A short documentary focusing on traditional harvesting, including the safety protocols and hands-on technique needed to process a beluga whale, has been created by three Inuvialuit youth.
The Beluga Harvest Youth Project saw Shiense Cockney, Anthony Pokiak, and Chukita Gruben film and produce a documentary that features Inuvialuit families, Elders, and harvesting experts from Aklavik, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk.
Cockney and Pokiak were the videographers.
“It pushed us out of our comfort zone to try something new and bold. I was proud to edit the entire documentary into the ‘rough cut’ version,” Cockney was quoted as saying in a news release this week.
Pokiak said he had been beluga hunting and harvesting every summer since he was young and was “very proud to share my knowledge and experience with youth today.”
In their news release, the documentary makers said they hoped to showcase the “respect for the conservation and harvesting of beluga whale” to ensure muqtuq – whale skin and blubber – can continue to be an “integral part of Inuvialuit diets throughout the winter and in the future.”
Gruben, who coordinated the project, said the documentary would “contribute to filling in knowledge gaps and help families by encouraging more youth to get involved and carry on our cultural ways of life.”
The documentary will be available on the website of the Joint Secretariat of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Copies will be provided to the region’s schools and the documentary will be shared at the Beluga Summit – a multi-day gathering of beluga experts – when it returns to the Beaufort Delta after pandemic rules are eased.