Nunavut women find berry picking ‘gold mine’ in northern Quebec – North

A Pangnirtung woman says she has found a “pot of gold” for berry picking — but it’s 1,000 kilometres away.

“I have never seen so many berries. There’s berries everywhere, like, some are humongous,” said Elaine Metuq. “I get overwhelmed sometimes because of all the berries.”

Seven women and an infant — mostly relatives of Metuq — made the trek earlier this month from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, to Inukjuak, a village on Hudson Bay in northern Quebec.

The plants were brimming with black crowberries in fist-sized clusters, according to Elaine Metuq. (Courtesy Oleepeka Metuq)

Metuq’s brother lives there so they went for a family visit. While there, they decided to try and add to the few berries they had managed to harvest back home.

After picking for a few weekends around Pangnirtung, including travelling to some berry patches by boat, Metuq managed to fill 1½ large Ziploc bags with the black berries.

In Inukjuak, she doubled that without ever breaking a sweat.

Elaine Metuq, 41, has been berry-picking since age nine and says she’s never experienced anything like what she saw in northern Quebec. (Elaine Metuq/Facebook)

“I filled up three large Ziplocs in three hours or less,” she said, adding she had 10 of the berry-packed bags after four days.

Metuq, 41, has been picking berries since she was about nine years old but what she saw in northern Quebec was beyond compare. She said the plants are brimming with berries in fist-sized clusters.

“There’s millions or trillions. Wherever you walk, there’s berries all around,” she said.

“One person, using a berry picker, they could fill up many buckets in one day. Like, the berries are everywhere on the land. It is a gold mine.”

The distance between Pangnirtung and Inukjuak is 1,063 kilometres. (Google Maps)

Metuq, who was still in Inukjuak when CBC caught up with her, said she has big plans for her bounty.

“I’m going to fill up a cooler with fresh berries to take home and share them with my family members and friends,” she said.

What she keeps will be used to make cheesecake and muffins and anything else that comes to mind. And she’ll still have plenty left.

“I’ll have stockpiles of berries in the freezer for the winter,” she said.

And then Metuq wants to do it all again.

“I am planning next year to come here again. And I think more family members might go after we tell them stories of our adventure,” she said.​

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