Expedition Report: Makkovik and the MV Astron

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25th September, by Cornelia and Dario:

Because the weather forecast announced a storm for the next night, we spend the whole day in Makkovik. The first permanent settlers in Makkovik came to the area as craftsmen and sailors and settled as hunters, trappers and fishermen. It’s now a nice village with a population of 400 people. Junior, a fisherman, told us about the changes here: In earlier times he knew exactly when the fishes and birds were coming, now he doesn’t know anymore because it changed. Winter is getting warmer, so the ice on the sea is softer and it is sometimes dangerous to go on the frozen sea to hunt. Instead of hunting seals close to the town, he has to go further now. Until 1964 they used the dogs for getting around, then the snowmobiles came and it was too expensive to afford the dogs and the ski-doos, so they don’t use the dogs anymore for getting around. It became hard to live outside town, so the people moved all into town, which is getting bigger and bigger. This is a problem, because there are not enough jobs. Junior can only work in summertime for the Torngat Fish Producers Co-op, and in winter time he gets half of his salary from the government and he uses the time for cutting wood and hunting. He travelled also to Europe and Asia through his job with the Fish Plant, but for him his village is still the nicest place in the world. Despite the changes, it is still a peaceful, quiet place with fresh air and beautiful environment. A wonderful walk along the Board Walk showed us a part of this beauty.

The women in the gift store told me more about the life here in town. The community is allowed to shoot 2 polar bears and 2 moose each year. The license is issued to one person at a time and expires after 72 hours. If the hunter is not successful in that time frame, the license will be passed on to the next person on the list. When a person shoots a polar bear in self defence, he or she isn’t allowed to keep the fur and the meat. Each year, families can obtain a license to catch seven salmon per household and at the moment there is a ban on shooting caribou, because the population went down. For seals and geese there are no limits. For people who are unable to hunt on their own or who have no one to hunt for them, they can go to the community freezer. People, mainly the elderly, are allowed to take some meat out there. She also told me that here is a ban on plastic bags on many of the communities along the coast. They only use reusable shopping bags.

At 4 pm our whole family went to church, where we became friend’s with Jodie’s family, who invited us in their house to eat Arctic chores. She also was able to connect us with the school principal to organize the next day’s school events.

The cargo ship MV Astron which came in this morning, stayed here for a total of 3 days, during the storm, because they don’t have a safe dock in their next destination.
We got invited by its captain Brent Mansfield. We had the opportunity to see the boat and eat diner there. They use 400 l of fuel per hour or 10t per day. It was very interesting for our kids to see the 3500 HP motor and learn about their navigation systems on the bridge.
They can come up here until December when the sea ice freezes and they start to come here again in June. For us this was a nice change to meet other people and to sit down without needing to cook. Thank you so much for all your hospitality and help.

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