I live in Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River) in the Canadian Arctic. Most people have never heard of my town. It’s 450km north of the Arctic Circle with a population of roughly 1,000. We are isolated from much of the world, but we feel very connected to our land, sea, and sky.
Living in this part of the Canadian Arctic is pretty different than where most of you reading this might live. We only have one store, one school, and no hospital. There are no roads to other towns, but people do manage to travel by boat, snowmobile, or ATV to go far out on to the land, mostly for hunting trips to provide essential food for our families, elders, and anyone else in the community who is in need of food, free of charge. The one grocery store is so expensive that without the food we hunt, gather and catch, people could starve. Even with the hunt, there is hardly enough to go around.
Recently, we have been faced with a challenge that has caused my community to rally together in a way I haven’t seen before. Energy companies want to blast our waters with seismic cannons to look for oil and gas. This is where narwhals, bowheads, belugas, fish, seals, polar bears, and other marine animals now thrive. But, if the ocean is blasted, their lives will be put at risk and so will our ability to eat local, healthy, affordable food.
It’s a strange feeling to see your home and culture being threatened. My dad says it feels like someone has declared war on us. Our home holds a special place in my heart that stays with me even when I travel. The mountains and crisp air always draw me back. There are plants and animals here that can only be found in the Arctic that Inuit have relied on for food for thousands of years. To think of this all being lost — that my people might lose this essential part of our culture, our connection to the land, water and animals — is so heartbreaking to me.
The people in Clyde River might be the biggest reason why I love my home so much. There is a warmth that I feel when I’m with my family and friends here. Our language and our culture are important to me and while we have undergone systemic oppression from colonizers who came to our land, we remain resilient and determined to maintain our sustainable ways of living.
To save the animals we love and the traditions we hold dearly, we’re taking action to protect our ability to survive in the harsh climate and remote location that I call home.
Please help me to support Inuit rights and stop seismic blasting in the Arctic. The ocean is a home too and we rely and depend on all the animals that live in the vast waters and land around us.
Clara Natanine is a resident of Clyde River in her early 20s and the daughter of Jerry Natanine, the former Mayor of Clyde River.