Canadian astronaut keeps piece of Nunavik with him in space

About 400 kilometres above the surface of the earth, orbiting the globe once every 92 minutes is David Saint-Jacques and his little piece of Nunavik.

On Tuesday the astronaut spoke to students in Umiujaq, Nunavik about the research being done aboard the International Space Station, as well his time in the North and the impact it had on him.

On his finger, Saint-Jacques wore a ring made by Umiujaq artist Daniel Kumarluk.

“We have a little bit of Umiujaq with us throughout our life,” said Saint-Jacques.

Saint-Jacques’ love of the North started 12 years ago when he and his family moved to Puvirnituq. At the time he worked as a doctor, often visiting Umiujaq. 

To this day, Saint-Jacques’ wife, Véronique Morin, works in the region. She moved North with Saint-Jacques to work as a medical doctor and currently sits on the Nunavik Regional Health Board based in Kuujjuaq.

Morin was in Umiujaq to speak to students and helped relay their questions to the space station. She wore a matching ring from Kumarluk.

Dr. Véronique Morin in Umiujaq taking questions from a student asking about the origin of their rings. (Canadian Space Agency)

The astronaut also showed the students his seal skin wrist band and the pair of miniature mittens, or pualuk, “for good luck,” he explained.

In her speech to the students, Morin emphasized the lasting impact that Nunavik had on both them and their three children, no matter how far they wander from it.

“David likes to say that, ‘There’s a piece of the tundra with him on board [the] space station,'” said Morin.

A student from Kiluutaq School in Umiujaq holds up a cutout of astronaut David Saint-Jacques. (Canadian Space Agency.)

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