By William Tagoona
The 50th anniversary of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) would probably have never happened if not for the colonial abusive attitude of governments and clergy. The need for an Eskimo Brotherhood probably would have never been thought of if not for the residential schools, particularly in Churchill, Manitoba, and Chesterfield Inlet, NWT. Much of the groundwork to form the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC) was organized by leaders who attended these schools.
Nunavik has much to boast about and be proud of in the influences its Inuk leaders have contributed to ITC and eventually the ITK in the last 50 years. Nunavik leaders are without a doubt a major element and major players in the nation-building we see today. Prior to the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, a true nation-building in Canada would probably not have happened. The forming of the ITC in 1972 and the organizing of the other National Indigenous Organizations was the missing piece of the puzzle to create the Canada we see today. This was not a gift from governments but a brainchild of the Inuit, First Nations and Métis, and Canada should be thankful for it.
From that historic first meeting of Inuit from the NWT, Northern Quebec, and Labrador in 1971 in Pangnirtung that addressed the need to establish a brotherhood to give Canadian Inuit one voice, to today’s meetings with the prime minister through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, Nunavik has been in the forefront of decision making. From the recognition of Aboriginal rights in Canada’s constitution to the installment of Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general, this all happened because of the hard work Nunavimmiut have done on the national scene.
So, as we celebrate the anniversary of our national Inuit organization, let us Nunavimmiut also congratulate ourselves for its success.
William Tagoona was at the 1971 historic first meeting of Inuit in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, and the 1972 founding AGM conference of the Inuit Tapirisat Of Canada (ITC) in Baker Lake, Nunavut, as a young journalist.