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

Eric Bursey

Iqaluit, NU

I’m an RCMP officer and we’ve been stationed in different places in the North. In 1993-95, we were living in Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories, an area that has a heavy raven population. You see them all the time. I used to walk tot work every day and there was an area where you would see 30 or 40 of them. Every morning, they were sitting in the trees, yelling at you, squawking at you. They were all over the place and real nuisances some times. Previously we were stationed in Arviat in Nunavut, from 91-93. After we left Arviat we were transferred to Smith and I had to go back to Arviat for a court case in early 1994 to testify. We lived in row housing in Fort Smith, gaudy, awful row housing. There were a lot of RCMP officers living together. One of the guys I lived next door to was an RCMP officer and a friend. He had a mutual friend living and stationed in Arviat. Joe, the member in Fort Smith, had just shot his first moose that fall. He was quite proud of it and bragging about it all the time. He asked me if I would bring some of this meet over to Arviat to Rod, our mutual friend. There is no moose meat there. Rod is a Newfoundlander like me and moose hunting is bog back in Newfoundland. He knew Rod would like some moose meat. No problem I said. This was two or three weeks in advance. I told him to package up the meat and get it ready and freeze it so I could bring it. Joe, being a big procrastinator, said I’ll get to it. This went on almost every day for two weeks. I’d harass him. They day before, I called him two or three times and he was working night shift and I was on day shift. I had to leave the following morning at 5 or 6 to get the plane to Yellowknife to Rankin to Arviat. I said get it to me, I need it packaged tonight. He said no problem. 10 p.m. came and I called him at the detachment. I asked him about the moose and he said no, it’s at home, but I’ll get it to you before I go to bed. I said I’m leaving at 5 so get it over here so I can get to bed and get some sleep. Midnight came and there was no sign of him. I was fed up with him by this time. To hell with the moose. I’ve got to go to bed. I turned the lights off and never thought anything else about it. About 4 or 4:30, there was an unbelievable ruckus outside, it was February or March and there was still a lot of snow and it was cold, minus 40. I thought what is going in outside. I knew it was birds. We got up and looked outside and you could see the steps. There were 15 or 20 ravens jumping around the truck. It was insanity down there. I ran downstairs and opened the door and they were squawking at me. They’re pretty brazen and brave and they didn’t fly off. I could see this great big brown mass and they were fighting over it. I looked at my watch and saw it was 4 and thought I might as well get in the shower. I went upstairs and my wife and I had a bit of a discussion about what the ravens been doing and what the problem was and I got in the shower. My wife Jeanette mentioned she heard Joe stomping around in the unit next door. He went downstairs for a while. He was out dealing with ravens too. The squawking had pretty much stopped and the birds were all gone. I got my bags together and left and made the trek to the airport. I was there a few hours and Rod met me at the airport. I went to court and at some point Rod asked me about the moose. He was looking forward to it. When he asked me, he asked me in a strange way. He was half laughing. I said Joe didn’t get it together. I told him you’re going to have to go get it yourself. He burst out laughing. I asked what was so funny. He said there was no moose meat to be had because there were 20 or 30 ravens in Fort Smith and they have their bellies full and they’re fat on my moose meat. It still wasn’t making any sense and he was laughing. He tells me the story. I guess at some point, he called and spoke to Joe’s wife. Joe wouldn’t confess. She told Rod that Joe had packaged the moose, about 20 or 30 pounds of steaks, and it was frozen. When Joe came home from work, he thought he’d leave it outside at 5, he’ll trip over it and take it with him. It was no more than half an hour later and he was awakened by the commotion outside. He went down and they had completely stripped the box and the cardboard was gone and the plastic bags were gone and they were fighting over this giant chunk of meat. I couldn’t believe he’d done that because we’d had so many problems with these ravens. To this day he denies the whole thing happened. We never told him his wife ratted him out. But he wouldn’t confess.