Qanukkanniq? Ten Years After Nunavut's Creation, Canada's Inuit Are Still Screwed

A medium size almost finished igloo. Note the ...
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Ten years after the creation of Canada’s newest territory — Nunavut — its problems remain the same, a new report suggests. While craving greater autonomy from the federal government, it still needs boatloads of cash. This year, its residents will receive $1 billion (Canadian) in direct federal funding, $32,373 per capita. Education and employment still lag far behind the country’s other provinces.

The Globe and Mail says:

“Nunavut is the only Canadian jurisdiction without mental-health treatment and rehabilitation facilities, despite rampant substance abuse and sky-high suicide rates. An addictions and mental-health strategy is imperative, the report states.”

I’ve been to the Arctic, to a small Quebec town called Salluit, on a reporting trip for the Montreal Gazette. The social problems were shocking. Bored kids were sniffing gasoline and dying in snowbanks. The local community center, built atop permafrost, had so warped the walls were bound together with enormous metal struts and the rooms were unusable. A town swimming pool was being used to store raw sewage. Most people had no toilets but used “honeybuckets”, a large metal garbage can, lined with plastic, topped by a toilet seat. Because of the appalling sanitary conditions, kids often suffered diarrhea and stayed home from school.

I spent all of 24 hours there but have never forgotten the grinding, shocking poverty that is often normal life in the Arctic.

One of the issues the report calls for is much stronger opposition to anti-sealing campaigns. I wonder how PETA’s fanatics would feel about shitting into a honeybucket.

4 thoughts on “Qanukkanniq? Ten Years After Nunavut's Creation, Canada's Inuit Are Still Screwed

  1. stageleft

    I am somewhat surprised to see a line like “Ten Years After Independence, Canada’s Inuit Are Still Screwed” on a site where “Knowledgeable and credible contributors anchor…..”.

    Nunavut neither achieved, nor even asked for, independence on April 1, 1999 – it did achieve status as a territory as a result of legislation passed related to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

    About the only part of that headline that is accurate is the part about Inuit being screwed – the federal level (both former Liberal and current Conservative) have stalled implementation since April 2, 1999.

  2. nanuk

    Is this what you call good journalism? I call it complete disinformation!
    First, as stageleft mentionned, Nunavut is not independent. Second, Salluit is in Nunavik not Nunvut. Third, Salluit does not have a swimmingpool, so how can it be filled with sewage? But maybe you’re making a reference to the biodisk, but that is per se an sewage treatment plant! Forth, honeybuckets haven’t been in use since a long time ago, in fact all houses have a bathroom an a toilet, and some even do have two. And I could go one pointing out the disinformation you are writing… And yes, not everything in the North is perfect, but never forget : Inuit are proud people. So please stop disgracing them in your articles! Maybe next time you should consider staying longer than 24 hours and take time to get better informed.

  3. northerner

    Like other readers (especially in the north), I was blindsided by this headline – “Qanukkanniq? Ten Years After Nunavut’s Creation, Canada’s Inuit Are Still Screwed.”

    What gave this “generalist” writer from New York City the idea that 24 hours in Salluit provided the authority to write about Nunavut (a territory, quite unique from the province of Quebec)?

    I’d be interested in finding another jurisdiction only 10 years of age that has come as far as Nunavut. Canada has had 142 years to work out its kinks – is it any surprise that Nunavut hasn’t attained perfection in 10?

    In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to learn more about Inuit and their way of life. Rather than being “screwed”, you may find an incredible strong people overcoming great obstacles to build their vision of Nunavut.

  4. makittu

    I don’t see how you could possibly know what you are talking about. You went into an inuit community expecting to see wrong, and sure enough you saw it. That is how we inuit have been categorized ever since the so called “wise” white man came. It is painful to keep seeing trash about inuit, when the so called “wise” man doesn’t see in his own race the many overcrowded penitentiaries, the many mental institutions filled with your own kind. Oh, and by the way nobody shits into a honeybucket anymore.

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