Journey by Dog Team
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Notes from DaVic Gallery: Pitaloosie draws inspiration for “Journey by Dog Team” from her own memories of how her relatives used to live, and she typically depicts communal activities from traditional Inuit lifestyle. Winter camp scenes, groups traveling on the land by foot or dog team. Those families with dog teams were able to carry family members or bags while those with no dog teams had to walk and carry their own bags. It is this way that entire groups of families cast their fates together in the struggle to survive and in these travelling groups the more hunters there are the better chance of successful seal hunt and the survival their families.
Sometime before the winter solstice, once the sea ice was solid and enough snow had accumulated to enable them to build igloos, families would leave their camps on the land and move onto the ice, taking with them only the barest necessities. The lucky ones had a dog team to pull their loaded sleds. Many carried all their possessions on their backs: the caribou skins to keep them warm, the qulliq (soapstone oil lamp) to heat and light the igloo, and the winter seal-hunting tools that had been readied over the preceding months.
Now the most difficult phase of life in the Arctic begins. Windswept and barren, the sea ice will be the people’s home and their principal hunting ground for half the year. For several months there will be very little light, sometimes only twilight, by which to travel and hunt. Igloos are built with the frozen snow and have a window mounted from a cut ice block from the frozen lake water. Much of the time, the families are hungry and have little blubber to burn in the lamps.