Glossary

Blubber — The fat of seals, whales and walrus.

Breathing hole sealing — Seals are warm–blooded animals who need to resurface from the sea from time to time to breathe. They keep returning to the same hole, thereby preventing it from freezing over. Traditionally, Inuit hunters went out onto the sea ice in December. With the assistance of dogs, or by reading minute depressions in the snow, the hunter locates a breathing hole, and then bends over it waiting for the seal to surface. It could be many hours, and the hunter stays motionless throughout the wait. When the seal comes up to breathe, the hunter thrusts the harpoon into the seal. The harpoon head, which is attached to a long line, comes off, wedging into the head and making it possible to pull the animal up through the hole. The hunt is conducted much the same way today, although rifles are used rather than harpoons.

Culling — To hunt or kill animals as a means of population control.

Hakapik — A tool of Norwegian design for clubbing seal, consisting of a shaft, hammer head (used to crush a seal's skull), and a hook (used to drag away the carcass) on the end. When used correctly, it is said to be a humane and quick way to kill the animal. Some hunters prefer it as it allows them to kill the seal without damaging the pelt. In Canada, hakapiks are used primarily on the east coast. There have been calls to ban hakapiks by Canadian politicians over the years, mostly because of concerns that it contributes to a negative image of the seal hunt, as Europe contemplates a ban on importing seal products. Both sealers and activists resist the call to ban the tool, as both sides claim that one rifle shot does not always kill the animal, and they are left bleeding on the ice floes until the hunters can get close enough for a second shot.

Harpoon — A tool used by the Inuit primarily for hunting sea mammals, consisting of a shaft, a removable toggle head and a line.

Inuit — The original indigenous inhabitants of the Canadian Arctic. Inuit means "people".

Kamik — An Inuktitut word from the central and eastern Canadian Arctic meaning boot.

Mind Map — A mind map is a diagram that begins with a central idea, with new and related ideas radiating out from the centre. By focusing on key ideas and then looking for branches out and connections between the ideas, this tool 'maps' knowledge in a way that helps one to understand and remember new information.

Pleated soles — Pleated sealskin soles are cut larger than the actual foot measurement. Edges are chewed, thinned and scraped to soften them. This enables the sewer to make tiny, compact pleats. Pleats are made by taking a small stitches and pulling them tight. Pleats help shape the sole by creating a cup around the heel and toe.

Scraper — A tool for removing hair and softening hide.

Scraping platform — Two flat boards nailed perpendicularly to one another on which the skin is spread to remove blubber or hair. Some skins are not suited to cleaning on a scraping platform because of their thickness or vulnerability to tears.

Sinew — The leg or back tendon of a large animal such as a moose or a caribou that, when shredded into strands, makes a strong thread. It expands when wet thus 'filling' the sewing holes punched by an awl, and therefore helping to make a garment more waterproof.

Sole — The bottom part of a shoe or boot which touches the ground.

Stretching Frame — A rectangular frame made of wooden poles or boards lashed or nailed together. A skin that has been scraped free of fat and fascia is lashed and stretched on a frame until it dries.

Tapestry – A wall–hanging with rich, often varicoloured designs or scenes created by weaving or appliqué.

Ulu — A crescent–shaped knife used by women throughout the Arctic.