Meet the North: Hockey Love in Arctic Style

Meet the North is a circumpolar project about the modern, un-Googleable Arctic. . .

My first clue to the hockey obsession of this town was Nina’s bag, which is handmade from sealskin and decorated with an Edmonton Oilers badge.

Nina Kautuq goes everywhere with her sealskin Oiler’s bag (Photo Eric Guth)

Once I clued in, I realized the community was peppered with mittens, hats, parkas, and kamiks (sealskin boots), often handmade, that celebrate what some in Canada simply call “the game.”

Hockey is popular all over this country, but places like Pond Inlet, at the northern tip of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, are most often associated—for a southern audience at least—with hunting, snowmobiles, and seal meat. Not with the national winter sport.

To celebrate hockey and showcase the beautiful clothing these fans wear, we invited everyone to a portrait session at the edge of town.

Two women hold signs to advertise photo shoot
At the local flea market, writer Jennifer Kingsley stands with Erica Koonark to publicize the photo shoot (Photo Eric Guth)

All afternoon, with the mountains of Bylot Island in the background, we greeted people and tried to capture their love for the game. We wanted to showcase the clothing, and, more importantly, share an aspect of Arctic life that most southerners don’t see. There are many, many things that make this community tick – including hockey!

With the Stanley Cup playoffs in full swing, fans all over the continent are gathering to watch the games. The north is full of fans too, and here are a few, cheering for their teams, Arctic style.

Photo Eric Guth

Elizabeth Inuaraq made these hockey jerseys – Montreal Candiens (left) and retro Vancouver Canuck (right) – for her sons Tony and Jack.


Three people wearing Montreal Canadiens jerseys
Photo Eric Guth

Lily Idlout, Sherry Saunders and Jaypeedy show off their homemade Montreal Canadiens parkas.


Photo Eric Guth

Simon Sangoya has a custom Oilers parka made by Tapisa Koonoo and a hat to match.


Woman posed in Maple Leafs amauti
Photo Eric Guth

Louisa Amarnalik visited Toronto in 1985. “I’m not a hockey fan,” she said, “I just sew.” She has used this Maple Leafs amauti many times to keep her warm and to carry children on her back.


Edmonton Oilers fans
Photo Eric Guth

Lots of people wear a combination of store bought and homemade fan wear. Nina Kautuq’s signed Jordan Eberle jersey was a very special gift from the Edmonton Oilers themselves.


Maple Leafs keychain
Photo Eric Guth

Accessorize! Robie Aglak wears Toronto Maple Leafs from head to toe, but it’s these details – key, keychain, and tiny handmade kamiks in team colours – that really set the whole thing off.


Photo Eric Guth

Kirt Pitseolak with his jersey, stick and sealskin mitts. Express your style!

Thank you to the people of Pond Inlet who participated in this day and who welcomed us to the community.

Meet the North is sponsored by the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic partnership.

Human Journey


Meet the Author
Jennifer Kingsley is a National Geographic Explorer and the founder and team lead for Meet the North, a project that builds cultural understanding through storytelling. She is a journalist and the author of Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild, winner of the National Outdoor Book Award. Her radio work has been broadcast around the world and recognized by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Bio photo by Rich Reid.