QIA to capture dog slaughter memories

“This is part of our history and it has to be known”

By JANE GEORGE

Pushing ahead with research into the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs in the Baffin Region in the 1950s and the relocation of Inuit from camps into communities will be a priority of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association over the next few months.

Many Inuit elders say their traditional way of life abruptly changed when government officials killed their sled dogs. Until snowmobiles became common many years later, hunters with no dog teams had trouble providing their families with food, and quickly became dependent on handouts and government assistance in the communities to meet their daily needs.

“This is part of our history and it has to be known,” said QIA’s executive director Terry Audla at the organization’s annual general meeting this week in Iqaluit. “We need to understand it and bring it into today’s history books.”

Audla said the Canadian government’s desire to keep track of Inuit and see how much it would cost to supply them with services are among possible explanations for why dog teams were shot and Inuit were encouraged to move into communities during this era.

The QIA has already supplied digital tape recorders to all Baffin communities to record interviews with elders who remember what happened during the 1950s.

The QIA set aside $30,000 in its 2004 budget to hire a part-time staff person to collect and transcribe interviews.

By February, QIA’s board should have interviews from all Baffin communities to review and be in a position to make a recommendation on the next step to take, said Joshua Qango, who is the head of the committee overseeing the dog slaughter and relocation files since 2003.

Makivik Corporation has also been compiling information about the slaughter and will premiere a screening of its film about the issue on Jan. 19 in Kuujjuaq.

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