Forager Number 2 Fall 2015 - Page 27

M Y JOU RN E Y Caitlyn at home during Christmas 2014 Caitlyn Baikie On Inuit culture, the Franklin expedition, and growing up in a remote northern community AUTHOR LINDSAY VERMEULEN PHOTOS CAITLYN BAIKIE C aitlyn Baikie was twelve years old when she went on her first polar bear hunt. Her group of hunters travelled twelve hours over sea ice to her grandmother’s hometown. They stayed five days in the abandoned community, in simple fishing shacks that are left there for public use. When I tell her I’ve never been hunting, she’s shocked. “I grew up eating way more wild food than chicken. It’s expensive to buy those meats [in remote northern communities], and they’re not always the best quality, either.” Her family relies on hunting for sustenance, stocking three huge freezers with ptarmigan, Forager 2 Fall 2015 polar bear, seal, duck, and other game to feed their family throughout the year. They are residents of Nain, the northernmost community in Newfoundland and Labrador. “People lived farther north than Nain in the past,” Baikie explains, “but in 1959 the government forced them farther south, so people got relocated. My family was among those that got relocated south.” Just two hours below the treeline by snowmobile, Nain is home to roughly 1,200 permanent residents. It is accessible only by flights starting around $2,000 CAD, or by travelling over the sea ice (or by ship in the summer) from the nearest community. Early Years As a child, Baikie stayed busy despite the remoteness of her community. “I grew up hunting, fishing, travelling on the land, and learning about my grandmother’s hometown,” she says, however, “I did feel isolated growing up, like there was so much more in the world to discover.” In high school, her curiosity about what else the world had to offer increased. “I became interested in learning how the land I grew up in fit into the rest of the world.” She pursued an undergraduate degree at Memorial University in St. John’s, 21