We hope that like us, you have chosen to wear an orange shirt on this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today recognizes the atrocious legacy left behind by the Canadian Indian residential school system, a very dark time in Canada’s history which has caused generational trauma throughout our country’s Indigenous population. It is a day to reflect on all the injustices that our country’s Indigenous people have had inflicted on them by settler populations.
Nunavik Inuit have faced several of these challenges in recent history, and we feel it is important for non-indigenous people who work or travel in Nunavik to be aware of them, not only to acknowledge them, but to better understand why we continue to fight for the recognition of our rights and the protection of our way of life.
In the 1940s, tuberculosis was spreading rapidly through Inuit settlements. To fight its transmission, the federal government began shipping Inuit of all ages south to sanatoriums. This led to extreme isolation, confusion, and pain for both the patients and their families who were left behind. Many Inuit left their communities never to return, while the families left behind were often not informed that their loved ones had passed away, or where they were buried.
Material to learn more about these events can be found on the government of Canada’s website from the following link > https://buff.ly/3y5VjeV
The 1950s brought the High Arctic forced relocations, an experiment carried out by the Canadian Government that relocated about 92 Inuit from Inukjuak to High Arctic islands in modern-day Nunavut. At the time, the Inuit were promised improved living conditions where wildlife was plentiful, but they found themselves in hostile, barren islands, in a region that was unfamiliar to them. This relocation caused years of hardship that have affected families for generations.
A film where you can learn more about the High Arctic relocations can be found on the National Film board of Canada’s website > https://buff.ly/3Sr6WW2
During the mid-1950s to late 1960s, Inuit across Nunavik experienced yet another violent attack on their traditional way of life. About 200 reports made by Nunavik Inuit indicate that a series of dog slaughters were undertaken, or ordered to be undertaken, by Canada and Quebec government officials or their representatives in several Nunavik communities.
Premiered in 2005, the Makivvik production, Echo of the Last Howl, tells the stories of those who lived through this horrific period in Nunavik’s history. The film can be found from the following link > https://buff.ly/3rgQlIi