The plight of bereaved Inuit families


Inuit families whose relatives die in places other than Nunavut have a very difficult time dealing with northern and southern agencies when trying to get their deceased loved ones repatriated to their homeland for burial.

So far, the Government of Nunavut does not accept responsibility for assisting in cases where the deceased has lived outside of Nunavut for any length of time.

In most cases, the relatives of the deceased do not have the means of dealing with the high costs of air fare, funeral agencies, and all the other costs associated with these tragedies.

In some cases, airlines have kindly provided free transportation, but funeral companies in major cities have to be paid for the body preparation and embalming, procedures mandatory by law in all provinces, and very costly.

Some time before the final land claims agreement was signed, I approached the interim premier, Jack Anawak, on this very subject. I suggested to him that the federal government has always accepted responsibility for repatriating the deceased person to the North, therefore it was incumbent on the new government of Nunavut to ensure that a system was in place to deal with these unfortunate people.

After all, they are Inuit, there are not many such cases, and most of them are totally destitute. Surely Inuit have the right to be buried in their home land. Southern provincial governments are not interested in paying the costs involved.

All Inuit are beneficiaries of this land claim and should be dealt with accordingly, without putting their families through a tough and difficult time.

Bryan Pearson

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