The land


KUUJJUARAAPIK means “small river [1].” This was the first village that missionaries visited to spread the word of God. One missionary in particular, Reverend W. G. Walton [2], saw numerous Inuit each year to baptize and name the infants. Myself, I was born January 1st 1914 and he baptized me in 1917; I still have my baptismal certificate, although I’m sixty-seven now.

The pastor who baptized the babies gave them Qallunaat [3] names, but the Inuit continued to call their children by their Inuit names. The pastor also married couples that had just met and baptized not only children, but adults and Elders, men and women. The Inuit did not hear anything about Jesus until about the 1910s or ‘20s [4] , but then they came to Kuujjuaraapik from all over the Hudson Bay area to learn more about the religion. In winter, the whole family traveled by qamutik (dogsled).

In the northernmost communities, the old people waited for their families to return in the spring, bringing back wood for building qajaq frames because no trees grew where they lived.

At this time, Kuujjuaraapik was a very important village where some Qallunaat lived, including a priest.

These days, Kuujjuaraapik is not the largest community in the Hudson Bay region, because a large portion of the Inuit population relocated to Umiujaq. Kuujjuaraapik has the largest population of Whites on Hudson Bay.

by Taamusi Qumaq (1992)

[1] It also translates as “narrow river with swift currents.”

[2] Born in 1869 in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, William Gladstone Walton experienced his religious calling at the age of 18. He was attracted by the missions of the Canadian north, and arrived in Fort George in 1892. He traveled by canoe for six months of the year each summer to visit the Indians, and by dogteam to visit the Inuit in winter. His wife and close collaborator, Daisy Alice Spencer, replaced him when he was away from Fort George. Together, they translated and published numerous works in the Cree language, as well as part of the Bible in Inuktitut. Reverend Wilson’s reputation was so great that Inuit traveled from Hudson Bay to Hudson Strait to hear him preach, or to receive the sacrement of baptism or marriage. He stayed in the Arctic for 32 years until his retirement in 1924.

[3] This is the Inuktitut term for a non-aboriginal. Literally, it means “those who groom their eyebrows.”

[4] In fact, the Reverend Peck had already begun converting the Inuit of Kuujjuarapik and especially of Qilalugarsiuvik (Little Whale River) as early as the 1870s, but it seems the Inuit of other regions did not know about it.