Historically the Inuit were a largely nomadic people, travelling extensively with the seasons to follow the available wildlife. Inuit society was largely based around the immediate family; kinship formed the basis for co-operation and the sharing of food and other resources. Within the family there were well-defined roles, the husband as hunter and the wife as seamstress; making and maintaining the clothes essential to life in the harsh arctic environment. Inuit subsisted primarily on seals and other sea mammals and made use of all of the resources at their disposal. Despite having no defined tradespersons, they evolved a highly advanced tool-based society with ingenious solutions to a wide variety of problems.
Summers were spent on the tundra hunting caribou and muskoxen and fishing char in the abundant rivers. Living in skin tents, they travelled extensively with the caribou migration throughout well-defined territories. Winters brought small communities together near the coast where hunters co-operated in the seal hunt and clusters of snow-houses formed little settlements. The word Igloo, a dwelling long symbolic of the Inuit in western culture, actually means “house” and refers to any dwelling. The traditional snow-house is found almost exclusively in the central arctic regions of Canada amongst the people of the Kitikmeot and Nunavut.
Although most Kitikmeot Inuit now live in houses and are employed by the various governments, mining companies and local businesses in the region, many still hunt to preserve their traditional way of life and supplement their income. As is tradition, hunters share their catch with family members and elders in their community. It is by continuing to live our traditional way of life that Inuit culture and traditions will be preserved. Youth must learn the skills and traditions from family members and elders as they have for generations.