Saturday, April 16, 2011

seal skinning & skidoos

Yesterday was a very full day.  The morning began with the seal skinning, afternoon brought skidoo races, and the evening was a ladies night at Amy's friend's house.

***This post is not for the squeamish or those who faint at the sight of blood.***

That said, I went to the a fore mentioned seal skinning with Julie at the french school on Friday morning.  The teachers were all dressed up like bunnies because this was their last day before spring and Easter breaks.  Many of the kids were also in PJs because it was Pajama Day.

 They drug the main attraction into center stage.  The frozen seal was now thawed enough to carve.  It was an all school assembly (small school) and the kids all gathered around.  They said in the beginning if there were any kids that didn't want to watch they could go do something else.  A few did.

 Using a blade that the man has had for many years an elder began the skinning.  I LOVE all the kids reactions.

 Seals have a lot of fat around them and that is how they survive in the Arctic waters.  Traditionally the fat is used for just about any and everything in Inuit culture. 

 Once he removed all of the skin, cutting around the flippers, he began to open it up.

 The demonstrator cut up bits of liver and meat for the kids to try, if they wanted.  The blond boy is Xavier, Julie's oldest son, going for some seal liver.  He ran up to afterward said something in french and ran to the bathroom.  I don't think he was such a fan.

Julie also had little Thomas.  He was, as usual, adorable.  All the little kids just flocked to him.
Once the initial skinning was over students went out to play and one of the mothers stepped in to continued with the butchering and processing of the seal.

The boys were jumping at the opportunity to snag a nail.  They will dry it out and wear it about their necks.
It was really weird to hear them crunch all the flipper bones when she separated it from the rest of the body.  Apparently that is traditionally a woman's part of the seal.

She is using an ulu to do the carving.  This is a very important instrument and is used for cutting anything and everything.  She commented that this one in particular wasn't very sharp and difficult to cut with.

Here I am trying some raw seal.  Julie took quite a few photos for me so I threw them together for your entertainment.  It taste very fishy with a smooth yet chewy texture.

I much prefer the bannock that another parent whipped up for all the kids to try.  Bannock is traditionally a Scottish bread that came to the area from traders and has been incorporated into the food culture. Translations: Sirop d'erable is maple syrup, pommes are apples, and cannelle is cinnamon.

Later that day Marcus, Maeve, Lily and I went to watch some skidoo races.  The event is called the uphill climb and in it two skidoos race to see which can get to the top of the hill first.

Marcus with the girls.
The location was beautiful and full of rocky spots where skidoos will not go over, keeping them safe for spectators not wanting to get ran over.
Lily played with her friends the whole time.  They enjoyed slidding down the sides of the hill.
Maeve enjoyed that activity too.
Two skidoos racing up the hill.

Earlier that day Lily had her face painted like a princess at school.

 The hills were right on the bay and the view was just stunning.

The races were running very slow between goes and I was pretty frozen so we left after about half of them went.

After dinner Amy and I went to a Ladies' Night dinner at her friend's house, who is Indian.  It was a very delicious meal, Arctic Char was the main course and there were all sorts of Indian dishes as well.  After dinner we received instructions on Indian dancing and all danced the night away.  It was so much fun.  They live right on the bay with (this time of year) tundra for view.  It was quite the experience to be dancing to the great Indian music with the Arctic as our scenery.  

That was the great ending to a tremendous day.


Katherine Ross said...

so. much. blooood. And I can't help feeling sad for the seal, even though I know the people use every last bit of it. I almost couldn't take the picture of the seal nails.... but watching your reaction made it all worthwhile :) haha

Lizzie said...

I thought the best part of this post was the kids faces at the seal skinning . . . until I got to the photos of you tasting raw seal - absolutely hilarious!