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Federal government apologizes to Baffin Inuit for sled dog killings, forced relocations

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett gave a wide-ranging apology to Inuit of Baffin Island in Iqaluit on Wednesday. 

“We failed to provide you with proper housing, adequate medical care, education, economic viability and jobs. We took away your independence by imposing our own priorities and forcing you to survive in a difficult environment and in locations that were not of your choosing, nor your traditional home,” Bennett stated within the apology.

The apology is step one within the Qikiqtani Inuit Affiliation’s (QIA’s) motion plan to maneuver ahead from the wrongs performed to Inuit by the federal government of Canada from 1950 to 1975. 

The QIA represents Inuit who stay primarily on Baffin Island. It flew in 40 elders from throughout Nunavut’s Qikiqtaaluk area — from Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island, to Sanikiluaq in Hudson Bay — to listen to the apology. 

From 2007 to 2010, the affiliation gathered interviews from 350 Inuit throughout the Qikiqtani Fact Fee and compiled them in a report. 

The fee was arrange in response to an RCMP investigation that discovered there was no conspiracy by police to kill Inuit sled canine, known as qimmiit in Inuktitut, however its findings grew to seize the bigger image of hardships confronted by Inuit. 

Federal government apologizes to Baffin Inuit for sled dog killings, forced relocations 1
A packed crowd listens to Bennett ship the federal authorities’s apology to Inuit on Wednesday. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

Pressured relocations

Interviewees spoke about how they had been forcibly relocated from their seasonal camps into everlasting settlements. 

Within the apology, Bennett highlighted Emily Takatak’s story. Takatak stated she wasn’t instructed why she was being moved or if she would be capable of return to her dwelling. 

She could not take any of her possessions together with her, so she could not deliver the issues she wanted to dress or correctly look after her youngsters. She later discovered that her belongings had been burned by officers. 

Her story is just like many who had been relocated from camps in Dundas Harbour, South Camp, Paallavvik and Kivitoo. 

As soon as in these new communities, the federal government applications for Inuit had been misguided and insufficient, which led to starvation, illness and cultural assimilation. 

Federal government apologizes to Baffin Inuit for sled dog killings, forced relocations 2
This archive picture reveals the individuals of Kivitoo. After they returned following a compelled relocation, they discovered that every one their belongings had been burned by the RCMP. (imagineNATIVE)

Killing of Inuit sled canine 

Bennett additionally acknowledged Canada’s “participation within the processes that resulted within the lack of qimmiit, which had been key to your tradition, survival, and neighborhood well being.” 

Throughout the turbulent interval lined by the fee, hundreds of qimmiit had been killed and plenty of extra died. 

Inuit journey by canine group, and the fee investigated whether or not there was a “dog slaughter” conspiracy to be able to limit the motion of Inuit. 

It discovered there was no conspiracy, however the dramatic decline in qimmiit numbers “has become a flashpoint in Inuit memories: of the changes imposed on their lives by outsiders; and of the challenges to their … identity as hunters and providers,” in keeping with a abstract of the report. 

The canine had been shot by police and hunters, died from illness, or had been deserted by house owners resulting from compelled relocations. They had been steadily changed by snowmobiles.

Federal government apologizes to Baffin Inuit for sled dog killings, forced relocations 3
The Qikiqtani Fact Fee seemed into the widespread deaths of Inuit sled canine, or qimmiit, throughout the settlement period and located it went on too lengthy to be a ‘secret plan or conspiracy’ from the federal government. (Qikiqtani Fact Fee/Library and Archives Canada)

Transferring ahead 

QIA president PJ Akeeagok accepted Bennett’s apology on behalf of the Inuit his affiliation represents. 

“Everybody who experienced this directly or indirectly still holds the hurt that they went through as a family. So I don’t think this is meant to say: ‘OK. There’s an apology. Let’s move on.’ It really allows us to be able to acknowledge what happened, to be able to plan as Inuit on what our next steps are,” Akeeagok instructed CBC. 

The subsequent steps will come within the type of a memorandum of understanding that QIA and the federal government of Canada signed on the occasion Wednesday.

“We will reconcile past wrongs by celebrating your communities, honouring your culture, respecting your language, and recognizing the ongoing contribution of Inuit to Canada,” Bennett stated. 

QIA has obtained $20 million from the federal government of Canada to develop therapeutic applications, Inuit governance applications and cultural and language revitalization tasks. 

Akeeagok says as a result of the cash was simply finalized the precise applications are nonetheless being developed, however $15 million will go into the group’s legacy fund to supply for the long run, whereas $5 million will likely be used instantly. 

Of that, $700,000 will go to the Nunavut Quest canine sled race — $100,000 a 12 months for the following seven years. Akeeagok was in Arctic Bay because the race completed this spring. 

“To really feel the thrill and to really feel the power of the tradition and the power of what qimmiit means to Inuit is highly effective,” he stated.

That is the third federal apology to Nunavut Inuit this 12 months. In January, Bennett delivered an apology for the compelled relocation of Ahiarmiut Inuit. In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for historic mistreatment of Inuit with tuberculosis.


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