|Pelly Bay lies on the extreme northern coast of the Canadian Arctic. The people from this region, called Netsilingmiut, waged a constant daily battle to survive. They lived amongst countless lakes and rivers but the harsh climate disallowed vegetation other than mosses, lichens and small plants in this treeless land. Because of the permafrost, the earth cannot absorb rain nor melting snow.
In 1923 Mariano was born in this desolate wilderness of brutally cold winters and short, cool, summers. Survival meant harvesting the animals that also eked out an existence. Seal, caribou and musk oxen provided the necessities of food, clothing, fuel and materials for making tools.
In 1942 Mariano and Marie Tulimaaq were wed in a pre-arranged marriage in Repulse Bay. Mariano continued to hunt sea mammals but also trapped fox, to barter for other items at the Hudson Bay Company. Like many Inuit, Mariano experienced periods of deprivation but no one of his camp perished.
In 1981 Mariano and his family moved to Rankin Inlet. As the modern world engulfed the ancient Inuit culture, Mariano was advised to leave his traditional lifestyle behind. His vision was different, however. If the Inuit were to survive as a culture he felt they must keep the ties to the old ways alive. In pursuit of this goal, Mariano spends time traveling Canada, teaching traditional knowledge to young people. Believing current and future generations should know how to survive on the land, Mariano Aupilardjuk helps keep tradition alive.