About Canadian Inuit Dogs
"Rough Ice" from a painting by Germaine Arnaktauyok
During the last Ice Age, more than 15,000 years ago, the Bering Land Bridge emerged between Siberia and Alaska when sea levels dropped, linking Asia and North America. It is widely accepted that the Bering Land Bridge was the most probable migratory route of colonizers from Asia into North America.
Together, humans accompanied by their dogs, braved extreme weather and living conditions in a challenging environment where the basics of daily life were often in short supply.
Their close association and ability to depend on each other became a partnership in a quest for survival that made the difference between life and death.
Known as qimmiq, these dogs evolved in large part by natural selection, where only the strongest survive. They were Inuit's hunting and working companions and served as guardians and protectors of the humans with whom they lived. Based on archaeological findings, qimmiq has been in Canada's Arctic since the earliest Paleo-Inuit hunters arrived in the New World more than 4,000 years ago.
It wasn't that long ago when the survival of Inuit living on the edge of the top of the world depended on qimmiq. As recently as the 1960s, qimmiq was still essential for many Inuit's semi-nomadic way of life. Together, man and dog travelled the Arctic in search of food, following the seasonal movement of the animals they hunted on land and at sea. Inuit would evaluate what their dogs were doing against what they thought was the course of action. Many a tale has been told about the lives qimmiq has saved. Qimmiq earned himself a place in the hearts, history, culture and traditions of Inuit, and on May 1, 2000, the Legislative Assembly of the government of Nunavut, with the official herald of Canada, designated qimmiq as its official animal symbol and named it Canadian Inuit Dog.
Photos by Debbie McAllister, Calgary
Photo by Fred Lemire, Iqaluit
Photo by Elise Maltinsky
Photo by Debbie McAllister
Photo by Siu-Ling Han