Story and photography by Dustin Parr »
It was cold, colder than usual for the time of year. Some 45 kilometres to the northeast, the Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay) airport would tally the low of minus 31.8 C as the coldest April 18 of the last 20 years. But the sun was shining, a clear indication that the darkness and true chill of winter had been washed away by the embrace of an early High Arctic spring.
Here, at the frozen mouth of the Iqalulik river on the northwestern corner of Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island), a small camp began to take shape. Not so slowly, a mix of well-worn white canvas tents seemed to pop out of the equally white sea ice, joined by others of bright orange and yellow.
As the tents went up, organized activity flurried around them. Plywood, blankets, sleeping bags and stoves were pulled from their resting places deep inside the qamutiit (traditional Inuit sleds) and placed inside the tents. A small number of saw-or shovel-wielding campers ventured out to where the sea of snow drifts was undisturbed, seeking the best snow and ice for drinking and cooking water. Another group, also gripping saws and axes, chopped whole frozen Arctic char and seals into small, manageable portions for dogs. Those too young to help out kicked a soccer ball through the snow.