Inuit treated best in own language

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The question of specialists for Inuit patients living in the Arctic brings out the real question of how Inuit are treated by those in many professions that have come to live in their midst, which include health-care professionals.

Time and again, Inuit patients report how they are treated in a manner that may not only surprise but raise the hackles of many non-Inuit in the South. The difference is something as simple as language, and cultural upbringing.

English and French for the most part are the languages of service in Canada. Translation services are provided for unilingual Inuit when they have to go to nurses and doctors or any other medical care.

Many Inuit patients have had to go through the agony of not understanding what is being said directly by the health-care professionals, but rather rely on the translator who may or may not have received the required health-care education. Health care is only a small part of it. There are many other issues: justice, law enforcement, official language monopoly, media connotations, economic exploitation and so on.

Inuit should not worry about the status of their language and culture. They are doing fine in pursuing every conceivable means of protecting their culture and language and the services that have come to be part of their lives but which are far better provided to the non-Inuit and Inuit living in the South. No wonder there has been an exodus of Inuit to the urban and southern regions.

Even the environmental condition of the Arctic is now in serious question as to how it could have ended with all the contaminants as it does now as “experts” have claim it to be the result of “ocean currents” and the “grasshopper effect.” This goes against the long-standing traditional knowledge of the Inuit, who know that the prevailing winds of the Arctic tend to come from the North.

The Inuit have to learn to question everything the Occidents pursue as a matter of course. Go back to the historical development between the Inuit, the non-Inuit and document it for the world to see and not just rely on the “scientific” explanations nor authoritative “expositions or dissertations” by the non-Inuit experts.

However, this does not mean that Inuit should close out the non-Inuit, but just question the motives of various institutional agencies, whether private or public, when addressing the concerns and interests of Inuit, generally. I think this suggestion would go a long way in allowing the Inuit to speak for themselves in their language without having to question their natural tongue as was insidiously and gradually instilled to the fiber and being of their linguistic cultural voice.

All the others issues naturally follow – by feeling all right with the way they speak in their language and how the services provided for them would meet their needs, such as health care, among others, the Inuit can articulate what they feel as individuals requiring particular attention, whatever that may be.

Akearok
Ottawa

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