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

Mickey Hempler

Fort Simpson, NT

I’ve lived in Fort Simpson for about nine years, I guess. Before that, I was in Fort Nelson, B.C. In north eastern B.C., we would be snow-ploughing, taking the snow off, and there would be lots of mice and stuff. The ravens, they would come and land behind the machine as you’re moving along and they would be picking up the mice and killing them, and they were just piling them up. And they eventually came back after they got about 10 of them piled up on the snow bank. Then they would take them, and get them and hide them up in the trees. In the camp, the ravens would always go through the camp garbage. One day, the cook threw out about five leftover wieners. A raven landed there, and he wouldn’t leave until he could get them all into his beak somehow, but every time he picked them up, they’d break in half so he would have an extra piece there. Finally he swallowed about three of them before he could get the pieces in. In Fort Nelson, we worked on logging roads. We would do the same part of the road every year for the logging companies, and it was always the same ravens every winter that would come back. When we got there, they would be there, and they would follow the CAT, they would land on the CAT, and we would feed them right from our seats. They would land on the dash and take the food right off there. Every year it was the same guys that would come back there, it was always the same ravens. We knew it was the same ravens because there were different feathers missing on some of them. We always knew it was the same ones because they always came right to the machines. As soon as we would stop for lunch, they would be right there, right on the machine. Another time, this guy would take extra just to feed these ravens. One time his machine broke down, so he put his lunch under the seat and started walking toward where I was working a mile away. We went back with my machine to get him going again. We got back there and the raven had gone under his seat and grabbed his lunch and was gone with it. There was one raven, a little one and he landed on the machine. Me and my buddy were feeding them cookies and pretty soon we could hear this other squawking, flying over us. I don’t know if that was his mother or what, but he jumped off the CAT, and hid down underneath the CAT. He hid under there until this one took off and then he came back and he was sitting on the hood again. I don’t know if that was his mother giving him hell for associating with humans or something. We had lots of fun with them. We’d try and catch them with the old fox traps, but we never could. We’d try putting food in there, and they would pull on the string and the box would fall down and they would try and reach under the box to grab the food. We never did catch one. There were pretty funny times when they were trying to take things from the camp. They wouldn’t leave until they could get it all. They would fill themselves right full and then they would try and fly and they couldn’t fly, they were too heavy to fly with or something. My dog caught one here in Fort Simpson last summer. There is usually two or three of them, and the one would distract the dog, and the other one would sneak in behind and grab the food out of his dog bowl. I was watching them out of the kitchen window and the dog was watching, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw those ravens coming around, and she turned around and she grabbed him right by the head. She had the full head in her mouth, and she just shook the hell out of it, and then let it go. The raven stumbled around there for a bit and took off, and then it came back and the dog grabbed it again. She caught it twice, but never killed it. She just shook the hell out of it, and then let it go. Finally it took off.