Nancy Pukingrnak was born in the Chantrey Inlet area of the Keewatin region of the Northwest Territories. As a young child she led a traditional nomadic existence at the inlet and along the banks of the Back River, living in igloos in the winter and tents in the summer and subsisting on a diet of caribou and fish. She was brought to the nearby settlement of Baker Lake in the spring of 1958 following a difficult winter marked by a severe shortage of land foods in the Back River area. In a dramatic rescue by the Canadian armed forces, a starving Pukingrnak and her mother, Jessie Oonark, were airlifted to safety. Pukingrnak settled permanently in Baker Lake and married shortly thereafter. She has given birth to eleven children, seven of whom are still living.
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