Six young Inuit from Nunavut Territory have travelled some 2,400 km to the University of British Columbia to re-examine the history of their communities.
Many of their Elders were subjects of Farley Mowat’s well-known books, People of the Deer and The Desperate People, which documented famines that devastated many Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s.
From August 13-23, the students will be exploring UBC’s more than 11,000 historical documents related to the eastern Arctic. Led by Frank Tester, a professor at UBC’s School of Social Work and Arctic historian, the collection is the largest of its kind in the world.
[Editors: Tester is also available to comment on yesterday’s historic apology by the Government of Canada to the Inuit.]
The students, aged 18-30, will be examining archival records detailing introduction of schools, famines, epidemics of TB, measles and other diseases and the construction of health clinics and wood frame housing for people who lived in tents and igloos until the early 1960s.
Students will be filming their experiences as they explore documents and interview key figures from Canada’s North, including former commissioners of the Northwest Territories Stuart Hodgson and John Parker and people who worked in Arviat in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The group will also be visiting several Vancouver destinations, including Science World and a Vancouver Canadians baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium.
The group is part of the Nanisiniq (meaning “journey of discovery”) Arviat History Project, which connects Inuit youth and Elders in Arviat – formerly Eskimo Point – an Inuit community on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay.
Media are invited to interview the students and Tester by phone or in person.
- Inuit students exploring UBC archives (various times)
- Film training and editing in False Creek location (various times)
- Vancouver Canadians baseball game at Nat Bailey (Friday evening)
- Science World (Sunday 10 a.m.-noon)