Semi was born in 1933 in Igloolik, a small island just off the Melville Peninsula extending from the mainland of Nunavut. “I never experienced real hunger as a child because my father was a good hunter,” said Semi. He began using rifles at age 12 and a year later was hunting by himself. One spring, however, at age 15, finding enough to eat was a hardship. Semi remembers, “The ice was breaking up, making travel arduous. We were searching for food on the beach and had to eat Scalpen (a salt water fish). It was all we could find for weeks.”

In 1955 Semi married Seporah at an outpost camp outside Igloolik. Semi used a dog team to assist in the hunt until he moved to Repulse Bay in 1983. There he purchased a snow mobile with money earned working with construction crews in town. Semi has a cabin 15 miles outside town but recently it has been savaged by polar bears looking for food. He said, “Polar bears never used to do that but now bears are becoming more like scavengers than hunters. I did hunt bears and helped catch bowhead, beluga and narwhale.”

Semi hunts all year round, sometimes with his sons or grandsons but especially loves to trap fox. I spent an enjoyable afternoon with the Malliki family in 2005. Seporah proudly showed me her cooking shed outside her home. I photographed Semi who had just returned from an overnight seal hunting trip.

Back to Portrait Gallery

Semi Malliki
Inuit, Repulse Bay
Image size: 11 x 13 inches
Edition size: 575