Brianna B.

Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador


Umiaks and Kayaks of Northern Labrador

An umiak is a large, open, Inuit boat used to transport families. A kayak is a hunting boat which is meant to fit a single person.



What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I have learned about the umiaks and kayaks of Northern Labrador is that these traditional boats are made of seal skins. The skins had to be bearded (have the fur removed), sewn together with caribou sinew, and coated with seal oil/fat every couple of days to stay waterproof.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

An important lesson I have learned while doing my heritage fair project is that the traditional umiaks and kayaks are very rare. Only a few people in Nain now know how to build the traditional kayak, while nobody in Nain builds umiaks anymore.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Life today is very different from when people used umiaks and kayaks because the boats took many weeks to build. Soaking spruce trees, bending & drying them, bearding the seals, lashing the materials together,coating with seal oil, etc. Now the Inuit of Labrador prefer fibreglass boats with special technology that are easier to take care of.