I make tools. I do it because there are so few people in the community that have chosen to learn to make their own tools. I do it out of respect for my father and my forefathers. I do it so children in future generations can say “I watched my dad make those” in the way I can about my own father.
I actually have an ulu in the British Museum. It brings me a great deal of pleasure that I have a piece in a museum, but I care more that I have pieces that are in constant use. I make functional tools: ulus, haviks and other carving knives, spears, and sleds, the way they made them long, long ago. I make decorative work also, like wall clocks featuring tools and some local images. The tools, particularly the ulus, are in incredible demand, but I’m not really in it for the money – I care about quality and usability, so it takes me a long time to produce them. My biggest challenge is making enough.
The name of this place is Ulukhaktok – which translates to “the place where ulu parts are found.” So my work is a part of a very, very old tradition. The stone here is very hard and sharp, better than any other man made knives anywhere, even a surgeon's scapal. My biggest influence is the land.
In our culture, an object or an artifact has its own spirit; it finds the person. So I know a good stone or a good raw material when I see it – when it’s ready, it finds me.