Nunatsiaq Online
TAISSUMANI: Around the Arctic January 23, 2015 - 1:07 pm

Taissumani, Jan. 23

Taissumani – A Look Backward and Forward

KENN HARPER

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Taissumani. That’s a lot of stories — over 500 — and a lot of research.

But this week’s column will also be my last Taissumani as a regular weekly column.

I have appreciated the comments that readers have made on many of the stories. Often these were made on Nunatsiaq News’s web site and so were public and generally stimulated further comments.

But many more were sent privately to my email address, which accompanied the column. Equally gratifying were the comments of people who would stop me in the street, or at a public event, or at Arctic Ventures (when I still owned it) to tell me how much they appreciated a certain column.

Young Inuit would often thank me for a story, and sometimes tell me that a person mentioned was a relative, or that they were from a certain community but had no idea that such-and-such an event had taken place.

In addition, many of the columns have been used in schools as a means of teaching northern and Inuit history. This is particularly gratifying to a former teacher. (Most Inuit in the Qikiqtaaluk region know that my Inuktitut name is Ilisaijikutaaq — the tall teacher.)

This is made easier now that Inhabit Media is republishing some of the stories in book form in a series called In Those Days. The first volume —Inuit Lives – is already in print.

The history of the north has been largely written by white people — that is slowly changing — and I am quite obviously a white person.

But I think — and I trust that my readers will agree — that I have expressed a quite different perspective on many events in northern history than a southern Qallunaaq or a short-term resident of the north would express.

That’s what comes from living in the Arctic for 48 years, and learning Inuktitut in my early years so I could actually talk with, and listen to, the people with whom I live.

So why stop now?

I still have many stories to tell. Some of them are book-length projects. Many of you will know that I am working on a manuscript about the killing of Robert Janes and the trial of Nuqallaq, an event that changed the course of eastern Arctic history.

I am also working on a book on the life of the first Inuit film star, Nancy Columbia. I want to, and need to, complete these and other projects. The research for them is intensive and time-consuming, and that is where I need to focus. 

Nunatsiaq News has agreed to leave the door open for me to write occasional historic pieces for the paper, and I hope to do this from time to time.

But they won’t be weekly, and they won’t be regular. I hope that when they appear, they will still be under the Taissumani banner.

It has been my great privilege to inform, entertain, and educate readers about the rich history of the north. Thank you for allowing me that honour.

Qujannamik.

Kenn Harper/Ilisaijikutaaq

Editor’s note. Thank you Kenn, for enriching our newspaper — and the lives of our readers — over the past 10 years. We look forward to publishing occasional Taissumani columns in future issues and we look forward to reading your next books. A note to our readers: we will keep the Taissumani button active on our website so that you may continue searching and reading our archived Taissumani columns.

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