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THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska

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Author Topic: THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska  (Read 7594 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2009, 06:44:04 pm »









World War II and the Cold War made Arctic Canada strategically important for the first time and, thanks to the development of modern aircraft, accessible year-round. The construction of air bases and the Distant Early Warning Line in the 1940s and 50s brought more intensive contacts with European society, particularly in the form of public education, which instilled and enforced foreign values disdainful of the traditional structure of Inuit society.

In the 1950s the High Arctic relocation was undertaken by the Government of Canada for several reasons. These reasons were to include protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic, alleviating hunger (as the area currently occupied had been over-hunted), and attempting to solve the "Eskimo problem", meaning the assimilation and end of the Inuit culture. One of the more notable relocations was undertaken in 1953, when 17 families were moved from Port Harrison (now Inukjuak, Quebec) to Resolute and Grise Fiord. They were dropped off in early September when winter had already arrived. The land they were sent to was very different from that in the Inukjuak area; it was barren, with only a couple of months above freezing and several months of polar night. They were told by the RCMP they would be able to return within two years if conditions were not right. However, two years later more families were relocated to the High Arctic and it was to be thirty years before they were able to visit Inukjuak.

By 1953, Canada's prime minister Louis St. Laurent publicly admitted, "Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost continuing absence of mind."  The government began to establish about forty permanent administrative centres to provide education, health and economic development services for Inuit.  Inuit from hundreds of smaller camps scattered across the north, began to congregate in these hamlets.

Furthermore, regular visits from doctors and access to modern medical care raised the birth rate and decreased the death rate, causing an enormous natural increase (see Demographic transition). Before long, the Inuit population was beyond what hunting and fishing could support, i.e. the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. By the mid-1960s, encouraged first by missionaries, then by the prospect of paid jobs and government services, and finally forced by hunger and required by police, all Canadian Inuit lived year-round in permanent settlements. The nomadic migrations that were the central feature of Arctic life had for the most part disappeared. The Inuit, a once self-sufficient people in an extremely harsh environment, were in the span of perhaps two generations transformed into a small, impoverished minority lacking skills or resources to sell to the larger economy, but increasingly dependent on it for survival.

Although anthropologists like Diamond Jenness (1964) were quick to predict that Inuit culture was facing extinction, Inuit political activism was already emerging.
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