Thanks to the hard work of our employees and the collaboration of our many partners, we have successfully implemented many different programs, ranging from the training of Crees for skilled jobs with Hydro-Quebec (over 50 Crees now occupy permanent positions), the rejuvenation of Cree community and family fisheries, the support of numerous cultural activities including summer gatherings and the enhancement of goose hunting facilities. This is not to mention the hundreds of kilometres of snowmobile and ATV trails already built throughout Eeyou Istchee.
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An apology is nothing without change
By Steve Bonspiel
Special to the Nation
The Canadian government apologized a couple of weeks ago to 87 Inuits who were relocated 1200 kilometres away from home to the High Arctic against their will.
Community members of Inukjuak, Quebec, were moved to Grise Fiord and Resolute, in what is now Nunavut, in 1953 and 1956.
Another three families from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, were also moved north to help the families adjust.
Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan issued a formal apology August 18 saying that Ottawa regrets the “mistakes and broken promises”.
"They were promised they were going to a more abundant place,” Duncan said. “They were promised that they would remain in one community, that they could leave and return to their home communities after two years if they were unhappy.”
All of those promises were subsequently broken.
Surprise, surprise! Ottawa had to issue yet another in a long line of apologies for things which should never have been done.
The biggest was the apology for sending our people to residential schools. It was somewhat meaningful to survivors and helped many of them to move on with their lives, in a certain way.
The horrible abuse suffered and the childhoods stolen still haunt us today and although an apology did not make everything better, it gave some people solace and a chance to reconcile some painful issues.
It is important to take these apologies at face value and bring out of it whatever is needed to move on, but it is equally important to remember what happened and for the government to learn from its mistakes.
Snatching Inuit from their community by force and relocating them against their will is wrong no matter how you look at it. The government said it was done to pump up sparsely populated northern towns. That’s not good enough.
If the media was as strong back then as it is today, the government would never have attempted the move for fear of images of crying, displaced Inuit transmitting directly into your living room, mere hours after the move.
Sadly, the government always needs a system of checks and balances to keep it in on the up-and-up. Left to its own devices, any government would be guilty of many acts that they would deem necessary, but which would not be considered kosher by almost anyone else.
The end result for the 87 Inuit is a detached feeling from their communities, from their culture and their very being.
The immediate and extended families of those who were moved against their will were also affected negatively, adding hundreds to the original count.
The fear that came with suddenly being plopped down into a new environment, no matter how familiar it may have been to them, is enough to make anyone sickened by those actions.
It is hard to imagine something like this happening now, but back then the subjugation and mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples was commonplace.
Fast forward to today and the Inuit still get the short end of the stick from Ottawa.
Forced to pay tax to a foreign government on their own lands, the Inuit are still lucky enough to have much of their original territory, but there are reasons why others were not interested in it as a place to live.
Settlers and the newly formed country called Canada were simply not interested in taking over land so barren and cold; instead they concentrated on southern Native nations, decimating many populations while killing off many others.
Learning from history and correcting blatant government errors is important in a progressive society, but there is still a lot of work to be done before our nations are seen as equal to the Crown.
This apology seems to be good on the surface, but you have to ask: What is Ottawa really up to?