National Inuit org honours Inuit and Inuit allies
Precious archival materials from 1930s-era residential school returned to the Inuvialuit
Canada’s national Inuit organization handed out six awards to individuals and organizations with connections to the Inuvialuit region at an event held in Inuvik on Tuesday night to kick off this year’s annual general meeting of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
ITK presents such awards annually, choosing people from the region in which the organization holds its annual general meeting that year, ITK said in a release.
This time, it’s the turn of the Inuvialuit region, which hosted the AGM in Inuvik from Aug. 14 to Aug. 16.
The awards, announced Aug. 14 at an evening feast inside Inuvik’s Ingamo Hall, are:
• ITK Advancement of Culture and Language Award: to the Aklavik Drummers and Dancers, for their work in revitalizing the tradition of drum dancing and passing it on to Inuvialuit youth.
• ITK Community Volunteer Award: to Peggy Day of Inuvik, for her work with the Inuvik Homeless Shelter, which serves Inuvik and surrounding Beaufort-Delta communities.
• ITK Community Volunteer Award: to Melissa Rogers, for her work with the Inuvik Emergency Warming Centre, an emergency night-time shelter that provides a warm place to sleep and two nutritious meals daily to the homeless.
• ITK Advancement of Youth Award: to Underwood Day, 17, of Inuvik who has practiced Arctic sports for about six years is motivated by “his love of the game and sharing the Inuvialuit culture.”
• ITK Advancement of Elders Award: to Fred Bennett, a retired community justice coordinator in Paulatuk. He’s known for developing on-the-land programs and his passion for community development.
Another ITK award, the Inuit Cultural Repatriation Award, is shared by the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, the Anglican Church General Synod Archives and Dr. Val Marie Johnson of Saint Mary’s University.
It’s for repatriating copies of priceless archival materials from St. John’s Eskimo Residential School, which was located at Shingle Point, Yukon in the 1930s, ITK said in its news release.
Since 2017, Johnson has worked with the Inuvialuit cultural centre and the Anglican church to bring those materials to Inuvik.
They include photos, artwork, student letters, and language materials collected by Anglican missionaries and until recently, held at the Anglican Church Archives in Toronto.
Shingle Point is an Inuvialuit whaling and fishing site that is now part of the Inuvialuit settlement area.
The Anglican church opened St. John’s school in 1929, when it received 14 students, and it reached its enrolment peak in 1934, when it received 44 students from the Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik areas.
St. John’s closed in 1936, after the Anglicans opened a new residential school in Aklavik, ITK said.
ITK’s annual meeting continued through Wednesday morning, with reports from ITK officials, ITK’s four member organizations, as well as from two ex-officio member organizations, Pauktuutit and the National Inuit Youth Council.
In the afternoon, delegates discussed the issue of children and care and the development of federal legislation to create an Inuit-specific equivalent to Jordan’s Principle, a First Nations concept that requires that all First Nations children receive equitable access to government services.
On Thursday, ITK’s 13 voting delegates re-elected Natan Obed as their president. Obed ran against Peter Ittinuar and Peter Williamson.