Thomas was born in October 23rd in 1941 in the Back River area. His father, Mark Oyarai, died in the spring of 1954. “When I was 6 or 7 I would follow my dad out hunting. I would go about 5 miles. I would watch to see what he did and how he did it. That is how I learned. I got my first caribou when I was 9 years old. It was in 1950 and I was out hunting with my cousin who had been adopted by my mother and father. I got the caribou with my .22 rifle. I remember feeling great afterwards, that, ‘Now I am a hunter!’”
“When growing up the spring times were often hard because of the lack of food at that time of the year. When my real father was alive we did okay but when he died we had a tough time. We weren’t really starving but there was a definite lack of food. We looked for good fishing spots but had little luck and there were no caribou.”
“After my father passed away my mother remarried one year later in 1955 to Luke Anguhalluq. She had 3 more children. If all of us were still alive today there would be 17 siblings, but there are only 4 left. Many died a few months after being born. Life was much more difficult back then. My parents decided to move to Baker Lake in 1960.”
In 1972, at age 31, Thomas married Phillipa. They have one daughter and adopted 6 others. Although active in the community Thomas has two cabins he likes to frequent outside Baker Lake. I drew Thomas wearing a ‘Pukkilik’, clothing sewn by his wife and worn on special occasions.