What I Remember, What I Know : The Life of a High Arctic Exile
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Larry Audlaluk was born in Uugaqsiuvik, a traditional settlement west of Inujjuak in northern Quebec, or Nunavik. He was almost three years old when his family was chosen by the government to be one of seven Inuit families relocated from Nunavik to the High Arctic in the early 1950s.They were promised a land of plenty. They were given an inhospitable polar desert.
Larry tells of loss, illness, and his family’s struggle to survive, juxtaposed with excerpts from official reports that conveyed the relocatees’ plight as a successful experiment. With refreshing candour and an unbreakable sense of humour, Larry leads the reader through his life as a High Arctic Exile—through broken promises, a decades-long fight to return home, and a life between two worlds as southern culture begins to encroach on Inuit traditions.



Publié par
Date de parution 21 avril 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781772273823
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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What I Remember, What I Know
Published by Inhabit Media Inc.
Inhabit Media Inc. (Iqaluit) P.O. Box 11125, Iqaluit, Nunavut, X0A 1H0
(Toronto) 191 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 310, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 1K1
Design and layout copyright 2020 Inhabit Media Inc.
Text copyright 2020 Larry Audlaluk
Photos copyright as indicated in credit lines
Editors: Neil Christopher and Grace Shaw
Art Director: Danny Christopher
All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrievable system, without written consent of the publisher, is an infringement of copyright law.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program.
This project was made possible in part by the government of Canada.
Printed in Canada
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Title: What I remember, what I know / Larry Audlaluk.
Names: Audlaluk, Larry, 1950- author.
Identifiers: Canadiana 20200244558 | ISBN 9781772272376 (softcover)
Subjects: LCSH: Audlaluk, Larry, 1950- | LCSH: Forced migration-Qu bec
| LCSH: Inuit-Biography. | LCSH: Inuit-Social life and customs. | LCSH: Canada, Northern-Social
conditions. | CSH: Native peoples-Canada-Government relations. | LCGFT: Autobiographies.
Classification: LCC E99.E7 A93 2020 | DDC 971.9004/971200904-dc23
What I Remember, What I Know
The Life of a High Arctic Exile
Larry Audlaluk
Inhabit Media Inc.
Baffin Island
Ellesmere and Devon Islands
For my mother, who could not forget the broken promises .
For my uncle Philipoosie, who taught me how to survive in a harsh, unforgiving world .
For my brothers Elijah and Samwillie and my sister Anna, who gave me a sense of belonging and protection when it was scary during the early years .
For my sister Minnie and cousin Elisapee, who kept me company when I had nobody else .
And for my wife and children, who have supported me throughout this healing process .
- Larry Audlaluk
Publisher s Note
In 1953, seven Inuit families from Inujjuak in Nunavik, or Northern Quebec, were relocated by the Canadian government to Ellesmere Island. Larry Audaluk was almost three years old at the time. The experience had an irreversible impact on his young life, but neither he nor his family knew much about what had motivated their displacement. Over the course of his adult life, Larry began to discover the reasons behind their exile to the High Arctic. Through dedicated research, interviews, and lobbying efforts, Larry has acquired knowledge that has given clarity to not only his own personal memories but to the collective memory of the Inujjuarmiut , the people of Inujjuak. Much of this knowledge was gleaned by combing through old RCMP and Eastern Arctic Patrol reports, memos, telegrams, minutes of meetings held by the Special Committee on Eskimo Affairs, and delving into related materials by other researchers.
Larry has included excerpts and quotations from many of these documents, often to highlight the discrepancies between the official version of the story and what the Inujjuarmiut really lived through. As this is a memoir, not a history book, we have opted to forego the use of footnotes or endnotes to prevent disrupting the flow of Larry s narrative. There is, however, a comprehensive bibliography included in the back that lists all sources that the text pulls from, whether in the form of direct quotations or reference materials.
It should also be noted that the knowledge aspect of this memoir includes traditional Inuit knowledge that has been passed down over the course of generations, as well as family history.
Many stories have been written about how Inuit families were relocated to the High Arctic. Two explanations are often given when the story is told. The one written most about is economic opportunity. The other is sovereignty. The writers are always careful to use the word claims when they re talking about sovereignty, as if to suggest what we say is not true. The story is long, complicated, and documented by various groups, besides the official records. The history behind our relocation dates back over one hundred years. It is too complex to cover in its entirety, but there are some things you should know.
* * *
Inughuit from the Thule region of Greenland hunted on Ellesmere Island and the rest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands for many years without issue. When concern arose that the muskox was facing extinction, the Canadian government requested that the Danish government prevent Inughuit from hunting them on Ellesmere Island. In 1919, the Danish government deferred to Knud Rasmussen, a Danish-Greenlandic anthropologist and explorer who had established a trading post at Thule in 1910. Rasmussen s reply included this: As everyone knows, the land of the Polar Eskimo falls under what is called No Man s Land , there is, therefore, no authority in this country except that which I myself am able to exert through the Trading Station.
Prior to this, our own government hadn t been interested in what was going on north of seventy-five degrees latitude. It was unclear whether Indigenous hunting rights were affected by Canada s sovereignty claims, but in 1919, following Rasmussen s response, the Canadian government suddenly took notice and started to assert sovereignty in the area.
Whether on purpose or not, Rasmussen s letter had started wheels in motion. In 1922, RCMP detachments were opened at Pond Inlet and Craig Harbour. Further posts were established between 1923 and 1927 at Pangnirtung, Dundas Harbour, Bache Peninsula, and Lake Harbour (now known as Kimmirut). With the buildings up, the Canadian government was able to, for the very first time in the history of the High Arctic, truly lay claim to Ellesmere Island and the surrounding area.
This didn t affect Inuit in Inujjuak at first, but changes were coming. In 1946, it was learned that the United States was planning the construction of weather stations in the High Arctic, with the intention of using the information collected in defence against a possible Soviet attack. The detachment at Craig Harbour, which had closed in the mid-1930s, was reopened in 1951 after the start of the Cold War. However, Inughuit hunters were still active in the area, and with American presence expected to increase, there was concern that further action was needed. That further action, as it turned out, did affect us. A 1952 Eastern Arctic Patrol report suggested that The occupation of the island by Canadian Eskimos will remove any excuse Greenlanders may presently have for crossing over and hunting there. This idea, supported by RCMP Inspector Henry Larsen, would come to be a reality.
Inuk Special Constable Lazarus Kayak was transferred to Craig Harbour at the reopening of the post. His wife, Lydia, said that she and her husband were told Inuit from Northern Quebec were being moved to Craig Harbour, which was part of the reason they were there. But it wasn t until October 1952, less than a year before we were relocated, that the first meeting of the Special Committee on Eskimo Affairs was held in Ottawa. This meeting included members of the Department of Resources and Development, the Department of National Health and Welfare, the RCMP, the Hudson s Bay Company, and even clergy members, including Reverend Marsh, Bishop of the Arctic. According to the minutes of this meeting, consideration was given to the possibility of assisting natives to move from over-populated areas to places where they could more readily obtain a living, including Craig Harbour on Ellesmere Island.
The 1952 Eastern Arctic Patrol report claimed that game in the Craig Harbour area was plentiful. Inujjuak, on the other hand, had been identified as one of the areas with the highest government relief payments issued annually and had been deemed overpopulated. Officials were concerned with Inuit dependency on handouts in Inujjuak, and a 1952 RCMP report states that The subsidization is not excessive when the benefits are considered but the dependency of the native on government handouts is an undesirable feature which should be considered. Seeking to rehabilitate Inuit, moving them from Inujjuak to a less populated area, meant that, as one constable put it, the Eskimo could follow the native way of life and become less dependent on the white man.
I should note that those of us who were relocated were not made aware of any of this information. In fact, the architects of the plan were very careful to keep everything vague and difficult to figure out. We did not even know anything about it until two months before the move. The reasons we were given for the relocation-that we were to be given a better opportunity, that it would be a land of plenty -were based on nothing but speculation. The Department of Resources and Development even admitted that no wildlife resource studies had been conducted before we were moved. The Department has been criticized for the poor planning of the relocation, but I believe the execution of the move went exactly according to plan. They did not intend for us to be given any help whatsoever.
The Director of Northern Administration described the relocation as A pioneer experiment to determine if Eskimos can be induced to live on the northern islands. A member of the Department of Resources and Development stated that the Canadian government was anxious to have Canadians occupying as much of the north as possible and it appeared that in many cases the Eskimo were the only people capable of doing this.

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