Amaruq — Wolf

The Inuit respect wolves for their hunting abilities, particularly their speed and endurance. If parents wanted their child to be a good caribou hunter, they would place on his ankle, or on his first footwear, an anklet made of the muscle fibre of the feet and lower leg of a wolf. This helped to ensure that he would be able to run with the speed, strength, and endurance of a wolf, ensuring that he would catch many caribou (IOHP 414). When they had time to spare, both young and older Inuit often played the game amaruujaq, "the wolf game", a version of "tag" (Randa 1994; IOHP 219).

Wolves are associated with caribou, mainly because they closely follow migratory caribou across the tundra. In fact, one legend tells how wolves were created in order to keep the caribou healthy. Another describes how a great shaman, Arnakpaktuq, was born as a wolf and learned how to hunt with them. Inuit traditionally did not hunt wolves for meat, although if one were killed its fur was used for parka trimmings and other purposes. Wolves occasionally robbed meat caches, which made them very unpopular.

The life of the wolves is seen as very tiring – they are so busy pursuing caribou that they barely have time to mate. For this reason, wolves mate even more quickly than dogs. Female wolves give birth to their young in a den known as a tisi, where the pups are nursed and the males supply food. Once they grow big enough, in August or September, the young wolves accompany their parents on the hunt (Randa 1994).

Oral history from Igloolik does not include many stories about wolves; they were encountered mostly on the mainland, in outpost camps or during caribou hunts. However, the Inuit do mention the existence of packs of "famished wolves" known as kajjait. These kajjait, starving because of the lack of prey, could attack parties of people out on the land, and had to be guarded against (IOHP 386, 065). This is one reason for including the wolf, along with the polar bear, in the group iqsinaqtuit, "those that make one frightened". Normally, though, wolves do not attack people, relying instead on caribou and smaller prey, such as lemmings, hares, and ground squirrels.

In the legend, the Origin of Light, one passage tells of an argument between the wolf and the raven, who were disputing whether or not the creation of light was a good:

The raven and the wolf are both beasts of prey. The raven can see better in the daylight than in the darkness. The wolf said, "Daylight, don't come, daylight, don't come". It would be able to hunt the caribou better if daylight didn't come. The caribou stays in one place when it is dark (Randa 1994).