TUSAAYAKSAT MAGAZINE / WINTER 2018
STORIES THAT NEED TO BE HEARD
THE INUVIALUIT ARCHIVE
OUR LAND OUR PEOPLE OUR STORIES
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
TUSAAYAKSAT UKIUGAQHIGAA TUSAAYAKSAT IN THE WINTER
CONTRIBUTORS Dennis Allen, Topsy Banksland, Charles Arnold, Nadine Kuneluk, Alyssa Carpenter, Leigha Keogak, Alisa Nogasak SPECIAL THANKS TO Ray Ruben Sr., Persis Gruben and the community of Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, BYTE - Empowering Youth, Inuvialuit Living History Project, Shawn Johnston, Northern Youth Abroad 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 Jody Illasiak SACHS HARBOUR DIRECTOR Jean Harry
ON THE COVER
Olivia Inglangasak and young Payton Inglangasak drum dance during the celebration for Persis Gruben's 100th birthday in Tuktoyaktuk in October. On the back is a scene from Paulatuk in September.
CONTENT Unless otherwise specified, writing and photography in this issue is by Stewart Burnett.
SUBSCRIPTIONS E-mail subscription inquiries to email@example.com 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!
One of the best gifts Indigenous communities can make to the culture of Canada is to influence our respect for elders. Western culture, for all its positive developments, unfortunately tends to get distracted by youth and can forget about the older generations. People in the south still love and value their grandparents, but they’re seen as breaking down, wearing out their usefulness in society and in the denouement of their plot line. Just the names explain everything about the perspectives: elders compared to seniors. That's not the case here in the Western Arctic. People don’t just respect their elders. They look to them for guidance. Elders hold valuable life lessons and secrets from the past. They’ve already made all the mistakes 20-year-olds are about to make, and they can help youth get through those difficult times. They might not move as fast, they might have trouble hearing you and they probably are not coming to drop-in volleyball, but they sure tend to love talking and telling stories. That oral history is so valuable. It’s beautiful to be part of a community that celebrates its elders in the way Tuktoyaktuk did Persis Gruben’s 100th birthday in October. Don’t tell the fire chief, but I think Kitti Hall might have been pushing capacity for that event. Respect and love for our elders is one part of Inuvialuit culture that not only needs to continue, but should be shared.
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.
A CENTURY IN STYLE
OF LOVE AND LOSS IN PAULATUK
FACES OF THE IRC
BREATHING LIFE INTO THE PAST
LEADERS IN TRAINING
TO COSTA RICA AND BEYOND
SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW
A CENTURY IN STYLE
Family, friends and community members celebrated Persis Grubenâ€™s 100th birthday in Kitti Hall Oct. 20, 2018. The Tuktoyaktuk elder has spent 100 years on this Earth, living off the land in her early days and amassing a large family of loved ones along the way. The celebration packed the building and culminated in a feast and drum dancing.
Yes, everyone in this photo is related to Persis, either by blood or by marriage.
100 ONE BIG FAMILY
Event attendees honoured Persis through personalized notes, displayed below.
PERFORMING FOR PERSIS
Drummers and dancers from the region put on a dazzling show for Persis. As is customary, audience members joined the dancers during the final songs of the night.
Of Love And Loss In Paulatuk
Ray Ruben Sr.
Location, culture and circumstance have little to do with the universal human narratives of love and loss. Mayor for 12 years and on council since the Hamlet of Paulatuk was formed in 1987, Ray Ruben Sr. has seen his community change since the days of tent life and moonlit kids’ games. Along the way, he’s experienced the highs and lows of life, and all shades in between. The following is Ray’s account of his life in the Western Arctic.
The Early Days I was born in Cape Parry, which was very much part of life for our people in Paulatuk. They used to go back and forth, about 100 kilometres, from here to there. I was born in Cape Parry and raised in Paulatuk. Cape Parry was the main Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line site in the 1950s. We didn’t have any houses at that time. When we came to Paulatuk, we’d stay in tents. The only building we had was the mission house. That’s where they held the mass upstairs, and the priest lived downstairs. When people would come by, we’d camp around the area here and put up tents. It was a good place certain times of the year for fishing, caribou and all the things we didn’t have in Cape Parry. The Department of National Defence provided houses to people who worked at the DEW Line. I remember my grandfather worked there and those years we’d visit, we’d stay with him in the house. I remember growing up in the tent. One of my dad’s older brothers had built himself a house, and when I was young, I remember camping with one of my cousins there. After about three days, my dad came over and picked me up and said I had to go see mom
for a while and go to the tent. I remember running to the tent and smelling the fresh bread and donuts. I know my dad, as the leader those years, he was gone a lot, travelling, meeting with the government, meeting with officials and whoever it was then. I don’t know how old I was, maybe four or five, when my older brother used to go to school in Inuvik and it was just myself and my younger sister with my parents most of the time. The government had come in and met with people in the area to talk about housing. At first, they were talking about giving an option for people to move to Tuktoyaktuk because they said it’s too remote, too far to build here. Some people were going to move because they were promised housing and homes, but then there were others, one of them being my dad, who decided this is home and this is where they’re going to stay. There was enough, according to them, to live off here. They didn’t need a wad full of money to live here. You’d get your sustenance from the land. We’ve got caribou, fish, geese – you name it – and the ocean, the lakes. We’re right on the migration route of
the geese in spring and then again in the fall, so they’re all over the place. Caribou, the same thing, used to pass by the peninsula or up in the hills. Char during the summer and fall. There were a lot of reasons to stay here. The government got a family from Inuvik to move here for a year and live with the people and help them decide whether or not it was a good place to build. They eventually reported that Paulatuk could comfortably sustain a population of about 400 people, so they decided to build here. When they came to get location data for building here, they met with different people from when they came here originally, because people travelled and followed the animals, so the people they met with officially weren’t the same as before. Those people said they wanted to put the material 30 or 40 clicks to the east on the Brock River side, so that’s what the government did. When my father and others found out what was going on, they came with the community boat, I think it was called Roger at the time, and picked up that material and brought it back here. Some of the little houses, I think they’re coloured blue now, they’re still the original houses that were built
during the ‘70s. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the matchbox houses – they’re almost the size of the sea can containers – they’re just a square box, no rooms or nothing. They had a couple of those put up here and people were using them. It was a lot better when you only had tents back then. You’re inside, you’ve got windows, you’ve got doors. No running water and that but of course you don’t have any of that in the tents, and you’ve got insulation. We didn’t get electricity until 1974 maybe. Growing up, it was always dark during the winter, no streetlights. The light we had was what God provided us. A lot of it was from the moonlight, which was a big part of us. We’d be playing out in the moonlight down on the beach, running around. When we got the houses in 1974 by the nursing station, we didn’t have telephones. I remember because they got some kids’ battery phones and extended the wires so it could reach next door to one of my aunts’ houses. So I had this phone with a simple wire, battery operated. We didn’t have TV. I think that’s when they first started coming out with the Betamax. I remember my dad getting one and it was like $1,500 for this big monster Betamax player. That’s the only thing we had for TV.
Leaving For School Most of us went to school in the earlier years. I think I was six when I went to Inuvik. There were between 20 to 25 of us in those years. We were picked up on the DC-3 plane and brought to Inuvik. It wasn’t as hard for us at school as it was for my parents and them before us. They used to go to Aklavik and stayed there for many years because they went out with the boat. The mission boat would go around to communities, pick up kids and bring them to Aklavik. My mom was out for at least four or five years in Aklavik going to school. She always said when she came back home that she didn’t recognize her parents. She was crying to go back to school because she had stayed so long. It took her a while to get back into home life. When we started school, we stayed the whole 10 months. We didn’t come home for any holidays. They flew us back in the summertime in June after we were done.
The hardest part was the first years, being taken away as a little kid, six years old. And then when we reached there, they took whatever we had, parkas, boots, mitts. They’d give us clothes and jackets and whatever we needed. It was like that for the first couple of years. Our stuff would be taken away and they’d give us clothes, even Sunday clothes, blazers, shoes. I don’t think we were able to take them home. They had numbers on all our clothes, even our underclothes and socks. They mass laundered them and we’d pick up our clothes by the numbers. I remember my numbers. I think one of them was 62. Then as the years went by, my last number was 211. Even to the older days, like 10 or 11 years old, the first week was always the hardest one to get used to being away from home. We used to cry at night. Just that
lonely feeling, even though I had my older brother and all our cousins in the dorm. We all slept side-by-side in single beds. I remember one of my cousins beside me, three feet away, whispering and asking if I felt like crying, if I was lonely, and I said yes. “You wanna cry?” “Yep.”
they learned not to. A lot of us growing up, we understood our language before attending school. I had friends who knew very little English when they went to school, but through the years, eventually all they spoke was English. A lot of us lost it. I can’t carry a conversation in our language. I can understand a lot of words. I can understand the direction of the discussion. But I’ve lost the language. We spoke English all our years at school.
So I just turned over, covered up and cried. For some, it was hard. If you had problems with peeing in bed or something like that, some of the nuns were really strict. You had to be careful what you did. Overall, it wasn’t too bad for us. My mother and them weren’t allowed to speak their language. Some of them didn’t know English well either, so they’d talk to someone and use their language and get whacked until
When I think back to when we had no houses, we used to travel. I still remember travelling between here and Cape Parry during the winter. They’re like photo clips in my mind that I’ve captured. I remember a time my dad stopped right beside a trap and told us to look over the sled. There was a fox trapped inside it. I remember because I was bundled up in the sled. I think we were going to Cape Parry at that time. We were always happy to be home in the summer after school.
Instant Connection I think I outgrew Grollier Hall, the residential school in Inuvik. I was 18. I was doing really well in school. I was taking the university-level courses. I was trying to get to university. I had a goal. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to get into management and administration. Besides being the mayor, my dad was a manager for the Co-op in Paulatuk. He’d gone on a trip to resupply in Inuvik. It was a long weekend in early December and he asked me if I wanted to go home for a trip. Eighteen years old, initially I said I’ll be home for a couple weeks in the Christmas break, so I refused. My buddy from Yellowknife said you’re crazy, it’s a long weekend, go home. I rushed back to the Mackenzie Hotel, where he stayed, and just caught him outside the cab and said I’ll come. When I came home, I would go to each of my uncles and aunts and say hi and meet with them. In one of my aunts’ houses, I met this girl who was sitting on the table. She caught my eye. Whoa, who’s this beautiful woman sitting here? My auntie wasn’t home and this girl was there with one of my cousins.
I met her then and that was it. I had a reason to go home. She kept calling my cousin to tell me to come visit. We were visiting in my cousin’s house and we were on the bed in her living room, where her mom was staying, and we touched fingers. We couldn’t let go. It was just for a second but it was like forever. We were hooked. She was going to be my wife. I went back to Inuvik and she followed. We started seeing each other. She was from Sachs Harbour. She’d come to visit some of her cousins and friends in Paulatuk. Her granny had passed away in Sachs, so she came to spend some time. As a senior, we were allowed to stay out once a month on the weekend until 2 a.m. Friday night, I called my 2 a.m. leave and I stayed out where she stayed. Saturday, the next day, I asked if I could take next month’s 2 a.m. leave. I met someone special and I wanted to stay with her. But no, I had to go back at midnight to the residence. So I followed the rules.
Sunday comes, I spent the day with her. Monday comes, and I quit school. After suffering to see her on the weekend, I quit. It wasn’t the only reason, but it was the biggest reason. I had received a call from my brother who worked as the housing manager back in Paulatuk. He was leaving his position and said there would be an opening. Perfect, I thought. That’s the direction I was going: administration, management. That, along with meeting the girl, just gave me more reason to leave school. By 18, I was fed up and tired of the kids. There were 30 or 40 of us in the dorm. I worked upstairs supervising the junior boys, six to 13 years old, evenings and weekends. That’s how I supported myself for all those years. When I quit, the administrator, he was a priest, he’d heard about my quitting so he called me and he confirmed that yeah I’m leaving, I’m done. He asked me if I could stay and supervise the bigger kids where I lived. He said they’re short of workers. I was making $180 supervising the kids. He said I’d make a lot more money and have a place to stay. I said I couldn’t. I lived
with them for five years, I’m tired of them. I get cranky. One time after they shut off the lights after bedtime, all of them started coughing to make fun. We had four beds in one room, so you’d be sharing it with others. I didn’t play around much. I guess I was more serious. So I screamed at everybody to shut up. It just got quiet, eh. So I quit and finally made it home. I applied and got the housing job in January 1981. It reminded me of one of my uncles back in the 1950s. He was a young man, he had a new rifle, he just got married, got a new tent and a new dog team. It was kind of like that. I got a job, I got a wife and I got away from the residence. That was good. We were married for almost 25 years, 28 years together. Big family. Four boys and six daughters. She passed away 10 years ago in August. I remember like it was today. She died from cancer, as my dad the year before her did. Not a very good story. Her name was Bella.
The Pain Of Cancer Before my wife got sick, we had plans to move out to a camp and live on the land full-time. For two years, she worked in the hamlet as our janitor, and I was the mayor. I was also working for the hunters and trappers organization. I got time off from May until September, so we stayed on the land during spring and summer. The first year worked so well that we decided to do it again the next year, but this time, Bella wanted to stay until Christmas. Being mayor, I had responsibilities and I couldn’t stay out that long. We came back the second year and said we’re going to turn the house over to the kids and we’ll go out and live on the land, because in Sachs, that’s how she lived. She lived with her granny, so she knew a lot of things about the land. I learned a lot from her. She used to make me feel like I was useful. She always said she didn’t know how to make the dough for bread, so she’d ask me how much sugar and how much this and that, making me feel like I was part of it. I would always say, “You just did that to make me feel good.” In 2007, we both got fired after we came back from camp, she from the hamlet and me from the hunters and trappers organization. There were new people on the board who weren’t aware that I had been afforded
the time off. I made them ditch the letter and then resigned. My wife didn’t go back to work. It was only about three months later she started having a problem. She felt pain in her side and a hard lump. We went to Inuvik on advice from the health station to get it checked and see what it really is. We were there in the hotel for about three weeks. I didn’t rush her. I wasn’t going to push her to get a check‑up. I was scared and she was scared. She finally got in to get the check-up and then we left to Whitehorse to stay with some of her family. I always said she died three times. She very much well have because of how she was treated. She finally got the call from Inuvik and she answered the phone. She should have given me it, but she answered it. She was standing in the hallway outside of the room. All I heard was the phone drop. I knew who called. I got the phone and took the information. They said she had cancer and she had to come back quickly. That was a realization of the worst fear we had. She was only 46. They rushed her to Inuvik and on to Yellowknife. We had our two youngest girls with us, so I had to get them back to Inuvik. She had already seen the doctor in Yellowknife when
I joined her. The doctor sat with her and said, “Sorry, we’re too late.” Who does that? I wanted the doctor’s name. I said I’m the mayor and I can speak to the ministers. Why are they insensitive in that way? Doctors are doctors, eh. They tell you what you got without feeling sensitive to that part of your life. Eventually, I forgot who the doctor was. That was the second time it felt like she died. Every six weeks we’d get treatments in Yellowknife. After the fifth one, they said sorry, nothing more they can do. That was the hardest time, when they said go home, live as comfortably as you can. They advised me to keep her as comfortable as I could, work with the nurse to keep the pain down. That was hard. When we got to Inuvik after this last visit was done, all she wanted to do was drink, drink and forget about it. I was in the hospital after a check-up. I didn’t come out right away. She called me from her brother’s hotel room and said, “Are you coming? I’m going to drink.” I didn’t want to say no. I couldn’t say no. I was there to support her. I didn’t know how hard of a time she was going through. I didn’t know what to do. But I took too long. I made my way there, and she met me halfway. She was mad at me. I never felt so alone as
when she turned and screamed and cursed me. I didn’t know what to do. Where do I go? What do I do? So I just turned back and went with her. By the time I reached our room, her suitcase and everything was gone. She’d moved into her own room because she was mad at me. So I took it out on whoever was supervising there. I told that woman don’t ever touch my belongings. I was a little overboard, but I was angry, because it was making me farther from my wife. Generally I’m easygoing. I reason and work it out. But I didn’t see any other way then than to put my anger onto somebody. It just happened to be that supervisor. She waves and says hi today. She understands what I was going through and I’m happy for that. Watching her deteriorate and get worse and worse and worse, I can’t describe it. We knew it was coming close. There were 15 or 20 people in our little house, just crowded. Our family and my mother, brother and sister-in-law were supporting us in her final days, too. When she finally quit moving and quit breathing, I broke down. I was crying, saying, “She’s not breathing.” People started saying prayers. I didn’t know what happened. A lot of my boys weren’t there with me and I knew they had to know, so I walked to where they were and said mom’s gone.
Losing Bella And Apologizing My number in school was 211. I don’t think I could find any of my clothing with numbers, because I was a young kid. But that was her birthday, February 11. You don’t realize it right then, but years later you put things together. After she passed away, I used to go out for meetings in Inuvik, Yellowknife, wherever. It happened more than a couple of times I was put in a hotel in room 211. After the third time, I start thinking it’s happening again. I called my daughter, “Guess what room I’m in?” “211?” “Yep.” Maybe I notice the number because it was her birthday. Being in the same room three times in a row, that’s something you would notice anyways. In Paulatuk, we don’t have a funeral home or anything. We take care of the body ourselves. It was in summer, August, so it was still warm. We had no morgue or any place to keep her body cold until we got the casket and all that. Our family helped me take care of her. We kept her body in the blue church, but it was still too warm, so we’d pick bags of ice and put them around her. My girls, the oldest ones were adults already, they
helped me with the body. They’d dress her up, choose her clothes, fix her up. We had a lot of kids and it was natural that I had to be strong for the kids, especially my youngest daughter, who was only eight years old then. She really had a hard time to leave her mom alone, her body in the church. She’d hang on and cry and cling. It was really hard for some of them. The first couple of months, when I was leaving the house, I’d have a sense something was missing. There was something I had to do. I had to tell something to somebody. But there was nobody around. That part of it is the hardest, realizing that I’m alone and there is no other part of me there. I had a friend, Ernest, out of Yellowknife. He lost his wife a couple years before I lost my wife. He’d phone me right from the day after my wife passed away about seven in the morning, every morning, calling me. “How are you doing today?” he’d ask. “These are some of the feelings you might go through.” Every morning he’d call and check in, see how I’m doing and try to help me along. It helped. When the feelings start coming in and I realize again that I don’t have my wife, it was exactly how he explained it, anxiety, loneliness, all these mixed feelings. He really helped.
We have a funny coincidence between us. He lost his dad and then I lost my dad. He lost his wife and then I lost my wife. Early 1990s, I was bringing my boy to Yellowknife for a leg operation. He had a home there and invited us over to visit. Walking toward his house, I noticed we had the exact same house. We started talking and realized we’ve got all these things in common. It was kind of uncanny. When my oldest son was moving back to the house, he said his older son was, too. I said, “Stop. You’d better not die. I don’t want to die yet.”
and that’s where he picked up a lot of his knowledge about how to work with caribou, skin caribou, fish, all the things that I did for them.
He made it a lot easier. He made me comfortable. I had something to look forward to in the mornings. Get up and get a phone call. It took a lot off my mind.
He had never skinned a caribou.
About two months after she passed, I started travelling for meetings again. This is when I started feeling for my kids. I started thinking back to how we grew them up. That’s when I started going through my mind about what I should say to them. I wrote a note to each of them about what I could have done differently, apologizing to them. Maybe I was not doing it the right way. I was trying to take care of everything myself, working, hunting, getting the food, fishing while they went to school. I did most of the work without involving them much. One of my older boys used to camp with my parents,
Another one, 17 or 18 at the time, used to go out with his friends biking. This one time his mom asked him, “If you go out and see a caribou, can you get it for us?” He looked at her kind of strange. “Yeah, and then what?”
Those things came back to me, and I thought maybe I should have let them do more than just watch and help here and there. I should have had them doing the nets, fishing, cutting the caribou. That was the main message and apology I was writing to the boys. The girls were a little different. They picked up a lot of the things their mom did because she’d have them help her cut up fish or meat, make dough or bread. When she passed away and they came to camp with me, they were able to do all that, so we were passing it on to my grandchildren. They’d be hands on, they weren’t watching. I was able to pick that up later on, that they should be hands on doing something, not just watching. The girls were able to do things because of their mom.
The Gift Of Forgetting Here, it’s all about family. Don’t be alone, because family is always out there to help. Don’t go through it alone. You can put so many things in your mind when you’re alone. It can get out of whack and make you think in weird ways. Talk to people. We have a support group now that we’ve started for cancer sharing in Inuvik, and I presented at one in Yellowknife. Just simply listening is a lot of help. I know it because
I experienced it with my friend calling. It might take various amounts of time depending on your situation and how you handle it. In the end, I’ve always heard that the good Lord gives us the gift of forgetting. Your memory fades and fades and fades over time. It gets easier. Time heals. I am healing. I am forgetting.
Smoking cliff at the bottom of Franklin Bay. Photo from ‘Frozen Ships’ by Johann Miertsching, 1967
The ‘Smoking Hills’ of Franklin Bay WORDS BY CHARLES ARNOLD
“Spirits known as Ingniryuat Inuit inhabit the Smoking Mountains, and it is the smoke of their fires we see.” -Mamie Mamayauq, as told to Viljhalmur Stefansson in 1912
Since far back in recorded memory, people have offered explanations for sulphursmelling fumes rising from high hills along the west coast of Franklin Bay, about 100 kilometres west of Paulatuk. Ingniryuat, Smokey Mountains, Smoking Hills… whatever name they go by, this long stretch of hills stands out as one of the most intriguing landmarks in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The earliest written record of the Smoking Hills is an account by Dr. John Richardson, who served as surgeon and naturalist with two of British Navy Lieutenant (later Captain) John Franklin’s expeditions in the Arctic. In 1826, during the second of these expeditions, Richardson observed that eroding cliffs bordering Franklin Bay “were on fire, giving out smoke,” and that they contained “burnt clays variously coloured yellow, white and deep red.”
Drawing on his training in the European tradition of science, he offered an explanation for the Smoking Hills that is judged by earth scientists today to be reasonably accurate, given the state of knowledge at the time. The Western science explanation is that veins of organic materials, including low-grade coal known as lignite mixed with iron sulphide and other minerals, ignite spontaneously when they are exposed to the air as the hills erode, giving off sulphur-smelling smoke, and the heat generated through this process bakes the minerals, transforming them into the coloured clay-like rocks described by Richardson.
reported that he thought he also saw tents and men in white jackets, so a small boat was launched to determine if they were survivors of the missing Franklin expedition.
The earliest known illustration of the Smoking Hills also has a connection to John Franklin. It appears in a published account of the expedition of the ship HMS Investigator under the command of Captain Robert McClure, who was searching for survivors of John Franklin’s quest for a sea passage through the Arctic that commenced in 1845 and, as we now know, ended in tragedy a few years later.
Miertsching said that the whole place was like a “huge chemical factory,” and that water in nearby ponds was contaminated by the smoke and had a sour taste. Like Richardson had done before him, Miertsching commented on the colours of the baked clay-like rocks and brought samples back to the ship, where they were still hot enough to burn holes in the captain’s mahogany table.
In the summer of 1850, the Investigator was cruising along the shore of Franklin Bay when pillars of smoke were seen coming from the sea cliffs. One of the crew, looking through a telescope from the masthead,
No fires, tents or people were found. Instead, Johann Miertsching, a Moravian missionary on board as a translator and who was among the shore party, wrote that they found “… a thick smoke emerging from various vents in the ground, and a smell of sulphur so strong that we could not approach the smokepillar nearer than 10 or 15 feet. Flame there was none, but the ground was so hot that it scorched the soles of our feet.”
Inuvialuit oral traditions that long predate the arrival of Europeans provide other explanations for Ingniryuat, which in English means “big fire.” Like much of Inuvialuit folklore, these explanations are embedded in stories and draw on beliefs in
Photo by Elisa Hart/NWT Archives/G-2004-004: 2203
The Smoking Hills. Photo by Charles Arnold
spirits to account for mysteries in nature. Aunaraitsaiq, a resident of the Cape Bathurst area, told the following story about the Smoking Mountains to Knud Rasmussen, a Danish researcher who recorded Inuit traditions while travelling along the coast from Greenland to Alaska, in 1924:
if they declined the bargain, the object remained where it was. So people were never alone; they always had small silent and invisible spirits around them! But one day it happened that during a halt a man seized his knife and cried: ‘What do we want with these people who are always right on our heels!’ Saying
“In the early infancy of man, people were never
this he flourished his knife in the air and thrust it
alone, whether they lived in a settlement or were
in the direction of the snow huts that had made
travelling on long journeys. They were surrounded
themselves. Not a sound was heard, but the knife
by a spirit people […] who lived as human beings
was covered with blood!
and were in fact human beings – except that they were invisible. Their bodies were not for our eyes, or
From that moment the spirits went away. Never
their voices for our ears. And when people travelled
again did anyone see the wondrous sight of
and pitched camp and began to build their snow
snowdrifts forming themselves into snow huts
huts, one might see round about the snowdrifts
when one made camp, and forever the people lost
that the snow blocks began to move, being lifted out
their silent, invisible guardian spirits. It was said
of the drifts…and piled together into a snow house
that they had gone to live inside the mountains
which seemed to grow of itself. Occasionally one
in order to hide from man, who had mocked and
might see the glitter of a copper knife – that was all!
wounded their feelings. That is why to this day one can see the mountains smoking from the enormous
They [..] did not mind people coming into their
cooking fires flaming inside them.”
houses, which were arranged just like those of human beings. All their belongings were visible, and people could trade with them very profitably. If one wished to buy something, all that was necessary was to point to it and at the same time show what one was prepared to give for it. If the spirit people agreed, the object required lifted itself
Other stories about the spirits, powers and dangers of the Smoking Hills are included in ‘Nuna Aliannaittuq – Beautiful Land,’ a book about the origins and meanings of traditional place names in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.
up and moved towards the man who wanted it. But
Joe Nasogaluak said: “We have heard about these people that lived beneath there (Smoking Hills). There have been stories told about them. They were so dangerous that people detoured around them when passing.” Cora Kimiksana was told that the smoke at
Ingniryuat comes from the cooking pots of little people who lived in the cliffs. Fred Wolki also had heard that they were little people: “[They are as] big as a fork that you eat with. They use a caribou’s ear for a parka. They turn it inside out and they just have to put it on… Just take the inside off, skin it – a ready made parka.” Edgar Kotokak talked about special properties of the coloured minerals that people drew upon at a time when many of their dogs were dying, perhaps due to distemper: “Sam Anaqiin (Anikina) and I went by Ingniryuat and we rubbed red soot on our dogs so they wouldn’t get sick… Our dogs didn’t get sick at all.” Low-grade lignite coal also occurs in other parts of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, but only at Ingniryuat is the land smoking, whether due to the properties of minerals mixed with lignite or due to the cooking fires of spirits. In fact, Paulatuuq – the traditional name of Paulatuk – has a connection to coal. Paulatuuq means “place of soot” in English, and the name was given to the area many years ago by Jessie Green, whose canvas tent was blackened by soot when she burned local coal in a stove. Ingniryuat and Paulatuuq are just two examples of many place names in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that show how Inuvialuit history is written on the land.
The following sources were consulted in writing this essay: Arctic Searching Expedition, Volume 1. John Richardson, 1851. Frozen Ships. Johann Miertsching, 1967. Memories of the Arctic. The memoirs of Father Robert Le Meur, OMI. Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, 2018. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826 an 1827. John Franklin, 1828. Nuna Aliannaittuq – Beautiful Land. Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, 2011. The Stefansson-Anderson Expedition of the American Museum. Viljhalmur Stefansson, 1914.
FACES OF THE
INUVIALUIT REGIONAL CORPORATION
The hub for all things Inuvialuit, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation was established in 1984 to manage the settlement outlined in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. With more than 180 employees, the IRC represents the collective interests of Inuvialuit in dealings with governments, corporations and the world at large. The IRCâ€™s goal is to continually improve the economic, social and cultural well-being of Inuvialuit through the implementation of the IFA and by all other available means. Inuvialuit beneficiaries directly control the IRC and its subsidiaries through the community corporations, which represent each of the six
Inuvialuit communities with an elected board of directors. Its head office is located in Inuvik. But more than a series of programs, companies and services, the IRC is made up of people in our community, the majority of whom are Inuvialuit beneficiaries. As part of a recurring feature, we profile the people and departments of the IRC. In the following pages are some of the top-level directors at the organization. We asked them a series of questions about what they do, how they spend an average day, their career path that brought them to the IRC and what advice they might have for younger Inuvialuit.
DUANE SMITH CHAIR AND CEO As Chair and CEO, I was elected to oversee the entire Inuvialuit Corporate Group. My responsibility is to make sure that the rights, obligations, spirit and intent of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement are upheld and implemented. In this position, I work hard to ensure the organization is meeting the needs and expectations of our communities and beneficiaries both in and outside of the region. I have been a director on the IRC board for more than
a dozen years and have held the office of Chair and CEO for just under three. It has been an incredible honour and itâ€™s been very busy. Early in my tenure, I asked my staff to work together to create a strategic plan so that we could methodically and effectively pursue our goals. Since then, we have worked nonstop to obtain more contribution agreement funding from the territorial and federal government to support the implementation of
critical services and programming throughout the communities and region. We have also developed our corporate structures to create new opportunities and support for our Inuvialuit families wherever they may be. This job requires you to go from complex commercial transactions in one moment to assisting beneficiaries with their individual concerns the next. You have to be responsive at both levels or you are not doing the job. Much of my time throughout the day is spent providing direction or guidance and meeting with staff to make sure all of our programs, issues and files are being addressed appropriately. I care about this organization being as successful as it can possibly be. When you set a high standard, it can become stressful very quickly. The reputation and successes of this $800-million organization, as well as the expectations beneficiaries have of their land claim organization, ultimately rest with me. I have to pursue those to the extent I can. I take my responsibilities seriously every moment of every day. My role is 24/7. That’s the reality of it. Even when I go home, I’m working, looking over issues, reading material or monitoring governments to see if there are new initiatives or opportunities that we might be able to take advantage of, trying to make sure the activities the government might be conducting are not going to fetter our rights or diminish the intent of the IFA. The IRC has come to be known as a force in the world of Indigenous governance and business. As a result, we are constantly asked to participate, engage and advocate in different initiatives. My job is to distinguish between those that will advance the objectives of Inuvialuit and those that may simply be a drain of resources. If I had to pick the hardest part of the job, it would be the constant correcting of misunderstandings regarding the role and function of this organization
and the misinterpretations of the IFA. To address this gap more systematically, I initiated the IFA-101 learning module, which is available to government, the private sector and anyone who wants to know more about us. Dealing with government bureaucracy is another challenge. It’s slow moving and always reluctant to change. We’re going on 35 years of this land claim, and it’s still not fully respected or implemented by certain governments to the extent that it should be. I think my term has been successful so far. We’ve received $24 million in housing funds to date – that’s something new, and you don’t see that with any other Indigenous organizations outside of the four Inuit organizations. We’ve quadrupled our contribution agreements, mostly with the federal government. We’re implementing around $38 million of contribution agreements now. We’ve drastically reduced our debt and secured our status as a healthy and agile organization in a very fast period of time. We have also increased Inuvialuit employment with beneficiaries wanting to come back and contribute to the IRC. While it is sometimes truly an unbelievable amount of work, it’s all worth it. A lot of the time our work happens on an incremental basis and without much fanfare. But sometimes people notice and send their thanks. You can see those thank-you cards in my window – it does feel good to get those notes from people. That’s what makes it worthwhile to come in, when you see people are satisfied and grateful for the work we are doing on their behalf. Seeing beneficiaries and members-at-large in the communities happy and with more opportunities to live a full and healthy life is what it is all about. Looking forward, we are going to maintain the steady direction we’re going in, continue to implement our strategic plan and do our best for Inuvialuit.
LUCY KUPTANA DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Iâ€™m inspired to work here because being Inuvialuit I want better for all people. I want things better for the communities and I want to work hard to make sure IRC offers services to the communities. People are struggling, especially now with the economy being so poor. We all want to make things a little better for people. My main role is Director of Operations, but I also head up communications and culture portfolios.
I work with the IRC board and help manage the regular board meetings, review communications strategies, work with the Inuvialuit Cultural Centre in their delivery, manage the overall direction of the education/capacity group and the human resources department, work with community support officers and advise on the craft shop. Overall, I have 20 employees who report to me on a day-to-day basis. Itâ€™s busy, but I love my job and I see good things come from it.
I graduated from high school with my husband, Donald, in 1986, and moved to Tuktoyaktuk. He took carpentry in high school and had a career in mind, but I didn’t. I left home at 17 and my parents didn’t talk to me for a year. They were so disappointed I didn’t go onto university. They wanted me to do big things. I had my son Kyle at a young age, when I was 18 years old. While living in Tuk, a finance clerk position came up at the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk and I got it. For a couple of years, I worked really hard at the hamlet and paid attention. They promoted me to assistant senior administrative officer when I was 22. They sent me out to take further training, so I had to leave my home and family for two months at a time to go to school. I took the community administration certificate program. In 1993, I was promoted to senior administrative officer for the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. I was 25 at the time. After 10 years working for the hamlet, and after Donald’s parents passed away, we decided to move to Inuvik to be closer to my aging parents. It was really difficult for Donald to move and still is to this day. We moved to Inuvik on December 10, 1999, and I began working for the IRC first in the Beaufort Delta Self Government Office and then in its Community Development Division. In 2010, I left the IRC to work for the Government of the Northwest Territories, because I needed to see what else was out there. It was a bad year. The colleagues I worked with at government were great, but I found everything so rigid. Everybody referred to their collective agreement. It seemed like nobody wanted to work beyond that. There was no vision, no extra effort. Working at the IRC gives you so much opportunity. You have a vision and a strategic plan, but how you deliver that is through your own hard work and communications. I returned to the IRC in 2011 and never looked back. I thank God to this day that I’m working
for the IRC, because I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Working for Nellie Cournoyea for 15 years was a great introduction to politics and how things should function. She was a good role model and mentor. She always pulled me into meetings and had me involved. I learned a lot from her. It’s good that we have somebody like Duane Smith now, who’s very strong in his role. He believes in what he does and knows the IFA in and out. We’re fortunate to have somebody like Duane following up after Nellie, because Nellie was Nellie. How great you have to be to follow in those footsteps. Working in this role, you can never forget the communities. They always have to be number one in your mind. Our organization is built on the back of our communities. Sometimes I worry people think that just because you’re Inuvialuit, you should get a job with the IRC. Absolutely, we can help you in any way, with any kind of training or education initiative, but people need to want to work. They’re going to need to want to be educated. We can help you with all of that, but you’re going to have to want to be here. We all start somewhere. I started with a Grade 12 diploma and was offered an opportunity to go for training. I had to leave home, and then I spent four years at the college attending night school getting my college diploma in business. As a wife and mother, I would have a full day of work, go home, quickly make supper and then go to school. I did that for four years. It’s a testament to the fact that if you want something, you must work hard for it. Nothing’s easy. Life is not easy. You need to be independent and take care of yourself, and education is a big help. That’s the message I always try to give to the youth. Your families and your communities are there for support, but you’re going to have to want it yourself. Nobody’s going to give you anything. If you work hard, you’ll see results.
PATRICK “DANG” GRUBEN CHAIR OF THE INUVIALUIT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION I’m very proud to work for the Inuvialuit. From the day I voted for the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, they told us, “This land claim’s for you.” I said let’s go make it work for us. I’m chairman of the IDC, but in the last year since I got appointed, I’ve been acting like the president, too. I’m more involved in the day-to-day operations of the whole organization, from properties to partnerships.
IDC is mandated in the IFA to develop businesses and create opportunities. If there’s a service required in the region, we’ll look for a company to provide that service. Take Inukshuk Geomatics for example. We needed survey expertise for the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, so we partnered with Challenger Geomatics and formed a new company. We have about a dozen staff at the corporate building here in Inuvik, but if you add up all of our partners
and subsidiaries, we have just under 1,100 employees. We share a lot of resources with the IRC corporate group, like the CFO, human resources and legal. The annual revenue for our organization is just over $350 million. We’re probably worth $300 million, not including assets. Sometimes we’re making up to $100-million decisions, which we have a process to go through, because the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has a cap where any decisions over $5 million have to go through IRC board approval. The toughest part is when it affects people’s lives. Sometimes you have to let somebody go – that’s the hardest part, especially right now when the economy is slow. When I go home, I leave my work here and keep my home life separated, but obviously we’re on call 24/7. Mondays are usually the busiest. We have so many partnerships and companies, people are always calling our office or sending emails, with concerns we have to address or fires we need to put out. I’m originally from Tuktoyaktuk, graduated high school and started a family pretty young. I became a tradesman for 15 years and then went into the project management side. I was always interested in the corporate group, right from the day I voted for the land claims. At the local level, I was elected as director of the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation, then eventually as chairman. After that, if you want to move on, you’ve got to start applying for regional positions. I got appointed as director of IDC in 2007 and 10 years later was appointed chairman. We moved to Inuvik in 2005, when my daughter
was going into Grade 9. I wanted my kids to have opportunity at life, a chance to get a better career. I think it paid off. My daughter graduated from nursing school this year. My youngest son, I’ve got to give him credit. He took a different path. He came home after one semester of college and wanted to learn all about hunting and travelling on the land. He wanted to know our culture first. This June, he and I were riding when he looked at me and said, “Dad, I’m ready.” I asked what he meant, and he said, “You don’t have to worry about me when I go hunting out on the land.” As a father, that’s all you want to hear, because your teaching has paid off. Thirty-five years into the IFA, we’re still not at the level where I think we should have been. But you can’t dwell on those kinds of mistakes. You just have to come in and try to improve it, try to hit that target we always wanted. If you want to get into this career, you’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to understand the organization and the IFA. That’s the tool you have to use. If you want to make a difference, get involved. Don’t be afraid of speaking out and asking questions. Read about the organization, about the companies and understand what they do. Because of the way we’re moving in the cyber age, we’re losing a bit of our culture, especially the language. If you know the culture, pass it on. Long ago, we would keep our skills secret. It’s not like that now. When you’re losing it, you should come out and start showing people your skills. That’s the only way it’s going to be passed on.
CHARLES KLENGENBERG DIRECTOR OF LANDS As an Inuvialuit beneficiary born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, I gained most of my work experience by engaging with diverse Indigenous claimant groups, local community organizations, the Northern industry and governments throughout the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In 2004, I moved to Yellowknife and in 2006, found work at the Ekati Diamond Mine. I worked for 11 years in the Environment & Communities division,
eventually moving up to traditional knowledge advisor, where I worked directly with the mineâ€™s impact communities. The big part of that job was community engagement to address concerns on the environment, wildlife and how the mine operated. When I got offered this position as the Director of Lands for the ILA, I could not refuse the offer. It was an opportunity to come back home and work for my people, but more importantly work with the people
I grew up with like Patrick Gruben, Duane Smith and Lucy Kuptana. It’s a great atmosphere. The work is challenging, but I expected that. Our land is so important to our people. With the administration and management of Inuvialuit lands, our overall responsibility is to look after the following: reviewing and approving access and use of Inuvialuit lands; monitoring land use to ensure protection of the land and environment; and ensuring Inuvialuit benefit from business, employment and training opportunities that flow from development projects. An important part of the ILA process is community engagement and making sure we listen and address community concerns. Our people are the traditional land users, and they are our eyes and ears out on the land. They are the ones who are out there using the land every day, they know what is happening and they notice the changes in our environment. The local people are our enforcement for our lands. Working with people is my favourite part of this role. A lot of my job is just listening, finding out what’s going on and hearing people’s concerns, and sometimes that can be the hardest part. With regulators or applicants – non-beneficiaries – it’s
pretty straightforward. We rely on our rules and procedures for our lands. Beneficiaries have more rights on our land, and our job is trying to keep on top of that and making sure our activities are sustainable for our future generations the best we can. There are a lot of challenges out there. Economically, it’s quiet right now. What I’m doing is taking this opportunity to further enhance our department to be prepared for potential projects in the future, which means more community engagement, staff development and training. Climate change and its effects are one of the biggest challenges facing the Inuvialuit. We all need to work together to address these issues. For our younger people looking to pursue a career in this field, education is the ticket. Everything is moving faster with technology in the world today. Get your education and participate in youth groups, community meetings, community events and volunteering. It will open doors for you. Get involved and ask questions. Go out there and talk to people. Find out what’s going on, what are the issues affecting you, your friends, your parents and your grandparents. Try to understand what the issues are. The biggest hurdle is getting your education to make a difference.
BOB SIMPSON DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS I come in at about 7 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m., have lunch here, too. And I’m never caught up. There are three main aspects to this division: the intergovernmental aspect – constantly reviewing government activities and trying to take them to account; the self-government negotiations; and then the research unit. The research side has been growing very rapidly. We
do environmental assessments, climate change, energy security, health support research and more. The big thing we’re tackling now is accumulating statistical data on Inuvialuit communities’ social and economic conditions, and using this evidence to improve people’s well-being. We also track youth with the Beaufort Delta Education Council. That’s good for the kids, because you get a lot of teacher turnover, and this gives them profiles of every student who comes in the door, so they know their strengths and weaknesses.
We’re continuing to build that statistical data – what are the social, cultural and economic conditions of Inuvialuit? – and use it to make comparisons with the rest of Canada, in a wide variety of areas from housing to education and health. Research is all about comparisons, and we go to government and put our case in front of them and say, “Here are the reasons something’s got to be done.” Housing is one of our big successes. IRC leadership lobbied the government, gave them the figures about overcrowding and waitlists. We took it a step further and said, “We need more housing units, but give us the money and we’ll go build them.” We also look at what kind of education is being offered in a smaller school. Paulatuk, for example – they might pass their Grade 12 there, but they don’t have the prerequisites to get into postsecondary. We provided money to BDEC to hook up the communities and offer specialty education, like Biology 20 or 30, via long distance. Last year, we had three students from Ulukhaktok who finished their Grade 12 and went straight to university instead of doing upgrading. Little successes make a big difference. When Duane Smith got in as Chair and CEO, he instructed us to put together a strategic plan, which is the first time we’ve had one. It’s a long list, but we’re achieving a lot of things we set out in that plan. Government is not easy to work with. They don’t like to let things go. In terms of the intergovernmental aspect of the job, the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement is paramount, and it’s difficult. We have a lot of meetings with Health Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, ministers or officials on certain programs, trying to transfer more dollars so the IRC can deliver their own programs. We’re negotiating a self-government agreement, and we’re pretty close to a final agreement, but the federal government is coming up with some new
policies for how it deals with Indigenous governments in terms of recognition and rights. Hopefully it will be positive. We’re saying, “If you’re changing the approach to negotiations, maybe we should have a look at that before we finalize an agreement that expresses the Inuvialuit’s rights to self-determination.” Our self-government arm is headed up by Diane Archie, a beneficiary. I think only the Inuvialuit can govern, develop and deliver their own programs. There won’t be self-government unless Inuvialuit are running their own show. That’s the intent. I used to work for the Gwich’in and helped create the tribal council. I was part of the Gwich’in negotiating team for their land claim agreement. Later on, the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in joined forces to seek self-government together, and I became the chief negotiator for both. We got an agreement‑in‑principle but the Gwich’in withdrew. I ended up staying on with the Inuvialuit and have been negotiating on behalf of them since 2006. It’s been a long haul to complete a final agreement, especially when you have a detailed agreement‑in‑principle, but it’s like watching paint dry. Government still wants some certainty in what they’re giving up. It’s a bit of a fight. For young people looking to get into this work, I recommend pursuing political science. We also have a need for managers. Throughout the IRC and region, there are other jobs, from plumbers to nurses, teachers and otherwise. There’s a lot of opportunity, but you’ve got to get the education. I look at myself as trying to serve the aspirations of Inuvialuit leadership as much as possible. We’re up to our eyeballs as directors, but it’s really exciting work.
EVELYN STORR DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT I was born and raised in Aklavik. I started in the workforce at the Northern Store (Hudsonâ€™s Bay at the time), then became a bylaw officer for the Hamlet of Aklavik and trained and worked as a school community counsellor. I then got a job with the power corporation in Inuvik as a finance officer, before moving back home to be a housing manager for 11 years. After that, I served as senior administrative officer for the Hamlet of
Aklavik. I would say I was well prepared for my role here as Director of Community Development. We deliver programs to all of our communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and I am in charge of making sure they are running properly and our budgets are executed. We provide programs in health and wellness, prenatal, tobacco-free, suicide prevention, on the land, Nutrition North, mental health and much more. Project Jewel is one of our
successful on‑the‑land programs, as well as our partnership with the hospital on prenatal services.
our beneficiaries be healthy, so we’re there to support people and develop programs to meet specific needs.
My average day is spent overseeing the program managers and ensuring they’re delivering according to the proposals and work plans we’ve developed. I have to make sure we’re on track with the budget and make sure I have the necessary information to report to our funders, which is a very important part of my job. I have to ensure our funding is not jeopardized for any reason.
My advice for young people goes back to their education, to complete their school and ensure they have a strong educational background. If you want to pursue this line of work, you will need a focus on business administration and finances.
A lot of my time is spent in teleconference meetings. As part of my job, I also chair the National Inuit Committee on Health, which meets four times per year. We have some large files we work on through Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. I stay involved regionally with other agencies and organizations to communicate what we’re doing and make sure there’s no overlap of program delivery. The primary concern for me is making sure I stay on top of funding deadlines and work with program managers to make sure everything is done in a timely manner. At the end of the day, our goal is to provide the communities with programs that help
As Director of Community Development, you’re dealing with all kinds of issues and need a broad understanding of our communities and people. You need to take time to see what kind of programs are out there and consider how you can address issues in the communities. Young people should get involved, whether it’s on a voluntary basis or otherwise, learning the dynamics of healthy families and what negatively affects them. I encourage people in the communities, beneficiaries and individuals to contact us if they have any questions or would like to gain more information on the programs that we offer. We try to encourage that we have an open door and nobody should ever feel they can’t come and talk to us or call us.
KATE DARLING GENERAL COUNSEL My workday starts at 4:45 a.m. Iâ€™ve always been an early riser, but this gives me time before the day really ramps up to get some solid thinking in. I work until 5 p.m., take my kids to their activities, put them to bed and then get another hour of two of work in at the end of the day. There is a lot that needs to be accomplished in any given day. I work as general counsel for the Inuvialuit Corporate Group, which means Iâ€™m the lawyer responsible for
the legal department and everyone who works in it. General counsel covers a lot of different areas, including non-legal functions such as strategic planning, intergovernmental affairs and business opportunities. I did my undergraduate degree in international relations at UBC and following that went to West Africa on an extended research assignment. Unfortunately, I caught typhoid fever and a
rheumatoid condition and was forced to return to Canada and resume my work at the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform in Vancouver. During this period, I had time to reflect deeply about my career path and how I could be a contributing member of society. I decided justice and rights were what I really cared about and what motivates me. So, I packed up the Toyota and headed east to pursue a law degree at Dalhousie University. During my degree I started to look more closely at rights issues here in Canada. Upon completion of my articles, I sought work in Iqaluit for the Government of Nunavut in their legal and constitutional affairs department. While I was able to work closely with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated from time to time, I felt that working in a government department wasn’t allowing me to advocate fully on behalf of Indigenous rights holders. I also felt that I needed to be better equipped to do that kind of work; so, I travelled to Australia to complete my master of law degree at the University of Melbourne. I wanted to get a different perspective on human rights, and specifically Indigenous rights from a place that has a difficult history – and in some ways present – like Canada does. When I returned to Canada, I was fortunate enough to get a job working for Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the organization that advocates for Inuit rights and interests at the national level. There I met Nellie Cournoyea, who asked me to come to Inuvik for a sixmonth contract with the IRC. I fell in love with the organization and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region with all of its space and berries, so I stayed. IRC was one of the first groups to settle a claim in Canada, so Inuvialuit have had some time to make the land claim work and achieve significant successes under it. Concluding impacts and benefits agreements with major resource companies and deeply influencing legislation for the benefit of all Inuvialuit are two notable examples from the legal
perspective. The entire corporate group has so many interesting endeavours and people committed to improving the lives of Inuvialuit. Whereas government has not always lived up to its commitments or been able to make positive change in this region, this organization and its subsidiaries have gone above and beyond to figure out creative ways to maximize Inuvialuit investments and attract opportunity. For a person who likes to see lots of accomplishments in a short period of time, it’s a satisfying place to work, and I never question the legitimacy of what I’m doing. It aligns with my philosophy. Working with my colleagues to solve problems is probably my favourite part of the job. We have such a varied set of skills around this office with folks who love to see a project or program take shape. Folks here are really engaged, really bright and really hardworking. Going through the various puzzles that we each encounter every day is something I value as a lawyer and as a member of this team. My plan out of the gates was not to end up specifically here or even a place like this. The reason I ended up here is because I figured out what my set of values were early on. Then I went out into the world and experienced a number of different things, and through that process whittled down the range of careers that would be consistent with my values, work ethic and desire to produce. As long as somebody does that and holds true to what their values are, they’ll end up in a job that they want to do all day, every day. Outside of that, my only advice to anyone who might want to do the work that I do is to commit yourself to education first, get it done, do well and then don’t be afraid to go on a few adventures and see what you like – and give us a call if you think the Inuvialuit Corporate Group might be a place for you!
MARK FLEMING CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER I don’t have time for kids. IRC is my kid. From the time I wake up at 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., I’m usually working. Duane Smith, Lucy Kuptana, Kate Darling, Patrick Gruben and I are continually surveying the corporate group, financial markets and the political landscape, and quite often emailing with each other about one of the many files that cross our desks. I do it because I love what I do and find that IRC is driven more on employee passion than simply
a 9-to-5 gig, because if you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, it’s not going to be the job for you. The IRC group is made up of a number of diverse entities. We run about 28 active operating companies, which include two airlines (Canadian North and Aklak Air), Stanton’s grocery chain, heavy equipment manufacturing, a large investment fund, construction, expediting – everything.
Our heavy equipment manufacturing company is one of the largest of its kind in Canada. A lot of that yellow steel, which is Caterpillar equipment, has parts made by us. If they don’t have the standard bucket on the front, we’ve likely made it. We paint it yellow and stamp Caterpillar on the side. The main purpose of my role is making sure the longterm financial planning is on point, making sure we’ve got money for beneficiary payments, making sure our money is spent in accordance with the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and that all Inuvialuit benefit equally from the claim and the monies we receive. It can be stressful. We have planes in the air at any given hour of the day, and due to our team’s strength, our safety record is impeccable. Even our insurers love us because we’re one of the safest airlines. But if anything happens that impacts our customer experience, we need to be ready to respond, whether it is a beneficiary who lost their bags, or even the media when they are attending regional events. If that happens at 5 a.m., I can easily get a call and have to be ready to deal with that. Even situations that are completely out of our control, such as the barges that didn’t make it to Paulatuk this past summer. We have to be ready to help those communities get the goods they need, which we’re doing through Aklak Air. Every day is something different, so it can be stressful, but I love it. One of the hardest parts of the job is dealing with the dichotomy of finances. IRC is almost a $1-billion organization. You are looking at transactions in the tens of millions of dollars. We run these through as a matter of process. But at the same time, you have to understand that a large portion of our beneficiaries are living below the poverty line without access to basic necessities. Having to keep that dichotomy in mind at all times is probably the most challenging part. Somebody from the south could come up and suggest raising the cost of milk by $2 because you’re a corporation and it’s your job to make money, but the IRC is not about making money. It’s about making the lives of beneficiaries better. I started out in physics and math in university. I did a business degree and went to work for KPMG, one of the big four audit firms. Then I worked for the auditor general and got the call to come up here in 2011, where I started with an accounting focus. I did my master’s degree at Oxford University in England and came back to move into the CFO path. School is very important. I’ve probably had 21 years of education, all
things considered. It was a lot of work but it pays off in the end. I love financial management and what I do. But coming to Inuvik and spending time in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region is my favourite part of the job. All of my close friends are in Inuvik. The only reason I don’t live here now is the varied travel commitments that come with being a part of such a diverse operation, whether it’s to Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or elsewhere. It’s very hard to do that from Inuvik. But every time I come up here, I’m busy the whole time seeing friends. School is very important. I’ve probably had 21 years of education, all things considered. It was a lot of work but it pays off in the end. The IRC is a large organization and we have to have the best of the best. Young people should take advantage of the resources available, such as our career centre and Inuvialuit Education Fund – thanks to Lucy and Duane we’ve doubled the amount available to students in the last three years. We have support services to help with school, finance courses in the communities – there is a lot available to you. Come and talk to our career centre and explain what interests you so we can help you reach your goal. IRC is in a transitionary phase right now. The last three years have been incredible for the ISR. In the past three years, we’ve seen the money coming in from government more than double, close to tripling. We accept almost $1,900 per Northern beneficiary in additional programs and services. We are putting more kids through school. We’re building new homes. These are all things we want the community to take part in. If you know how to pick up a hammer and you think that’s for you, come and talk to us and work for us. We only fly people in because we have to. It’s much cheaper to hire someone in Paulatuk than fly someone to Paulatuk. The corporate group wants you and would love to work with you. What we need most at IRC is more young people to enter this career. The finance department is always looking for people. That means today, if there are people interested reading this, they should contact us.
Breathing life into the past INUVIALUIT LIVING HISTORY PROJECT KEEPS ARTIFACTS, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS ALIVE
Without attention, the past is easy to forget. Spawned from an appreciation for the collection of Inuvialuit artifacts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Inuvialuit Living History Project seeks to keep those memories alive with a constant celebration of Inuvialuit history. The Smithsonian’s MacFarlane Collection, named after the Hudson’s Bay trader who assembled the objects, includes thousands of natural history specimens, from birds’ eggs to animal skeletons, plus 300 cultural objects collected from Anderson River Inuvialuit in the 1860s.
This September, the team in charge of the project brought some of those items to Inuvik at East Three School for students and the public to admire and inspect. Elders spent the week with students teaching them about ways of the past and present, from carving fish hooks to telling stories and playing Inuvialuit games. Between sessions, students perused the artifacts and learned about their origins. The gathering included a community feast and drum dancing. In the following pages are photos from the event and words from some of the elders on the importance of keeping Inuvialuit history alive.
Our Inuvialuit history has never been taught in schools before. A lot of people wrote books about the North, but it wasn’t taught in schools. What’s happening now is we’re bringing it into the schools and making students aware of how our ancestors made their living off the land, how they made tools for hunting and clothing from wildlife. It’s important for our young people to know where they came from.
Inuvialuit ingilraan pitqusingit ilisautisuitkait ilisarvingni. Inugiaktut kitulliqa quliaqtualiuqpaktuat makpiraatigun Nunaptigun. Taima aasiin qangma sivvullipta qanuq inuuniarutingat nunami nayuqtaptingni qanurlu sanatilaangit anguniarutait an’nuraaliurutaillu niryutinin. Nukatpiqat ilisimayaksariyaat tajva sivvullipta pitqusiatigun. Inuvialuit pitqusingat akijusimayuq inmingnik
Inuvialuit culture is special because it’s a unique way of life. We live in a harsh environment for most of the year. It’s important for the youth to learn that we survived all those hardships. Some years, we had to travel to different parts of the country to hunt, be nomadic and look for game. We had to keep adjusting to weather conditions and live in harmony with the land, sky and weather. We learned to be resilient facing those hardships. That’s the only way we survived. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be seeing us.
inuusirigamidjung. Nayuqtaqput ilaanni sapirnaqtuq. Nukatpiqat taamna ilisimayaksariyangat tamatkuat sapirnautit apqutigivakkavut. Nikasungituni sunaliqa pitarinaqtuq. Ilaani ukiuni aulavaktuanni sumunliqa nunaptingni sangubluta angunilukluta. Sila malirutpakaqput inuuniarapta nunami. Sapiqsautit tamatkuat inuugapta sungiutivakkavut. Taimannatualuk inuuvaktuanni. Takulaitkaluaraptigut taimani in’ngitkupta.
I’ve been trying to pass on what we do to the young kids. Life has changed so much nowadays. Kids forget their language. They can’t understand it. If they could get back to their language, that would be really good, but it’s so hard. I grew up with the Inuvialuit language. I hope these students can get back to our language. It’s better to teach them when they’re young. I always talk to those kids when they’re going to school and say, “Don’t quit. Keep going until you graduate.” Because when you’ve never been in school before and you don’t know how to read or write, it’s not easy.
Ilisautiniaqpakkatka qanuq iliurutiptigun nukatpiqat. Inuusiqput qangma allangurluaqtuaq. Nukatpiqat uqausiqput puigugaat. Qangiqsilaiqlugu. Nakuuniaraluaqtuq tajva uqalasigumik Inuvialuktun sapirnaraluaqtilugu. Inuvialuktun uqaataqlunga inuguqtuami. Ukuat ilisaqtuat nukatpiqat ilitkumik uqausiptigun iluriniaraluaqtuat. Nutaqat puqiqtut. Nuttaqqat uqautivakkatka ilisaqsimayuat imana: “Daimaaqpangnak. Iniqqaarnagu ilisarniq.” Ilisayuitkuvit taigurnirmik aglangnirmiklu naluniaqtutin, spairnaqtuq.
In today’s world, all the information is online. It’s different from our traditional culture, where everything was orally passed on. We had no written history. If you go online and try to learn about Inuvialuit culture and history, you’re going to get mostly southern perspectives, from an ethnographer or somebody who came north to talk to Inuvialuit. You won’t get Inuvialuit perspective. There are a couple of unique examples, like the I, Nuligak book. It’s important to come to something like this to spark the interest of the youth to go out and ask their grandfather, “Who are you and where do you come from? Who am I and where do I come from?” One of the really important things to Inuvialuit is family, who you are and where you come from. The next important thing is our traditional foods and harvesting. The third
Qangma tajva qaritauyakkun kisian. Allangayuq inuusiptingnin. Pitqusiqtingnin allangayuq. Ingilraan uqautiugaqlugit ilisautivakkavut. Aglayuittugut taimani. Qaritauyakkun ilisarniakiruvit Inuvialuit pitqusiitigun tan’ngit kisian quliaqtuatik tusaaniakkatin. Tan’ngit nunaptingnun qaiyuat uqausiriblugit Inuvialuit pitqusiinnik. Uvaptingnik isumaptingnik tusaalaittut. Ilitchurinaqtuq taiguaq makpiraani “I, Nuligak.” Suqpavialuk tajva uvani katimayuni nukatpiqat ilitqublugit ataatatik apiqsurlugit. “Kinauvit nakin qaivit? Kinauvik nakin qaivik?” Inuvialuit kitut ilatik ilisimayaksariyait. Kituutilaanlu nakinlu qaimavit. Anguniarnirlu niqivialuillu. Pingasuat tajva nunapta niryutait inuuisqpullu suqpauyuq.
important thing is our land, so that we can maintain the traditional foods, harvesting and our lifestyle. The Inuvialuit are unique. Though we have commonalities between us, each community’s unique. We have our own different songs and family histories. The Mackenzie River, a rich hunting and harvesting area, has created a very rich culture. The country, land and water are so rich that it afforded us quite a bit of free time to develop culture, song, dance, stories and pastimes. The technology of using wood was really refined because we had so much good wood. It’s a bit of a lost art. Our ancestors used wood in so many different ways, and we don’t use it today because we’ve got all the modern plastics. It was encouraging to see so many people come out and share our culture.
Inuvialuit inmigun inuusilgit. Inuusiqput innilaani adjigiikapsaktuq. Inmingnik pitqusiruaqtut. Allagiit, atuutait, ilangitallu idjusingit. Kuukpak (Mackenzie River) nuna niryutauyuq quyallitauvialuktuq pitqusiptingnun. Nunalu imarlu quyallitauyuq. Tun’ngavigiyuatun itkikput. Ikayuutauyuq atuutiptigun, mumrutiptigun, unipkaat, quliaqtuat, ulapqiyautillu piuyautit. Qiyuuvailluni ilanga nunakput qanurliqaa qiyuk quyallitauvaktuaq. Qangma aturluadjaikkaqput. Sivvullivut qanurliqa qiyuk atuqpakaqput. Qangma asiin atutjaikaqput nutaat kisian takumayavut qaranaqiblutik. Quvianangayak inugiaktut inuit takumagaptigit uvani katimayuanni.
THREE L E GE ND S ORDER OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Three great contributors to our communities were inducted into the 2018 Order of the Northwest Territories, and all of them have roots in the Beaufort Delta. Lillian Elias, Les Carpenter and Sharon Firth each received the highest honour in the territory, which is now officially recognized by Canada. Les Carpenter became the first recipient of the award posthumously, as he unfortunately passed in summer 2018. The new inductees join the following greats of our territory: George Tuccaro, Bruce Green, Lucy Jackson, Sonny MacDonald, Gino Pin, Ruth Spence, Dr. John B. Zoe, Nellie Cournoyea, Jan Stirling, Anthony W. J. Whitford, Dr. Marie Wilson, Paul Andrew, Fred Carmichael, Russell King, Lynda Koe, Jeff Philipp and Tom Zubko.
VALERIE STEFANSSON, LILLIAN ELIAS AND BERNICE KALINEK.
LILLIAN ELIAS A lifelong interpreter, drum dancer and culture carrier, Lillian Elias is everyone’s favourite grandmother figure in Inuvik. “When I speak my language, when I go out on the land, I see my grandparents with me all the time,” said the elder after being inducted into the Order of the NWT. Besides attending residential school in Aklavik, Lillian lived on the land until she was 13. When she was 16, she started volunteering to interpret for elders who needed help communicating with government officers, doctors or whoever else. Later, she pursued a teaching career.
“My grandparents travel with me wherever I go,” said Lillian. “I think back to see what my grandparents did for me, how they cut the caribou, what they kept from the caribou, what they kept from the whale. That’s why I’m so strong in my language and traditional culture. And I will keep it on until I can’t walk or talk.” Your language and culture give you power, she said. “Today, I feel as if (my grandparents and relatives) are here for me, to get my recognition and my language, because I would never do these things without them.”
LEFT: LES CARPENTER. RIGHT: TRACY CARPENTER, FRANKLIN CARPENTER, MERLE CARPENTER, BRADLEY CARPENTER AND JOCK CARPENTER.
LES CARPENTER He couldn’t be with us to receive it, but legendary broadcaster Les Carpenter became the first person posthumously inducted into the Order of the NWT. Merle Carpenter, his brother, was on hand to receive the honour and speak on Les’s behalf. “That was unexpected,” said Merle. “It’s a very nice honour for him to receive this.” He said Les’s untimely passing this summer shocked the family, but he was very thankful to the Northwest Territories community for nominating his brother for the award. “It’s certainly a special event that makes us proud of his legacy,” said Merle. “We really appreciate it as our family, that his hard work didn’t go unnoticed.”
Les passed at age 61, after becoming famous across the territory for his work broadcasting with CBC in Inuvik, as well as with the Native Northern Broadcasting organization in Whitehorse and his work as CEO of the Native Communications Society of the NWT. He grew up in Sachs Harbour and was also the founding chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. “Les was very dedicated to his heritage, his community and his roots,” said Merle. “He fought tirelessly to hire locals in radio and TV, to take up a career and continue teaching youth about their language. He certainly had a passion for radio and TV work throughout his life and he will be remembered for that.”
TANIA LARSSON, SHARON FIRTH, JUSTINE KLENGENBERG AND MARIE LARSSON.
SHARON FIRTH Four-time Olympic cross-country skier Sharon Firth was the first Indigenous woman inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, along with her twin sister Shirley, who unfortunately passed in 2013.
“I got a call last week in the evening and I was in total shock. Of course I graciously accepted it, because when you receive awards like this, it’s not about you – it’s about the people nominating you.”
Born in Aklavik, of Gwich’in descent, the skier has had a profound impact on youth athletics in the Beaufort Delta and territory as a whole.
She said it’s all about helping Indigenous people along the way. She gave some parting advice to young people.
“Being inducted into the Order of the NWT was a total surprise to me,” said Sharon.
“For youth, there are so many stepping stones and obstacles out there, so just follow your dreams, stay true to yourself and never give up.”
IN TRAINING NURTURING THE NEXT GEN
A four-day rendezvous brought youth from across the North to Inuvik this fall for a levelling-up session in their personal development and bonding. BYTE – Empowering Youth, along with the help of many sponsors, organized the event, which saw youth take part in a wide variety of activities and
hear speeches from elders and other influencers. In the following pages are photos from the group’s retreat to Gwich’in Campground and words from Alyssa Carpenter, a Beaufort Delta native who helped organize the conference, and Ulukhaktok attendee Nadine Kuneluk.
Who Am I? By Nadine Kuneluk ULUKHAKTOK
COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS FOR travelling out of town is something a lot of teens and young adults do, especially if they’re excited. Almost every time I met with the other participants coming from Ulukhaktok – Trent Kuptana and Chantel Kataoyak, with Helena Ekootak as our chaperone – we would say, “X amount of days left until the conference!” That’s when we would realize how close the trip really was. We made plans to go to places, but there was so much to do at the conference that we didn’t notice how little free time we had, which was, in fact, a good thing. We would start each day with breakfast and our choice of sausages, bacon, hash browns, eggs, some fruit and very good company. Each morning I enjoyed breakfast more and more because the people I met would talk about what had happened the day before. The first day of training was mainly getting participants comfortable around the workplace. That day consisted of icebreakers (games we would play to wake up or step out of our comfort zone) to “break the ice.” I’ll admit, I was nervous, but only because
I hadn’t made any new friends in a while. During one of the icebreakers, I met my first new friend, Rhoda. We made each other laugh. I always feel good about myself if I can make someone else laugh and they add onto the joke to make it even funnier. I knew we would become good friends during the conference. Speakers from the National Inuit Youth Council opened the first official day of the conference, giving inspirational speeches about how they grew up and joined the NIYC. During the presentation, I learned that our teen years are probably the most difficult times in our life, because not only are we doing school work, but we’re also trying to socialize and keep up with our family, all while trying to figure ourselves out. That got me wondering, “Who am I?” Throughout the rest of that day, I asked myself that question until I finally answered, “I honestly don’t know,” but I’ll get back to that thought later on. Each day I learned at least one new thing. It was hard to keep things in mind with everything going on around the facilities,
but I managed to keep one in mind, and it happened to be mentioned in almost every presentation: no matter how difficult life might be, there is always someone willing to help you out. What I meant by “I don’t know who I am yet” still bothers me, but I only just turned 18, so I shouldn’t be so worried. To be honest, I felt old, because every other participant was either 17 or under. One thing I think I will always remember from the LiT conference was something Dana Tizya-Tramm said, which was about holding a single candle in a long, dark cave, and the beautiful thing he said was that you have the choice to blow it out. It was a metaphor – the candle was one’s life, and one may blow it out if they want to. What Dana said inspired me. I would like to draw this some day, and maybe with practice I can, just not now. I really enjoyed my trip and I know for anyone who applies for the future conferences they will be just as good as (maybe even better than) the one I attended. Koana, thank you!
Building Communities By Alyssa Carpenter WHITEHORSE
LAST MARCH, WE HAD SIX YOUTH FROM Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk join us for our Leaders-in-Training Conference in Haines Junction, YT. After the conference, these youth expressed wanting to have the event in their own region. From there, the idea for this youth conference was born! And that is what BYTE is all about: hearing ideas of youth in the North and helping young people to make them a reality. Our organization was excited and honoured to be coordinating the first-ever LiT conference in the region. Our BYTE team covered topics of healthy minds, safer partying and leadership through workshops in collaboration with TakingITGlobal representatives. We had workshops on art expression with Nigit’stil Norbert, a jam session at the Western Arctic School of Music with Louie Goose, a photography session with Weronika Murray, a beading workshop with Erica Joan, a presentation with Youth Of The Peelguest Dana Tizya-Tramm, a presentation from #SpeakGwichinToMe with Crystal Fraser and Jacey Firth-Hagen, and a land-based discussion focused on
culture, identity, language and resilience with special guests Lillian Elias, Shirley Kisoun, Sarah Jerome, Jordan Peterson , Peter Greenland and Mary Binky Andersen, the acting president of the National Inuit Youth Council. It is a true honour to see this conference come to life in my home community. This is the type of work I am incredibly passionate about – giving youth the space, opportunity and support to believe they are capable of anything and to share their voice. We had youth from Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Aklavik, Paulatuk, Ulukhaktok, Colville Lake, Dawson City, Haines Junction and Whitehorse. So many laughs, stories and relationships were formed – it was beautiful to watch from the background. A lot of work, love, time and energy went into this event. It started with an idea and small conversations with other youth back in March and within seven months, it become a huge regional event. All youth deserve opportunities to engage, collaborate,
network and build relationships and connections with one another. It is important to know our neighbouring communities, build allyship with one another and work together to address the social realities we see in our communities, such as substance use, suicide and violence. Quyanainni to the elders, guests, friends, family and allies who made this possible. I feel fulfilled, grateful and empowered. I hope others do, too. We could not have done this without our connections to youth in the region, as well as our elders, guest speakers and community champions, and without the generous support of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, Municipal and Community Affairs NWT Youth Corps Funding, TakingITGlobal, Project Jewel, Aklak Air, Inuvialuit Communications Society, Mackenzie Hotel, Town of Inuvik, East Three Secondary School, Tides Canada, North Wright Air, Stanton Group Ltd. and Northwind Industries Ltd. We hope to visit the region again soon!
to costa rica and beyond WORDS BY TOPSY BANKSLAND PHOTOS BY SHAWN JOHNSTON
THIS SUMMER, I DECIDED TO APPLY FOR THE NORTHERN Youth Abroad International Program for a trip to Costa Rica. It was filled with activities, immersing me into Costa Rican culture and allowing me to travel the country. I experienced it with four other Northern youth and two group leaders. We became close friends because of this trip. The trip was split into three sections. First, we stayed at United World College campus in Santa Ana, close to San José, and volunteered with several organizations, such as Boy With A Ball and Lifting Hands. These volunteer activities included labour, like painting walls for the Lifting Hands building, and doing fun activities with the children. In between volunteering, we toured the city and visited sites. One of my favourite parts was visiting the Irazú Volcano. It was a few hours’ drive and once you get up there, you’re up in the clouds and you finally escape the heat. The view was surreal; it feels like you’re inside of a scenic painting. The second part of the journey was with an organization called Outward Bound. This was the most physically demanding, amazing and motivating part of not only the trip, but also my life. This is where we completed a five-day trek through the Costa Rican mountains and forests. We would wake up right before daylight hit and trek to our next homestay, each one
a wonderful traditional Costa Rican home. Our hosts would prepare us the best food and they were the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. One of our routines that I greatly miss is called “cafecito time,” when we would all hang out together and have a cup of traditionally made coffee and a quick bite. This was perfect after a full day of hiking. By the end of this trip we felt improvement in our physicality, refreshed after being away from technology and learned so much about Costa Rican culture. Our last stop was Cirenas, a remarkable organization that focuses on turtle conservation and sustainable living. This was like staying at an ecolodge. It is a beautiful place and just a short walk to the beach, where we learned to surf and saw families of howler monkeys along the way. The most memorable part of the trip was that Kat and I decided to go looking for turtles one starry night. We ended up seeing justhatched baby turtles crawl their way into the ocean. It was honestly the most magical thing I’ve ever seen. After this trip with incredible people, I went on to go study linguistics, a language and speech science degree at the University of Saskatchewan. I became inspired to keep travelling whenever possible and continue learning, as there is so much to appreciate and experience.
AND LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF
IN THE LAST ISSUE, I SHARED SOME
WORDS BY DENNIS ALLEN
history on why I think we have so many problems in the North. Though we’ve made great strides, we’re still riddled with social problems, which will take time and effort to overcome. My story and observations are my contribution to that effort. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve lived that life and I know my own truth. I hope you can find the strength to face your own truth as well. To me, it is the key to true happiness.
I left off my last writing saying that I had to find a power greater than myself to help me recover from the life I’d been living. I had tried to live life on my own self-will, using my own ideas and relying on no one but myself. But the truth was that I was scared. I didn’t trust anyone. I was so afraid that people would find out that I was scared, what others thought of me, that I was going to show them how smart I was. I was strong enough to do this on my own. So I sucked it up and went at it alone. But all I got was lonelier and angrier.
Sacrifice is a funny word, because it implies that I have to give up something, something that I liked and wanted, something I needed. In reality, I didn’t need those people, places, things and ideas: I wanted them. They either allowed me to continue in my addiction, or they were my addiction. And the truth is, when I did give up those people, places, things and ideas, I was able to stop the cycle and begin the recovery. But recovery is a lonely place. I didn’t trust anyone, nor did I think anyone really understood me. I was that unique, of the nearly seven billion other human souls on this planet. I was so unique that no one could or would understand me. I was that special. But the truth was, I was scared. No one had “SACRIFICE IS A FUNNY ever shown me how to have faith. When you WORD, BECAUSE IT grow up with alcohol IMPLIES THAT I HAVE TO and anger, there is no GIVE UP SOMETHING.” room for faith. I was lonely because I knew everything; no one could tell me anything. People get tired of trying to help you so they abandon you and carry on with their own lives. People have better things to do than take care of me. And because no one wanted to baby me, I resented them. That resentment was just another click in the insane cycle of addiction. Though I’d quit drinking, I found other addictions. You can get addicted to anything – gambling, drugs, sex, food, control, rage, to name but a few. I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I’d feel guilt and shame. Actually, I’d swim in it. They gave me some sort of sick satisfaction. Then I would look back and regret what I’d done, which would lead to anger and self-loathing. And so to get relief from that toxic vomit of emotions, I would go back to using my addiction. It was jump in the river, wring, rinse, dry, jump in the river and repeat. It was insane. When I’d finally had enough and wanted sobriety bad enough, I had to be willing to make changes in my thinking, because it was my thinking that got me started. It usually started with one of those great emotions I mentioned earlier – self-pity, anger, etc. And it started with giving up certain people, places, things and ideas. I had to make a sacrifice.
I had no idea what faith was. I thought I had it. I tried to convince myself I had it, but when fear is stronger than faith, then you don’t have it. And I didn’t. I had to start
asking what faith meant. It started with learning how to have a conversation with another person. I had to put my trust in that person. I didn’t know how to do it, so I did it one little step at a time. It started with me asking a guy to help me out. I’d met a guy who had overcome all the problems that I was going through. He was a problem drinker like me, he was a gambler like me, he was a control freak like me, he was scared like me. He was me in another body. But the difference was that he’d found another way to live. And it started with having faith. Faith is a belief that everything is going to be all right. It starts with a belief, and I was not a believer. As a kid, I was told one thing but shown another. Even though we had a good life compared to a lot of other kids, we were still hurt. And hurt, no matter what colour or what flavour it comes in, is still hurt. When you are a child, hurt goes to the bone and stays with you. My belief system was constructed as a child. When I was told one thing, then shown another, I did not know what to believe. My little brain became confused about what to
believe. So I just quit believing. No matter what anyone said after that, I would not believe. I only believed what I wanted after that, which was that I had to do things on my own. That was the beginning of my self-will run riot. Because when you leave life-changing decisions to a child, then that child will fail, because he simply does not have the wisdom or foresight to make good choices. What I needed to believe was that I was worth love, security and attention, things essential to a healthy selfesteem. For whatever reason, I was not given that as a child. As much as my parents tried, they simply could not give it to me. I’m not going to pretend or protect them, because that does no justice to anyone. But what they did give me were the tools to figure things out. And that’s what I am doing now, figuring things out. Faith too is a funny thing, because all you need is just a little and then it grows from there like a seed. But I had to keep watering it, tending to it, cleaning it and paying attention to it, like a flower. How I did that was to create a relationship with this man who’d gone before me. I had to nurture our relationship. But instead of water, I had to use honesty. I had to be honest, for the first time in my life, with another human being. Up until that point, I had never been honest with others, let alone myself. I simply did not know how. I had damaged my spirit so badly that honesty was off the table, and it became a matter of survival.
anyone but myself. And of myself, I was nothing. I had to find a higher power. I had to find God. The only God I knew was the God of the Bible. And I’d made up my mind a long time ago that the God of the Bible was a hypocrite, because he’d never helped me out a day in my life. If he was so great and so powerful, where was he when I was in pain? Where was he when I was hanging onto my life by a thread, alone, scared and confused? The truth was, he was there the whole time, but I simply did not acknowledge him. I was using my childish notion that God was like a credit card, that he would give me anything I wanted, when I wanted it. But he didn’t, so I abandoned him.
When a kid does something wrong, he will automatically lie about it, but if he was raised right, he will eventually confess to it. But with me, when I told a lie, I believed it, and I hung onto it. Eventually, I became the lie. So when I met this man, my mentor, I had to start telling the truth. And the truth hurt. All those years of doing things of my own free will had piled up into a logjam of resentment, anger, rage and loneliness. He showed me how to pull that pile apart, one log at a time. I would trust him, take one log out, then get scared and put that log back. I did that over and over and over, until one day, I saw the insanity of it. I was going nowhere. I was stuck. I was the biggest log in that pile. When I finally hurt enough to tell him that I was lying to him all along, then we were able to get the biggest log out of the way: me. But I could not simply lean on this man for everything, because he is only human, and he has all the faults of any human. He told me, too. He said there are going to be some days when he won’t be around, or he might be going through his own problems and he won’t have any time for mine. So I had to find something I could depend on, 100 per cent, something that was going to be with me, at any time, through thick and thin, good and bad. And like I said before, I’d never relied on
I did not know that God was a power inside me. I did not know that I had the capacity to summon that power at any given time through prayer. I did not know that that power, that… God, could give me courage and strength to face anything in life. I did not know that God could teach me how to do the one thing I’d avoided my whole life, which was love. I did not love myself. And if I did not love myself, then obviously I could not love others.
The one thing I feared most in my life was this love. I felt so rotten inside that I simply did not believe that I was worthy of love. When in fact, love is the very essence of life. Love is the greatest motivator of life. Love drives people to do good. Love drives people to care for one another. Love is life. When you are afraid of love, then you have death. And that’s what I was, death in the flesh. I had to learn how to love myself. And that started with stopping killing myself with my addictions. When I look at some of the happiest people in my life – my aunty Emma and nanung Sarah (God rest her soul) – they had one thing in common: they believed in God. They not only believed in God, but they did his work. Because to receive love, you have to give it away. And that’s what they did. They gave love, unconditionally, to anyone and everyone, no matter what. And what they received was love and adoration. The more they received, the more they gave it away. They were there for every celebration, every achievement and every tragedy. They were at every funeral they could go to. They were at every dance, every feast. They were love. I’m just using them as an example. I’m sure you have your own. That’s what God is, that simple: love. It doesn’t have to be some off‑the‑wall, off-in-space kind of thing that you can’t figure out. It’s “LOVE IS THE GREATEST that simple. But to me, I had to make MOTIVATOR OF LIFE. it complicated, beLOVE DRIVES PEOPLE TO cause “I was a comDO GOOD. LOVE DRIVES plicated guy.” I was special. In fact, I was PEOPLE TO CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. LOVE IS LIFE.” too scared to love. Actually, I had become too selfish to love. My addiction demanded every living breath in my body. I had no room for anyone else but me. Let me tell you a story about being special. When you never feel like you are enough, that you just don’t measure up, then you start doing things to make up for it. There was this guy who used to walk around town, boasting about this and that, showing off his money, swinging his arms around for everyone to see, surrounding himself with weak people who depended on him and told him how good he was. When you didn’t pay attention to him, he got mad. He was walking past this old man who was sitting on a bench smoking his pipe and enjoying his own company.
This guy walked past and the old man didn’t even matchstick. The guy was furious. So he started jumping flinch, which upset the guy, ‘cause he was so special, he up and down like a little kid yelling, “I’m special, I’m expected everyone to notice him. So he turned around special.” and pretended to leave something There was a rosehip bush just beside the in his big truck, hoping that old man “WHEN YOU NEVER FEEL old man. He plucked a rosehip from the would notice him or his truck, but he LIKE YOU ARE ENOUGH, bush, ripped it open and took out a seed. didn’t. He got so mad that he walked THAT YOU JUST DON’T The guy, his face flush with anger, sweat a few steps past that old man, turned dripping from his forehead, watched in MEASURE UP, THEN YOU horror as this old man ignored him and around and glared at him. START DOING THINGS took out this seed. “How dare he not notice me,” he said TO MAKE UP FOR IT.” in his mind. He stormed up to that The old man turned to the guy and said, old man and said, “Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you “Open your hand.” know how special I am?” The guy, who was breathing hard and shaking, opened That old man just smiled and stoked his pipe with a his hand.
The old man put the seed in his hand and asked him, “Can you make another rosehip, on your own, of yourself? By just holding it in your hand?”
The guy’s bottom lip hit the ground. He just got flat out punked. “That’s how special you are.”
The guy became confused. “What?” he asked, his bottom lip trembling now. “Can you make this seed grow on your own?” The guy threw down the seed and screamed at the top of his lungs.
I think that the moral of this story is this: If you ever feel like a piece of crap, you’re probably not that good. You see, even a piece of crap has more power than us. We blow ourselves up so much that we can’t even see the obvious, that we are just one little speck in this universe, and the world does not revolve around us. We are not God.
“Of course I can’t, you idiot.” The old man looked at him and said matter-of-factly, “But if I put it in a pile of dog crap… it would.”
I wish you peace and happiness – and maybe a little dog crap – to keep you down to size.
Inuvialuit people survived Strong will and mind. Homes and hearts Warmer than cold winters. Faces of fearlessness Smiles full with thankfulness. As we Inuvialuit survive With our strong will and mind.
A POEM BY
Celebrating 50 Years of Educating Northerners For 50 years, Aurora College and its predecessors have delivered programs and courses across the NWT designed specifically for Northerners, often in response to and in partnership with local and regional organizations. We are proud of the evolution and growth of many of our programs, which are regularly updated and adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of our North. New Aurora Campus Grand Opening
Old Aurora Campus building
Arts & Culture
Traditional Arts and Crafts are a cornerstone of Indigenous life and cultures; this is especially true in the Beaufort Delta. In recognition of the significance of the arts to Inuvialuit and Gwichâ€™in peoples, Aurora Campus in Inuvik has offered a succession of arts programs, including Jewelry & Metalwork Certificate, Native Artisans Certificate, Traditional Arts Certificate, and our newest â€“ Merging Arts and Crafts with Manufacturing and Technology.
Jewelry & Metalwork Certificate, 2001
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LETTER FROM THE MANAGER:
SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW
Everyone has something to offer. Regardless of education, physical ability or any other factor, everyone you know has something of merit and it’s important to remember that. It took me a long time to figure that out. For a long time, I valued people for what I thought they were worth to me. Whether you’re an elder or youth or somewhere in between (me), I believe now that everyone can contribute something to their community and to the Arctic. Personally, I enjoy making short films and shooting video with my friends and family. My work is nowhere near a professional level of production values, but I have a lot of fun making people laugh or creeping them out. That is what I mean when I say share what you know. I have been working to instill that knowledge in those around me. My friends are all learning skills to work in a film crew, my daughter and I have been working on our acting skills and she even wrote and directed a short horror film last year! (She was featured in an earlier issue of Tusaayaksat for that). We started the Inuvik Video Squad, which is a film club that teaches skills to students in town.
The Inuvialuit Communications Society travelled to Tuktoyaktuk to host a video workshop and we made a pretty cool little comedy short with our participants. I try to pass on anything I have of use to others, from my vast knowledge of video games and pro wrestling, to more practical skills like cooking and video editing. I really don’t possess many practical skills like on-the-land knowledge or hunting, but I am eager to learn! That is why I am engaging as many people in my community as I can, and learning as much as I can from them in the hopes they are passing on the same to others. If we all help each other get by, the world becomes a better place. In this issue I read so many accounts of personal achievement and celebration. Yes, there are adversities and challenges to overcome, but we all face them. It is about sharing your experiences to possibly help someone else. An old friend of mine is sharing his experiences with mental illness on social media, and it is being met with a great response from his peers. By him telling others about the issues he has and how he is facing them head on, he is inspiring so many others to pick up the same motivation. It is contagious once you start spreading
knowledge. Elders teach kids how to sew or hunt, kids teach their friends the same learned skills and the cycle continues. It is when we stop communicating with each other and shut others out that we lose the gifts we have. Don’t be silent. Share your gift with those around you. Who knows, we might be working on a film together one day! I’m going to be me, so you be you, too.
Dez Loreen Manager, Inuvialuit Communications Society
Celebrating 50 Years
Aurora Campus Programs 2019-2020
• Business Administration Certificate/Diploma • Office Administration Certificate/Diploma • Occupations and College Access Apprenticeship Programs Bachelor of Science in Nursing Building Trades Helper Camp Cook Certificate In Adult Education
• University and College Access • Adult Literacy & Basic Education (upgrading) • Continuing Education courses & seminars
Early Childhood Development Certificate Environment and Natural Resources Technology Diploma Heavy Equipment Operator Introduction to the Mining Industry
Northern Leadership Development Personal Support Worker Certificate Post Graduate Certificate in Remote Nursing Surface Miner Underground Miner Training
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What is Tusaayaksat? Tusaayaksat is published by the Inuvialuit Communications Society from the Western Arctic of Canada. Tusaayaksat means “stories and voices that need to be heard.” We celebrate the Inuvialuit people, culture and heritage and bring readers the best coverage of our news, vibrant culture and perspectives. Why subscribe? Published quarterly, Tusaayaksat is an essential resource and forum for Inuvialuit views, culture, history and current events in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. For Inuvialuit, Tusaayaksat is like a letter from home, whether it be Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour, Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik or Inuvik. Support our mission: To empower, celebrate, communicate, heal and bond – and stay connected with a yearly (or more) subscription today!
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