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A little background to my story of Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine:
Through this marvelous internet I have been in contact with Poul Alex Jensen in a village north of Morisuaq where Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine lived. Much to my delight, in 1998 Poul graciously e-mailed me many recent pictures he took with his digital camera and news from the area. Also he went out of his way to research the closing chapter on the life of Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine that I will present below.
Poul is the "Manager of Culture & Education" in qaanaaq Kommunia (Municipal of Qaanaaq). He is the head administrator for schools in the northwest area of Greenland. This area encompasses Morisuaq (where I visited) and several other villages north of Thule Air Base. Qaanaaq is the largest of these villages with approximately 550 inhabitants now living in modern facilities. That is where Poul lives with his wife Nalikkatsiaq, sons Avataq (12 years) and Ituku ( 8 years), and daughter Atussuk (3 years). Poul also has a daughter Nuno (20 years).
Poul describes his own history briefly like this: "Born in Copenhagen 1952. Bought a one way ticket for Greenland in 1973. Finished education as teacher in Nuuk 1978. Was then teacher in the village Tasiussaq North of Upernavik for two years. Then in Nussuaq (Kraulshavn) further north for 3 years. From 1983 to 89 was just a hunter back in Tasiusaq where I build my own house. Bought my first computer (commodore 128) in 1986".
Poul has created a very informative web site with many beautiful pictures about Qaanaaq and the surrounding villages. I highly recommend you visit his site later to see what it was like in these communities in 1998.
On with my story about Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine:
In the spring of 1998 Poul sent me an e-mail after discovering my Greenland web site. Here is one thing he said:
"I showed some of your pictures of Ittuku and Qaavigarsuaq to people around here (family), and they were very pleased because they have never seen the pictures before."
I was euphoric to have my pictures viewed by descendents of Qavigarssuaq, Bebaine, and Ittuku! What a miracle this internet is!
After many informative and enjoyable message exchanges with Poul, in the summer of 1998 he went by boat to the village of Morisuaq and searched for the home where Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine welcomed me and my friends over 30 years ago. He found it abandon and took these pictures and e-mailed them to me. They are very meaningful to me, and bring back cherished memories. (Thanks Poul!)
Qavigarssuaq and Bebaine are gone now. They died of natural causes close to the same time in 1978. On the walls of this humble shack once hung a large framed certificate signed by the King of Denmark. In gold and colored lettering on parchment, the king praised Qavigarssuaq for his extraordinary efforts in safely guiding early explorers thousands of miles across the desolate and hazardous arctic. Surely without his knowledge and skills for survival in that hostile environment, the explorer Knut Rasmussen and others would not have survived or even been mentioned in history books.
"Yet, he was a modest man and, to his last breath, a man more proud of his heritage than of all the honours that had been conferred upon him."
© 2007 Larry Rodrigues. All rights reserved.