Iqaluit shelter director launches campaign for Trevor Noah to visit

Online effort spurred by comedian’s quip about the North

Laurel McCorriston, the Uquutaq Society’s executive director, has started an online campaign to bring Trevor Noah to Iqaluit. (Photo by Thomas Rohner)

By Thomas Rohner
Special to Nunatsiaq News

Trevor Noah, a South African comedian and the host of the satirical American news program The Daily Show, has a message for the people of the Arctic.

“With global warming exposing your lands and vast natural resources, many people are calling you the new Africa. And as the original Africa, my friends and I wanted to get together to give you a few tips on what to expect when the white people come,” Noah said on the Daily Show on Jan. 5.

Now, the Uquutaq Society in Iqaluit wants Noah to bring his comedy to the North and help raise money and awareness of the city’s housing crisis.

Laurel McCorriston, the society’s executive director, said it was a moment of inspiration that led her to contact Noah with the request.

“I basically said, white people are already here and so are Africans, so you should come and see, and we may as well raise some money for the Uquutaaq Society,” McCorriston told Nunatsiaq News.

“It’s a way to engage people in a way that is fun. I’d like to raise awareness to broader society about what’s going on in the North,” said McCorriston.

Noah’s international speaking tour comes to Ontario this fall, and that’s when McCorriston is hoping Noah will make time to fly north.

“Someone has already offered him a buddy pass to fly up here. Someone else offered to be his chauffeur, with little South African flags in the windows,” McCorriston said.

In the Daily Show skit, Noah and other Africans offered some advice for those in the Arctic.

“When white people say they’re going to stay for a few days, they actually mean 250 years.”

“White people might ask to borrow your natural resources, like all your gold. Please remember to put your names on it because white people, they don’t give shit back.”

“Most importantly, please get vaccinated, because with white people come many diseases. Cholera, smallpox, restless leg syndrome, tuberculosis and now, back by popular demand, measles!”

McCorriston said she appreciates Noah’s political analysis through humour because it has a social justice bent.

“It cuts through our fear and unwillingness to discuss race issues,” she said.

McCorriston started a public Facebook page called “Bring Trevor to Iqaluit.”

So far, more than 600 people have joined the page.

And local support for McCorriston’s efforts is growing.

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Lightstone sent a letter to Noah in support of McCorriston’s campaign.

Exploitation of the North began in the 1500s with the search for the Northwest Passage, Lightstone wrote in his letter. Phases of exploitation include whaling, fur trade, Christian missionaries and, today, mineral exploitation, Lightstone added.

“Our community has banded together to cover airfare, accommodations and some caribou mikku, our biltong,” Lightstone wrote, referring to a form of dried meat from South Africa.

The African and Caribbean Association of Nunavut has also thrown its support behind McCorriston.

So too have many Iqaluit residents.

“Southern African, East, West, Central and northern Africa are here well represented. Let’s show you some evidence,” Francisca Mandeya told Noah on Facebook. Mandeya is originally from Zimbabwe and now lives in Iqaluit.

Noah’s visit would be an incredible opportunity to raise awareness of Nunavut’s long-standing housing crisis and homelessness, McCorriston said.

Last year, the Uquutaq Society received funding and support to purchase two new buildings for transitional housing and programming space.

The new buildings will house 60 clients and bring much-needed relief to the city’s only men’s shelter, which is regularly over capacity.

“The work here is tough, so I’d like to have some fun with it,” McCorriston said of her campaign to bring Noah north.

So far, Noah hasn’t accepted the invitation. Noah’s publicist did not respond to a media request from Nunatsiaq News by deadline.

But McCorriston is hoping other Iqalungmiut will help entice him by joining her Facebook page, posting videos to it and by contacting Noah’s speaking tour team. You can find more information on McCorriston’s Bring Trevor to Iqaluit Facebook page.

“I can’t do this on my own and a lot of people want him to come here. So I need lots of people on my team,” McCorriston said

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Geta on

    I hope he makes it

  2. Posted by MONICA A CONNOLLY on

    Fabulous idea! This guy understands politics and injustice, and has a brilliant way with words. What he says will be publicized. Canada needs to get its priorities straight re: cleaning up the mess it has made for its Indigenous citizens and for all Northerners, and it requires publicity for Canadians to get the message.

  3. Posted by Against all racism on

    It’s sad that such racism, and dividing up people who have already mixed together, is called “comedy” these days. Reverse the races and see if you still find it meaningful and funny. Somehow, if “white” people all went “home”, I don’t think it would make things as wonderful in Nunavut as the activists like to imagine. It would be impossible anyway, “white” people and inuit have already mixed, both biologically and culturally.

    • Posted by Stanley on

      It is must be painful to be white these days with all the negativity being thrown at them? I am Inuit. It seems they are the cause of everything bad that has occurred to all races & societies. I have plenty of white friends and they aren’t old enough to be part of this bad-azz bunch every other race keeps talking chit! about. Let’s try & get along and quit taking painful hurtful shots at our white brothers & sisters.

      • Posted by oh ima on

        haha, must be painful these days, haha it’s like a damn second out of the whole 600 years they inflicted racism and pain on indigenous and black people. I just hope this show doesn’t sanitize (white wash) of how institutional racism is causing a of pain for Inuit, economically and socially! I support him coming but show the real cost of racism is happening in our communities and don’t talk about reverse racism because it’s nothing compared to what us Inuit go through on a daily basis with police, social services and private business!

    • Posted by Lighten up please on

      Can everyone please lighten up, this is about a comedy show. This might be asking too much but please try to develop a sense of humour about this.

      By the way, if you want to know what “dividing up people” really looks like, fire up Mr. Google and do a search for “south africa apartheid.” That is the system that Trevor Noah’s family managed to survive…

      • Posted by oh ima on

        stop minimizing of what Inuit and other indigenous people go through by comparing to other countries, that their country what happened to them. Look at what is happening to us today, over representation in the justice system, over housing crowding, over representation of children taken away from family by the government, suicide! I can go on.
        We endured force relocation, residential schools and loosing of language. All the stuff happening today is not by accident it’s by design! Oh yeah the apartheid system was inspired by reserve system developed by this beautiful country called Canada. Yes Trevor survived but he has a lot more opportunities than most indigenous communities. I am not against new comers and so called real Canadians being here but acknowledge Inuit injustice an racism towards them, Which Trevor discuss a lot about in his show!

        • Posted by Inuk worker on

          Oh Ima are you not aware that most of Nunavut social problems are self inflicted ? ?
          What part of Disneyland are you living in ?
          Regional Inuit orgs. are rolling in money but us working
          Inuit people see little of it.
          Smarten Up.

          • Posted by Verbal Diarrhea on

            Some people look to larger, nebulous, meta-forces and narratives to explain what is often their own personal frustration and misery. This is easy to do when you are surrounded by those of similar mind who help by creating language constructs around which you can embed (they might say ‘locate’) said misery.
            On the surface this all appears quite valid. Still, I would suggest that for some the function of this is to create an easy path to dump their psychic misery.
            It’s a bit like eating a microwave dinner over taking hours to prepare a healthy meal. Easier and once you get a taste for it, you forget how much more there is to the experience of food itself.

      • Posted by We must be aware right! on

        I am just wondering if you are aware South Africa reps came to Canada while they were developing Apartheid and based it off the Indian Act?

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