Iqaluit councillors vote in favour of calls to action put forth by Black History Society

The city’s economic development officer said request was received in early 2021

Nunavut Black History Society president Stephanie Bernard, pictured at the Emancipation Festival in Iqaluit in September, said she is unable to comment on Iqaluit city council’s decision to address calls to action made by the society in early 2021 at this time. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

By Meral Jamal

Iqaluit councillors have voted unanimously in favour of calls to action made last year by the Nunavut Black History Society.

The calls include encouraging and seeking qualified Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) candidates for employment, providing the society with a written letter of support for funding applications, and working with the public safety committee to develop an anti-racism communications campaign. 

The vote was made Dec. 13, at the city’s last council meeting.

Geoff Byrne, the city’s economic development officer, first presented the request for decision on these calls at a strategic planning and economic development committee on Nov. 24. 

The society first sent these requests to the city in early 2021 but due to staff changes and the water emergency, it was not brought forward earlier. 

“It’s definitely been a long time coming and the issues driving the request have not changed since then,” said deputy Mayor Kyle Sheppard at the Nov. 24 meeting. 

“The City of Iqaluit should be proud to take part in the actions requested here. The recommendations coming from staff as detailed on the request for decision are relatively easy to implement with little upfront cost to the city.”

The Nunavut Black History Society may want to work with the city to implement the city’s anti-racism campaign, according to its president, Stephanie Bernard.

Nunatsiaq News reached out to Bernard on whether that will happen and how the society will engage with the city to follow through on the other calls to action.

She said she is unable to comment on those subjects at this time.

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(26) Comments:

  1. Posted by ZerBy on

    I’m a little confused. Are they asking for preferential hiring?

    • Posted by Be Prepared on

      Yes, and more than that to import America’s BLM / woke culture into Nunavut.

  2. Posted by Derpy Doo on

    Insert video of Morgan Freeman talking about Black History Month with Mike Wallace

  3. Posted by Umingmak on

    Why should any non-inuit receive preferential hiring in Nunavut? This is beyond ridiculous. Black, white, asian, whatever. All non-indigenous people are settlers.

    • Posted by 867 on

      Because there is a long, dark history of black people being marginalized in nunavut (not)

      • Posted by (American) Cultural Imperialism on

        and… because we are importing American race politics into Nunavut.


        With so much of our lives spent online, specifically on social media, exposure to American cultural narratives has had a homogenizing effect on our popular consciousness, crystalizing around uniquely America issues (creating the illusion that they are our issues).

      • Posted by Is This the Best Way on

        Well, the incredible racism that so many Inuit openly display to other people of colour is a concern for sure, but is this a way to address it?

        • Posted by John K on

          It never ceases to amaze me how racist my own people can be.

    • Posted by Colonial Boys on

      We are all colonists in Nunavut !
      The early ones came from north east Asia then they spread east from Alaska to Greenland
      slaughtering and colonising.
      They said in later years the Tunerk all disappeared, Yeah right.
      Later colonists brought housing, education, medical attention. Good for them.
      For those who wish the good old days, go for it.

    • Posted by Arnaq on

      Actually, immigrants are not settlers. Settlers are born in Canada.

      • Posted by Untermensch on

        Yet the definition of settler is “a person who moves with a group of others to live in a new country or area.” That seems to include newcomers / immigrants. Don’t you think?

        At the same time, descendants of ‘settlers’ are not settlers themselves, as they were born here.

        So, why call them settlers?

        I suspect because this is a subtle but acceptable term of derision toward non-indigenous Canadians. it’s a way of saying, “you are not really from here.”

        Also Interesting is that it is not a term we chose for ourselves, but one imposed on us. Ironic as the term Eskimo fell out of favour for the same reason, yet no one seems to notice the double standard.

        Why is that?

        • Posted by Things Change on

          Yes, this term of derision has come from higher-ed. Fortunately, the push back against this inaccurate and divisive and derisive term is growing quickly – as it should. It is fortunately getting to be not socially acceptable.

      • Posted by Lesson of the Day on

        It is impossible for a native born Canadian to be a settler, despite the way that some misuse the word.

  4. Posted by No Moniker on

    The new sociological taxonomy BIPOC, was designed—arbitrarily—to leverage economic and social entitlements for non-white people. The movement uses provocative claims around ‘white supremacy’ and widespread and ‘systemic racism’ to create a moral panic that facilitates radical shifts in wealth and power under the guise of ‘equity’

    A caution, the movement embeds several powerful self defense mechanisms. For example, discussion or, worse yet, ‘critique’ the movement in any way will signal your membership in the above-named tribe of racists (dawn your Scarlet Letter). It is very effective.

    This is clearly an import from American race politics. Should we not question whether these imports are either necessary or appropriate in Nunavut?

    Nunatsiaq is almost certainly exercising excessive caution around what kind of conversation it will allow here, which in my opinion will likely mean no conversation at all. We will see.

  5. Posted by quote on

    “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination”

    Thomas Sowell

    • Posted by Gary the gaslighter on

      You know this story is about a group asking for preferential treatment.

      • Posted by L roi on

        It will always seem that way to those who receive preferential treatment

        • Posted by iWonder on

          Okay, let’s be serious for a moment?

          Who, from your perspective, receives the preferential treatment you allude to?

          Is it Inuit under article 23? Is their privileged ‘first crack’ at government jobs something you’d like to change? If not that, then what?

      • Posted by Amala Ekpunobi Quotes on

        “For the love of all that is good, hire people because they are good at their jobs, not because they are black and female.”

        Amala Ekpunobi

  6. Posted by freedom fighters on

    If she’s representing Blacks from Africa in Iqaluit. Be careful with the colonials in there. All of them might be runways from their own race for working for UK or France. They are trying to defend their own lands but runways like in afghans. NO IN NUNAVUT

  7. Posted by Blurring Lines of Difference on

    Grouping black people in Nunavut with Inuit in Nunavut under the BIPOC term seems highly inappropriate to me.

    • Posted by Language Games on

      I don’t think it is suitable either.

      BIPOC is an umbrella term meant to replace POC (Person of colour), emphasizing a shared experience of oppression between Black and Indigenous communities in the United States.

      So,since our local media will never ask the question, let’s ask it ourselves; do you think there is shared community based in oppression and suffering between Inuit and Black African immigrants in Iqaluit?

      In our specific context I would argue the term is being used to create greater leverage social and economic benefits for Iqaluit’s Black community.

      Is that necessary, appropriate, just?

      I don’t see it. Do you?

  8. Posted by Iqalungmuita on

    I definitely have concerns with this, perhaps if we have a council that was voted in, it would be different?

    There is a Nunavut Agreement for a reason, to me this is belittling the Inuit by giving another peoples background on the same level as Inuit is distasteful. Inuit cultural has been deprived of growth and we still not at the same level as non Inuit and now the city has chosen to put another non Inuit at par?

    I believe investing on grass roots of who live and are from Nunavut. There are reasons for first rights of refusal and that is going to put Inuit to another level of disparity because majority council wants to do the appropriate thing. We are not at the same level as rest of the world and you are trying to force policy statements that are in developed society (infrastructure, education, opportunities in general).

    • Posted by What’s an ‘anti-racism’? on

      It is almost certain that council has put very little thought into this, but have happily seized the chance given them to make a public display of virtue. There are limits to what Iqaluit City council can actually do in terms of an ‘Anti-racism’ campaign, but if it is like elsewhere expect extreme solutions to poorly defined problems.

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