|Iquginnaq was born on January 1, 1912 on the Kazan River system. This was the land of the Padlermiut, the Willow folk, of the Caribou Inuit. These hardy people lived during the winter in snow huts and often had no oil or blubber to provide heat. Besides being quite cold inside, they might eat frozen meat for days on end. In the spring these dwellings would melt so caribou skins were employed as tents. Following the rhythm of nature, the people could experience abundance or starvation.
While traveling to Tasikviuvik by foot Bessie fell through the ice. She kept walking with her kamiks on. The soles got ripped up then tore off so that her feet nearly froze. She lost her toe nails and her right foot still bothers her. When Bessie arrived at her destination it was decided she would live with Peter Aasivayuk.
Bessie lived in a camp with Peter and their two children. One day Basil Scottie arrived at the camp and took Bessie by force. Basil now had several wives. In the late 1950's the family moved to Baker Lake; Basil passed away several decades later.
Bessie is a very friendly, tiny, woman whom I have had the pleasure of meeting several times in Baker Lake. Relying heavily on two canes, she loves to visit people in town even during the hostile winter months. Bessie has outlived all her ten siblings. She said, "I was told to listen to the elders and I would live a long life. It is true." Bessie Iquginnaq has defied the harsh realities of the far north all her life. Bessie Iquginnaq passed away in 2009 at age 97.
Bessie Iquginnaq Scottie