Nunavut Inuit org honours dog team racer, seamstress, Ennadai descendants
Awards given out at Nunavut Tunngavik’s annual meeting in Rankin Inlet
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. handed out three President’s Awards at a feast in Rankin Inlet Oct. 24 to recognize the special contributions of two people, as well as the the descendants of the Ahiarmiut, who suffered a devastating, government-sponsored relocation in 1949.
David Oolooyuk was recognized for “his expertise and longstanding involvement in racing dog teams,” said an NTI press release, which noted his skill “in the Hudson Bay Quest that traverses the Manitoba-Nunavut boundary.”
Veronica Ell, who was widowed as a young woman, was also recognized because she was “able to support her large family because of her considerable talent as a seamstress.”
The last award was given to the descendants of the Ennadai Lake Ahiarmiut whose tents and encampments were destroyed by a bulldozer and whose families were forcibly removed by the federal government from Ennadai Lake and eventually relocated to Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet.
“The Ennadai Lake descendants, known as Ahiarmiujuit (people of the interior), were recognized for overcoming extreme hardship when their belongings were bulldozed and they were forced to survive with almost no resources,” the NTI release said.
Drum-maker and drum-dancer David Serkoak, who formed the Ennadai Lake Society to push for recognition of his ancestors’ hardships, accepted the NTI award on their behalf Oct. 24.
Ahiarmiut descendents are still waiting for an official apology from Ottawa and compensation for the tragic events that occurred more than 60 years ago.
The Ennadai Lake Society submitted a special claim against the federal government in April 2013 and expect that claim to be honoured in spring 2014.
If it is honoured, it will have been a long time coming. Litigation with Ottawa has been ongoing since 2006-07, with the help of lawyer Steve Cooper.
Descendants say they want a memorial at Ennadai Lake and in Arviat, anda paid trip back to their ancestral homeland.