|Akikungaa was born in 1944 in the Back River area of Nunavut. Her parents lived for many years in the Chantry Inlet region hunting caribou, seal and polar bear on the coast. With caribou becoming increasingly scarce they moved to Garry Lake in the 1940's because they were thought to be more plentiful there. The Mannik family had experienced hunger many times but it paled in comparison to what the 1950's would bring. The specter of starvation was real and many people would perish during this period.
At one point Akikungaa, too malnourished to walk, was pulled along on a sled. Her father, David Mannik, had great difficulty keeping up because of his extremely weakened state. So began the Mannik family's trek towards Baker Lake where it was thought food could be found. Eventually the family found sustenance and survived. Those times, fortunately, never came again.
Akikungaa grew up during that dark period. The Mannik family now live in Baker Lake where Janet is the second oldest of five siblings. She is a free spirit who lives in a camp by herself most of the year, just north of town. She spends much of her time sewing and making ulus, the traditional knives Inuit women use.
I met Janet unexpectedly in July, 2003, as she was leaving Baker Lake, going back to her cabin. Her animated nature and rabbit fur hat made for an exciting photograph. It was an absolute delight to work on the drawing several months later.
Janet Akikungaa Mannik