Simeonie Amagoalik is my name; my grandfather was Amagoalik and my father was his namesake. I was born May 1, 1933 in Inujjuak, northern Quèbec, 25 miles outside of a place called Upirnngiviaruq.
I was 14 years old when I first started carving. There was an American fellow who started us on carving soapstone and tusks. He was with the Hudson’s Bay Company and his Inuktitut name was Saumik (left-handed). By the 50’s, carving had become a currency so everyone was doing it.
The only other currency that was available to us was trading fox pelts. But by that time, the price of the white fox pelts had plummeted. The trading prices had always fluctuated, from $20 a pelt, to $18, to $7, but at that time it was as low as $3.50 a pelt. The brown fox pelt was traded as low as 50 cents a pelt.
We were relocated in 1953 to Resolute Bay by the Canadian Government. Government officials told us that we must stay at least two years and after that time, we would be free to return to Inujuak, if we chose to do so. We were told that would give us an opportunity to see if the hunting was more promising than it had been in Inujjuak at that time.
We were told that we would be equipped with everything we needed in Resolute Bay. We were told we would be provided with radio communications so we could stay in touch with Inujjuak. While we were sailing up by ship, we were told that we would be provided with housing once we got there. When we got there, there were none of those things. We were not provided housing and didn’t have any means to hunt, as we had left our boat behind.
Since that time, I have been carving soapstone, bones, tusks and antlers. These days people are sculpting granite and I have worked with granite on a few small sculptures. It is challenging, but it appears to be marketable.