Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Inuit Relocations

Resilience and Reconciliation

by Frank James Tester and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski

The Inuit community has proven resilient to many attempts at assimilation, relocation and evacuation to the south. The Canadian government has apologized for their racist policies.

In a highly visible and appealing format for young readers, this book explores the forced Inuit relocations in the Canadian Arctic between the 1950s and 1990s. Government decisions were often based on misinformation and racist attitudes, and their ill-considered decisions changed Inuit lives forever. This book includes Inuit responses, resilience and strength in the face of these government actions, as well as eventual government apologies for many of the relocations.

The book begins with a look at the traditional life of Inuit of Canada’s North, affected early on by contact with whalers and the development of the fur trade. The collapse of the fur trade following the Second World War led to dramatic changes to the lives of Inuit, including the relocation of Inuit from Inukjuak, Arctic Quebec, to the Canadian High Arctic. But Inuit lives were also uprooted in many other ways. The results included deaths from starvation, separation from family and culture for the treatment of contagious diseases and appalling living conditions as Inuit were forced to adapt from living off the land to permanent settlements.

Other events examined include the killing of sled dogs by the RCMP and the relocation of Inuit children to settlement-based federal day schools. The abuse the students suffered often paralleled what happened to Indigenous children in southern Canada.  

Historical photos, primary documents and first-hand accounts of Inuit experiences show these injustices and how Inuit fought back. Readers will discover the resilience of Inuit in maintaining their culture and language and learn of the incredible contribution Inuit continue to make to the richness and diversity of Canadian culture.

About the Authors

FRANK TESTER is a writer, filmmaker, researcher and photographer who has worked extensively in the eastern Arctic with Inuit youth and communities. Frank has worked for the Qikiqtani Truth Commission and the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His books include Tammarniit (Mistakes), for which he was awarded the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize. He is also a recipient of the Gustavus Myers Award for his contribution to the study of human rights in North America and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation Trustee’s Award in recognition of his work with Inuit youth and Elders. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Native Studies, University of Winnipeg. Frank lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

KRISTA ULUJUK ZAWADSKI is an Inuk who has focused her education and career on Arctic anthropology and archaeology, museology and collections-based research. She holds a Master's Degree in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia and is a PhD candidate at Carleton University in Ottawa. Krista has co-curated exhibits that feature Inuit artists and written articles for the Inuit Art Quarterly and Museum Anthropology.  Krista is from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

Subjects (BISAC)

Resource Guide

Righting Canada's Wrongs Resource Guide

Righting Canada's Wrongs Resource Guide

A resource guide for the Righting Canada's Wrongs series that provides lessons in historical thinking.

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