Looking Back
The Early Years
The Road to Nunavut
What Price Nunavut?
The Next Generation
Inuit and The Land As One
Living with Change
Our Language, Our Selves
Inuit Art: The New Reality
Hunters and High Finance
The Subsistence Economy
A Public Government
The First MLAs
The World Looks North
What's In A Name?

Map of Nunavut

Inuktitut - Nunavut 99

 

LOOKING
BACK
. . .a journey of sorrow,
joy and adventure. . .


By John Amagoalik

hinking back to my childhood and about all the things that have happened between then and now, it feels as though I have been watching a revolution in slow motion. Profound changes have taken place in our lives and our society. From the almost total isolation from the outside world of my early years in Resolute Bay in the High Arctic, to the computer space age when the world is at my fingertips, has been a journey of sorrow, joy and adventure.

Speaking to a group of young people a while ago, I realized that some of the things I was saying to them were not connecting. I then realized that the reason was that I was assuming that they knew about the experiences of my generation and could easily understand why we were pursuing land claims and Nunavut. But I was wrong. Our recent history, the last 30 years, has not been adequately recorded yet.

It seems like a thousand years ago when we had to struggle for the very basics of life like food, shelter and clothing. Today, some kids get very upset when they don't have the television remote control. It seems like another world when I think back to Inuit children being taken from their families for their assimilation into another culture. Today, such government policy would be unthinkable. The relocations and forced movements of my generation seem like plots from a movie. Today's children need not worry about such things.

Living under conditions of colonialism is something our children, thankfully, will not know. Our fathers experienced a time when their independence and human rights were stolen from them. Through the settlement of our land claims and the rebirth of Nunavut, our generation has won back our right to determine our political future.

There was a time when many of my generation did not have pride in our Inuit identity and were not sure if they wanted to be Canadian citizens. Today, there is a resurgence of Inuit pride and we have become loyal Canadians. Even though our people have encountered racial discrimination in the past, we want reconciliation and we want all to feel welcome in our homeland. Our patience and our willingness to share continue to be cornerstones of our society.

There are some important dates in our recent history: 1971, when the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada was formed. The spring of 1982, when the people of the Northwest Territories voted to divide the NWT and create Nunavut. 1992, when the boundaries of Nunavut were established. June of 1993, when the Nunavut Act was passed by Parliament. February 15, 1999, when we had our first election for the first Nunavut legislative assembly.

There are other dates that a lot of people may not remember too well. Like the spring of 1979 when Peter Ittinuar, our first Inuk member of Parliament, stood up in the House of Commons and spoke Inuktitut. It may not have seemed like very much at the time, but to us it was another milestone in our epic journey.

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