(too-loo-gak): Inuktitut (the language of Inuit) word meaning raven

Bruce Valpy

Yellowknife, NT

was 26 and single in Yellowknife. What a scary thing that was. I guess I was what you would call a party animal. I was living in Old Town of course with the renowned Nancy Campbell who was one of the Daughters of the Midnight Sun. She was a society lady I would say. She loved to have parties. I would walk up town probably after having been here a few months. I don’t think I noticed the ravens at first. They’d just be around. They’re always around and after a while they kind of sink in. They have character with their feathers sticking out all over the place, like they’d just had a wild night of it. I would be going up town and I would spy a raven feather lying on the sidewalk and it would be shiny and in perfect order. I would stick it in the pocket of my jean jacket and then I would go up town. Generally, as was my habit, I would drink and party until I could do no more of it. Wherever I would wake up, I would look at my raven feather and judging by the condition of it, it would reflect all that had gone on the night before. Sometimes it would be bent and broken right off and sometimes it would just be twisted, but it always was different from when I put it in. I guess after a while I would be sensing my mood on the way up the hill and I might put two feathers in there and I figured I was in for a pretty rough time of it. There were a couple of times I got up to three feathers. That would reflect what my mood was going up and the energy I was carrying in me. That’s what would come out and I would be left washed up on the seas of alcohol the next morning, high and dry. I don’t remember waking up without the feather. It was always stuck in my pocket, always there. It wasn’t even a conscious ritual. I never even thought of it until you mentioned the raven thing to me. It was just something I would do. I think the ravens, the way they congregate, they used to congregate on the YK Inn, they’d be up there at 40 below by the hundreds, they’re always walking around and always disheveled. They look like they’re out of control and they don’t care about anything. Garbage is great and people are fine and you can never catch them or get near them and they’re always making noise. I guess I got some kind of psychic connection with these black beasts of the skies. That’s what we were doing on the ground. We were looking for anything we could find and we wanted to ravage it and move on to the next – unfortunately it was our body and people. That’s human nature I guess. I haven’t done that for a very long time. I was doing that until I ended up having children and mortgages. I did that for a couple of years. That’s my only connection with ravens. I wish Pepsi could tell stories. Dumais could tell you she has stories, but she can’t speak so she won’t tell you.