Building a Kayak
From the Netsilik Eskimo series
Directed by Quentin Brown
Building a Kayak Part 1
Building a Kayak Part 2
About Building a Kayak
Part 1, color, 32 minutes - watch a preview
Now it is July - summer. The run-off is in full spate and open water shows offshore. Ice cakes melt on the shingle. On the bay are ducks. It is time to build a kayak, a task shared by two men. They gather materials: valuable scraps of wood, bone, seal skins and sinews. Now there is much cutting, fitting, joining and binding. The woman helps by cutting additional thongs, scraping skins, providing food. She must also amuse the child who seems left out by the single-minded work of the men. Then the work breaks and a man harpoons a fish in a tide pool; all share the pleasure of fresh food.
Part 2, color, 33 minutes - watch a preview
As the kayak takes shape there are more ribs to be split and shaped to fit, more soaking, bending and binding, more skins to soak and scrape and soak again before stretching them tightly on the frame and sewing them in place. Now the outer rim is put in position and, while the ice floats in the bay, the men launch and test their new kayak with evident pleasure in its able performance.
About the Netsilik Eskimo series
These films reveal the live reality of traditional Eskimo life before the European acculturation. The Netsilik Eskimos of the Pelly Bay region in the Canadian Arctic had long lived apart from other people and had depended entirely on the land and their own ingenuity to sustain life through the rigors of the Arctic year. The filming was done during the summers of 1963 and 1964 and in the late winter of 1965 under the ethnographic direction of Dr. Asen Balikci of the University of Montréal, assisted by Guy Mary-Rousseliere, O.M.I., both anthropologists of wide Arctic experience. Quentin Brown was Producer-Director, and Kevin Smith the Executive Producer for the series.
other films in the Netsilik Eskimo series:
At the Caribou Crossing Place
At the Autumn River Camp
At the Winter Sea Ice Camp
Jigging for Lake Trout
At the Spring Sea Ice Camp
Group Hunting on the Spring Ice
Stalking Seal on the Spring Ice
Fishing at the Stone Weir