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Greenland 2022: Qeqertat

Tine, Pascale and I made a memorable 3 day, toe numbing, dog sled journey down Ingelfield Fjord to the tiny remote village of Qeqertat, population of about 25. The folks here are known as narwal hunters, harpooning these unicorns of the sea by hand built kayaks.

The ice on the fjord was flat as a table top with no snow to speak of making it easy for the dogs to haul our load. Temps hovered around -30F with with no wind but felt colder on fingers and face.

Half way, we stayed in an old hunting hut that Tine and I had stayed in 23 years ago. The floor of the hut was dark and shinny from decades of marine mammal fat tracked in on hunter’s boots. We soon had the 10 foot by 10 foot shack heated with our camp stoves. We hung our damp and frosted clothes on lines strung across the ceiling, names of locals etched in the plywood walls. Behind the shack were signs of a recent successful caribou hunt with blood and fur off-setting the white snow. The next day we pulled into Qeqertat situated on a tiny Island. At first its is hard to believe anyone could live here year round as it would take 15 minutes to circle the town and and hour to walk the whole island. Just in front of the village were caches of frozen seals on top of the fjord ice, later to be thawed as food for people and dogs. The hides will later be used for mittens and footwear.

The village had not changed much except for a new generator system which supplies modest dwellings with electricity. They had built a new store, slightly bigger then the old one, at about 16 feet wide by 24 feet long. A dozen weather beaten houses peppered the uneven ledge rock, sled dogs took up the rest of the spaces. Some had lights shining from inside and others seemed vacant.

I brought blown up images of people I took in the village 23 years ago to give as gifts to whoever we may find. The town basically consists of one big family with the last name of Duneq. Soon after we arrived, a man in his late 40’s named Qitdlogtoq came over with a big smile and hug and saying “Lonnie”. Surprised, to hear my name, I finally realized he was a hunter I had spent time on a dog sled journey to Siorapaluk. We laughed about the old days and mishaps we'd had, as well as the obvious fact that we are getting older. He shared pictures of his family. I then realized that his wife is the daughter of Benigne…who I refer to as my Inuit Grandmother. Qitdlogtoq never forgot about the two dogs I gave him as a gift 2 decades ago and offered me his best dog for my journeys ahead.


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