Inuit, Lower Kazan River
Image size: 11 x 14 inches
Edition size: 575