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I Was Born There: Torngat Mountains National Park

I was born in Sallek Bay I had good thoughts about this being made into a national park. But long before it was made into a national park, I was there. I think most people that visit, they’re looking at all these things: wildlife and remoteness of the area. And you’re wondering what you’re going to see and what’s going to be different about this place. You’re just trying to take it all in. It’s almost like it’s overload. It’s a totally different environment that you’re in. I was definitely excited. I was also quite nervous. Why choose Torngats? The beauty of it. The remoteness of it. We seen a polar bear within 5-10 minutes of being on the boat, It was absolutely incredible to see this massive animal. You feel like you’re… we’re no longer at the top of the food chain, and suddenly you feel like the hunted. And its kind of an interesting perspective. When you look at the Inuit people that call this land home and you wonder, how did they survive? We have bear guards around us. We have a twenty thousand volt fence around the base camp, and you’re looking back a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, five thousand years ago Not only in this climate, but with all of these polar bears roaming around. You arrive at base camp and only after a short time of being there it starts to feel like home It’s the focal point of the whole adventure. There’s such an amazing mix of people. You never know who you’re going to run into. When I was there, I was really fortunate. There was a geology team that were looking for the oldest rock in the world, and we know potentially that it could be in the Torngat Mountains. You’re talking an area that’s four plus billion years old. When you’re traveling through this area and you’re looking at these mountains… Then when you combine it with the age of them and the history of the Inuit people, back there thousands of years… You know, it’s just absolutely mind boggling The land is useful in a lot of ways. There are different things to keep you alive. They call it the land of the spirits and the Inuit have this connection. And when I say the connection, you actually feel like there is something there. Getting out of base camp, it’s really interesting because we would be hiking through these valleyways and mountains… And a bear guard would look and point to an old tent ring and say, “Oh, that’s where my mother was born.” It’s something that I think the rest of Newfoundland and Labrador is that this culture is very much alive. And people still choose to live on the land. We expect, because of modernization, that that is not something that one would choose to do, but it very much is. It is very important, and has to be important, to have time to tell the stories to visitors. I remember being on Rose Island and we had an Inuit lady with us that had been born on the island. She had been born in a sod house in 1948. And we walked down to a little beach and she’s talking about, as a child, playing on the beach. I’ve never experienced that before where you literally could see it. You feel like you’re getting a very genuine experience when you’re able to share in those memories with the people that are telling them. I’m so privileged to come here. I will never never ever forget this land. It’s my homeland. I think it’s our perspective when we visit is that, I’m going to this remote, northern area and what really struck me was how absolutely beautiful this area is, and it’s her home. So this is not remote. So it was totally different, it changed, you know, and this is their, this is their homeland. One thing that I found very surprising and very moving is the generosity of the people in sharing their personal stories. Something that is typically very intimate was so easily shared. I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time in helicopters. I have an absolute death fear of heights. But of course you’re going to overcome it when you’re in the Torngats. We flew out of base camp across crystal clear water. Beautiful sunny day. We set down at North Arm. We had a number of Inuit elders that were with us and I had the pleasure, they asked me, So I immediately started doing some of the fishing. And we had an elder, and she started to make some bannock at the same time I was fishing, so… At the end of it, we were all sitting around and she was cooking it and heating it and sat down and had an amazing feast. Absolutely incredible. The Inuit, I’ve never met a group of people that are so connected and so much part of the land. You know, more and more they’re returning because of course they were displaced over the years because of a number of different government policies. But when you’re with them you see that they never truly left. In the beginning they wanted the park to be up be up north and that was all right with me. We Inuit always used to go up there. This land will be taken care of. Of all the parks I’ve been to, all the places I’ve been to, this is the only one that’s had that impact on me where for days I was trying to figure out what’s different about this place And then when I was leaving, I realized what was different. It was the people. And I think that’s going to be the highlight for anyone that has the opportunity to go to the Torngat Mountains. You’re going to be absolutely amazed with the wildlife, I’ve never been on a trip that has been so emotionally fulfilling. I think the biggest draw is the people you encounter. You can’t separate the Torngat Mountains from the Inuit. They’re one and the same. It’s a very unique home to a very unique people. And you start to feel that. And I think once you do, then you realize what the trip was all about

Reader Comments

  1. Amazing film, thank you. Though I grew up in Western Labrador, I set my second novel in the Torngat Mountains. If anyone is interested in a northern adventure yarn that features Labrador history/facts as well, please check out Torngat by J. Richard Wright on and Happy reading…Richard

  2. I graduated from College with a diploma in information systems and lived in a city in NewBrunswick. I was brought up in the woods and on a river so I always needed my weekly fix of it so at the same time as my information system career I ran my own snow blowing company in winter and did some logging in the summer. It was all great but it never satisfied my sense of adventure but I continue to support my family. I am now semi retired, my kids are now adult and on their own so I have a sense of freedom that I don't want to waste. I was looking at the Yukon and found this. I think my next Journey just might be the Yukon or one of the Northern territories.

  3. The native people of our land are Gods children and we need to honor them as such. I will one day visit this land and It would be a joy to get to know some of the people of our native land.

  4. This is an amazing piece! I am from Newfoundland and Labrador but have never been to the Torngat Mountains. I can't believe how incredible this is. WEll done!

  5. We take land and make our homes But it still is nothing compared to nature …One of the reasons we pack up and leave the cities on longweekends To remind us where we really should be

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