Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic November 14, 2017 - 10:00 am

ICC hopes Inuit Day observance will grow

“I’m glad to see that it’s starting to take off”

JIM BELL
Students from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa perform a Western Arctic-style drum dance at an Inuit Day celebration this past Nov. 7. The Inuit Circumpolar Council hopes that, in the future, recognition of Inuit Day will grow. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Students from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa perform a Western Arctic-style drum dance at an Inuit Day celebration this past Nov. 7. The Inuit Circumpolar Council hopes that, in the future, recognition of Inuit Day will grow. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, dishes out food at an Inuit Day event in Ottawa this past Nov. 7: “We celebrate the vibrant culture, rich history, and fundamental role Inuit play in Canada and the world,” she said in a statement that bragged about her government's relationships with Inuit organizations. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, dishes out food at an Inuit Day event in Ottawa this past Nov. 7: “We celebrate the vibrant culture, rich history, and fundamental role Inuit play in Canada and the world,” she said in a statement that bragged about her government's relationships with Inuit organizations. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)

Though the day’s not widely observed in Nunavut and Nunavik, the Inuit Circumpolar Council hopes that every Nov. 7, Inuit Day, sometimes called International Inuit Day, will in the future become more important.

Inuit in Ottawa took a small step towards meeting that aspiration this past Nov. 7, inside a rented hall at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Ottawa, at a celebratory feast that also marked ICC’s 40th birthday and the 30th birthday of the Ottawa-based cultural and social service organization, Tungasuvvingat Inuit.

“Wherever you are in the world please join Inuit today in celebrating Inuit cultural diversity and the contribution Inuit have made to the global community,” ICC said in a statement promoting Inuit Day.

The Ottawa event not only attracted two federal cabinet ministers, a curious team of broadcasters from CBC Ottawa, and several hundred Inuit residents of Ottawa, but also delegates from an international circumpolar wildlife meeting held around the corner that very week.

That included Jimmy Stotts of Utqiaġvik, or Barrow, Alaska, the place where, in 2006, ICC proclaimed the first Inuit Day.

“I’m glad to see that it’s starting to take off. It’s been recognized by the Canadian government, recognized by the state of Alaska government, more and more Inuit organizations are taking the day off, so I’m gratified to see that,” Jimmy Stotts, the chair of ICC-Alaska, told Nunatsiaq News.

Nov. 7 is the birthday of Eben Hopson, the revered Alaskan leader credited with founding the ICC in June 1977, when Hopson hosted representatives from Canada, Greenland and Alaska at a landmark circumpolar gathering.

“I recall when the first meeting was held in Barrow in 1977 at the old school gym, sitting there and thinking I really want to get involved in this organization if it ever takes off. And it did. Eben was the leader. He was the one that called the people together.”

And it appears as if at least one Canadian Inuit organization now plans to mark the event. 

“We will be making this an ongoing part of our calendar here in Ottawa, recognizing and celebrating, appropriately and properly, International Inuit Day,” Leblanc told a crowd of people gathered at the event, which also marked TI’s 30th anniversary.

Federal politicians took note of it too, using the event to brag about their records and promote their agendas.

One was Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, who stood at the end of a long row of tables serving food out to a long line of feasters.

“As we mark International Inuit Day and the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, we celebrate the vibrant culture, rich history, and fundamental role Inuit play in Canada and the world,” Bennett said in a statement.

She bragged about the Inuit Nunangat declaration that her boss, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, signed Feb. 9, 2017 in Iqaluit and the creation of the high-level Inuit-Crown partnership committee that flowed from that deal.

And she also touted her government’s work toward a new Arctic policy, which she calls the “Arctic Policy Framework,” aimed at replacing the previous Conservative government’s Northern Strategy.

“This framework will replace the previous Northern Strategy and, for the first time, will provide a space for the policy priorities of Inuit Nunangat to be realized,” said Bennett, who even threw in some syllabics to dress up the text of her written statement: “ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒋᑦᓯ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐅᑉᓗᐊᓂ!” (Happy Inuit Day!)

Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson also used the Inuit Day event to promote his work.

After praising organizations like TI and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Patterson reminded the crowd that he’s a member of the Senate’s aboriginal affairs committee, which earlier this year issued a report on the housing crisis in Inuit Nunangat.

And he also used the event to say that he and Senator Charlie Watt of Nunavik have recently won approval from the Senate to create a special Senate committee on the Arctic.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Senator Watt on that committee to highlight the special problems in the Arctic,” Patterson said.

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(3) Comments:

#1. Posted by day off on November 14, 2017

the GN should recognize this day and allow its staff to take the day off so we can celebrate. after all it is Government of NUNAVUT.

#2. Posted by Inuit friend on November 15, 2017

Number 1 you already have an extra civic day and yu celebrate June 9th aboriginal day…if you wish to forfeit that holiday for the November holiday make a proposal otherwise show up to work as you already have more civic holidays than the rest of canada

#3. Posted by WRONG on November 15, 2017

June 9 is not a paid holiday.

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