Makivik, NFB launch web documentary to commemorate High Arctic exiles
"A website so we do not forget"
“We finally made it to Resolute,” elder Alacee Nungaq recalled in a 2011 interview.
“It was a long way in the ship. A very long, long time in the ship,” she said. “Then we arrived to that awful place. We were so frightened. Terribly frightened.”
“There was nothing,” said Nungaq, who recalled her family’s relocation in the 1950s from their home in Inukjuak to establish a new community in what is now known as Resolute Bay.
“It was already pretty cold. We got water from the ice. I couldn’t comprehend how we would ever eat. There was nothing. No food resource. Nothing.”
Nungaq is one of many voices you’ll hear in a series of new documentaries produced for the new website Iqqaumavara — I remember — a history of the many Inuit families who were relocated by the Canadian government from Inukjuak to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord.
To help the new arrivals cope with the High Arctic climate, federal officials also moved three families from Pond Inlet to the same areas.
But those exiled to the High Arctic suffered many hardships, and were forced to adapt to a more severe environment that was plunged into total darkness during the winter months.
Access to wildlife was limited and the temperatures were on average 20 degrees colder than the families’ home communities.
Despite this, the relocated families spent their first winter in the High Arctic in tents with little food and few supplies.
It took until the 1990s for the federal government to acknowledge the hardship it had caused to those Inuit, and then not until 2010 for the government to issue an official apology to the families affected by the relocations.
As a way to acknowledge the suffering caused by that policy, Makivik Corp. and the National Film Board of Canada have spent the last three years producing a trilingual website — Inuktitut, English and French — to honour the relocatees.
Iqqaumavara will be officially launched in Inukjuak May 9.
The website includes 17 hours of unreleased material on the resettlement of Quebec Inuit to the High Arctic and 12 short films, including interviews with Inuit families affected by the relocations.
You can watch a trailer of the website’s films here.
The website, which also hosts more than 300 photos and other archival material, was produced by Marquise Lepage, director of the film Martha of the North, Makivik Corp.’s François Dorval, Jean-François Arteau, formerly a lawyer with Makivik, and the National Film Board’s Johanne Bergeron.
To mark the official launch of the web documentary, a special event will take place in Inukjuak’s community centre May 9 at 3:00 p.m., including a presentation by the website’s creation team, some relocatees and other dignitaries.
Inukjuak is already home to a monument, erected on its waterfront in 2011, to commemorate the Inukjuak exiles.
The bronze and granite statue is a figure of an Inuk looking out to sea as his relatives depart for the High Arctic.