Big foot affected woman
This photo that Maggie Cruikshank posted on Facebook shows what she believes to be the footprint of the creature she saw last month near Akulivik.

"This is scary. It has affected my emotions"

Maggie Cruikshank of Akulivik has an incredible story to tell.

Late in the afternoon on a rainy, windy September Saturday she and a cousin went out from Akulivik to pick berries.

"We moved around a lot because we were looking for big berries," said Cruikshank, a 46-year-old language teacher with the Kativik School Board.

"My cousin noticed something - she thought it was a hunter, but I ignored her because I wanted to go home while the sun was still up. Then, she started to be scared. I got up and looked to where she pointed. It was a very large animal, a bigfoot."

The creature was black, hairy and without any clothes. "Taller and larger than a man," said Cruikshank. "It walks like us but not standing straight like us, it can jump and crawl." And its footprint measures some 40 centimetres.

Other people in Akulivik have seen the creature too, according to Cruikshank. A group of walrus hunters who had just returned with their catch were preparing to hide their meat under rocks for the winter when they saw the bigfoot. Someone else noticed it by the airport.

Other people have reported odd collections of caribou bones piled in the hills outside town, Cruikshank said. An elder found what he said were human bones in a cave outside town and suggested to her the remains might be the work of the bigfoot.

And just last week, apparently, someone spotted fresh bigfoot tracks. Someone else reportedly saw the creature standing on top of a mountain.

It's possible the creature has been around for some time.

"There are people telling me they suddenly remember they have seen that thing before," said Cruikshank. "Like 10 years ago or 20 years ago or 60 years ago, they saw it, they just never reported it."

Why not? Perhaps their stories didn't hold up, or perhaps they were scared others would mock them.

As Cruikshank has learned, there's a lot of hullaballoo involved in taking a bigfoot sighting public. Photos of the footprint she posted on Facebook have drawn significant attention, including a great deal of criticism.

"Nobody... gonna believe until the video is reveal..." commented a Facebook user named "Arctic Charles".

The photo that Cruikshank posted shows a hand with a yellow measuring tape stretched across a rough-looking footprint made in spongy ground.

It's pretty clear the photo is real, and the muddy imprint indeed resembles a footprint, but footprints don't make for good sighting stories. Facebook users have been calling for something more substantial.

"If you have video footage of the bigfoot, you can charge hundreds of thousans [sic] per frame," said one commenter. "But please, show us the video once you get the money."

"That footprint is not fake," explained a third person. "However, it was done by muskox that slipped."

There is a video, said Cruikshank, shot by her and her cousin. But she is afraid that making it public could have devastating results in the small community.

"Many people want to see the video and are starting to make negative comments," said Cruikshank. "We want to post it but we don't want to scare the children."

Bigfoot may not be the only otherworldly creature in Akulivik.

In the past few years, said Cruikshank, residents have sighted little Inuit, known as Inugagulligaq, as well as giant animals, including a massive anaconda snake, a very large codfish and monstrous rabbits. Other people have reportedly seen a half-man half-fish creature, like a mermaid.

As fantastic as these creatures sound, they do resemble beings that hold a very real place in Inuit cosmology. There is Sedna, the goddess of the sea and marine mammals, Ijiraq, a shape shifter that kidnaps children and Kiviuq, a young Inuit hunter with supernatural powers.

For many, these beings are merely the stuff of legends, and don't exist here in the real world. But not for Cruikshank.

"I'm not telling you lies," she said. "This is scary, it has affected my emotions."