people of qaanaaq
An elderly man sits atop his front porch watching the world pass by. Upon approaching him, he tells us he has Parkinson’s as he looks down at his shaking hand. His English ends at that and he nods silently when we request his attention for a picture.
Moments after stepping out of our home around 2 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, two Inuit youths stop us with a few words in Danish. Explaining that we are not from Denmark, they continue in English asking us where we come from and what we are doing here. “Would you mind if we take your picture?” I ask, “Sure, yea know we are really drunk, we’ve been drinking all day and all last night.” Beers in hand, strolling the streets on a sunny afternoon, they explain that drinking is a common pass time for the youth. With many modern imports shipped into this small rural community, the younger generations find themselves growing up in a time unlike the centuries past. When you can get food and clothing at the supermarket, the necessity of skills like hunting, fishing and sewing diminish quickly. Some choose to learn the expertise of the elders and follow their fathers or uncles out onto the sea ice, but other’s shun the ways of the past and wish for another type of life, one of the future.
Taking exactly one hour, the two fisherman successfully make a hole through the 1.5 meters of sea ice. Taking turns chipping at the hole, the physical exertion results in a worth while endeavor when a fish is caught just moments after lowering the line into the abyss of icy blue arctic water.