Quinnuarjuak, Joanasie

Storyteller born in the area of today’s Puvirnituq (Nunavik) in 1895 – died in 1964.

Little is known about the life of Joanasie Qinnuarjuak, who was also referred to as Joanasie Quinnuarjuak, Yuanasi Qinnuayuaq or Yuanasi Qinnuayuaq E9-844. E9-844 was his disc number, an identifier assigned to all Inuit in the 1940s by the Canadian government. Joanasie Qinnuarjuak was born in 1895, near the location of the future Akulivik village, which was founded in the 1920s, about one hundred kilometres north of today’s Puvirnituq (Nunavik).

Joanasie Qinnuarjuak authored at least three tales. The first tale was told to Taamusi Qumaq, who may have recorded it in 1958. The text was published in 1998 in Tumivut, the cultural journal of Nunavik’s Inuit communities, in a trilingual version (Inuktitut, English, French) under the title “The Story of Aukkautik. L’histoire d’Aukkautik”. The story of Aukkautik took place in 1899 and was a story of a cycle of revenge: Aukkautik, who went hunting with his friend Kumainnaq, accidentally shot his friend’s son Koperqualuk, which triggered the bereaved father’s murderous rage. When the hunters returned to camp, Kumainnaq killed Aukkautik’s wife and children and then Aukkautik struck back and killed Kumainnaq and his wife. Local people were terrified by this continuing violence and by Aukkautik’s madness. They fled from the area of the Kuuvik (or Kovik) River, believing it to be a cursed area. Many of them died during their flight, thus becoming indirect victims of Aukkautik. People have continued to avoid this area until recently. Joanasie Qinnuarjuak’s other two stories, “Ikuutayuuq” and “Niliqtuaruq”, were written under the name Yuanasi Qinnuayuaq and were published in Zebedee Nungak and Eugene Arima’s bilingual collection of tales (English, French) Inuit stories. Légendes inuit. Povungnituk (1992). This book, first edited in 1988, followed two other editions: a bilingual edition (Inuktitut, English), Unikkaatuat sanaugarngnik atyingualiit Puvirngniturngmit. Eskimo Stories from Povungnituk, Quebec (1969), and another bilingual edition (Inuktitut, French), Unikkaatuat sanaugarngnik atyingualiit Puvirngniturngmit. Légendes inuit de Povungnituk, Québec (1975). The “Ikuutayuuq” tale is another murder and revenge story that takes place on the grimly known shore of the Kuuvik River.

Very little is known about Joanasie Qinnuarjuak as a person; but he is well known for telling a story that has become a myth across Nunavik and an object of interest for anthropologists and artists: the story of Aukkautik. Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, who highlighted the homonymy linking her to the first victim of this spiral of violences, studied this story. She analysed the story as a model case of the breakdown of social harmony in her book Traditions Relating to Customary Law in Nunavik. Les traditions liées au droit coutumier au Nunavik. ᐱᕐᕈᓯᑐᖃᑦᓴᔭᒥᑎᒍᑦ ᐱᖁᔭᖃᕈᓯᖏᑦ ᓄᓇᕕᒻᒥᐅᑦ (2015). A local song in Puvirnituq is based upon the story. In 2017, the Nunavik Inuit Theatre Company was planning to write and stage a play inspired by the story of Aukkautik, this tragic Inuit figure. The Nunavik Inuit Theatre Company was founded in 2009 by Avataq Cultural Institute and has worked closely with Nunavik’s Inuit youth within the framework of Inuktituurniup Saturtaugasuarninga, a project promoting the Inuktitut language.

This biography is based on the available written material during a collective research carried out during 2018-2021. It is possible that mistakes and facts need to be corrected. If you notice an error, or if you wish to correct something in an author's biography, please write to us at imaginairedunord@uqam.ca and we will be happy to do so. This is how we will be able to have more precise presentations, and to better promote Inuit culture.

(c) International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018-2021, Daniel Chartier and al.