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ExWeb interview with Noah Nochasak, “connecting with a past that is so much part of my Inuit culture.”

Posted: Apr 18, 2012 12:29 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer) 24-year-old Noah teamed up with veteran adventurer, Jerry Kobalenko to fulfill his dream on a specific 550km sledge-haul expedition. Jerry said to ExplorersWeb he was mainly there to support Noah trying to revive something of past Inuit culture.

Noah’s quest did revive something of past Inuit culture as well as the present, as can be seen in the reception he (and Jerry) got after completing the expedition.

Noah tells ExWeb about how he first tried alone, what he has learned, how his life has changed and about his future plans.

ExplorersWeb: You had a dream; when did you realize there is something adventurous brewing inside you and how did you decide you have to do something about it and not only think about it?

Noah: I knew since I was 14 that it was time to start following the men. I was ready at 21 when I came home after college. I wanted to do a trip that would require more attention and long term effort. I started gathering skills that you do not find in schools yet.

ExplorersWeb: You first tried to go out alone. Why didn’t it work out?

Noah: Mainly it was that I was not used to working that hard for that little. I’d done 100 km trips over flat terrain but trying 500 km over hilly terrain took me aback. Beating your body out for 15 km a day, every day, with no end in sight was new to me.

Also I used a wooden sled, seal oil lamp, and had chosen a direct but mountainous route that I believed I was strong enough to cross.

ExplorersWeb: What did you learn from this expedition?

Noah: Mainly I learned how to work hard for a little.

I also learned about mukluks, kamiks, skis, nailing and screwing a tent down, and picking best trekking poles possible.

Also, how effective maps can be for navigating unfamiliar country. (Most people here know the land beforehand from their parents or uncles, etc.)

ExplorersWeb: What was the worse experience(s)?

Noah: It was not good having to put two bandages on each leg for half the trip after my upper legs started to stiffen from slight injuries. Putting on frozen boots too.

ExplorersWeb: What did you enjoy most?

Noah: I enjoyed the purity of the travel. How it requires a level of focus you don’t find in motorized travel.

I felt like I was doing something right, doing what myself and probably most young native men, would like to do: connecting with a past that is so much a part of our culture.

ExplorersWeb: Your quest captured the imagination of local people and they turned up in their hundreds at the end. Did you expect this? How did it feel to see all the people?

Noah: It was dramatic to see elders, kids, really every age group come out and they were waiting as a storm was coming down. To see a dream come true after years… people know what that means.

I didn’t expect so many but it was a time I will never forget. Back home in Nain, I’ve been receiving a lot of congratulations as well.

ExplorersWeb: What inspiration did they get out of what you did?

Noah: The conception is that natives have become lazy. But back when we were doing this sort of travel all the time we were heathens, we weren’t really people. Nowadays elders feel we’ve forgotten those old skills; young people point fingers at one another.

White people always have something to say, but who knows what it’ll be this decade. So by doing this walk I beat out all those points. I reached people and reminded them it can still be done in 2012.

ExplorersWeb: How do you feel now that you are home?

Noah: Hard get used to all of the noise and people not cooperating. But good to see people again too.

ExplorersWeb: Are you the same ‘person’ as before?

Noah: No, I passed a test that no one can dispute. That gives you a certain power. You can’t mess with culture, and what Jerry and I did is very culturally applicable.

ExplorersWeb: What about future expeditions? Are you ready for more? Any specific plans?

Noah: You bet I’m ready for more.

- I have an 800 km kayaking expedition starting July 1st, 2012 where an American partner and I will kayak Nain to Kangiqsualujjuaq via the northern tip of Labrador. I’ll be paddling a traditional kayak I built myself.

- A 400 km manhauling expedition from Killinek, in northern Labrador, through the Torngat Mountains on the Labrador side down to the abandoned village of Hebron. No partner yet, but it would start in late March/Early April 2013.

Video below of Noah hauling his sled uphill.

On April 5th, 2012 24-year-old Inuit Noah Nochasak and veteran Canadian explorer Jerry Kobalenko finished a 44-day, 550 km sledge-haul expedition from Nain, Labrador to Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec. The route was Noah’s dream said Jerry and what appealed to him about Noah's dream was “how pure and unaffected it was”.

Nain resident Noah Nochasak “works a temporary job then takes off on the land”. He has a diploma in Civil Engineering Technology but work is scarce where he lives he says. “I have no kids and no bad habits but you still might call me “unstable” because travelling is my priority.” Noah would like to work for Parks Canada soon.

#Polar #topstory #interview

Jerry Kobalenko and Noah having fun the morning they started from Nain, before they “got all wind-ravaged”.
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko
“I enjoyed the purity of the travel and how it requires a level of focus.”
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko
"I passed a test that no one can dispute. That gives you a certain power."
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko
Noah: "I recommend [to other adventurers who want to do this] to be a thoroughly experienced hunter to get their own food and understand polar bears, which are full time hunters themselves." Image: Earlier this year Noah sledge-hauled with Jerry Kobalenko. (Image courtesy of Kobalenko)
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko
“[I learned] how effective maps can be for navigating unfamiliar country. (Most people here know the land beforehand from their parents or uncles, etc.)” In the image the expedition route.
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko