Hunter Gatherer Research

‘Feeding our families; that’s what we have been doing for centuries’

Inuit women’s sharing practices and strategies

Hunter Gatherer Research (2017), 3, (4), 583–599.

Abstract

Inuit families in the Canadian North use a mixed food system, combining country and store-bought foods. However, the Inuit food system is more complex than the combination of market and country food; it encompasses a whole set of sociocultural relations. Using a sociocultural and gender perspective, this paper explores contemporary food-sharing practices focusing on access to market foods, the flow and the specific ways they are shared in the Baffin region, Nunavut. While results show that store foods are shared with extended family members and within the community, the sharing of market foods is not regulated through similar mechanisms as country foods, and is not fully integrated in the Inuit traditional resource sharing system (ningiqtuq). Also, women are shown to play a key role in accessing, transforming and sharing southern foods. Through their wages, women are reproducing the normative sharing behaviour that underpins subsistence as a social economy, albeit through a novel medium. The paper suggests that modern Inuit food practice is articulated around a new gender dynamic that challenges traditional social configuration.

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References

Akande, V, Hendriks, A, Ruiter, R & Kremers, S 2015. Determinants of dietary behavior and physical activity among Canadian Inuit: a systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 12(1):1–17. Google Scholar

Altamirano-Jiménez, I 2013. Indigenous encounters with neoliberalism: place, women, and the environment in Canada and Mexico. Vancouver: UBC Press. Google Scholar

Blanchet, C, Dewailly, E, Ayotte, P, Bruneau, S, Receveur, O & Holub, B 2000. Contribution of selected traditional and market foods to the diet of Nunavik Inuit women. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 61(2):50–59. Google Scholar

Bodenhorn, B 1993. Gendered spaces, public places: public and private revisited on the north slope of Alaska. In Bender, B (ed) Landscape: politics and perspectives. Providence: Berg:169–203. Google Scholar

Borré, K 1994. The healing power of the seal: the meaning of Intuit health practice and belief. Arctic Anthropology 31(1):1–15. Google Scholar

Briggs, JL 1974. Eskimo women: makers of men. In Matthiasson, CJ (ed) Many sisters: women in cross-cultural perspective. New York: Free Press:261–304. Google Scholar

Caulfield, RA 1993. Aboriginal subsistence whaling in Greenland: the case of Qeqertarsuaq municipality in west Greenland. Arctic 46(2):144–155. Google Scholar

Chabot, M 2003. Economic changes, household strategies, and social relations of contemporary Nunavik Inuit. Polar Record 39(1):19–34. Google Scholar

Chan, HM, Fediuk, K, Hamilton, S, Rostas, L, Caughey, A, Kuhnlein, H & Loring, E 2006. Food security in Nunavut, Canada: barriers and recommendations. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 65(5):416–431. Google Scholar

Collings, P 2014. Becoming Inummarik: men’s lives in an Inuit community. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Google Scholar

Collings, P, Wenzel, G & Condon, RG 1998. Modern food sharing networks and community integration in the central Canadian Arctic. Arctic 51(4):301–314. Google Scholar

Condon, RG, Collings, P & Wenzel, GW 1995. The best part of life: subsistence hunting, ethnicity, and economic adaptation among young adult Inuit males. Arctic 48(1):31–46. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1969. Characteristics of Central Eskimo band structure. In Damas, D (ed) Contributions to anthropology: band societies. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1972. Central Eskimo systems of food sharing. Ethnology 11(3):220–240. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1975. Three kinship systems from the Central Arctic. Arctic Anthropology 12(1):10–30. Google Scholar

Desbiens, C 2007. Speaking the land: exploring women’s historical geographies in Northern Québec. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 51(3):360–372. Google Scholar

Dombrowski, K, Khan, B, Channell, E, Moses, J, McLean, K & Misshula, E 2013. Kinship, family, and exchange in a Labrador Inuit Community. Arctic Anthropology 50(1):89–104. Google Scholar

Dowsley, M 2014. Identity and the evolving relationship between Inuit women and the land in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Polar Record 51(5):536–549. Google Scholar

Duhaime, G & Bernard, N 2008. Arctic food security. Edmonton: CCI Press and CIÉRA. Google Scholar

Dybbroe, S 1988. Participation and control: issues in the debate on women and development: a Greenlandic example. Folk 30:111–132. Google Scholar

Fletcher, C 2016. Reflections on the intercultural politics of food, diet, and nutrition research in Canadian Inuit communities. Études Inuit Studies 40(1):171–188. Google Scholar

Giffen, NM 1930. The roles of men and women in Eskimo culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

Gombay, N 2005. The commoditization of country foods in Nunavik: a comparative assessment of its development, applications, and significance. Arctic 58(2):115–128. Google Scholar

Gombay, N 2010. Community, obligation, and food: lessons from the moral geography of Inuit. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 92(3):237–250. Google Scholar

Harder, MT & Wenzel, GW 2012. Inuit subsistence, social economy and food security in Clyde River, Nunavut. Arctic 65(3):305–318. Google Scholar

Hargreaves, A 2017. Violence against indigenous women: literature, activism, resistance. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Google Scholar

IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs) 1990. Indigenous women on the move. Copenhagen: International Secretariat of IWGIA. Google Scholar

Jolles, CZ 2006. Iñupiaq society and gender relations. In Jarvenpa, R & Brumbach, HJ (eds) Circumpolar lives and livelihood: a comparative ethnoarchaeology of gender and subsistence. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press:238–262. Google Scholar

Kermoal, NJ, Altamirano-Jiménez, I & Horn-Miller, K 2016. Living on the land: indigenous women’s understanding of place. Edmonton: AU Press. Google Scholar

Kleinfeld, J, Kruse, J & Travis, R 1981. Different paths of Inupiat men and women in the wage economy: the North Slope experience. Anchorage: Institute of Social and Economic Research. Google Scholar

Kleinfeld, J, Kruse, J & Travis, R 1983. Inupiat participation in the wage economy: effects of culturally adapted jobs. Arctic Anthropology 20(1):1–21. Google Scholar

Kuhnlein, H, Receveur, O, Soueida, R & Egeland, G 2004. Arctic indigenous peoples experience the nutrition transition with changing dietary patterns and obesity. The Journal of Nutrition 134(6):1447–1453. Google Scholar

Kuhnlein, H, Soueida, R & Receveur, O 1996. Dietary nutrient profiles of Canadian Baffin Island Inuit differ by food source, season, and age. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 96(2):155–162. Google Scholar

Kuokkanen, R 2011. From indigenous economies to market-based self-governance: a feminist political economy analysis. Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique 44(2):275–297. Google Scholar

Lambden, J, Receveur, O, Marshall, J & Kuhnlein, HV 2006. Traditional and market food access in Arctic Canada is affected by economic factors. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 65(4):331–340. Google Scholar

Lawrence, B & Anderson, K 2003. Strong women stories: native vision and community survival. Toronto: Sumach Press. Google Scholar

Lawrence, B & Anderson, K 2005. Introduction to ‘Indigenous women: the state of our nations’. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice 29(2):1–8. Google Scholar

Lee, M 2002. The cooler ring: urban Alaska native women and the subsistence debate. Arctic Anthropology 39(2):3–9. Google Scholar

Lupton, D 1996. Food, the body, and the self. London: Sage. Google Scholar

McNay, L 2016. Agency. In Disch, LJ & Hawkesworth, ME (eds) The Oxford handbook of feminist theory. New York: Oxford University Press:39–60. Google Scholar

Mead, E, Gittelsohn, J, Kratzmann, M, Roache, C & Sharma, S 2010. Impact of the changing food environment on dietary practices of an Inuit population in Arctic Canada. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: The Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association 23(Suppl 1):18–26. Google Scholar

Mihesuah, DA 2003. Indigenous American women: decolonization, empowerment, activism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Google Scholar

Nuttall, M 1991. Sharing and the ideology of subsistence in a Greenlandic sealing community. Polar Record 27(162):217–222. Google Scholar

Nuttall, M 2000. Choosing kin: sharing and subsistence in a Greenlandic hunting community. In Schweitzer, PP (ed) Dividends of kinship: meanings and uses of social relatedness. London: Routledge:33–60. Google Scholar

Poppel, B & Kruse, J 2008. The importance of a mixed cash and harvest herding based economy to living in the Arctic: an analysis on the survey of living conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA). In Møller, V & Huschka, D (eds) Quality of life and the millennium challenge advances. Dordrecht; London: Springer:27–42. Google Scholar

Power, EM 2008. Conceptualizing food security or aboriginal people in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne De Sante Publique 99(2):95–97. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M 2016. Near the floe edge: Inuit women’s roles in the Nunavut mixed economy. Unpublished PhD thesis. Montreal: McGill University. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M 2017. The new work regime in Nunavut: a gender perspective. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 61(3):334–345. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M & Wenzel, GW forthcoming. Men hunt, women share: gender and contemporary Inuit subsistence relations. In Friesem, D & Lavi, N (eds) Inter-disciplinary perspective on sharing among hunter-gatherers in the past and present. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs. Google Scholar

Rasmussen, RO 2009. Gender and generation: perspectives on ongoing social and environmental changes in the Arctic. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34(3):524–532. Google Scholar

Ready, E 2016. Challenges in the assessment of Inuit food security. Arctic 69(3):266–280. Google Scholar

Sahlins, MD 1972. The original affluent society. In Sahlins, MD (ed) Stone age economics. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton:1–39. Google Scholar

Schaefer, S, Erber, E, Trzaskos, J, Roache, C, Osborne, G & Sharma, S 2011. Sources of food affect dietary adequacy of Inuit women of childbearing age in Arctic Canada. Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition 29(5):454–464. Google Scholar

Searles, E 2002. Food and the making of modern Inuit identities. Food and Foodways 10(1–2):1–2. Google Scholar

Searles, E 2008. Inuit identity in the Canadian Arctic. Ethnology 47(4):239–256. Google Scholar

Shannon, KA 2006. Everyone goes fishing: understanding procurement for men, women and children in an Arctic community. Études Inuit Studies 30(1):9–29. Google Scholar

Simard-Gagnon, L 2013. Lived territories: a tale of Inuit women’s contemporary subsistence and belonging. Revue internationale sur l’Autochtonie 5:52–62. Google Scholar

Todd, Z 2016. ‘This is the life’ : women’s harvesting, fishing, and food security in Paulatuuq, Northwest Territories. In Kermoal, NJ, Altamirano-Jiménez, I & Horn-Miller, K (eds) Living on the land: indigenous women’s understanding of place. Edmonton: AU Press:191–212. Google Scholar

Usher, P, Duhaime, G & Searles, E 2003. The household as an economic unit in Arctic aboriginal communities, and its measurement by means of a comprehensive survey. Social Indicators Research 61(2):175–202. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 1995. Ningiqtuq: resource sharing and generalized reciprocity in Clyde River, Nunavut. Arctic Anthropology 32(2):43–60. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 2000. Sharing, money, and modern Inuit subsistence: obligation and reciprocity at Clyde River, Nunavut. In Wenzel, GW, Hovelsrud-Broda, G & Kishigami, N (eds) The social economy of sharing: resource allocation and modern hunter-gatherers. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology:61–85. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 2016. Inuit culture: to have and have not, or has subsistence become an anachronism? In Codding, B & Kramer, K (eds) Why forage? Hunter-gatherers in the 21st century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press:43–60. Google Scholar

Wiseman, V, Conteh, L & Matovu, F 2005. Using diaries to collect data in resource-poor settings: questions on design and implementation. Health Policy and Planning 20(6):394–404. Google Scholar

Akande, V, Hendriks, A, Ruiter, R & Kremers, S 2015. Determinants of dietary behavior and physical activity among Canadian Inuit: a systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 12(1):1–17. Google Scholar

Altamirano-Jiménez, I 2013. Indigenous encounters with neoliberalism: place, women, and the environment in Canada and Mexico. Vancouver: UBC Press. Google Scholar

Blanchet, C, Dewailly, E, Ayotte, P, Bruneau, S, Receveur, O & Holub, B 2000. Contribution of selected traditional and market foods to the diet of Nunavik Inuit women. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 61(2):50–59. Google Scholar

Bodenhorn, B 1993. Gendered spaces, public places: public and private revisited on the north slope of Alaska. In Bender, B (ed) Landscape: politics and perspectives. Providence: Berg:169–203. Google Scholar

Borré, K 1994. The healing power of the seal: the meaning of Intuit health practice and belief. Arctic Anthropology 31(1):1–15. Google Scholar

Briggs, JL 1974. Eskimo women: makers of men. In Matthiasson, CJ (ed) Many sisters: women in cross-cultural perspective. New York: Free Press:261–304. Google Scholar

Caulfield, RA 1993. Aboriginal subsistence whaling in Greenland: the case of Qeqertarsuaq municipality in west Greenland. Arctic 46(2):144–155. Google Scholar

Chabot, M 2003. Economic changes, household strategies, and social relations of contemporary Nunavik Inuit. Polar Record 39(1):19–34. Google Scholar

Chan, HM, Fediuk, K, Hamilton, S, Rostas, L, Caughey, A, Kuhnlein, H & Loring, E 2006. Food security in Nunavut, Canada: barriers and recommendations. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 65(5):416–431. Google Scholar

Collings, P 2014. Becoming Inummarik: men’s lives in an Inuit community. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Google Scholar

Collings, P, Wenzel, G & Condon, RG 1998. Modern food sharing networks and community integration in the central Canadian Arctic. Arctic 51(4):301–314. Google Scholar

Condon, RG, Collings, P & Wenzel, GW 1995. The best part of life: subsistence hunting, ethnicity, and economic adaptation among young adult Inuit males. Arctic 48(1):31–46. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1969. Characteristics of Central Eskimo band structure. In Damas, D (ed) Contributions to anthropology: band societies. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1972. Central Eskimo systems of food sharing. Ethnology 11(3):220–240. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1975. Three kinship systems from the Central Arctic. Arctic Anthropology 12(1):10–30. Google Scholar

Desbiens, C 2007. Speaking the land: exploring women’s historical geographies in Northern Québec. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 51(3):360–372. Google Scholar

Dombrowski, K, Khan, B, Channell, E, Moses, J, McLean, K & Misshula, E 2013. Kinship, family, and exchange in a Labrador Inuit Community. Arctic Anthropology 50(1):89–104. Google Scholar

Dowsley, M 2014. Identity and the evolving relationship between Inuit women and the land in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Polar Record 51(5):536–549. Google Scholar

Duhaime, G & Bernard, N 2008. Arctic food security. Edmonton: CCI Press and CIÉRA. Google Scholar

Dybbroe, S 1988. Participation and control: issues in the debate on women and development: a Greenlandic example. Folk 30:111–132. Google Scholar

Fletcher, C 2016. Reflections on the intercultural politics of food, diet, and nutrition research in Canadian Inuit communities. Études Inuit Studies 40(1):171–188. Google Scholar

Giffen, NM 1930. The roles of men and women in Eskimo culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

Gombay, N 2005. The commoditization of country foods in Nunavik: a comparative assessment of its development, applications, and significance. Arctic 58(2):115–128. Google Scholar

Gombay, N 2010. Community, obligation, and food: lessons from the moral geography of Inuit. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 92(3):237–250. Google Scholar

Harder, MT & Wenzel, GW 2012. Inuit subsistence, social economy and food security in Clyde River, Nunavut. Arctic 65(3):305–318. Google Scholar

Hargreaves, A 2017. Violence against indigenous women: literature, activism, resistance. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Google Scholar

IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs) 1990. Indigenous women on the move. Copenhagen: International Secretariat of IWGIA. Google Scholar

Jolles, CZ 2006. Iñupiaq society and gender relations. In Jarvenpa, R & Brumbach, HJ (eds) Circumpolar lives and livelihood: a comparative ethnoarchaeology of gender and subsistence. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press:238–262. Google Scholar

Kermoal, NJ, Altamirano-Jiménez, I & Horn-Miller, K 2016. Living on the land: indigenous women’s understanding of place. Edmonton: AU Press. Google Scholar

Kleinfeld, J, Kruse, J & Travis, R 1981. Different paths of Inupiat men and women in the wage economy: the North Slope experience. Anchorage: Institute of Social and Economic Research. Google Scholar

Kleinfeld, J, Kruse, J & Travis, R 1983. Inupiat participation in the wage economy: effects of culturally adapted jobs. Arctic Anthropology 20(1):1–21. Google Scholar

Kuhnlein, H, Receveur, O, Soueida, R & Egeland, G 2004. Arctic indigenous peoples experience the nutrition transition with changing dietary patterns and obesity. The Journal of Nutrition 134(6):1447–1453. Google Scholar

Kuhnlein, H, Soueida, R & Receveur, O 1996. Dietary nutrient profiles of Canadian Baffin Island Inuit differ by food source, season, and age. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 96(2):155–162. Google Scholar

Kuokkanen, R 2011. From indigenous economies to market-based self-governance: a feminist political economy analysis. Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique 44(2):275–297. Google Scholar

Lambden, J, Receveur, O, Marshall, J & Kuhnlein, HV 2006. Traditional and market food access in Arctic Canada is affected by economic factors. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 65(4):331–340. Google Scholar

Lawrence, B & Anderson, K 2003. Strong women stories: native vision and community survival. Toronto: Sumach Press. Google Scholar

Lawrence, B & Anderson, K 2005. Introduction to ‘Indigenous women: the state of our nations’. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice 29(2):1–8. Google Scholar

Lee, M 2002. The cooler ring: urban Alaska native women and the subsistence debate. Arctic Anthropology 39(2):3–9. Google Scholar

Lupton, D 1996. Food, the body, and the self. London: Sage. Google Scholar

McNay, L 2016. Agency. In Disch, LJ & Hawkesworth, ME (eds) The Oxford handbook of feminist theory. New York: Oxford University Press:39–60. Google Scholar

Mead, E, Gittelsohn, J, Kratzmann, M, Roache, C & Sharma, S 2010. Impact of the changing food environment on dietary practices of an Inuit population in Arctic Canada. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: The Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association 23(Suppl 1):18–26. Google Scholar

Mihesuah, DA 2003. Indigenous American women: decolonization, empowerment, activism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Google Scholar

Nuttall, M 1991. Sharing and the ideology of subsistence in a Greenlandic sealing community. Polar Record 27(162):217–222. Google Scholar

Nuttall, M 2000. Choosing kin: sharing and subsistence in a Greenlandic hunting community. In Schweitzer, PP (ed) Dividends of kinship: meanings and uses of social relatedness. London: Routledge:33–60. Google Scholar

Poppel, B & Kruse, J 2008. The importance of a mixed cash and harvest herding based economy to living in the Arctic: an analysis on the survey of living conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA). In Møller, V & Huschka, D (eds) Quality of life and the millennium challenge advances. Dordrecht; London: Springer:27–42. Google Scholar

Power, EM 2008. Conceptualizing food security or aboriginal people in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne De Sante Publique 99(2):95–97. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M 2016. Near the floe edge: Inuit women’s roles in the Nunavut mixed economy. Unpublished PhD thesis. Montreal: McGill University. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M 2017. The new work regime in Nunavut: a gender perspective. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien 61(3):334–345. Google Scholar

Quintal-Marineau, M & Wenzel, GW forthcoming. Men hunt, women share: gender and contemporary Inuit subsistence relations. In Friesem, D & Lavi, N (eds) Inter-disciplinary perspective on sharing among hunter-gatherers in the past and present. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs. Google Scholar

Rasmussen, RO 2009. Gender and generation: perspectives on ongoing social and environmental changes in the Arctic. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34(3):524–532. Google Scholar

Ready, E 2016. Challenges in the assessment of Inuit food security. Arctic 69(3):266–280. Google Scholar

Sahlins, MD 1972. The original affluent society. In Sahlins, MD (ed) Stone age economics. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton:1–39. Google Scholar

Schaefer, S, Erber, E, Trzaskos, J, Roache, C, Osborne, G & Sharma, S 2011. Sources of food affect dietary adequacy of Inuit women of childbearing age in Arctic Canada. Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition 29(5):454–464. Google Scholar

Searles, E 2002. Food and the making of modern Inuit identities. Food and Foodways 10(1–2):1–2. Google Scholar

Searles, E 2008. Inuit identity in the Canadian Arctic. Ethnology 47(4):239–256. Google Scholar

Shannon, KA 2006. Everyone goes fishing: understanding procurement for men, women and children in an Arctic community. Études Inuit Studies 30(1):9–29. Google Scholar

Simard-Gagnon, L 2013. Lived territories: a tale of Inuit women’s contemporary subsistence and belonging. Revue internationale sur l’Autochtonie 5:52–62. Google Scholar

Todd, Z 2016. ‘This is the life’ : women’s harvesting, fishing, and food security in Paulatuuq, Northwest Territories. In Kermoal, NJ, Altamirano-Jiménez, I & Horn-Miller, K (eds) Living on the land: indigenous women’s understanding of place. Edmonton: AU Press:191–212. Google Scholar

Usher, P, Duhaime, G & Searles, E 2003. The household as an economic unit in Arctic aboriginal communities, and its measurement by means of a comprehensive survey. Social Indicators Research 61(2):175–202. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 1995. Ningiqtuq: resource sharing and generalized reciprocity in Clyde River, Nunavut. Arctic Anthropology 32(2):43–60. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 2000. Sharing, money, and modern Inuit subsistence: obligation and reciprocity at Clyde River, Nunavut. In Wenzel, GW, Hovelsrud-Broda, G & Kishigami, N (eds) The social economy of sharing: resource allocation and modern hunter-gatherers. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology:61–85. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 2016. Inuit culture: to have and have not, or has subsistence become an anachronism? In Codding, B & Kramer, K (eds) Why forage? Hunter-gatherers in the 21st century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press:43–60. Google Scholar

Wiseman, V, Conteh, L & Matovu, F 2005. Using diaries to collect data in resource-poor settings: questions on design and implementation. Health Policy and Planning 20(6):394–404. Google Scholar

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Quintal-Marineau, Magalie