What We Find When We Look Under The Rug
It would seem that the government of Canada has been forcefully relocating its people for a long time. This is a particularly distasteful example and I would have never known about it if I had not been doing the post on Africville. In a nut shell the Government of Canada has been making decisions that directly affected the Inuit people without their consent buying and selling them with the land for one reason or another since they entered the land of the Inuit people.
What is clear here is as with the people of Africville promises made by the government were not kept and people suffered real life consequences. A total of 87 Inuit from Inukjuaq, Que., were moved to Grise Fiord and Resolute, Nunavut, the northernmost settlements in Canada, as part of the federal government’s relocation program in the 1950s. They were told a lie that they were being relocated to a better land with better hunting and would be given all they needed to survive for two years by the federal government. They were also told that if they did not like the new place they could go back to their places of origin after 2 years.
The government lied to them on both about everything. The land was barren and the constant darkness of the never-ending winter was hard on them. The climate was a lot colder than they were used to and they were ill-equipped to deal with the frigid conditions. The government never came through with the supplies and they ended up trying to keep warm in tents. It would be 34 years before they would be allowed to go home. Families would be separated forever. It seems the only reason they were forced to relocate is that during the cold war the federal government of Canada was afraid to lose its sovereignty in the far north to Russia so it had these people relocated there to ensure a Canadian presence.
On first approach the government said that the people had volunteered for the relocation and therefore they were not responsible for what occurred, but after much arm twisting and constant pressure the government was finally embarrassed into doing the right thing. An apology to these people was made they received a cash settlement. They have been given a vast land to govern and under the promise of keeping this land sovereign for Canada received a great sum of money in a trust fund.
“Quite a number did return, but others chose to stay in Grise Fiord & in Resolute Bay, as this had become “home” to them by then. However, this meant an additional painful separation between families & loved ones. Not only were there two separations of families in 1953, when the original relocatees left family & friends in Inukjuaq to live in the High Arctic, and then again (contrary to promises) the relocatees themselves were separated between the two communities, and then there was a third separation in 1987, when some of those living in the High Arctic again left family and friends up there to return to their original homeland in Inukjuaq, when they had a choice to do so.” (Taken from an Article)
A commenter on this article said, “I find it of interest that while it is widely believed that the Canadian government pursued this policy to establish Canadian sovereignty in the High Arctic that these areas around the NW Passage are still in dispute today.”
In this case at least the Inuit of Quebec seemed to be on the way to healing and a better life. I tell the story in hope of waking up the world and bringing attention to wrong doing and the pain that this type of forced relocation of people does to people being forced to move and on the country doing it. Let us hope that we have seen the last of this type of behavior from our politicians and our governments. I have put a link for you to read, unfortunately I was unable to find videos but the article is a good read.
The picture I got from this link and I thank them for its use as well as the quotes I made use of.
After writing this post I did find a video that will allow you to hear see and hopefully get a sense of how these people were treated and how they suffered. This video has interviews with the Inuit people. Follow the link below. Exile | IsumaTV