What is called by some “one of the most shameful events in Canadian history” was in the news this past week.
Apparently, in 1953, Canada relocated some 87 families, 250 Inuit people, to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord into cruel conditions in the High Arctic in an attempt to establish Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic.
In a very recent article, Paul Watson, the Toronto Star’s Arctic correspondent, lamented how the Inuit were used as “human flagpoles.”
Another writer agrees that Canada’s Arctic sovereignty was an issue, but points out that another motive for relocating the Inuit was economic. They were from the Ungava region around Hudson Bay, where it was felt there were too many people to sustain the hunting of caribou, moose, etc. Ottawa “experts” who dreamed up the relocation were apparently unaware that all Inuit are not the same. Ungava Inuit had no experience in the High Arctic of muskox, walrus and whales. Grise Fiord’s environment was maritime, and the new arrivals had no skill in harpooning Beluga whales.
The federal government put aside $10 million to atone for the relocation. It was ostensibly voluntary but was based on lies about a land of plenty and the promise they could return home if they did not like Grise Fiord.