Letters to the Editor
June 29, 2001
Every time I read an article in the newspaper I get more and more astounded and frustrated about how Inuit organizations and agencies, and the Nunavut government are being run here in the North. From my understanding the decisions are supposed to benefit the people of Nunavut.
These are some questions that have always come up in my mind: Who is benefiting from this? What were they thinking? Who did they consult with? How can they get away with this? Are they working for all of the people of Nunavut or for their own benefit?
Did they think of the good and as well as the bad consequences that might come up? Did they think of what would benefit the best for all the people as a whole, and not just a few?
How many organizations do we have? Would we not save more money to have only one? Could we not use almost all of the honorariums on something that would benefit the people, not the person? Are the members working for the cause or just the honorariums that usually come with trips? Have they not heard of tele-meetings or conference calls? Would using these methods not save money for the benefit of the people?
Remove the honorariums and you will see who really is trying to better the way of life of the people in Nunavut. Do we not have a right as beneficiaries to know of any misuse of beneficiaries money?
Is the distance so far away from home to work and vice-versa that a selected few are given a car and gas money? Where does the money come from to maintain and operate it?
And, I almost forgot, why are some selected few given housing? Why not select a homeless person or family to move in instead? Are these not the people who they should be thinking of to better their lives?
Arent their salaries already so ridiculously high that they can afford to make regular payments for there own cars and pay for their own gas or even pay cab fares like the rest of us beneficiaries?
The recent one I just read about is how Unaaq members and two people voted VTA benefits for themselves. Who are they helping by giving themselves VTAs?
How is this beneficial? Please answer this one and pass your written answer to the government of Nunavut. I know they work hard like the rest of us, but do we receive VTA benefits in that amount at all?
There is abuse of power and misuse of money and it could be stopped and directed for the betterment of all the people humans of all ages, races, genders, and social status in Nunavut.
(Name withheld by request)
June 29, 2001
A homeless shelter for Inuiit named "Pigiarvik" will be opening in July 2001 in Ottawa.
This is a joint project between Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) and the Inuit Non-Profit Housing Corporation (INPHC).
The objective will be to eventually lead homeless Inuit into a healthy, independent lifestyle through providing shelter, education, employment and addictions counselling, and other important life-skill practices.
The initial part of this project is financially demanding, but all the parties involved are striving hard to make sure that Pigiarvik will provide high quality service at minimal expense.
To aid in this, we are looking for donations of:
Arctic or Inuit-themed posters, drawings, pictures or prints;
Small appliances (toaster, coffee-maker, blender, etc);
Various houseware items (mats, area rugs, shower curtains, cutlery, etc.);
Computer hardware and software for administration;
Or financial donations to purchase the above-mentioned items.
All efforts small or large contribute greatly to the success of Pigiarvik and I thank you for your consideration.
If you wish to donate to this worthwhile cause please contact Steven at: (613) 747-6668 or (613) 563-3546 or via e-mail email@example.com.
June 29, 2001
For 18 years the Rotary Club of Iqaluit has been providing a veterinarian service to the community of Iqaluit.
Between May 31 and June 5, the club once again arranged to have Don Floyd and Susan Rouleau visit the community, their 16th year of doing so. The club would like to thank Don and Susan for their continuing contribution of time and energy to provide this important service.
As with most volunteer events within the community, thanks are also due to many others. The Rotary Club of lqaluit would like to thank First Air for its generous assistance, the Nunavut Research Institute for the use of its facilities, the Navigator Inn, all the Rotarians who assisted, and to Carol Orr, who booked most of the appointments.
Over 200 patients received treatment during this visit and the club thanks all Iqalungmiut who took the time to bring their pets to the clinic.
For those of you who did not make it this spring, the clinic will be run again in late October or early November.
E. M. Maidens
Rotary Club of lqaluit
June 29, 2001
I would like to take this opportunity to thank of all of the sponsors and people that have made it possible for me to complete the Nunavut Quest dog-sled race.
The race started in Hall Beach and ended in Arctic Bay. We travelled from April 16-26, stopping in Igloolik for two days and resting on Sunday. We completed the race in eight days with eight of the nine dogs that started the race.
I would like to thank First Air, the main sponsor. First Air kindly provided transportation for our dogs, equipment and myself to Hall Beach and from Arctic Bay to Iqaluit. I would like to thank the Elks Lodge, Frobuild Construction, Jim Noble Sr., Jim Noble Jr. and Northmart.
I would also like to thank several people who helped during the race. Thank you to Keith Irving, Natalino and Christopher Piugattuk and their family in Igloolik, Laimikie Ulluapak, and much thanks to Joanasie and Mary Akumalik and their family for helping me in Arctic Bay. I would like to acknowledge and especially thank Norman Kipsigak (Ski-Doo driver) for helping me throughout the race and for his patience qujanamiik.
I also wish to thank Niore Iqalukjuak and Joelie Qamanirq and the entire Nunavut Quest committee for doing a great job and for making this race a reality. Most of all I wish to thank my wife Julia and daughter Annika for their encouragement and support and real heroes of this event, the nine dogs. They slaved more than 500 km to get me to Arctic Bay. Many thanks, qujanamiik to all.
June 22, 2001
I am writing in response to Alison Blackducks June 1 editorial "My tradition, your modernity." In the article Blackduck states "knowledge is knowledge" and also states later on, "Lets rid ourselves of the false dualism of modern versus traditional because regardless of whether were Inuit, non-Inuit, indigenous or non-indigenous were all in this together."
I find these statements hard to swallow for a couple of reasons:
1) If knowledge is knowledge, we wouldnt have specialists in any society, be they midwives, doctors, meteorologists, toolmakers, or journalists, just to name a few. Aboriginal people have specialized areas in their own right and have worked hard to get recognition for it.
2) If we took Nunavut as an example of self-determination, and looked at the structures in place, such as the co-management regimes: Why ask for Inuit participation in, say, wildlife practices, if we cannot incorporate our knowledge? We might as well go along with the former practice of government officials in Ottawa making all the policies for us because were assuming, according to the editorial, we dont know anything about wildlife practices in our homeland.
In Nunavut we call it Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit/Qaujimanituqangit, sometimes referred to as traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge and aboriginal knowledge.
The NSDC defines Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit as encompassing all aspects of traditional Inuit culture, including values, world view, language, social organization, knowledge, life skills, perceptions and expectations. Regardless of its name, we know what were referring to. Knowledge of clothing design, including the amauti, in light of its suitability to the Arctic, should be considered nothing less than Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.
It is not only older people who see themselves as holders and protectors of this type of knowledge as the editorial suggested; it is also young people who are reaching out to learn indigenous knowledge in order to preserve it, recognizing these are specialized areas of knowledge that have preserved and perpetuated our societies for millennia.
Regarding the apparent "dualism" between Western science and traditional knowledge, it exists only because aboriginal people are finally getting recognition of their traditional knowledge as a valid, functional and useful knowledge in its own right. Therefore, it should be seen as an achievement.
It is a fact that Western and Aboriginal knowledge are two different ways of knowing (see writings by Kawagley & Barnhart, Knudtson & Suzuki, and Karla Williamson).
Many scientists, including David Suzuki, have studied traditional ecological knowledge, and there is a global trend in including indigenous peoples in studying ecological knowledge where it exists. It is not only in Nunavut that indigenous knowledge exists, it is not a figment of our imagination.
We know and have seen that colonialism, in all its forms, really doesnt work. It can be, and has been, very destructive to the diversity and richness of all human experience. In implicit and explicit recognition that traditional knowledge and western science can work well together, there has been an ongoing debate among scientists and policymakers (governments and non-government organizations) on how to achieve a balance for using both Western knowledge and indigenous knowledge.
There are areas in Western knowledge and indigenous knowledge where they complement, and, granted, there are other areas where the values and world views of these two experiences apparently contradict each other. This is the challenge.
A balance in melding these two types of knowledge needs to be achieved, and that is what we as Nunavummiut who are committed to preserving and using Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in the contemporary context are striving for. Call me a visionary but I thought thats what Nunavut was all about!
Sandra Kunuk Inutiq
June 22, 2001
I would like to say good-bye to an old friend of mine of whom I have known most of my life. Bill MacKenzie, to me, was always so kind, and took the time to listen to me even if I didnt have too much to say.
I have always been regretful, though, that I never took the time to visit his house and farm as we left Iqaluit more than 11 years ago, about the time that he was starting that farm.
I used to admire the different kinds of pipes he would smoke depending upon what occasion it was, or maybe what he was in the mood for.
I cant say, but each time I saw him, he would be smoking a pipe from his collection. The one particular pipe that I admired was one that had a cover on it, probably made of sterling silver.
Im not exactly sure, but that pipe was also one that my grandfather admired as well. If it is not claimed by anyone, I would like to offer some money, charity to the homeless, whatever. Please let me know who I can make payments to. That pipe to me, meant him, to be him, and I will always remember that one, which may have been a collection of his own.
Perhaps we should think of auctioning that collection and his belongings for the benefit of the homeless, especially to those who depended on him for a living. I am sure that he would have appreciated this thought.
One of his old acquaintances,
June 22, 2001
Im learning new terminology which is very useful to me as a translator. Here are some new words I have learned from my three year old, Brittany.
"Mommy, theres lots of bugskeetos inna window and outside tooo. Lookit!"
"I want to take my sunbrella Mom, when we go to da paak, cause it might rain, huh?"
"...But Mom, its not daak outside, why do I have to go to leep?"
"I like tutumbers, you Dad?"
"I want to be like Andrea, could you fit my hair too? I want to weah my swimming pool in the bathtub."
"Mom, you know how to waak?"
Each day there are new sentences I have to decipher, which makes me glad Im at least a translator, and a transcriber, a decoder, and last but not least a mommy...
"I luf you Mom!"
June 15, 2001
Bill MacKenzie was a man of many talents. Recycler, story teller, employer, friend. But I think his most enduring quality was kindness. He was a well-respected man who I think never realized the immense impact he had on his community. My first encounters with Bill were through my work at the CBC. I interviewed him on occasion, phoned him to get background on stories, and sometimes just called to chat.
Later I brought my children to see his wild boars, Hansel and Gretel, and used his beach as a picnic spot from time to time. My husband later became an employee of his, working with him at Environment Canadas upper air site.
Many people who have worked for Bill can tell you he was a generous employer. He allowed time for Stephen to be home with me when our son was born. He started an education fund for our youngest, gave unexpected Christmas bonuses, and always had treats for our children at Halloween, Easter and Christmas. We got to know Bill during those two years. He became our friend, and part of our extended family. We continued to keep in touch with him after our move to Labrador.
I was once told he was Godfather to many a child in Iqaluit. People felt it important that he be a part of their childrens lives. It didnt take me long to understand why. He was quiet, thoughtful, patient, and had such a wealth of knowledge to share. He was a man parents believed their children could, and should, look up to.
His influence was quiet, but far-reaching. He would offer small work projects to the homeless, and help those who had just gotten out of jail giving them second chances when others were hesitant. He believed in people when sometimes, those people had trouble believing in themselves. It was a gift Bill gave without realizing its importance.
I have a small card of Bills, one of the painted notes that local artist Janet Armstrong produced a few years back. Bill autographed it for me. At the time, I thought it was a sweet gesture. Now, I think it priceless.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay
June 15, 2001
I am quiet worried as an Inuk and a Nunavut beneficiary at the shocking state of our major Inuit organizations, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Kivalliq Inuit Association, and not in any particular order.
Reading the news that Sakku is recieving $700,000 from NTI is a shocking bit of news to swallow and it seems like a reward to KIA and Sakku for mismanaging their beneficaries businesses.
NTIs board, as far as I can see, cannot give that kind of money as they have a policy of returning any surplus towards the debt.
I also heard that the Arctic Winter Games are also to recieve $1.5 million of our money. I hope not, not that it isnt a good idea, but because its time to stop the unneccesary spending! The NTI board has the mentality of a free spender anything is OK as long as someone else pays for it. That "someone else" is us, the beneficiaries.
QIA is not any better. Their president must be on a crusade down Bank Street in Ottawa as she has neglected her flock on the island. If the executive director erred, Im sure he was on probation and you have every right to fire him, if and only if he was breaking procedures. Otherwise bring him back in and let him earn his money.
Im disappointed but not suprised. I could go on but I wont. Im sure you feel the same way sometimes.
(Name withheld by request)
June 15, 2001
Post-modern writing by authors of indigenous descent is needed for Gatherings XII, a popular anthology of original writing by original people.
If the term "post-modern writing" is too intimidating for any of you soon-to-be or already published scribes, think "writing on the theme of transformation as represented in traditional and contemporary legends and stories." Then, dig through old journals, cluttered desks, maxed-out hard drives, or untapped pools of literary inspiration to see if any of your work falls under said theme.
Having followed through on any of the aforementioned suggestions, and finding that, yes indeed, you have either unpublished poetry, short fiction, essays, songs, oratory, drama, criticism, biography or excerpts from works-in-progress that are in dire need of an appreciative audience, why not submit them to the Gatherings Editorial Committee by July 20, 2001?
All the committee needs from you is no more than 1,500 words (maximum), typed, double-spaced and saved preferably to disk (WordPerfect, TEXT export or RTF export files will do). Also, include a short biographical sketch of yourself thats no longer than two concise paragraphs. Be sure to mention your tribal background or beneficiary status, and your coordinates like a complete mailing address, telephone and/or fax numbers, and, if possible an e-mail address.
Submissions must be written by indigenous people of North America, except for those submitted to the "International Indigenous" section, free of sexist and racist undertones and overtones, and of a literary, rather than journalistic, nature.
Submissions written in a language other than English are welcome and appreciated, but they must be accompanied by an English translation.
Special sections are reserved for writing by elders (transcriptions and/or translations welcome), young people, and members of the international indigenous community.
Please send your submission(s) to:
Editorial Committee, Gatherings XII
Green Mtn. Rd., Lot 45
R.R. 2, Site 50, Comp. 8
Phone: (250) 493-7181
Fax: (250) 493-5302
Or, e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, the deadline is July 20, 2001, but if you are either suffering from writers block or under an inspired spell of writing, please contact the committee near the deadline date to discuss a possible extension.
June 8, 2001
I read your article on the Inuit women living in Montreal (Nunatsiaq News, January 21, 2000). In September I did a four-month internship at the day shelter.
I quickly realized the problems that the Inuit face; my experience opened my eyes and made me realize that something needed to be done about the escalating suicide rate, the escalating drug and booze problem and widespread ignorance that the Inuit have of their wonderful culture.
I have finished my Special Care Counseling degree and with this I will never forget the imaginary project that a classmate and I set up. We set up a crisis management center in Kujjuaq. Through our months of research we realized that no matter how much money is given to the aboriginals, it wont do any good unless they learn budgeting and money management skills, which Chez Doris helps them with.
I thank the people that work at Chez Doris. It is hard, demanding work. I believe that this day shelter is changing the world one day at a time and if others could see the good that it is bringing, then and only then will the world realize and be sensitized to the world around them.
Thank-you for writing this article, it will open many eyes in the real world out there and hopefully like Maria said, someone will look over these women and this wonderful culture that we can all learn from.
Nav Canadas proposal to build a radar facility in the Iqaluit area has raised some concerns from local citizens. Id like to clarify our position, and highlight why this project is so important to the current and future well-being of the community.
Nav Canadas primary reason for installing this radar is quite simple: it will significantly improve safety for the flying public, into and over Iqaluit. The local airport needs radar to better manage the more than 20,000 landings and take-offs that take place each year. Its also crucial for the future, to handle continuing growth in both local and overflight traffic.
To ensure that this facility provides the best possible coverage of the Iqaluit area, Nav Canada looked at five different sites. The one we chose gives the maximum potential for our customers including airlines, private pilots, and medevac services who strongly endorse our plan. And the entire community will benefit from gaining access to local radar coverage.
For example, the new radar will substantially improve search and rescue operations in Nunavut. In addition, the facility will reduce delays for travellers, and improve the Iqaluit communitys air transport delivery of groceries, medicine, and many other necessities of life.
Nav Canadas has been working closely with various levels of government since January, explaining our plans. We commissioned a detailed independent environmental assessment of the project, which found that the effects of the proposed radar would be insignificant. Copies of this study are available to the public, either from the City of Iqaluits planning department or by e-mail from Graeme Stephens at email@example.com.
At the request of the city, the Nunavut Impact Review Board has also undertaken its own review of our proposed project. The results of their work should be known in the very near future.
I certainly understand some peoples questions about the need for the installation of this radar. I also know that local citizens want to live in a community that is safe and clean. Im confident that Nav Canadas proposed radar meets both of these key requirements. We believe that approval of this project is in the best interests of Iqaluit, the airline industry, and the safety of thousands of passengers. It merits the communitys approval and support.
My name is Mary Foster. I was looking at some Canadian newspaper articles earlier and came across the biography of an old friend of mine, Leah Akavak.
Leah and I have not seen one another for over 30 years, but we were in the TB hospital together in Toronto in 1966 and became very good friends. Even though I could not speak her language, or her mine, we communicated for years by letter through interpreters.
I spoke to her last May by phone, but she could still not speak English. Her daughter helped us out with our phone visit. It was the first time we had heard each others voices in 35 years. I know that each of us had a good cry after hanging up.
I often think of Leah and wish with all my might that I could see her. When I saw her picture it brought back a lot of memories. Some of my memories of that time are not good, as I lost my three-year-old daughter to TB and my little six-month-old son and myself spent six months there at Toronto.
The babies were in another building and I didnt get to see my son as much as the Inuit women did. They made him little seal-skin boots and taught him to walk. I could never understand why I had to be in the other building, when I could have been there with the native women and my son.
My husband and I lived near Toronto at the time, and a year after I got home and back on my feet. We sold everything and left Canada to start a new life in the U.S. We now live in Florida and have two daughters and my son. We are looking forward to my husbands retirement next year and plan to travel some.
Whether or not I will ever get to Kimmirut is a mystery, but I would be ever so happy if I ever did get to go there. Thanks for your ear.
Jaanimmarik School held its Secondary V graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 7. We are extremely proud of all our graduates and commend them for their perseverance, dedication and success. Congratulations!
The graduates in the secondary English program are Ida Arreak, Peter Annahatak, Kevin Berendes and Yanialli Ekomiak. The graduates in the French secondary program are Daniel Gadbois, Adamie Johannes, Jennifer Watkins, Li ie Johannes, Manumi Gordon and Johnny Berthe.
Eight of our graduates plan to further their education in the fall, pursuing post-secondary college studies at CEGEP.
The graduation ceremony took place in the school gymnasium. Guest speakers included Larry Watt, a former graduate, Kativik School Board commissioner and general manager at Makivik Corporation, as well as Jeannie May, also a former graduate and assistant to the executive director of the Nunavik Regional Health Board.
The ceremonies were highlighted by presentations of the Governor Generals bronze medal for academic achievement in secondary school studies which was awarded to Manumi Gordon, and Le Prix du Lieutenant-Gouverneur for overall academic success and contribution to school spirit and life, Jennifer Watkins.
A graduation supper and reception was held at the Kuujjuaq Inn after the ceremony. Secondary V graduates traditionally close out the days festivities with a bonfire at Barrel Beach after the supper.
Our graduating class will be culminating their year with a class of 2001 trip to Mexico later in June.
Id like to offer special thanks to the graduation organizing committee whose invaluable efforts made this evening a success: Scott Withers, Dave McMullan, Françoise Dumont, Pierre Couture, and to the Secondary IV students who helped decorate the gymnasium.
June 1, 2001
John MacDougall from QIA stated that John Amagoalik is not a "public figure." People know John A. as John "Father of Nunavut" Amagoalik. So in a sense he is a public figure.
I think that the public and the press should not focus so much on John Amagoalik. We all know that he is fighting some demons right now and he is probably grateful that there is a roof over his familys head.
I think the focus should be on the leadership abilities of the new president. Staff change-over in the last few months has been more then usual, and one cant help but wonder why. These people arent getting laid off or fired. They are quitting.
The president should address the concerns that the media and public are questioning. She is in fact working for the Inuit of the Qikiqtaaluk region, not the other way around.
Thanks for the article "Kattajjatiit" ( May 18, 2001). Madeline sounds good. Her songs (on CD) are a pleasant and marketable blend of traditional and contemporary songs.
The success of contemporary interpretations of throat-singing as a marketable art form that, through local, national and international exposure, will ultimately enhance both traditional and contemporary interest.
This link is essential, because traditional throat-singing enjoys the attention it deserves only within a narrow band of public interest. The contemporary is necessary to reach a much larger, southern audience who appreciate the deep traditional roots but want to get zapped a little.
Jay Ingram (on the show discussing throat-singing on the Discovery channel) points out the wonders of these sounds from a trained throat, but also makes us aware of the stand-alone narrow marketing potential.
I view kattajjatiit as a form of entertainment, which it obviously always has been, just like storytelling or drum dancing. I hear the contemporary pleasing sounds mixed with a suitable folk instrument group and say to myself, these ladies are human instruments. And when the instrument sounds come together the effect is electric.
A good visual performance adds to this, giving the audience a feeling of having experienced something new and unique and leaves them with a deep sense of satisfaction. There is no attempt to present the contemporary as traditional Inuit, it is simply a very pleasing performing art-form called throat-singing.
There is room in the real world for both the traditional and non-traditional interpretations of kattajjatiit and, ultimately, the elders and others should not feel threatened by what the market forces of the entertainment world want to hear. The more and varied exposure the better, and we can see parallel progressions of tradition, art and economics. All will benefit, so its important to accommodate any developing styles.
I hope Madeline can bring these views to the gathering in September at Puvirnituq, and I thank Minnie, Dora and the other ladies who are the keepers and teachers.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Zach Kunuk and all Iglulikmiut for winning the Golden Camera Award at the Cannes film festival in France. This award is for the making of Atanarjuat the Fast Runner.
Atanarjuat is an Inuit legend. It is made with all Inuit actors, all in Inuktitut. Congratulations are in order for Zach Kunuk, for documenting Inuit culture and langauge, the Inuit way. Zach, all Nunavutmiut are very proud of you and in fact, all Canadians are proud of you. You are a great "ambassador" for Nunavut
Ajunngi! Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration and example for all the youth of Nunavut.
Commissioner of Nunavut
Congratulations to Zach and Isuma Productions on your success at the Cannes International Film Festival.
I am looking forward to seeing it on APTN here in Victoria. I am sure to promote it to all my friends here. Way to go.
I want to express my deepest thanks to so many people. As you might have heard, my father Ben Ell passed away this past April. He died of natural causes while on a trip on the land. Since our loss, my family has received tremendous support and I want to express our gratitude.
The weather wasnt very co-operative during the long-weekend it happened. I want to thank Goola Nakasuk for manning the HF radio and Methusalah Kunuk for your co-ordinating efforts. The men who travelled by snowmobile, and the crew that left by helicopter, thanks for all your efforts.
To Reverend Daniel Aupalu and your wife, thank you for everything you did. Oopah Picco, thanks for coming right away to see my mother and spending the time you did with her. Everyone who came and helped out, spent some time grieving with us, both young and old, thanks for caring.
My fathers great-aunt Jenny Tootoo travelled from Winnepeg to get to the funeral. Jenny, youre coming to see my mother and the kids meant a whole lot, especially to the grandchildren. Keep well.
To my many aunts and uncles who traveled also to get here to Iqaluit, we miss you all already! Some of our large extended family members got stuck because of poor weather, and the plane couldnt arrive. We understand why you werent here, please remember that. God bless your families. Thanks to those individuals who got the charters organized.
To the many friends and acquaintances my father knew all over the north and the south, thank you for your prayers and kind words, to everyone one of you who showed your love and kindness either by providing food, and giving flowers, and the cards that just kept coming in daily. I know its impossible to mention all your names. Please realize that you are remembered.
A message to my peers, friends, and family. Yes, my father passed away. Its a sad moment in our lives.
But, please remember these few words that my my mother wants to convey:
"Live your life to the fullest. Work on the things you want to achieve in life. Remember he had great passion. He put service first and with great enthusiasm! Continue life as he did. Thats what he would want all of us to do."
My father is survived by his wife Marie, nine children, twenty-six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren. A whole-hearted thanks from everyone. I know my father was loved by so many from all over Nunavut and abroad.
Your issue of Nunatsiaq News dated May 11, 2001 displayed a picture of animal rights activists on page 21.
The picture is clear and effective; in fact the picture is so powerful that I have decided not to hunt beavers, cows or humans from now on.
Andrew Tagak Sr.