Nunavut MLAs should get into the real issues


I am Canadian, and it has been almost two years since I returned to my homeland. The five years I lived outside the territory helped me to open my eyes. I did not lose my language and culture of being Inuk. In fact, I feel it has even strengthened my belief in our culture and language. Of course, one of my kids lost his Inuktitut. And he relearned it in a short period of time and in a difficult situation.

Before I left Nunavut, I tried to get educated as they say. In order to get a good job, people need education. More than once I had to leave my family to other communities to get education.

Living in Ontario is very different from Nunavut, in terms of environment and culture. Coming from a remote northern village and moving to Ottawa was cultural shock in lot of ways. That really taught me respect for myself of who and where I am coming from. In addition, it makes a person able to set aside his difference of others. One learns as well, the meaning of education.

As a child, when I started going to school in the early 60s, I learned there were people living in Greenland, who were just like us. Most of all there were other countries, people with different colours and languages. In some parts of the world, the cold winter never comes around.

I do not think I would have moved back to the North if I did not get a job with one of Inuit organizations in the territory. October 2000 was the year that I moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut. I ran into my old Qalunaat friend, who I had not seen for long time. I did not even recognize him. I remember he was laughing and asked me what I was doing back in the North. I shared with him how fortunate I was, getting that job with the Inuit organization, and the creation of Nunavut seemed to be promising for people like me. He turned around and told me, “Jaani, you will eventually return back south, eh.” I never understood that comment, but I think I know now what he meant.

Since I have been back with my family in our home community, where we grew up, I have felt that I have been totally discriminated against by my own people when I applied for jobs.

I can now understand how its feels for the non-natives who moved up North to Inuit communities with families and kids. The racism and prejudice does exist in our homeland. Not just toward other cultural backgrounds — even toward fellow Inuit.

I know for a fact that education can give us choices. It allows us to deal with our bitterness, so we can be effective if we plan to serve the people in our homeland. We cannot change the history, but we can chose to let go of the past and learn from it. Moreover, accept the present, as they say, it’s a gift. Tomorrow, is more like hope because I do not know what will exactly happen, but we can plan for better future for our children. Not to let them carry our hurts and bitterness.

When MLAs of the Nunavut Government makes stupid and racial remarks about their women and using IQ to put down other people, I believe those type of comments are discriminatory remarks. Isn’t that right, Mr. Speaker?

If I were a Speaker in my legislative assembly, I don’t think I would tolerate that kind of behaviour. I would get into the real issues, making laws that can be more meaningful to northern lifestyle and more relevant to its peoples.

I don’t have anything against Nunavut, I am very proud of MLAs. I watch them during their meetings and I see that they speak in their own languages without shame of Inuktitut. But when leaders are being controlled by their own emotional stuff, that makes me wonder how effective they are in their other meetings — which we don’t see on TV.

Jaani Takawgak
Pond Inlet

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