Wednesday, January 15, 2014

High Arctic Relocation

In August 1953, seven or eight families from Inukjuak, northern Quebec (then known as Port Harrison) were transported to Grise Fiord on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island and to Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island.
Grise Fiord

The families were promised better living and hunting opportunities in new communities in the High Arctic. They were joined by three families recruited from the more Northern community of Pond Inlet (in the then Northwest Territories, now part of Nunavut) whose purpose was to teach the Inukjuak Inuit skills for survival in the High Arctic. 

The Inuit reported that the relocations were forced and were motivated by a desire to reinforce Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic Archipelago by creating settlements in the area. The Inuit were taken on the Eastern Arctic Patrolship C.G.S. C.D. Howe to areas on Cornwallis and Ellesmere Islands (Resolute and Grise Fiord), both large barren islands in the hostile polar north. 

While on the boat the families learned that they would not be living together but would be left at three separate locations.  

The families were left without sufficient supplies of food and caribou skins and other materials for making appropriate clothing and tent. As they had been moved about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) to a very different ecosystem, they were unfamiliar with the wildlife and had to adjust to months of 24 hour darkness during the winter, and 24 hour sunlight during the summer, something that does not occur in northern Quebec. 

They were told that they would be returned home after two years if they wished, but these promises were not honoured by the government.

No comments: