|Bernadette was born in 1917 on Southampton Island located at the mouth of Hudson Bay, less than 100 kilometers south of the Arctic circle. Like most Inuit girls, she learned at a young age skills necessary to enable her future family to survive in this forbidding landscape.
At age 16 Bernadette married Joseph Patterk. Several years later Joseph purchased a Peterhead boat from the Hudson Bay Company with fox furs. The boat allowed its crew of three or more to hunt seal and walrus more effectively in the summer months. Later they moved west to Chesterfield Inlet on the shore of Hudson Bay. It was here the couple began to raise their large family. When I inquired about Bernadette's 14 children I was told, "a few were adopted but it made no difference because everyone was part of the family."
In search of greater employment opportunities, the Patterk family took their boat southward and settled in Rankin Inlet where they prospered. In 1993 Joseph passed away. It has been the immense love of this shy, little, matriarch of the family which includes grandchildren to great, great, grandchildren that holds them together. Bernadette Patterk is much loved and respected in her community.