“My mother, Atangat, said I was born during spring when there were lots of mosquitoes. I grew up near the Meadow Banks Lake area, north of Baker Lake. I don’t know the exact month or year born. We led a very hard life, constantly moving on the land. My dad, Agluvak, was always searching for food ... caribou and fish. During the winter we used a dog team to travel and hunt but in spring and summer, we walked from camp to camp.”

Kownak was young, even by Inuit custom, when told she needed to have a husband. She was forced to marry Aqiaq, a violent individual. Kownak had seven daughters with this fellow. Many were left outside to perish because of their sex. Girls would have to be fed and later would leave the family to marry. A son could be trained to hunt and provide for the family. Kownak said, “I have been like an object much of my life. I was not a human. Man was dominant. I had no control over my life.”

While living in camp near Ferguson Lake, Lucy, along with her three children were able to board a plane and go and live in Baker Lake. “I finally felt freedom for the first time in my life."

William knew what a difficult life his mother had had. When old enough, he began to hunt alone. Often he brought Kownak along, whether by boat or snowmobile. William said, “I would always give my mother the best of what ever I caught.” Lucy Kownak very much enjoyed life in Baker Lake. This extraordinary, little woman passed away in July, 2011.


Back to Portrait Gallery

Lucy Kownak
Inuit, Baker Lake
Image size: 11 x 13 inches
Not Yet Printed