Governor General deepens friendship with Nunavut
Kivalliq-Kitikmeot tour ends this week
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s recent tour of Nunavut deepens a relationship with Canada’s Arctic that began for her in the early 1970s, long before she became the Queen’s representative in Canada.
“I first came to the North in 1972, and really thought it was incredible,” Clarkson said in an telephone interview from Kugluktuk, her last stop on a nine-day swing through the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions that began last week in Rankin Inlet.
Clarkson, accompanied by her husband, John Ralston Saul, attended community feasts, inspected Arctic Rangers platoons, visited schools and renewed old friendships.
“I do think that it’s a very important part of Canada for all Canadians to understand,” Clarkson said. “If we’re going to have a country, then we have to understand every bit of it…. I love the rest of the country, but I think it’s very, very important that the North be understood, but also that people in the North understand the rest of the country.”
As an appreciative collector of Inuit art, Clarkson said she welcomed the opportunity to visit Gjoa Haven, whose unique carving she has admired for about 15 years.
“There’s a whole school of carvers there whose work is very unique, so I enjoyed learning about that…. For such a small community, they do such an interesting body of work.”
In Taloyoak, Clarkson met a woman who made a parka she bought in 1975 from the Arctic Co-ops store in Yellowknife. The parka had been made at the old Spence Bay parka shop.
“To meet her after all this time, and other people who worked at that co-op was just wonderful,” Clarkson said.
In Cambridge Bay, Clarkson appeared at a ceremony on Sunday to open the community’s new school and heritage centre. The next day, she mingled with school children and read to a group of them in the school library.
“People have to be focused, naturally, on where they live and what their problems are, what happened to their cousin’s daughter or their uncle, and all these particularities, but in all of the places where we are in Canada, people are losing a traditional way of life…. It’s important to realize that they are not alone in dealing with this kind of change, much of it beyond their control,” Clarkson said.