Apology to Qikiqtani Inuit leaves QIA president filled with hope
Qikiqtani Truth Commission’s long years of work bring a big result
On the eve of the Government of Canada’s formal apology today, Aug. 14, for its traumatizing mistreatment of Qikiqtani Inuit between 1950 and 1975, the president of the region’s representative organization said he’s filled with hope that the future will bring a new relationship between Canada and the Inuit of the Baffin region.
“It gives me so much hope. I’m really holding on to that hope and wanting to continue with the work we’re doing now,” P.J. Akeeagok, the president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, told Nunatsiaq News in an interview, done on Aug. 13, one day prior to the embargoed announcement.
Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, delivered the apology this afternoon in Iqaluit, along with announcements of $20 million in financial commitments aimed at helping the Inuit of the Qikiqtani region start the process of healing from the traumas of the modern-day colonial period.
Those include coercive relocations, the abusive treatment of Inuit children in federal day schools and residential schools, inadequate housing in the new settlements that people were forced into, and the widespread killing of Inuit dogs.
“These were not just isolated incidents. These were systematic incidents,” Akeeagok said.
Truth commission’s work led to apology
All of this was documented by the Qikiqtani Truth Commission, an Inuit-run body that from 2007 to 2010 gathered evidence from 345 witnesses at 16 public hearings held throughout the region, along with extensive archival research.
Headed by James Igloliorte, a retired judge from Nunatsiavut, the commission released the first version of its final report in 2010, followed by another in 2013, along with a package of special studies, thematic reports and histories for each of the 13 communities in the Qikiqtani region.
The word “saimaqatigiingniq,” part of the title of the commission’s main report “Achieving Saimaqatigiingniq,” represents the idea of a new relationship, “when past opponents get back together, meet in the middle, and are at peace.”
And to get there, the QTC made 25 recommendations, most aimed at the federal government, divided into four themes: acknowledging and healing past wrongs, strengthening Inuit governance, strengthening Inuit culture, and creating healthy communities.
But Akeeagok said that can’t start without the first step: acknowledging and healing past wrongs, which is why the apology is the most important part of the package.
“So the priority has always been that apology and that acknowledgment of the findings,” Akeeagok said.
Nunavut Quest to get funding boost
In addition, the QIA and the federal government have negotiated a set of concrete measures that will help compensate for the damage inflicted in the past.
One is a $15-million payment that will go into QIA’s legacy fund, for use in restoring language, culture and identity loss over the long term.
Another contribution of about $5 million will provide immediate funding over two years, Akeeagok said.
That includes $2 million for Inuit governance and history programs, and $2.9 million for a qimmit revitalization program
As part of that, the annual Nunavut Quest dog team race, organized every year by Baffin communities, will get a big funding boost: $100,000 a year in an annual sponsorship for each year from 2020 to 2027.
“It really helps celebrate our pride in our identity and our culture. I feel it’s going to be a significant investment,” Akeeagok said.
The subject of a six-part documentary series produced by Piksuk Media in 2012 and shown on APTN, the Nunavut Quest race was first organized in Arctic Bay in 1999 to recognize the importance of sled dogs, or qimmit, within Inuit culture.
That issue is important to QIA, because it’s the slaughter of qimmit during the 1950s and 1960s that gave rise to what eventually became the Qikiqtani Truth Commission.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, QIA and Makivik Corp. in Nunavik started to demand a public inquiry into the past killing of Inuit dogs during the colonial period between 1950 and 1975.
As part of that effort, the QIA began collecting testimony from Inuit in the region.
“The killing of qimmit was a focal point of why the truth commission came about,” Akeeagok said.
Eventually, the QIA and Makivik took different approaches to the issue and, in 2007, the Qikiqtani organization decided to fund and organize the Qikiqtani Truth Commission.
But its mandate went well beyond the killing of Inuit dogs. James Igloliorte, known as “Judge Jim,” was given the authority to look into all of the traumatizing events of the past.
Healing activities for relocatees
Other funding, $1.2 million, will go to a travel and healing fund for Inuit affected by coercive relocations.
The truth commission specifically identified and documented four such involuntary movements of people: the Dundas Harbour relocations, plus the closure of the Kivitoo, Paallavvik (Padloping Island) and South Camp (Belcher Islands) communities.
But that does not rule out work on other relocations not included in that list, Akeeagok said.
“There are many more relocations we are aware of. It doesn’t close the door to others.”
For the future, the QIA and the federal government have signed a memorandum of understanding to continue work on the Saimaqatigiingniq process.
“We will continue to have a discussion to push for more, because we realize that there is a lot more opportunity to close the gap caused by the losses that we face,” he said.
Akeeagok said he’s pleased to have played a “small part” in the process that led to today’s apology, but he said that it could not have happened without strong leadership from Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and from Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
And he singled out a list of Inuit who for years worked for the truth commission and made it successful: Joe Attagutaaluk, Larry Audlaluk, Phillip Paneak, Stevie Audlakiak, Joanasie Karpik, as well as James Igloliorte and Madeleine Redfern, the executive director of the truth commission, and others.
“True partnership brought forward the announcement that’s going to happen tomorrow,” Akeeagok said.
Qikiqtani Truth Commission … by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd
I get so annoyed of reporters not knowing what the differences between Qikitani and Qikiqtaaluk. when talking about the Baffin region, it should be Qikiqtaaluk and not Qikiqtani Inuit. Qikiqtani is for Qikiqtai Inuit Association.
when talking about Inuit don’t say Inuit people. Inuk is one person, Inuit is 2 or more. so Inuit means people.
When will Qallunaat will ever learn??
@ annoying – Wow! Sweeping generalization much? Many “Qallunaaqs” do know the difference. The big questions is when will you you learn that many people from the South are actually quite intelligent about the North? I admit that most are ignorant…but “some” doesn’t mean “all”. You’ll learn!
Reading online don’t make you an expert though. Majority of the people coming up north from the south only come up to make money and leave. They leave when they have enough money to retire. That’s the truth sadly. There are a lot of Inuit tired of being controlled by white people.
Let me make couple examples.
Animal right activist. They say we only hunt for skins, we only hunt to make money. But look at how much money are being put in to their pockets because seals are “cute”, polar bears are not going to survive because there aren’t any ice. Polar bears are the best hunters out there man, they can hunt in the summer, swim for hours and hours. Just cause they get skinny in the summer time doesn’t mean they are starving and can’t survive out there.
Look at the difference between of how white people vs Inuit are. Hunting to survive back in the day and white people trying to assimilate Inuit
And still today, Inuit are trying to hunt to feed their family because it is too expensive up here and white people are still trying to stop us from hunting.
@Annoying. Perhaps you should learn to be more tolerant of everyone. Yes, people move here to create a better live for themselves and their families by earning an income. How is that any different then them moving anywhere else in Canada to do the same thing??! Why is Nunavut off limits to people to come to make a better life? You do realize that when us Southerners move here we’ve made the decision to leave our old lives behind. Sometimes people stay because they love it. Sometimes they leave because they don’t. Sometimes they find other employment elsewhere and sometimes they YES, retire. Who are you judge people’s lives and how they live them?! I guess you have the argument that we’re coming here and taking your jobs. Well Honey let me tell you that the Doctor’s that are at that hospital didn’t take your job. But please feel free to go and further you education and get the job you deserve. You do have Article 23 here which is a lot more than the rest of the indigenous communities across Canada have. Be grateful.
And I have long wondered when people like you will stop using the reductionist term Qallunaat and give people an identity?
This is your take away from this historic event?
Man, you really missed a big event.
I once asked a couple bilingual Inuit what the difference between Qikiqtani and Qikiqtaaluk was, and they kind of shrugged their shoulders and essentially said they were pretty much interchangeable. Does that make you annoyed?
Names were given by land claim negotiators. Qikiqtaaluk in Inuktitut is big island, and that word is used for Baffin region. So if a people from Qikiqtaaluk region would be qikiqtaalumiut not Qikiqtani Inuit. Just like Kivallimiut or kitikmeot.
Reason I am annoyed is because people don’t try to put effort to learn what they are reporting about. A lot of reports are usually wrong and people down south believe everything. And that makes people panicked.
How can migratory people like inuit be so fragile when the relocations were done with the assistance of the federal government? They relocated for millenia under their own steam, with far greater challenges and losses of life. Despite activist rhetoric, people weren’t forced to move, and there were good reasons to move, starvation and overpopulation in their existing location being the primary ones.
Will there ever be an end to these apologies? And furthermore, since everything the government has ever done for inuit is wrong and must be apologized for, why are so many more programs introduced every year, when those won’t go perfectly either, and will be just as apology-worthy in a couple of decades?
Considering that there is the general ideology among Native populations that the “Government” did terrible things in the past, which I’m not really questioning as I believe it’s reasonable that it was the case, I find it ridiculous that as recently as today, you still see Inuit making statements about how it’s the Government’s responsibility to take care of issues that should quite honestly be dealt with by the community. Rather than tell an elder that they can’t drive anymore because they blow through intersections, the solution is divided between simply allowing it (because they’re old) or telling the nurse from BC or the doctor from Toronto or the RCMP officer from Quebec, that it’s their duty to lay it down. For a population who inherently distrusts the Government, they sure do like to lean on it when it’s convenient.
Where do you get your information from? It would seem like you need to get educated on this subject because you have it all wrong,
This would be a good case study for how ignorance is still very strong in today’s day and age.
Also your attitude shows to bright what is still wrong with our society and there is still a lot of work to be done to get the correct information and history to someone like you.
So please do more research and talk with people that have actually gone through something like this to get a better prospective and understanding towards Inuit, you really need to with the way your talk.
@ Peter – I get my info from living in Nunavut and actually observing people in their daily lives. You may not agree with what I’m saying, but it’s a shame that you don’t acknowledge that these attitudes towards Government actually exist. The all-controlling “they” is still referred to when it comes to things that should be done, when in reality it is effectively “we” who should be taking accountability for Nunavut.
Will I guess the more then 2 BILLION dollars the GN uses annually we shouldn’t expect too much according to your comments and yes I don’t agree with what your are saying.
@ Peter – Your comment seems misguided: you do realize that the GN is a democratically elected government, right? “We” are representative of what I hear almost every day as “they”. It’s literally ignorance in its purest form. Not expecting much from the GN’s budget is something that needs to be taken up with all Nunavut residents….it’s Nunavut’s government headed largely by Inuit. I think it’s time for Nunavut to realize that it needs to stand on its own and if it can’t, it needs to accept that other Canadians are able and willing to step in. This sweeping generalization about “Qallunaaqs” has gone too far. Regardless, you just hit the nail on the head with not expecting much from the GN’s budget; it’s your budget. Do something about it if you’re unhappy. We both hear about the overwhelmingly obvious sentiment that “Qallunaaqs” are a problem in the GN but they keep getting hired by your elected leaders. Why?
If you do not think the transient workers in the GN is not a huge problem then we disagree, it is a problem, the GN can be doing a lot more with its huge budget and of course we know we need to stand on our own two feet, we are working towards that, but there are people within the GN, who control the government and no its not the elected politicians but the DMs ADMs and directors and managers who control where the GN will go and how they will go about it.
What we need is stronger leaders MLAs that are not controlled by their staff, there must be some pretty strong influential people in the GN as they can work quickly to remove a Premier and also shut some voicetress MLAs. Some of these MLAs in the past before getting in as a MLA were very vocal about the lack of representation for Inuit now they don’t say a whole lot. Hopefully some of these GN long term DM and directors will be retiring soon.
Inuit back in the day were relocated because government of Canada back in the day were trying to say that part of the land belongs to Canada when other countries were fighting to get the land. So government of Canada decided to bring Inuit to a land where they weren’t familiar with.
Look at the big differences between northern Quebec and resolute bay. They have different climate, they have different hunting grounds, they have different lifestyles. Just because we are all Inuit don’t mean we are all the same.
Would you want to be forcefully relocated to area where you aren’t familiar with, and government of Canada promising you a better life and such but struggled with life. After relocations happened, people were dying from starvation, people were eating food from the garbages. Is that okay?
I think it is great that Canada is apologizing to Inuit of this region for historical wrongs, and there is much to apologize for such as the involuntary movements of people and the use of E-numbers which were terrible things.
However, I’ve never seen any solid evidence of a policy or even a conspiracy on the part of the government of Canada to systematically slaughter Inuit sled dogs. There is evidence that dogs were put down for perceived public safety concerns such as rabies or being loose in the community. However, there is no evidence that they were put down by police en masse for some bad faith purpose such as to keep Inuit from leaving their communities. I don’t think that even the Truth Commission found any evidence of that.
As a Canadian, it troubles me that my government is apologizing for something that has never been established as fact. Again, I’m all for apologizing for factual wrongs of which there are many.
I would suggest you read the QTC report, it should give you some insight to what happened in this region.
The problem with the QTC Report is that it has little legitimacy in the eyes of much of the broader public because of the incredible biases of those who wrote it.
That isn’t really a problem, because these issues are not really followed in other parts of the country, and when they are there is oftenan attitude of “what are they whining and complaining about now, don’t they get enough Handouts from the Canadian taxpayer?
What is interesting to me, is that for reasons that I can’t understand, first nations have done a much better job of making them selves sympathetic in the public eye than the Inuit have. I don’t know whether it’s been inept Leadership, knowledge of how to work the media, ora simple case of geography.
“first nations have done a much better job of making them selves sympathetic in the public eye than the Inuit have”. Really, since when? I’d be interested to see some data on this because I am very skeptical.
Speaking of interesting and inexplicable things, I’d like to know more about the processes and motivating factors by which Israel MacArthur continuously fabricates disfavourable narratives about Nunavut and Inuit, as carefully subtle as he is in their construction.
Wow, if your POV is about who does a better job looking sympathetic then you are truly misguided. There is a broader discussion of an issue of the failed assimilation of a people and your point is who looks more appealing at being oppressed to those who have not been????? Truly sickening.
Isael you seem to imply that only white voice are non bias, all this historic stuff that you were taught and indoctrinated came from white settlers such as yourself and bias from your ancestors! All the wrong doing you people like you benefited from and allowed for someone like you to make racist comments behind your fake name in secrecy! I dare you to come out in public and say all this stuff to Inuit.
Well, I had written you a thoughtful reply, but the censors seem to of deleted it, and other replies that I left to this article.
It is good to see that the spirit of open debate and the sharing of diverse viewpoints is still alive and well. /s
Unfortunately this is the way it is with Nunatsiaq news these days, it was not always thus. They should be ashamed for the engineering of narratives they do. This has become common in progressive circles though, where free and open debate is often proscribed under the aegis of being “harmful” (an effective code for censorship of disfavoured opinions). Though when I look at some comments I also marvel at how such insensitive tripe does get printed. Very inconsistent.
It is great to have this apology. My concern is that the many serious issues may get overlooked with the many meaningless apologies.
How are E-numbers a “terrible thing”? To this day governments use numbers to keep track of people. The inuit at that time were constantly on the move, had no last names, would change their names, and didn’t carry wallets. How would you have kept track of who was who for social benefits and things like vaccination? And if using numbers to identify individuals is so wrong, what are you doing to get rid of the fact that numbers are still used, they are used by aboriginal orgs, government and employers in Nunavut, right here and right now?
Would you want to wear dog tags around your name as an identification? Dogs can’t speak and can’t say their name but Inuit back in the day were able to say their name. Government of Canada was too lazy to learn the language and decided hey why can’t we just give them the dog tags as their identification.
Government of Canada weren’t like, hey miqusaaq come here. They used their e-number because they didn’t want to learn to say their actual name.
They were modeled around military dog tags, that’s true, but that does not mean they were meant to symbolically imply Inuit were dogs, any more than they imply that members of the military are dogs. These functioned the same as SIN numbers, which were first used in 1964, which corresponds closely with the time the NWT government began looking to replace the disks, thanks to pressure from Abe Okpik and Simonie Michael. As for learning names, it’s true the government didn’t bother learning the Inuit naming system. But also note that people changed their names and were inconsistent in their spelling too. And that people from the same communities would sometimes use the same names, especially after the adoption of Christian names. It wasn’t a perfect system, and though it has negative connotations (which the government recognized and which lead to the replacement of the disks with the use of surnames) it was not a wholly nefarious act or system either. The point was to keep track of people for the purposes of government aid and health services.
Reason for inconsistent spelling was because there was no writing system back then. Writing system in syllabics to Inuit was introduced by a priest using the syllabics that was introduced to Cree if I am right. There were probably a lot of Roberts back in the day but they didn’t use e-tags on them. Government of Canada didn’t see Inuit as Canadians first.
I was named after an elder, his way of writing his name is the same way I write it but the way I learned to write in school is different from how it was given to him by government of Canada.
It’s true, there were people with the same name in southern Canada, but they did carry forms of identification and numbering that were also used to differentiate between them. This was no less important to the government, granted those weren’t tags. Tags were thought to be an efficient idea adapted to the north; they had negative connotations that were not likely intended. Prior to that they tried using fingerprints, which also had negative connotations.
Funny you bring up name spelling, I know Inuit today who occasionally change their names too, even the spelling. I’m not saying everyone but you must know it happens. Did the government fail to see Inuit as Canadians? At the time I doubt they saw them as fully Canadian, but weren’t sure how to categorize them. Christianizing, numbering and eventually having them adopt surnames was part of that process which today we call colonization.
if you go to the link I have attached you will see how much government of Canada tried their best to try get inuit to be considered as “Canadians” going to residential school where inuit were told not to speak their language, to being sent down south for TB and never come back, to relocations of inuit so other countries don’t try take over the land, to dog slaughter because RCMP didn’t want to chase around inuit going to their land anymore, to relocation to communities because it was easier for government of Canada to “help” people but before all that inuit weren’t considered as Canadians. government of Canada only started noticing that inuit land is in Canada when other countries were trying to take over. over those years of government of Canada were trying to assimilate inuit to be non-inuit by trying to let us lose our language, our culture. inuit went downhill. and that’s all because of the government of Canada.
Thanks for the link. I’m aware of some of the history, but there’s always room to learn for sure. Would you agree?
I wasn’t absolving the government of colonial practices, only pointing out that the origins and issue of tagging was probably not something tantamount to a Jewish Badge during the same era, which seems implicit in some commentary. Which is not to say assimilation didn’t take place either, clearly it did.
Why couldn’t government of Canada just see us like human and not think of different of us different ways. We are the originals people from here. Canada was just formed 150 years ago and Inuit have been here for Thousands of years. Your ancestors probably came from different country. Can you imagine how Nunavut is neglected for so long? We have shortage of housing, our food prices are so high, we have to fight our own government to make sure our basic human fights are followed.
Inuit have been in the Canadian Arctic for around one thousand years at the most, not that it makes any difference, but the “thousands of years” story, which I know gets promoted often, even through unfortunate sources like ITK, is not an accurate one. As you may know when the Inuit, or Thule, migrated into the Canadian Arctic and Greenland they mysteriously replaced the people who had lived here for about 4 thousand years before them. Here’s a question for you, do you think those first Inuit saw the Dorset as fully human when they took their land?
I don’t know what the people in the Canadian government actually thought about Inuit. I suspect they saw them as an underdeveloped culture and took a paternalistic approach. In their minds I’m sure colonization was all for the best, this was a common colonial attitude around the world at the time. If we really want to know “why” it was that way we need to view the world through a different lens than we do today, and ask ourselves some pretty honest questions about the nature of the human mind and the patterns that emerge between in groups and out groups. You’re right, my ancestors came from north western Europe. A place I have visited, but feel no real connection to either. Can you and I see each other as fully human today? That’s an important question too.
A dialogue on the issues of housing etc is important to have, but I can’t imagine doing it all through this forum. It’s complicated though, by logistics, by costs, by economic history and economic ideology. I don’t have your answers, but I don’t think it’s as easy as pouring money in either.
so you are trying to say that I don’t know my history? I studied Inuit history specifically.
I heard some stories on these Dorset people. It wasn’t like Inuit were trying to take over the land but Inuit migrated following their food sources. Inuit didn’t stay in one spot. but I don’t think you get the idea of inuit being here before you ancestors were here. even though my ancestors have been here long before the explorers came, explorers were “finding” the land. even naming the land by their names. Non-inuit have been seeing inuit the same way the government of Canada see us. poor, not smart, don’t know what we are doing. but look at it this way. Inuit leaders made a history, biggest landmass in Canada, biggest land claim agreement, etc. all because government of Canada was doing all the stuff they did. Inuit didn’t want to hunt during the different seasons that the southern Canada has. we depended on hunting for so long inuit didn’t want that.
I see everything first hand up here. I know what is going on and I can tell what is wrong and what is right. I am not like reading what is posted online like you do. that is why I speak up. a lot of the things you see are not true. A lot of people try their best to get money in their pockets for whatever reason.
This is a reply to “?” – I didn’t say you don’t know your own history. But just because you are an Inuk you are not, by default, an expert on Inuit history. Also, why wouldn’t I get that your people were here before mine? That’s not controversial.
To your point, “It wasn’t like Inuit were trying to take over the land”. How do you know that? The Inuit who crossed into North America were well armed with Asiatic & Mongolian style bows and armour, they were warriors hardened in battle in northern Alaska and the Bering Strait. There are oral histories that say the Thule, your ancestors, pushed the Dorset off their land. Some historians propose it may have been a genocide
“The Tunit were a strong people, and yet they were driven from their villages by others who were more numerous…”
–Ivaluardjuk, Igloolik, 1922
Let’s both stop romanticizing our histories and see things how they are.
@ Why – You’re not the original people from Nunavut. Weren’t Inuit living without houses, air transportation and without dependence on southern food distribution? Isn’t Nunavut it’s own territory with its own voice for 20 years now? Who’s neglecting who?
Let me educate you a little bit. Even if the territory itself is only 20 years old but the word Nunavut has been used for a long time. Nunavut means Our Land in Inuktitut. Inuit land. So Inuit has been saying our land for a long time.
@ Nunavut = Our Land – Well then let the education begin! I’m very aware of what Nunavut means in inuktitut. What did the Dorset call the same area known today as Nunavut? Regional names change with association and Inuit weren’t always associated with the area. It’s been documented by Inuit that movement into what is now referred to as Nunavut wasn’t a colonization effort, but a full out genocide of the Dorset.
Lots of injustice done to inuit back in the day. Good, bad or indifferent. The thing is, apologizing is such a nice gesture only. Apologies don’t have any actual strength other than a psychological , even magical, and worst of all fake and lies. Who knows for sure the genuinely behind an apology? If words were so powerfull, as to help the healing process, then why don’t people just use positive feedback and get the healing on the way. Instead of waiting for fake apologies from this one and that one. After all those apologies are coming from people that weren’t even born yet, when the injustice was done. This is all superficial, theses apologies. The power to heal, if needed to lean on an apology, then I’m not sure if healing will ever take place. Inuit have to surely acknowledge the injustice, but Inuit got to acknowledge also that healing comes from within the Inuit.
It’s true that the individuals involved and issuing these apologies have no personal connection to the incidents they are apologizing for, but that’s not really the point. They represent the institution of the Canadian government and are apologizing on its behalf. This is an important demonstration of changed attitudes within the institution that inflicted the wrongs in question. The gesture in this sense is symbolic and I think the symbolism is important. However, it’s not just symbolic as the government has promised financial restitution too.
A recently completed poll by Forum Research found that 54% of all Canadians think that the Trudeau Liberals apologize too much. Apologies made by the Liberals span the gamut from those made to various Indigenous communities for past wrongs to apologies to the LGBQT community for past discrimination, the Italian-Canadian community for their treatment during World War 2 and finally an apology for the Komagata Maru incident. The thing about a formal apology is that the more times you say “I am sorry” the less meaning that apology has for the average Canadian. fewer apologies and more concrete actions would be nice, because after all actions speak louder than words.
Ad populum fallacy detected.
Research on the truth effect indicates that too many repetitions can decrease message credibility. This can create a boomerang effect which has an oppositional impact to that which was intended. This is especially important because this influences political attitudes. Repeatedly presented activities, like multiple apologies, result in a more negative public attitude toward the presented issue (in this case that would the issues around the apology) and the presenter (in this case the Liberals) which diminishes the perceived credibility of the apologists. In other words saying “sorry” too many times creates a negative feedback loop that hurts the credibility of the people doing the apologizing and diminishes political influence. This is hardly a fallacy
Well, the thing about an apology is that it’s not for the average Canadian. So it doesn’t really matter if they think it’s sincere is it? It’s for those minority population Canadians that have have been marginalized. The polls don’t really matter either. They are based in larger urban centres with a large urban base. An injustice is an injustice and apologies are needed- even if an opinion of the masses with very little connection to the wrong doings fills out a little poll survey.
If you don’t think that there is a political calculus behind every apology that has been made you are kidding yourself. These apologies are as much about garnering votes and public support as righting past wrongs. When the public thinks you are apologizing too much that costs votes and support.
You are very cynical if you think this nothing but politics, though I would not deny it’s political utility. Also, if you think that apologies are only valid, or should only be issued under the condition that the majority of the population agree to it, your logic is clearly fallacious.
No government ever apologizes unless it has political utility. In the case of the Liberals its apologies to indigenous communities advance their agenda regarding reconciliation. The key political point of a public apology is to prove to voters that they are keeping their word and thereby swaying them into reelecting them. This messaging is intended to reach out well beyond the constituency the apology was aimed at. If the apology starts having the opposite effect then it harms the general public’s perceptions of the government and therefore its ability to get reelected. I am not sure why you don’t understand this.
Interesting discussion but there is always an uncontradicted fact: Canada acted as a colonial power in respect of Indigenous people. Colonialism is a well known practice mainly by European powers but was continued by the local governments in Canada since it was to the benefit of the mainsteam society. Colonialism is based mostly on stereotypes and ethnocentrism. In order to assert power over a population that is weaker, the State will tend to build a reductive image of the “other”, often suggesting they aren’t civilized or even sub-humans. Hence the idea of relocating Inuit from Inukjuak to the High Arctic and let them to starve without even blinking an eye, all for the purpose of showing Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago.
It’s nice to apologize for the colonial approach taken by successive governments but it would be much better to stop acting as a colonial power. In other words, really commit to decolonization. Many government institutions aren’t really taking into account Inuit culture and traditions. The worst is probably the court system (they call that a ‘Justice’ system…) that still acts entirely like a colonial court in Nunavut and other Indigenous lands. Decolonize and perhaps apologies will appear more sincere.
Colonization is a timeless pattern between groups of disparate power that probably stretches back to our prehuman ancestors. The Mongols colonized, the Chinese continue to colonize in Tibet, and even Africa today. The Ottomans colonized the middle east, north Africa and some parts of modern Europe. Israel colonized and continues to take land away from Palestine. At one time even the Inuit colonized the Eastern Arctic and displaced it’s first inhabitants. It’s not a primarily European phenomenon.
That said, European colonization stands out because of the technological advances made by European societies in the era following the industrial revolution. Because of this the power imbalance between European countries and much of the rest of the world presented one of the greatest technological gaps in human history.
When you ask for decolonization I wonder what that would look like to you? This term comes up often, but rarely is it fleshed out. I’d be interested to hear more about it.