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PUBLISHER Inuvialuit Communications Society EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Stewart Burnett HEAD DESIGNER Vanessa Hunter EDITORIAL TEAM WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER Stewart Burnett COPY EDITOR Casey Lessard INUVIALUKTUN TRANSLATOR Albert Elias CONTRIBUTORS Dennis Allen, Michael O’Rourke, Leigha Keogak SPECIAL THANKS TO Parks Canada, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Iron Horse Klub BUSINESS OFFICE Inuvialuit Communications Society 292 MacKenzie Rd PO Box 1704 Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0 MANAGER Dez Loreen OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR Roseanne Rogers BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT, INUVIK Lucy Kuptana VICE PRESIDENT, TUKTOYAKTUK Debbie Raddi TREASURER, ULUKHAKTOK Joseph Haluksit AKLAVIK DIRECTOR Colin Gordon PAULATUK DIRECTOR Denise Wolki SACHS HARBOUR DIRECTOR Jean Harry

One of the most ubiquitous messages adults give youth today is to go out and change the world. We talk a lot in this issue about challenges in the North, whether they be addiction, suicide or acceptance. Many bright-eyed young people have noble dreams to improve their community in adulthood. That should absolutely be encouraged, but we must first turn our attention to ourselves. To help another person, let alone an entire community, you must be in a stable and positive place yourself. It’s not that easy. There are some uncomfortable truths we must confront within ourselves before we can attempt to direct others.

ON THE COVER Isaiah Patkutaq McKenzie performs during the cultural celebrations at the Inuit Circumpolar Council. On the back, Mathias Elanik readies his line in Ivvavik National Park. CONTENT Unless otherwise specified, writing and photography in this issue is by Stewart Burnett.

SUBSCRIPTIONS E-mail subscription inquiries to or phone +1 (867) 777 2320 FUNDING MADE POSSIBLE BY Inuvialuit Regional Corporation GNWT (Education, Culture and Employment) GET SOCIAL Follow us on Facebook for live event coverage and photography that doesn’t make the magazine!

If you can’t get to work on time, if you are flaky and unreliable, if you can’t keep your home reasonably tidy, if your addictions get the better of you more often than not, you’re in no place to truly help others. You have to help yourself first. We learn this lesson in all sorts of ways, but especially in relationships, whether they be with family or significant others. We must look after ourselves first, because you simply can’t help someone else if you can’t help yourself. By focusing on ourselves as individuals, we indirectly improve the world around us. To make the best community, we need the best individuals. By improving yourself, you improve your relationship with your family and your contribution to the community. Every reliable person improves the world. You don’t need to be out there starting the revolution to improve your community. You just need to be someone with your own life in control. And if you don’t have your life under control, what lack of humility persuades you that you can change your community for the better?” In this issue, we delve into some of the social problems affecting the North. They might seem large in the macro sense, but each battle is individual, and that’s where solutions have to start.

QUYANAINNI THANK YOU, Stewart Burnett Editor-in-Chief

TUSAAYAKSAT MEANS “STORIES AND VOICES THAT NEED TO BE HEARD.” WE CELEBRATE INUVIALUIT PEOPLE, CULTURE AND HERITAGE. OUR MISSION: To empower, celebrate, communicate, heal and bond. To bring you the best coverage of our news, vibrant culture and perspectives.















What would we hear if the mountains could tell us everything they’ve seen? Death, struggle, loss, perseverance, sweat and tears – the giants of Ivvavik National Park have witnessed it all. Located in the northern Yukon and established as a result of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in 1984, the park is home to wildlife, nature and history. Porcupine Caribou cross this land to reach their calving grounds, while Inuvialuit and Gwich’in have lived, hunted and traversed these lands for centuries.

Besides the picturesque scenery and beautiful hikes, Ivvavik is true to its Inuvialuktun name – meaning ‘birthing place’ – and seems to impart some special refreshing energy on guests. We joined three Grade 9 students from Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, along with Parks Canada guides and cultural hosts, on a trip here this June. In the following pages is an account from Tusaayaksat editor Stewart Burnett.



Not easy access

We took two tries on Aklak Air to fly from Inuvik to Ivvavik National Park, which takes a little more than one hour all things going well. The first time, we tried coming in from the coastal side to the north. We followed the delta of the Firth River up until the mountains began, but the heavy, low cloud cover forced our pilots to turn back. Back in Inuvik, we waited a few hours for conditions to improve and went for a second try. This time, we went through the south, coming in between the mountains. Despite substantial overcast conditions, our pilots managed to navigate this route, and after a few flyovers of the short, bumpy runaway at Sheep Creek, we landed safely. The Biology 20 students and teachers from Inuvik, who just completed a week in Ivvavik, replaced us on the plane, while

we carted our bags to the base camp and found our tents. The camp at Sheep Creek, which was once a gold mining site, is surrounded by an electric fence to keep out grizzlies. It has a series of tents, a washroom and shower, living quarters for some of the staff and cultural host, and a main kitchen and hangout building. It was a cold, long day. Despite being June, Ivvavik wasn’t looking like summer yet, with snow lining the mountains and a biting wind. We’ve already seen caribou on the surrounding hills. We spent the first night exploring around the camp, having an early dinner and making introductions. The real trip will begin tomorrow. After switching on the meagre heater in the Fort McPherson tent, we went to sleep wrapped in several sweaters and coverings.


Rachel Hansen Rachel Hansen wasn’t very popular in school. “I was always being bullied,” said Rachel, an interpretation officer for the Western Arctic Field Unit of Parks Canada. She has been coming to Ivvavik since 2006, leading youth groups and tourists on adventures. “I had no friends, nobody to hang out with, so when these youth come out here I see that in some of the students,” said Rachel. “I’m encouraging them and pushing them in a positive direction to where it doesn’t matter what people say or what people think of you, just do what you love to do and you will excel in it.” High school was hard for Rachel, but she thanks husband Jeremy, a high-school sweetheart, for always sticking beside her. “If I can help a youth go in a positive direction, that means the whole world to me,” said Rachel. “If I can reach one student, it’s a job well done.” She remembers one student trip that included a boy known around town as one of the bad kids. She thought her hands would be full with him. “But when he came out here, it was completely night and day. He was the most helpful, respectful, kind student ever. It was

a totally different person. I think that’s what’s really good when they come out here – they can reflect on who they are and what they want to be in life without all the noise and distractions.” Rachel leads Biology 20 students from Inuvik and Grade 9 students from Aklavik in youth programs at the camp each summer, which include education about the area’s history and nature. “One thing I like to tell the students when we’re out hiking is whether you’re 13 years old, 20 years old, 35 years old, everybody has problems,” said Rachel. “On these hikes when we stop and take a break, I like to take a deep breath and take that moment in. It centres me, it brings me back to who I really am. When people are having a hard time in life, you just take a step back, close your eyes and remember why you’re up on that mountain. It’s peaceful, quiet and magical.” She uses those memories of Ivvavik to calm herself down when things get stressful at home too. Born in Ottawa and raised in Inuvik, Rachel is thankful to work with such a close connection to her history. “I remember my first time walking out here, I felt so proud,” she said. “I was walking where my ancestors used to walk, and I could just picture them doing what they used to do – hunt, fish, survive. It really made me proud to be out here.”

Renie Arey Seventy-three years young, Renie Arey has dealt with it all. She lost her mother at a young age to pneumonia and lost two of her own children later in life. Letting go of the past is the only way to move on, she says. “Whatever happened in the past, forgive and live a better life for yourself and your family,” said Renie. “If you keep being bitter, you’ll never be happy. You have to let that go and start fresh every day. That’s what I was taught by the elders.” Renie is a cultural host for groups visiting Ivvavik. She has extensive knowledge of Inuvialuit history and engages visitors in compelling discussions every day. Those talks range from the old ways of life to dealing with suicide and trauma. “Each individual person has a different life,” said Renie. “You have a different life, I have a different life. The life that you’re living, that’s not my (position) to judge who you are. We were always taught not to judge people on this Earth. Some day God’s going to judge us and the things we’ve done in the past. We’ll see it all up there.” Asking for forgiveness is better than being resentful. She hopes some of the youth who visit the camp can take that message away with them. “It’s no good to feel bitterness against somebody, because your misery is inside you. You’re not hurting that person – you’re hurting your soul, you’re carrying that anger and all these things inside you. That person is not going to feel it. You’re feeling it inside you.” Being out on the land in Ivvavik refreshes her soul. “It gives me more energy, more reason for me to live longer and be proud of who I am,” said Renie, adding that relatives from both her mother’s and father’s side lived in this area.

“It makes me proud of who I am, and to know that they had roamed this place, where they had survived, where they had hunted, where they had trapped, where they did everything on this land. If they knew a person wasn’t doing good, they would help each other. They were always helping each other. Money was nothing to them. Today, it’s totally different. Now if you want meat or something, sometimes you have to buy it, sometimes it would be free. It would be different back then.” Elders always seem to feel that refreshing effect coming to Ivvavik, she said, relaying a story about a man who stopped using his cane after a visit because he felt so much younger. She says we need to lift children’s spirits up and reincorporate religion in Northern life. “You can’t keep putting your kids down, you have to lift up their spirit,” she said. “When I lost my mother, I was brought up by my dad and my grandmother. My grandmother talked to me all the time. I am very thankful to my grandmother for raising me up and learning the old ways of cooking and my language as a little girl.” It’s equally important to love your parents, even if they’re strict. “You see some people nowadays answer back to their parents. That’s not the way we were brought up. You had respect for people, no matter who they were. If you went to a dance or had a feast, you sat beside your parents.” She only wishes she could hear the stories the mountains of Ivvavik would tell if they could. “I am proud to be who I am,” she said. “I am proud this is where (my ancestors) roamed, the hardship they went through. We may not know it all, but if the mountains could tell a story, each one would have so much to say.”


DAY Sheep 2 Slot

The morning was freezing. A delicate layer of snow covered the ground outside our tents and smothered the mountains. Arlene Kogiak, our camp cook, had been up since 5 a.m. readying a full breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon and pancakes. Over food and coffee, we immediately delved into stories of the land and Inuvialuit. Renie Arey is our cultural host, and who could be better than that smiling, beautiful face always ready with a new story to tell? There is hardly a moment of silence around her. She talked about how difficult life was in the old days, before technology, when Inuvialuit roamed these lands and had to use any means necessary to survive.

Renie’s not one to hold anything back or sugarcoat the world, either. She talked about the harsh realities when a group might be low on food and a new baby was born. Sometimes, she said, that child had to be left behind because the tribe couldn’t feed itself in the first place. The placenta was often fed to the dog team. After breakfast, Rachel Hansen, our Parks Canada guide, led the three students in a learning exercise about some of the artifacts of the area. We had a quick lunch at noon and decided we would make our first hike to Sheep Slot. Bear safety is a major concern here. We keep all of our “smellies,” or items that have any sort of scent, inside the


kitchen building at night, and our Parks Canada guides take guns and bear spray when we leave the base camp. Our walk to Sheep Slot involved crossing the stream outside our camp and then walking through a partial forest along the Firth River. There were signs of bears everywhere, with freshly dug holes in the ground and scratched-up trees. So far, the trip had been cold and rather dreary, and you could see it in the quietness of the students. But once we hit Sheep Slot, a truly majestic bank along the Firth River, the boys came alive. One of the students, Mathias Elanik, had brought his fishing rod and immediately set off to see if there was any life in that river. He claimed his perch and almost never took his eye off his lure. There wasn’t much action at first, as the rest of us walked

around the beautiful rocks and ledges, inspecting the scenery. Then Mathias gave an “Ooh!” saying there was a big one chasing his hook. It didn’t take long for him to hook his first Arctic char, yanking it out of the water with jubilation. After it flopped on the ground a few times, he grabbed it, took the hook out and held it straight up with both hands triumphantly, like a scene out of The Lion King. That’s when it hit that this is what the trip is all about. The students were loving every second of chasing the fish and trying desperately to hook another. They were in their element. Nothing mattered but fishing. Six fish were caught that day between the group. We headed home late at night, just before a torrential downpour. After dinner, Parks guide David Haogak and guest Tom McLeod helped the youth and Arlene clean their fish in the workshop.


Arlene Kogiak A group of nearly 20 students from Inuvik had Arlene Kogiak’s hands full as camp cook this summer.

Originally from Aklavik, Arlene enjoys the peacefulness of Ivvavik.

“I was kind of overwhelmed with that, because I’m not used to cooking for such a big group,” said Arlene, who has been a cultural cook in Ivvavik since 2014.

“I always love coming back here,” she said. “It’s nice here, away from all our technology. You have time to think about things. It’s just peaceful.”

“But I did manage. I’m proud of myself for making everything work out.”

From the cultural hosts, Arlene gets a better perspective of how her ancestors used to live long ago.

Arlene is tasked with preparing fresh breakfast and supper each day, plus setting out an assortment of meats and breads for lunches. She’s usually up before everyone else readying the kitchen.

“It makes me more knowledgeable about respecting the land. When my kids were growing up, I taught them about respecting the land and animals. If you don’t treat it right, you’re not going to get a successful hunt in return.”

“It’s always tough at the beginning when a different group comes in, because you don’t know if they’re big eaters or not,” she said. “After the first day, you get a sense of how much you need to prepare.”

After four years working in Ivvavik, Arlene is proud to have handled a variety of challenges, including serving vegetarian and gluten-free guests.

She loves meeting new people and hearing their stories.

“You can tell when the food tastes good, it’s just quiet in there, nobody is talking,” she said. “That’s a good sign.”

Edward Kay

Always popping out from around corners trying to scare people – not too often succeeding – Edward Kay is a curious young man from Aklavik. He was enjoying the trip more than he’d let on in normal conversation. Renie found a journal he’d written about how beautiful the park was. “I just wanted people to know about how great it is here, what new stuff you could learn,” he said. His curiosity is reflected in his career ambitions, either to be a journalist or criminologist. He loved any chance he got to play with one of the adults’ cameras. “I’m still young and have a lot of time to decide (on a career),” he said. He was glad to learn more about his background and where his family used to travel. “(I like) how free it is to be here,” he said. “It feels cool.”


Jayden Archie

The trip to Ivvavik had an impact on Jayden Archie quickly – by the end, he wanted to become a Parks Canada guide and work there in the future. “It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “I’m learning a lot of things: where people used to live, gold mine, how the places got their names, learning about animals, where they migrate.” His go-to tradition for any new ledge or body of water he encounters is throwing rocks into it. He just wished he could carve a baseball bat to hit the rocks. Living in a small town and making friends isn’t always easy, admitted Jayden, but he thinks the trip made him stronger mentally. “Just living out here with no TV, no internet, just clear your mind, quiet, not much trucks, not much pollution in the air,” he said.

Mathias Elanik

Even before he got out on the land, Mathias Elanik was sketching the mountain range outside the kitchen window. “I really like the view,” he said. “It’s beautiful out here. (Drawing) keeps me calm.” Being in Ivvavik made him think about his ancestors and how they used to live on the land, and how it’s going to be when he’s older and ventures out. He thinks the trip connected him more with his Inuvialuit culture. “I learned more about how my relatives and family were living in the Delta,” he said. A skilled fisherman, he hopes to spend much of his adulthood hunting, trapping and living off the land.



DAY 3 Suicide

Rainy weather all night and heavy clouds mean there’s no hike on the horizon this morning. Everyone gathers in the living room with coffee after another good breakfast from Arlene. As is becoming usual, a serious discussion emerges. There’s no beating around the bush here. We talk about all of the problems in our home communities, from the culture of silence to domestic abuse, child abuse, threats, nepotism, murder and more. We talk about how difficult it is to expose some of these problems when you’re living in such a tightknit community. Renie talks about the importance of spending time on the land to heal and forget about the past, because thinking about pain in the past will only increase your misery. She and David talk about the importance of religion, not necessarily even believing it, but the advice and messages in The Bible for living the good life.

David says people don’t share as much anymore. Nowadays everyone needs to be paid. Kids can’t eat lunch in school on a cold day – they get sent home instead. There used to be prayers before food. Our conversation was as real and intense as possible, more so than any hike could be. We had brutal, frank discussion about suicide and people who have been lost, why it happened, how it can be fixed. How can we reconcile our love for the land with the terrible truths of what goes on behind closed doors at home? That’s nearly impossible to answer. Renie repeats that we must move on from the past. She says it’s so great to have these three youth with us, because everyone has problems, but being out here can help you move beyond them. “Realize the past is the past,” she says to the youth.


She pounds this message into them. Some of the boys are still just waking up. They don’t say a lot in response. You know how teenage boys are. But either later on the land, or later back home, those words and that message will boomerang back through their minds. That’s what this trip is about. The sights are pretty. It’s a neat experience. But the long-term impact is the goal. The students might not realize it today. It might just be a vacation today. But those messages received and the thoughts they have out here can last a lifetime and resurface just when they’re most needed. Renie’s words, the beauty of the land, their cultural connection to it, the scents and sounds out here. All of these feelings may last just a moment, but they will keep circling back in their memory. It’s those shots of hope and love and positivity that bring a long-term impact. It’s not about the material experience. Climbing a mountain is fun, but it’s about nurturing the next generation.

That’s a difficult science. No one knows how to raise youth to make sure they never fail or succumb to some of the darkness of the world. But this is the best attempt we can make now. If a feeling, memory or message from this trip flashes back in one of these youths’ minds in a moment of great hardship, and it gives them that life-saving shot of hope, everything is worth it. You never know when this stuff will come back or what form it will take. As we talk into the afternoon, the skies start to clear. We decide it’s safe enough to make a quick hike up to Lookout Point, which is a sharp mountainside just outside of the base camp. Climbing the steep hill, we see caribou across the horizon, as well as a grizzly bear on the other side of the Firth River. We don’t spend too long at the top, because those grizzlies can cover ground fast.


Tom McLeod With family history rich in Ivvavik, coming to the park is always a special experience for Aklavik’s Tom McLeod. “My grandfather, grandmother and aunts and uncles would come here to mine gold, before there was industrial gold mining,” he said. Tom has been to Ivvavik three times, since first coming to the park as a student in Grade 9. “It was amazing,” he said of that first trip. “I was young and full of energy.” Things can pile up for youth at that age, but there are no worries in Ivvavik, he continued. “You feel lighter than a feather out here, but you also feel the weight of the history.” Tom’s aunt has such close history with the park that when she came once, Parks Canada workers were digging up an archeological site where his grandfather stored gear, and his aunt grabbed her old paddle but let them keep the boat. “Having that history really does have a little bit of a weight to it, but it also takes you away from the worries that you have in the towns and the school system,” said Tom. “It lifts everything off your shoulders.” He came back the next year with Inuvik’s Biology 20 group, finding another angle – the scientific one – for why he loved the park. Tom spent his third trip helping out the students from Aklavik any chance he could. “We’re all the same, all us kids form Aklavik,” he said. “We all grow up in similar situations. The only difference is some of us get a chance to go out (on the land) and learn and experience, where some families can’t afford to hunt and trap all summer, trap all spring and hunt all fall and winter. It’s really hard for a

lot of families that can’t do that because it’s what our people do.” Spending time on the land is the bedrock of Inuvialuit and Gwich’in society, he said. “You know who you are when you’re up here,” said Tom. “If you’re an Inuvialuit child or a Gwich’in child, this is the place where the caribou come through during the calving season, and they’re what fed both of our people forever.” Though identities change over time, that bedrock of history is crucial, he said, especially because the land creates the people. As for tackling suicide, Tom fears a mischaracterization of Inuit history is partially to blame for putting that idea in youths’ minds. “You hear stories of these Eskimos throwing their elder onto an ice floe or walking out into the cold to die,” he said. “These are stories that would happen very rarely. In Canadian culture (they are) a very alive myth that that’s what Eskimos do, that Inuit would go out and they would all just commit suicide whenever anything got a little hard.” It’s a cultural mistranslation, he said, when a group loses touch with its own culture and takes its cues from outside sources presenting an incorrect picture of it. “I feel like it makes rationalizing it easier,” he said.

David Haogak For animals or people, Ivvavik is a place of refreshment, birth and rebirth, thinks Parks Canada guide David Haogak. “As far as landscape, there’s no other place in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that’s like this,” he said. “This is where the elders from Aklavik used to come and still come.” It’s not only an important region for caribou, but for many species of birds that make their nests in Ivvavik. “It’s a place where you regenerate, or the next generation is born.” David has been coming to Ivvavik since 1995. “You can put all your negative thoughts that you were going through before you come into the garbage can and leave it there,” said David about coming to the area. “Don’t think about it no more. Tomorrow’s a new day. Start over, start fresh. You start from that day, not yesterday.” He hopes to leave a legacy of hard data, including information about bird nesting, for future generations of Inuvialuit. For David, bringing youth out to see their ancestral land is important. “This is their homeland,” he said. “They don’t own it. We never said we owned the land. It’s God’s. But we’re the ones who occupy it, and we’ve got to take care of it.” Those morning conversations at camp are important for developing the youth.

“There’s a point in time where the youth are going to have to mature, so we try and not lie to them,” said David. “We try and tell them how it is. Raw conversations, those sometimes hit some of them, because not all of them are educationally gifted. A lot of our youth still love to hunt. Those are the ones who learn by visualizing, but they also listen.” Suicide is one of the biggest challenges across the Arctic. “Us Inuit are really battling suicide,” said David. “How can you prevent it? We don’t know, but I really believe it starts with the leadership. They need to say enough of our people are dying.” Religion and culture are a better solution than throwing money at the problem, he thinks. And it goes beyond suicide, to abuse in the home. “As a parent of an Inuvialuit family, I can’t imagine what some Inuvialuit students – and I hope and pray they’re not going through it – but what some of them might be.” The ultimate goal is to let youth thrive, and David hopes trips to Ivvavik can help with that. “We have so many unknowns as to what will drive a person to suicide and every situation is different,” he said. “If we could just reach one (student), we’ve done our job. We’re not here to prevent suicide or anything. We’re here to enjoy the park, but if that’s what happens, then wow, we’re really reaching a new level here.”


DAY 4 Celebration

We wake up to a clean living room. All of the adults had gone to sleep, and without prompt, the three boys stayed up washing the dishes and sweeping and mopping the main living quarters. The boys don’t say much most of the time, but there’s a spark there beneath the shyness. You might think they’re unengaged, but then you see the mountains Mathias has been sketching, read Edward’s journal entries or hear one of Jayden’s inquisitive questions, and you realize they really do care. Another morning of real conversations. We talk about how things used to be and how perceptions have changed. We talk about how the age of consent in this land used to be about 13, how many Inuvialuit had arranged marriages or sometimes people would have multiple spouses. It makes sense for things to have been different then, when

hitting age 40 meant you were an elder and average lifespans were much shorter. Renie always talks about what a hard but beautiful life her ancestors lived, travelling on the land by dog team, giving birth with no hospital or medical care. She always says she’s not a queen, that she’s no better than anyone and is still learning herself. There’s no one here who hasn’t dealt with loss. Someone’s cousin died by suicide, a relative was lost, another’s mother died young. And yet there’s no lack of humour or fun. They can go from talking about tragedy to slipping in a quick joke in an instant. It’s a good lesson for the youth. You don’t need to mope about the past. We could all spend the rest of our lives moping if we wanted. But we only get one chance on Earth, and we may as well try to be happy, despite the challenges that come.


There’s cloud cover this weekend. It’s been very cold. We wake up freezing and go to bed just warm enough to sleep. It’s not good hiking weather. Too wet and dangerous. But somehow, the weather is almost perfect. We decide to make a second trip out to the fishing spot at Sheep Slot on our last night, unfortunately unable to go on any of the longer hikes. As we’re preparing to leave, a few sprinkles of snow start coming down. Then more, and more. Soon, we’re in a snow globe, with billions of heavy flakes surrounding and drenching us. The snow is like fireworks. Everyone gets more energized. It feels like a real journey now, trudging through the forest to our fishing spot. The youth are running from tree to tree, trying to surprise and scare one another. The snow completely whites out the horizon. We have to stick close.

When we hit Sheep Slot, it’s pure jubilation. Everyone is smiling by now. Mathias goes straight to work at his fishing hole, and the rest of the group gets fishing too. It’s another bountiful occasion. From one perspective, the weather for this trip was poor. It was early June, supposed to be summer, but freezing cold, overcast and nasty. We couldn’t do any of the signature hikes. But in another way, the weather was perfect. It forced us inside, where we talked about things way bigger than what a pretty view we were seeing. And the narrative arc of the weather, culminating in an explosion of snow, couldn’t have felt more perfect. We came out here thinking there might be some fun hikes and cool things to see. We left with life lessons. The trip to Ivvavik National Park was so much more than recreation. It was a journey of life.


DIRT Inuvialuit work hard and play hard. Inuvik’s Iron Horse Klub carves out two lanes in the Navy Road quarry each summer, fills them with water and challenges truck enthusiasts to dive in head first. Contestants compete in heats and are judged by who gets the farthest through the mud pit. A couple of CATs are on standby to drag out drivers who don’t make it through, which is most of them. The event attracts folks from across the Beaufort Delta and into the Yukon. By the end of the day, trucks are limping along with flat tires, smoke pouring out of their hoods or worse. It’s a testament to the thrill how much time drivers spend readying their vehicles just to bust them up for about 30 seconds of excitement. Fans line the surrounding hill and cheer on competitors, complete with refreshments and a beer garden. In the following pages are photos from the 3rd annual Delta Mud Bog in Inuvik June 30, 2018.







Inuit United


For the 13th time since founding 40 years ago, the Inuit Circumpolar Council gathered for a week of addresses, discussions and cultural performances in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, the site of the founding meeting of the organization, which was hosted by the late Eben Hopson. The ICC is an international body representing Inuit from Canada, Greenland, the United States and Russia. The assembly acts as a state of the union for the Inuit world, where delegates from each country speak about the successes, challenges and priorities they are facing, and the ICC as a group seek solutions to improve life for all Inuit. Discussions ranged from the heavy problems of suicide and poverty to working with governments on land use, the environment, language and Inuit independence. Ultimately, the resounding message across the week of meetings was the need for Inuit unity. That was summed up powerfully by Dalee Sambo Dorough’s closing speech on the conference’s final day. In the following pages are photos, quotes and stories from the four-day meeting this past July.


Every Inuk Matters

We need every Inuk, period. We’ve heard everyone say this already. There are 7.6 billion people on Earth. There are approximately 165,000 Inuit on the entire planet, so we need every single one of us, every woman, every man, every young person, every child, every mother, every father, every elder. We need every Inuk. We need every one of you here today, but even more important, we need all of those Inuit at home. We need every future leader. We need every past leader. We shouldn’t be concerned about

words from Dalee Sambo Dorough, new chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council

calling upon our past leaders. There’s a wealth of knowledge and wisdom there. We also need every future leader. There’s nothing like being wanted, being welcomed or being valued. We heard that from the youth already. Every Inuk is wanted by ICC, every Inuk is welcomed by ICC and every Inuk is valued by ICC. More significantly, every Inuk is the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Each of you in this room can play a part immediately, and at no cost to anyone,

by drawing attention to the ICC and our mutual aspirations. Think about it: when you go home – this isn’t going to take any effort – I know you’re going to talk about your experience here. Educate others. Everyone in this room can contribute through your intellect and share your ideas, your perspectives, your opinions about the substantive discussion that we have had here today. That in and of itself is an extraordinary contribution.

Inuit Tamarmik Qaunagiyaksauyut

Tamaita Inuit ilagiyaksavut, ilumun. Inuit uqaqtuat tusaayavut. Nunaryuaptingni allagiit katillutik kitulliqa 7.6 billion inugiaktilaangit. 165,000 inugiaktilaangit Inuit/Inuvialuit maani nunaptingni. Ikayuqtigiiktuksauyugut tamapta, arnat, angutit, qitunravut, inirnirillu. Inuit tamaita. Ikayuqtigiiktuksani uvani ublumi, aimayuallu katillugit. Siviliqtiusuktaullu. Atanivullu ingilraan. Uqaqatisukkaini

inirnirit tutqaasungnaituq. Ilisimayut. Sivuniptingnilu sivunniuqtivut. Nakuugiyauyuni quvianavialuktuq. Nukatpiqanin tusaayuanni. Inuk kina sila ICC-m ilautquga. Tamaita ami tajva ICC-m Inuit ilautqugait. Ilumun tajva Inuit tun’ngaviuyut uumunga: Inuit Circumpolar Council. Tamapsi uvani ittuasi quyallitaulangayusi, akilitaksaituq. ICC-m savaaksautait

Dalee Sambo Dorough uqaqtuq, Inuit Circumpolar Council sivuliqtingat

malirutuaruptigu taima. Isumagisarin: aiguvit – sapirnaituq. Ilisimayunga tajva ilasi uqautiniakatin uvaniijutingnik. Inuuqatisi ilisautilugit. Tamaita uvani katimayuat ikayulayut ilamingnun qanuq sivulliuqtamingnik ubluq. Tajva taamna alganaittuq.


Aklavik Drummers and Dancers

The fantastic performers from Aklavik represented our slice of the Inuit world on the big stage at the ICC. They wowed delegates and attendees with Inuvialuit song and dance.



Inuit Must Unite

I thought quite long about how to say this and I have decided to be blunt. We must stop fighting about who is more Inuk, who is more Kalaaleq. Being Inuk comes from within. It is not defined by the colour of one’s eyes, or by language alone, or by livelihood. Identity comes from within. Identity cannot be measured or put into boxes, and it is a human right for each and every one of us to self-identify. There is no such thing as a half-breed. There’s a link between us striving as peoples to be recognized collectively and to be recognized individually. We have talked quite a lot about rural or urban this week. I would like to say that we as a collective are both rural and urban.

words from Sara Olsvig, Greenland

We are both hunters and construction workers. We are teachers, nurses, scholars, PhDs, designers and childcare workers, and we need all of us. The diversity is part of our strength. We must embrace our diversity. We must embrace that culture and identity is not static. And more importantly, we need all human resources. Inuit human beings (are) our most important resource.

Confronting Our Challenges We must start talking openly and honestly about our social challenges. The abuse of children is happening – sexual abuse of children is happening – in our own communities.

In Greenland, we have had a strong focus on this in the past years and many, many good initiatives are happening. Still, the latest numbers from Greenland’s national advocacy for children’s rights, which is represented here in our delegation from Greenland, show that one in three girls have experienced sexual assault before they turn 18, and one in 10 boys. Besides that, we must also expect numbers that we still do not have knowledge about. We must engage in holistic approaches to prevent abuse, including focusing on the violators. It is crucial that each and every one of us adults takes responsibility to act. This is about children’s rights. This is about human rights. Let us all act every day to protect our children from abuse.

Inuit Iligiiktuksat

Sivituaqtumik isumagaluarama qanuq uqaksamnik uvuuna titungairlunga uqarniaqtuami. Akiqiqtuinrirluta inuuqatiiktugut tamapta. Angitqiyaungitugut inuuqatiptingnin. Inuvialuugapta inuugapta atayuq. Iyipta takummasiagun, uqausiptigun pitqusiptigunlu qaingituq. Kisian tajva iluptingnin atayuq. Allatigun pilaittuq. Uvaptigun kisian tajva. Inuvialuuyugut, allamik suittuq. Inuuniarutikput idjusiqput qaunagiyaksauyuq, ilitariyaksauyuq. Sivituaqtumik uqaqtuanni nunaptigunlu inuuviarviillu qanuq itilaangit ippaksariaq. Isumamni tajva nunamunlu innillaanunlu atayugut.

Sara Olsvig uqaqtuq, Greenland

Anguniaqtiuyugut iguliuqtiuyugullu. Ilisaujiuyugut, munaqsiuyugut, nutaqanunlu munaqsiuyugut, ikayuqtigiiktuksauyugut. Pitqusiqput ijusiqput suangatigiyaqput. Pitqusiqput piqpagiyaksariyaqput. Pitqusiqput inuuniarutikput piqpagiyaksariyaqput. Allalilaittuq. Ammaptauq inuit tamaita qaunagiyaksavut savaatigun. Inuit tamaita ikayuqtivialuit.

Sivumun Savaaksat, Qaunagiyaksat Saalugit Isumagiyaksariyavut uqarluta ilumun sivuniqput isumagilugu. Nutaqat munaqqirluktalgait inuuniarviptingni. Nutaqanik suuyaqliiyaraliqtuat.

Greenland-mi sivituyumik taamna uqarivakkaqput. Nutaqanun suuyaqliinikkun. Nakuuyumun aullaqiyuaq tajvuuna. Suli aglaan tajva nutaqnun suuyaqliiniq nutqayuittuq. Greenland sivvuliuqtingit ikayuqtit nutaqanun ilitchuriyuat. Atausiruuq pingasunin arnat suuyaqliiyauvaktuat angutinin 18nik ukiut tikitinnagit. Atausiqlu qulinin angugaaraalungnun suuyaqliiyuavaktuat. Tusaasuitavullu nalunaqtuq. Katilluta ikayuqtigiiktuksauyugut tajvuuna suuyaqliinikkun. Nangititchiyuallu qanuq iliurlugit. Tamaita tajva inirnirit ikayuqtuksauyut uqarlutik tajvuuna. Nutaqanunlu inungnunlu qaunagiyaksat. Ubluq tamaan nutaqavut munarilavut suuyaqliiyuannin.


The Amazing Umiaq Race

A traditional umiaq or “skin boat” race took place to kick off the 13th general assembly of the ICC. Teams flew across the Utqiaġvik lake and back, battling both their competitors and the mosquitoes.


The Arctic We Want As the Arctic becomes more accessible to the world with trading routes opening up and all eyes heading North, it is a hugely important time to determine the Arctic we want, said Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. “No more can we say, ‘What are we as government doing for Inuit?’ It has to be with Inuit if we are going to have a strong, shared future for the Arctic.” Inuit, the people of the Arctic, must be at the centre of governmental decisions about the land, she reiterated. “Paternalism has no place in Canada,” said Bennett, referencing failed policies like residential school. “It is no question that the best possible policy gets developed when you include the people who will get impacted the most.” As a family doctor in the past, Bennett said 90 per cent of the diagnosis comes from learning the history, which is why it’s so important for government to listen to people in the North and then find a way forward. Okalik Eegeesiak, who chaired the 2018 general assembly, also emphasized the importance of Inuit making decisions in the North. “It’s not just about the seal,” she said.

“It’s not just about the majestic polar bear. It’s not just about the all-important ice or lack thereof; (it’s) that it is and should be about Inuit first.” Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiirit Kanatami, congratulated Utqiaġvik on regaining its Inuit name. He called it an important act of self-determination. Obed also called attention to the fast-growing population of urban Inuit. “Over a quarter of our population lives outside of our homeland, and this population has grown by 62 per cent in the last 12 years alone,” he said. “This creates significant challenges for the continuity of our language and culture, but also is something we have to consider when thinking about unity and keeping our culture and our people strong.” He said that the federal government has stumbled with Inuit relations, including the offshore oil and gas exploration moratorium laid down in 2015. “We work on in good faith and in good partnership and hope these stumbling challenges we have will be replaced by cooperation and partnership,” he said.



War For Our Way Of Life Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, opened his speech at the ICC quoting the late Eben Hopson Sr. on the fact Inuit are one people despite covering multiple nation-states. A constant battle is the right to harvest, which has almost always been under attack by various government policies and regulations. “These policies and positions are often influenced by misinformation disseminated by well-funded animal rights campaigns and those that are very ignorant of our culture,” said Smith. “Many of us have lived though the devastating effects of the European Union ban on seal skins, when the price of a pelt dropped from $100 to $10 almost overnight. Many communities have still not recovered from the economic impacts of this ill-founded ban. Many lives were so unnecessarily lost. “Unfortunately this is nothing new. Since the beginning of colonization, Inuit have been misunderstood at best and criminalized at worst for practising our way of life. This has cascaded into a host of problems that threaten Inuit cultural sustainability, identity and food security. It is time for this to stop.” As a hunter himself, Smith’s campaign is as personal as it is political. “The solutions can’t only lie in making market foods cheaper and more accessible in our communities,” he said. “They must be Inuit solutions, by Inuit, for Inuit.”

REMAIN UNITED IN UNCERTAIN FUTURE Being from the older generation, James Stotts is still getting used to calling Barrow its new-old Inuit name of Utqiaġvik. “I’m proud that we made this decision to reclaim our roots and have joined Nuuk in Greenland and Iqaluit in Canada, and many

other Inuit communities, in reclaiming our real names, our original names,” said the vice-chair of ICC Alaska. “It’s like a stamp of cultural possession. It’s like a stamp of ownership. It’s like being who we really are.” He was proud to see the name-change campaign led by the young generation. Many of the issues the ICC discussed four years prior in Inuvik have gone unresolved, he said. The political direction of the United States seems more uncertain than ever for Stotts, who said it’s never been harder to predict what will happen next. “It’s hard to know what the truth is anymore,” he said. “It seems everyone is lying or putting their own spin on the facts. Some say the United States is in the midst of a cold civil war, that the future of democracy in America is in jeopardy, that there’s a fight going on for the soul of the country.” Much of the progress ICC Alaska has made in the last 40 years is in jeopardy, he said. So what can we do? “I would say we should not compromise our principles,” said Stotts. “We need to stick to the priorities we have set for ourselves. There’s no reason for us to hide or submit to the current situation. There’s no reason to panic. We need to keep moving forward to make a better life for our people. We need to continue fighting for the survival of our culture and way of life. It’s what our parents taught us to do and what we should teach our children.” Ultimately, Inuit want what they have always been seeking, said Stotts: respect for the people, respect for the culture and a strong influence over any political decisions affecting the North.



young punks Sarah Olayok Jancke, former co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, brought the audience to their feet with a reminder about the people who spearheaded so many positive Inuit causes, including the ICC itself. “ICC started from young punks, young rock stars,” she said. Jancke encouraged youth to use their voice to contribute, but also reminded delegates that sometimes when youth are being quiet, it’s because they are being respectful and not necessarily disengaged. “We all have gifts,” said Jancke. “Some people are good at dancing, hunting or speaking.” Some are good at giving a hug or anything else, she added, and every Inuk is important for that reason. “When Inuit lived out on the land, our communities needed each and every one of those gifts to survive, because it was about life and death,” she said. Jancke challenges herself to speak for those who are silent. She maligns the losses of life and wonders aloud what else needs to be done to save people. “I think we have to explore and challenge ourselves to figure out what’s missing,” she said. How can the rights of Inuit, enshrined in the United Nations, be properly delivered to youth who are lost? “I want the youth to feel strong and speak up,” she said.

FOSTER HOME CYCLE MUST CHANGE It was with a pained voice that Patrick Gruben, delegate from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, addressed the ICC during a plenary session. “We see that our own Inuit people are taken away from their homes at a young age,” he said, talking about the foster system. “They lose contact with their family, their parents, their culture, their language. They’re placed in foster homes, and then when they hit the age of 18 they’re too old for the system and just sent out. A lot of them end up homeless, maybe (contributing) to suicide. A lot probably have mental health issues.” He urged the ICC to develop a plan to improve the outcomes of fostered children, saying for many it ends up like a second generation of residential school. Gruben emphasized the importance of integrating these youth into society when they turn 18, instead of being spat out of the foster home aimlessly. “We don’t want to see them on the streets or in a coffin,” he said. “In most cases, that’s what happens.” Equally as important is a focus on mental health in men, he added. “The men are sometimes labelled,” said Gruben. “They don’t have a place to turn, so they end up incarcerated. They go through that cycle.”



The Utqiaġvik Declaration

With each general meeting of the ICC comes a lengthy declaration agreed to by all participants. Its goal is to guide the policy pursuits of the ICC for the next four years. The Utqiaġvik declaration listed 54 goals for Inuit, as follows. Some have been shortened from the official document for readability.


Mandate ICC to strengthen its role within other international, multinational and bilateral fora, including the European Union and others, by participating in meetings related to the Arctic.

Mandate that ICC immediately develop a strategic plan for improving coherence and coordination of inclusive engagement in international fora and to map out the four-year term to implement and further the directives contained in this declaration, being mindful of the ICC Arctic Policy and ICC Circumpolar Declaration on Sovereignty in the Arctic, and the ICC Circumpolar Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat.

Direct ICC to prioritize and support our youth to participate in the United Nations Global Youth Indigenous Caucus and other international meetings and conferences relevant to and of importance to Inuit.

Acknowledge that the Arctic Council is an important forum for achieving the aims of “Inuit – The Arctic We Want” and that there is a need to improve capacity to fully engage in the work of the Arctic Council at the Senior Arctic Officials and Working Group levels, including our insistence on equitable engagement in all activities and a meaningful leadership and decision-making role. Mandate ICC to initiate diplomatic talks for the purpose of laying the groundwork for negotiations to declare the Arctic as a Peaceful Zone. Direct ICC to follow the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals closely in other countries and ensure that our people are informed about the progress and efforts made on these goals. Encourage ICC to enhance Inuit participation and capacity within the United Nations General Assembly and relevant United Nations agencies and organizations, and to implement the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in Inuit Nunaat. Direct ICC to support and encourage the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Chukotka, Alaska, Canada and Greenland and in the UNDRIP in Inuit Nunaat, as advocated by the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document. Engage in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues through active participation in bodies and instruments that ICC has participated in, and be prepared to engage in new processes within the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to further our goals and objectives. Support the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to defend the rights of the Inuit at the United Nations Human Rights Council and expand its mandate to engage with states and other Indigenous peoples to assist them in addressing country-specific situations, and be permitted to seek, receive, gather and consider information from all sources, including specific cases and matters of concern for Inuit rights as affirmed in UNDRIP.

Direct ICC to advance the rights of Inuit in the United Nations Intergovernmental Conference that will be negotiating an agreement for Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

FOOD SECURITY Urge ICC to continue its work to enhance food security through research and advocacy and further educate locally, regionally, nationally and internationally about Inuit food security priorities in order to ensure that we can supply ourselves with traditional food. Direct ICC to address components of food security that will aid in enhancing self-governance across Inuit Nunaat, inclusive of exploring ways of enhancing our networking capabilities, facilitating the exchange of information and practices across Inuit Nunaat. Direct ICC to advocate for the enforcement of the International Marine Organization Polar Code, other international and national regulations, advance emergency response and phase out heavy fuel oil in order to minimize impacts on marine mammals and fish and to prevent disruption of seasonal hunting, and for safety and environmental protection.

FAMILIES AND YOUTH Urge ICC to support UN member states and international activities that recognize the relationship between family and culture, that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within Inuit Nunaat and that share best practices that support and strengthen Inuit families. Support Inuit youth organizations and encourage Inuit youth to share and participate fully in all ICC activities. Advocate for infrastructure and Inuit-specific interventions that will address family violence. Consider the unique needs and challenges based on gender in Inuit communities.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS Direct ICC to host a Circumpolar Inuit Summit on Health and Wellness focusing on efforts and initiatives to reduce and eradicate health disparities harming our families and prioritizing mental wellness, addictions and suicide prevention.

Encourage ICC to share best practices to enhance Inuit language and writing systems.

Facilitate and support the ongoing development and implementation of regional and national evidence-based suicide prevention strategies.

Support the University of the Arctic as it delivers higher educational services to Inuit and other institutions that support Inuit students outside the Arctic and paves the way for student and researcher exchanges across the Arctic.

Instruct ICC to support knowledge sharing and communication of Inuit innovation and best practices around mental health and wellness, including community-based solutions, and to continue to take leadership in projects and initiatives specifically on suicide prevention and addictions to encourage meaningful connection with communities, children and youth, and link Indigenous knowledge and action with scientific research.

EDUCATION AND LANGUAGE Support an Inuit Education Committee with membership from all Inuit regions to implement the recommendations developed at the ICC 2018 Education Summit in Greenland, including: Support the development and implementation of Inuit-focused educational initiatives, pedagogies, assessment and evaluation practices, curricula, teaching materials and resources. Effect systemic change to strengthen Inuit education grounded in our environment, including elders’ knowledge and experience, history, language and culture. Influence educational institutions and political bodies to support and fully fund development and implementation efforts.

Facilitate communication of Inuit educational best practices.

INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE Direct ICC to facilitate the development of international Inuit protocols on the equitable and ethical utilization of Indigenous knowledge and engagement of Inuit communities to provide guidance to international fora, such as the Arctic Council. Instruct ICC to engage appropriate international fora in all aspects of Arctic science and research to contribute to the advancement of Inuit self-determination by promoting and contributing to activities that achieve partnerships and reflects the utilization of both Inuit knowledge and science. Direct ICC to continue to educate the international community on what Inuit knowledge is and work to make political and intellectual space for Inuit knowledge holders at international fora by protecting the intellectual property rights of Inuit knowledge holders. Call for an Inuit review of the consultation process of the Arctic Council Arctic Science Cooperation Agreement and all appropriate United Nations agencies to identify actions to ensure these legal instruments adhere to the human rights affirmed in UNDRIP.


SUSTAINABLE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT Direct ICC to support the Circumpolar Inuit Wildlife Committee, whose mission is to collaboratively, cooperatively and inclusively preserve and protect Inuit food sovereignty by providing a unified Inuit voice led by a wildlife strategy for 2018-2022.

Urge ICC to promote the interconnectedness of drivers of change and the interrelated impacts and implications on our health, economy and environment in high level political discussions and decision making at fora such as the Arctic Council, the European Union and United Nations agencies.

Urge ICC to support a Circumpolar Inuit Wildlife Network to link activities on various bilateral and international wildlife activities, and support information sharing, learning and communication about Inuit rights, wildlife management and food sovereignty within the Wildlife Network and with the Wildlife Committee.

Mandate ICC to participate actively in the operationalization of the United Nations “Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform” to create a space to share best practices, relevant climate change programs and policies and build capacity for Indigenous peoples to engage in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.

Direct ICC to participate collectively and strategically to ensure the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 action plans support and enhance our monitoring and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity, and for the Convention on Biological Diversity to support ongoing participation of Inuit throughout its working groups and inter-sessional meetings.

Instruct ICC to share research and actions that build climate resilience and to share and showcase the adaptation and innovative mitigation responses, including but not limited to monitoring the movement of animals due to climate change, erosion and community relocation, that are being designed and implemented by our communities across Inuit Nunaat.

Engage in the process of formally establishing the International Union for Conservation of Nature Indigenous Peoples Organization category that enhances and nurtures current IPO participation and encourages and facilitates new membership.

Direct ICC to advocate its positions on contaminants through the implementation and effectiveness monitoring regimes of the United Nations Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the United Nations Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee and the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Collaboratively identify opportunities for our collective engagement in the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Rural Communities to safeguard the distinct rights of Inuit as an Indigenous peoples.

ENVIRONMENT Enhance ICC’s work with Arctic research efforts and during highlevel ministerial processes to ensure our views and concerns are addressed on how research in the Arctic should be conducted, highlight ethical approaches for research in the Arctic and advance Inuit self-determination in research.

Recognize the importance of short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon and support work through programs such as the European Union Action on Black Carbon. Support national and global programs that safeguard our marine ecosystems and wildlife from marine litter and microplastics. Direct ICC to advocate for Inuit-led environmental monitoring and management of Inuit Nunaat (marine and terrestrial) and adopt in principle the report People of the Ice Bridge: The Future of the Pikialasorsuaq, and establish a committee to advance the

implementation of the recommendations. These include creation of an Inuit Management Authority, an Inuit-led monitoring regime and increased mobility for Inuit between Canada and Greenland, with the goal of supporting similar authorities across Inuit Nunaat. These initiatives should be undertaken with an objective of improving the self-sufficiency of Inuit over time with the overall objective of aligning economic development and cultural way of life.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Direct ICC to advocate for policies that facilitate cross-boundary Inuit trade, employment and travel across our circumpolar homeland. Urge ICC to promote sustainable economic and business development through the Arctic Council and its working groups, the United Nations agencies and collaborate with other economic development fora and networks focusing on the Arctic, including the Arctic Economic Council. Instruct ICC to advocate for high-capacity broadband internet, share best practices and engage in international discussions on broadband development in Inuit Nunaat. Urge the use of the internet to increase availability of Inuit language programming through television, radio and other platforms, as well as the connectivity of residents in Inuit communities. Direct ICC to support responsible mining policies that reflect the 2011 “ICC Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat.” Urge ICC to compile Arctic tourism best practices and develop an ICC statement on tourism to help guide tourism initiatives.

Utilize Indigenous knowledge to advise all future processes of the Central Arctic Ocean Moratorium on Commercial Fisheries. Instruct ICC to explore and pursue potential for mapping and other visual aids related to Inuit sea ice and coastal sea use and the multiple dimensions of such use of our Arctic homelands and territory. Direct ICC to advocate for our rights to fresh water. Urge ICC to advance within the Arctic Council an agenda to address a crisis of public infrastructure in Inuit Nunaat, including energy, roads, housing, sewer and water, and to promote investment in climate resilient infrastructure. Acknowledge the Terms of Reference prepared by the Task Force on an International Inuit Business Association and urge ICC to support the formation of an International Association for Inuit Businesses.

COMMUNITY AND CAPACITY BUILDING Develop a comprehensive four-year communications strategy and action plan by January 2019 that includes practical measures for achieving greater cooperation and unity among Inuit. Facilitate a formal program of professional exchange through exchange of Inuit professionals between member countries. Develop greater awareness and understanding among our people about ICC’s participation in international fora and the connection to our communities. Support communities who are working to reclaim formal recognition of their original place names.



Sections of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region are disappearing due to erosion, including culturally important sites such as the old village of Kuukpak, which was featured in the Winter 2016 issue of Tusaayaksat.

words and photos by Mike O’Rourke, Postdoctoral Fellow Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

These changes are forecast to become more frequent and severe in the years ahead, and though Kuukpak is a unique cultural landscape in need of further monitoring, there are numerous other locations that are both threatened and valued for a variety of reasons. The entire ISR can be considered a place of great cultural value, reflecting the will of Inuvialuit to secure and exercise collective rights to the management of lands and resources. But shoreline erosion is threatening the stability of cultural landscapes throughout the ISR.

The village of Kitigaaryuit, looking south.

Areas of cultural significance can take many forms and be valued by people for many reasons. While some of these locations include ancestral and archaeological materials, many more do not. Some places are considered important for their sheer beauty, some for their spiritual potency and others as reliable harvesting locations to hunt, trap or pick berries. Places where elders and youth can come together and share land-based knowledge could also be considered to have social and educational value, as related to the intergenerational learning opportunities they provide. Some places have historical value as locations where the old ways of life were practised, while others are regarded as areas of

natural wonder, where evidence of human activity is minimal or absent entirely. Some cultural landscapes have no land at all, consisting entirely of coastal waters, lakes or river courses that might be valued as freshwater sources, travel routes or fishing locations. Efforts at monitoring and protecting such important places often rely on these different ‘value’ perspectives, which land management agencies can apply when setting policies and making decisions about land use and conservation. The Husky Lakes Special Cultural Area, for example, has been granted special protected status by the Inuvialuit Land Administration. Among the numerous reasons for designating Husky Lakes as a special cultural area are their distinction as a unique landscape feature consisting of a series of saline lakes,


their importance as habitat for diverse animal species, their use as a harvesting area and the importance they hold for Inuvialuit in terms of their spiritual and cultural significance in general. The identification of such ‘cultural landscapes’ or ‘special cultural areas’ is a critical step in the conservation process, and one that requires public input to define what makes those places so special. Research has recently been conducted into the vulnerability of culturally significant areas within the Kugmallit Bay region, where the East Channel of the Mackenzie River meets the Beaufort Sea. This project used mapping software, commonly referred to as geographic information systems, to assess the risk of coastal erosion to areas of cultural significance.

Map of the Kugmallit Bay study area.

An example of the Kugmallit Bay erosion model.

An ice scoop.

Qulliq soapstone lamp found in the East Channel near an eroding village.

The first stage of research involved the development of a model of shoreline change, which was used to highlight areas where erosive forces have historically had the greatest impact. In order to create this model, shoreline positions from 1950, 1972 and 2004 were traced from more than 150 air photos of the Kugmallit Bay region. These digitized shorelines were then used to calculate rates of coastal advance and retreat throughout Kugmallit Bay. The assessment of cultural landscape significance was based on three primary sources. Place name details shared by Tuktoyaktuk elders in the book ‘Nuna Aliannaittuq: Beautiful Land’ included richly detailed accounts of 80 locations within the Kugmallit Bay study area. Personal memories and anecdotes addressed a range of topics, from ancestral camps and villages to good harvesting areas and wildlife habitat. Significance was also assessed with the aid of the Inuvialuit Community Conservation Plan (ICCP) ‘special use area’ information. A ‘heat map’ of the southern extent of the ISR illustrates the degree of overlap among the ICCP special use areas and clearly highlights both the Kugmallit Bay and Husky Lakes areas as important locations. The observations of archaeologists who have worked in the region over the past 60-plus years were also applied in assessing the significance of the region, using details recorded in the archaeological sites database and research reports on file with the Northwest Territories Cultural Places Program.

A ‘heat map’ showing the degree of overlap in ICCP special designated areas.


Of the 69 recorded archaeological sites in the study area, 94 per cent have some level of Inuvialuit cultural affiliation. As a result, their use in this research helped increase the time depth of cultural significance assessments without overshadowing the value of areas deemed important to contemporary Inuvialuit. This project was effective in identifying areas of cultural significance threatened by the impacts of climate change, particularly in the areas of Kitigaaryuit, Tuktoyaktuk and Toker Point. However, while this first stage of research benefitted from the inclusion of Nuna Aliannaittuq place name information, much more can be done to engage a broader range of contemporary Inuvialuit perspectives, specifically as related to cultural landscape valuation and management practice. Further work is being planned with the Research and Support Services division of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to address this

need. This new project, funded by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, will first involve the review and digitization of a large collection of Inuvialuit place names the were recently compiled by Research and Support Services. Following on this place name research, plans are also being made to conduct a series of community meetings and interview sessions in 2019 that will encourage public input on topics related to heritage value and cultural landscape management. The results of these first two stages of research will then be applied through a season of fieldwork in the summer of 2019, which will take place at an area of cultural significance threatened by coastal erosion. By incorporating Inuvialuit perspectives as essential aspects of cultural landscape management strategies, management practices are more likely to reflect the desires of Inuvialuit communities, and thereby promote a more socially relevant and culturally appropriate management process.

University of Toronto archaeologist Dr. Max Friesen assessing a house that was heavily disturbed by a thaw slump.

Stitched birch bark.

A fragile comb recovered from an igluryuaq threatened by erosion.

A decorated needle case found in the water near an eroding site. Questions or comments about this project or the upcoming research being planned can be directed to: Mike O’Rourke, Postdoctoral Fellow Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

The Following sources were used in preparing this article: - Inuvialuit Land Administration - Husky Lakes Special Cultural Area Criteria: ILMS Designated Area - ‘Nuna Aliannaittuq: Beautiful Land’ (Hart 2011)




It is no secret that we have our share of social problems here in the North. I don’t have to tell you about the problems we still face on a daily basis. In one way or another, we’ve all suffered from some type of abuse imposed upon us by either ourselves, our parents or primary caregivers. But you have to look at how this all started to help you understand it. Before European contact, Inuit and Gwich’in people lived simple lives, roaming from here to there looking for food sources. We followed the seasons and learned how to make tools and shelter from the land and the animals. It’s almost like we were part of the land, and part of the water. We were so connected with the land that we actually became part of it. Elders even say the land is suffering nowadays because we don’t use it anymore. But it was not always perfect either. There were times of famine and starvation. The caribou migrations would change and people would go for long periods without food. There was a huge migration from interior Alaska to the North Yukon Coast in the last part of the 1800s when disease began to wipe out the Inupiat. They called it, “the big death.” People had to flee their homeland and look elsewhere to live. That’s how a lot of the modern day Inuvialuit ended up in the Delta region. My dad always said he doesn’t speak Inuvialuktun, he speaks Inupiatun. But back then people were more adaptable. They learned how to hunt different animals, fish in different lakes and eat different types of berries and plants. That’s one thing about our people; we knew how to make a living off any land. And then when the whalers came North in the late 1800s, they picked up Alaskan Inupiat as guides, hunters and seamstresses. They would hire entire families and keep them on board the ship to help them hunt for meat, sew


sails and general labour. A lot of the whalers also had children with Inupiat women. That’s why you see some blue-eyed Eskimos, curly-headed kids, even redheads. My mom’s grandfather was Swedish. His name was Peter Norberg and he came to Canada to look for gold. He got stuck in Old Crow and had kids with Dora Kwaattlati. One of them was my granny Caroline Moses.


A lot of the crews on the whaling ships were shanghaied off the streets of San Francisco. They even say they would go into rooming houses and drag people out of bed, even if they were passed out, and put them on the ship. The whaling industry was so lucrative that companies would stoop to any low to get guys to work for them. These were some of the first “white man” many Inupiat ever met. They were not doctors and lawyers, that’s for sure. They were more like hard-drinking street people. And that’s the next turn in the road.

It was this type of people who first introduced alcohol to our people. They taught them how to drink like they did, which was drink as much as you can, as fast as you can. No one ever taught them that white wine goes with chicken and red wine goes with beef. They taught us how to abuse alcohol. Not only that, but that’s where a lot of the kids came from too. Look in the mirror next time, see if you are part Russian, or Portuguese. You’d be surprised. You might even be related to Osama bin Laden. That was just the beginning of our first contact with the outside world. What followed was a barrage of new ideas and ways of life. People began to become dependent on these new things and new ways of life that other people were bringing in. We learned how to make bannock, drink tea with sugar, have coffee in the morning and live in canvas tents. We learned how to use matches to make fire instead of rubbing two sticks together. Some of these things made our lives easier, but we lost a lot of our culture too. We actually traded our culture for convenience.

The North was like the Wild West. There was no law and people were taking advantage of the native people. They were either ripping them off for furs or paying them peanuts to work like a dog for nothing more than a cup full of tea. We didn’t know nothing about commerce or the value of a dollar. They say that even one old man was so starving for more whiskey that he sold five polar bear skins and his dog team for a barrel of cheap rum. Since he had no more dogs, he rolled that barrel for two days back to his igloo, where his wife and kids were getting hungry. He had to bum two dogs off his brother-in-law to go hunting seals. When the RCMP heard about what was really happening on Herschel Island, they sent two cops there to settle the people down. Once the churches found out there were souls way the heck up North, they sent priests and ministers there to try and save them. But more often than not they were the ones who needed saving. They were either using cheap rubber boots from Hudson Bay or trying to bring chickens in 55 below. Most of them would have died if it wasn’t for native people. My dad told me about one old man who came upon a priest who was lost. The old man could speak enough English to understand the priest. He asked the priest what the hell he was doing travelling around with bum dogs and no meat. The priest said he came to save him. The old man had to laugh. “Save me from what?” he asked, while he was loading his pipe. Anyway, when the churches got here, now the government wanted to know who the hell all these people were and why no one told them about it. So they had to send in their administrators to tell everybody who’s the boss. Now you got the cops, priests and Indian agents, all fighting over who owns all these “souls.” After they finished fighting, they all agreed on one thing: they had to control all these people. They couldn’t have them running around the country, living like gypsies, eating raw meat and kids running around with


no clothes. Because that’s not how “civilized” people live. And that’s when residential schools come in the picture. In them days no one had any use for arithmetic or spelling. They counted on their fingers and could give a rat’s ass how to spell kugavik. All their education was delivered on the spot. You either learned how to set a fish net, or you starved. Pretty simple. That was all the education we needed. But the government had other ideas. The government couldn’t very well send teachers to every outpost camp throughout the North and teach every kid about Dick and Jane. Instead, they figured the best way to educate all these kids was to bring them all together in one place. But the parents couldn’t very well pack up and move a thousand miles away. What would they eat? Where would they live? They couldn’t pack up all their stuff and move into Aklavik, for example, where something like six or seven hundred kids were living in two different residential schools. Not only that, but the parents had to either send their kids away, or the government would take away their family allowance, a small sum of money given to each family every month to help with grub. So the parents had no choice to send their kids to school, hundreds of miles away. And sometimes, those kids never did come home. That was the beginning of what they call social unravelling; the fabric of the family and community began to unravel. In the old days, a man’s wealth was measured by how big of a family he had. If he had a whole herd of kids, then the guy was well off. He had all the help he needed to gather as much food as he needed, and would even stash food all over the place. And his daughters did as much work as a man, could sew clothing and do any amount of chores. And when they were old enough to marry, the son-in-law would come into the family. And if he was a good hunter, then, you get the picture. Not only did you have a free labour force, but you

had a family and love. What more could you ask for? It was utopic. By the way, utopic (you-toe-pick) means perfect. I don’t know about you, but when I’m away from my kids for any amount of time, I start to miss them, and I get heartbroken in a sense. I’ve been with my kids since the day they were born. They are my entire world. Everything I do, I do it for them. I don’t think I’m any different from any parent, from any era, and any part of the world. It’s just human nature to want to nurture and love your children.


When children were taken away from their families to attend the residential schools, it left not only a physical void, but a spiritual and emotional void. Parents had no more roles in raising their kids. They were basically left at home, alone, with nothing to do in a sense. Remember those rough and tumble sailors I told you about, the hard drinkers, this is where their legacy comes in. Because that’s what people began to do. To kill the pain of their loss and loneliness, people began to drink, and the social and family fabric began to unravel even more. Most of these kids were shipped hundreds of miles away from their homes. Parents in those days couldn’t just go to Canadian North and present their Pivut Pass and get a ticket to see their kids. The only mode of transport was either dog team or kayak. Pretty hard to get away for the weekend. The North at that time was still a very isolated place. Air travel was prohibitive because of cost and infrastructure issues. There simply were no airports or ready supplies of fuel. In some cases, parents didn’t see their kids for years. There are even stories of parents not seeing their kids for so long that they didn’t recognize them when they came home. Can you see what I’m getting at?


Kids need love and nurturing to be good parents themselves. We need our parents to instill a sense of belonging. We need them every day to tell us they love and care for us. We need them to hold and hug us and make us feel wanted and loved. When we are deprived of that, we tend to search for it in other ways. For a lot of us, we found it in alcohol. Some found it in drugs. Others found it in gambling. There are any amount of ways to kill pain. I’m sure you know a few yourself. What the residential school system did was raise a whole generation of people who had no idea how to raise a family. They were never shown love because the meagre staff could simply not love the children like a parent could have. Not only did the children lose their parents, but they lost their culture and way of life. Not to mention their mother language, which rooted them in many ways. I don’t mean to blame residential schools, or anyone for that matter, but you have to understand why so many people are in a sense “lost.” It’s no wonder we turned to substance abuse to cope. What we ended up with was both the parent and the child just coping and surviving. It took years and years of pain and suffering for many people to quit drinking or drugging. We have to hit rock bottom before we really have a good look at ourselves. We have to be so damned scared of losing what we have, or not getting what we want, to quit. And even when we do quit drinking or drugging, we replace it with another substance or activity. Because accepting the truth is just so darned painful. Our egos have been so blown out of proportion that we have absolutely no sense of how much our ego controls us. We actually believe we are doing the right thing, whether it is killing us or not. I know in my case I just jumped from addiction to addiction, looking for the perfect combination to kill my own pain. Though we never really experienced the residential school system, we were still part and parcel to all that change the North was going through.

It took me years and years to accept that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. I used to get so wasted, sitting up all alone with a bottle in front of me, telling myself that I was on top of the world. When really, I was at the bottom. That’s how powerful alcoholism and addiction is; you actually believe you are in control when, in fact, your world is crumbling around you. When I was finally desperate enough to ask for help, I was on the edge of death. If not physically, then certainly spiritually and emotionally. I was an empty vessel. A shell of a man. But I found freedom in the paradox of recovery. A paradox is something that doesn’t make sense. Let me tell you about it. Imagine you are in a street fight and you are losing, badly. The guy is literally kicking the snot out of you. You are going to die if he does not stop. You raise your hand and softly say, “I quit, you win.” And he stops and walks away. Who won? You did. Because you did not die, or end up with a swollen face and busted teeth. You actually won by giving up. That’s how it is with addiction. I had to say “you win,” to actually live. But that was just the first part. Then I had to admit that my life was unmanageable. I had to look in the mirror and see the shell of a man, with the bruised and busted face, and say to myself, buddy, your life is unmanageable. You cannot manage your own life on your own, with your own thinking. Because you screw it up, every time. You’re going to need help. And that was another roadblock for me, ‘cause I’d never been taught how to ask for help. I just saw people trying to figure things out on their own. And most times, it ended in disaster. Much like my life was, a pile of problems I had no idea how to fix. Of myself, I was nothing. I had to seek a power greater than myself that would restore me to sanity. I had to seek God.




We are all struggling. Long ago, people in the Arctic would struggle with the elements daily and need to hunt for their food. Thankfully today, with the help of technology and modern advances, we don’t need to make our own shelter and trek for something to eat. No, today we face a different struggle: the one with ourselves. We don’t need to look out for bears or wolves when there is so much infighting, hate and drama in our own lives to fend off. Whether it be culturally, socially, mentally or even financially, we all struggle from time to time. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is better than anyone else. As people, we all need to realize that we should take it easier on each other, as there is a common enemy we all face: our own demons. Personally, I have dealt with depression and anger. These aren’t the hardest of issues to overcome, and for that I am blessed. I learned some time ago that everyone has a battle and I should have more empathy for those around me. You see these people every day but you don’t know their whole story. When I look around our communities,

I see people overcoming their demons and a great deal of love for one another. Families sticking up for each other and friends bonding through the trials of adversity. These are people who know more than I do and have that compassion I have been learning to grow. Trust needs to be rebuilt in the older generations who still caw when they see tourists and people from the south in our communities. We need to let go of those judgemental parts of the old ways while still keeping the compassion and caring we showed each other. There was a lot of harm done in the past. No one is doubting that. What is important is how we all move ahead together to make the world a better place. Especially in the Arctic, where we all still have to live with each other, work with each other and sometimes live with each other.

If we won’t ever see world peace in our lifetime, at least we can find that resolution here in our own homes and maybe even in ourselves. Every day I try harder than the day before. Sometimes I stumble but I always keep myself pointed to my goal. To quote comedian Jim Jeffries, I think we can all do better.


It is important that we as Inuvialuit never lose sight of our connection to each other and the land we call our own. During the Inuit Circumpolar Council this past year, the message was clear: Inuit people need to stay united across the world. Despite where we might be living geographically, we are all the same. This extends even farther south when you look at the bigger picture. It is not “us versus them” or North versus south. We all need to get along.

Dez Loreen Manager, Inuvialuit Communications Society

Celebrating 50 Years 1968-2018 of Educating Northerners

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Since the first programs - Heavy Equipment Operator and Teacher Education - were offered in 1968, Aurora College has grown into a comprehensive territorial-wide educational institution. Campuses in Inuvik, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife offer a variety of programs, including academic upgrading; certificates, diplomas and degrees; trades, apprenticeship & industrial training; and short-term interest courses. The Aurora Research Institute is headquartered in Inuvik, and has research centres in Fort Smith, Yellowknife, and Inuvik.

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