Sunday, January 31, 2010

INAC Will Implement NLCA

“Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this Government intends to use it. Because Canada’s Arctic is central to our national identity as a northern nation. It is part of our history. And it represents the tremendous potential of our future,” said Stephen Harper back in July 2007.

Indian & Northern Affairs Canada and the Prime Ministers office along with the Privy Council of Canada announced this morning that they will implement the entirety of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (NLCA) to be true to what the Prime Minister said back in July 2007.

Chuck Strahl, the minister of INAC, PM Stephen Harper and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq gave a press conference to a packed conference room in downtown Ottawa hotel to announce their intentions and to apologize for the unnecessary agony that Inuit families and politicians alike had to endure for the past 17 years, since the signature of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement in 1993.

PM Stephen Harper said this personally: "We apologized to residential school victims and now we are doing another historic initiative to mend our twisted view of the world, that we have been imposing on the Inuit of Nunavut. We have been telling Inuit how to live, telling them how to go to school and how to spend their money. From now on we are giving all control of government operations to the Inuit of Nunavut and as additional improvement of our relations with Inuit, we are recompensing them with an extra $5 Billion for the destruction of their traditional lifestyles. Inuit of Nunavut, Canada is truly sorry!"

As the Prime Minister was reading the speech written personally by himself, a tear of guilt slowly ran down his cheeks as he remembered all the wrong-doings that the government has done to Inuit. Chuck Strahl was there for his boss and held his hand (more like clutching), as they both wept out of sheer embarrassment.

As they both cried, you could see a smirk in the face of the Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, as she delivered what no other MP has done for their constituency, the implementation of a land claim. When asked what she thinks of the historic announcement, she said, "I am really happy, ecstatic and hardly can keep my laughter out, out of sheer happiness. When Gandhi was asked what he thinks of Western civilizations, he replied, 'I think it's a good idea' and now, we are saying that as Inuit, Western civilization has only been a good idea, didn't mean we had to accept everything part of it and what this government is saying is precisely that."

Inuit representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik were not available for comment. There were persistent rumours that the executive of NTI didn't believe the announcement as they thought it was hoax and didn't see the need to attend the press release. They are rumoured to be in Iqaluit, watching the whole event on television.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Going Commando" to meet some Ministers

Man. I am really arguing with myself to write about this. But a blog is a blog and i have to reduce my self to a lint if i am to attract some readers.

Going Commando is a word that don't go very well with "going to meet the minister of health."

Wait, wait, wait. Does everyone know what "going commando" is? If not I'll explain my best. Wikipedia says this: is the practice of not wearing underwear under one's outer clothing.

am i weird yet?

Don't ask me why i went "going commando" to meet the minister. I am not a pervert and politicians don't turn me on at all. there was nothing sexual about it. Maybe i just didn't have clean underwear and forgot my mother's advice: always have a fresh pair of qalliralaaqs (under wears).

So there i was, at Hotel Marriot, at the Victoria room, standing among people wearing ties and dresses, with a few cameras in the room. One lady showed me in and asked if i am part of the media? I said nope, here to see the minister and she said, oh, your a Inuk. I said yes and told her i am part of a research team that is getting the funding she is announcing.

That's where it began. Her eyes popped open, she just saw the best picture opportunity of the minister's career: a young Inuk man, wearing a white shirt with a black and white striped tie. Hair so dark and thick hanging across his face, little slanted eyes that just woke up an hour before, and a bow-legged walk.

the white people there must have thought, "wow is he a chinese politician? is he from Vietnam? He must be a foreign dignitary?" by the way the lady ushered me in, pushing people away, saying she has to go up to the minister. i was like Tom Cruise being led to meet Oprah Winfrey. By the way i was handled, i could have been a chinese martial artist or an entourage of the Dalai Lama. I felt important because i have never been led by a white person who wasn't either security or a cop. I was smiling from that, not because i was going to meet Leona. I have met Leona. but this was too good to her entourage.

She shook my hand and the flashes went off. cameras and flashes. she held my hand and they felt like nurse hands, cold and almost boney. She smiled and looked at the camera like she was Penelope Cruz. she asked me what i do and i told her i was researching and the funding you announced is good for us. And i told her i write a blog and other things as well. She kept saying "ajungii." Actually that belittled me more than anything because she kept saying it as if i was a little kid. I am my parents youngest child and they don't even say "ajunngiii" to me.

anyways, there i was going commando with the minister 1 inch away from my butt and who knows what and i felt weird. i wanted to get out ASAP. which i did actually, As soon as it was over, i left. i left like i was being chased by lynchers. I got out so fast that all i left was a foot mark on those plushest of carpets in downtown Ottawa hotels.

and on my way to NS all i could think of was my day is horrible. I was angry and angry at nothing and everything. Just two minutes ago, i was the greatest actor with my fake smiles and fake enthusiasm. and here i was on the bus, feeling like lashing out at people. But i didn't. But i gave people the look of seriousness and the look of anger. I was angry.

Got to NS. Opened a book and just two minutes into the book, the minister of environment and the premier of Nunavut show up to the class. I am embarrassed again as i think, "will they know i have no underwear?" And minister Shewchuck shakes me hand and shook his hand too. I don't like how qallunaat think it is good for men to shake so hard, which he did and i had to yank away. handshake is a hanshake, is a gesture, not some goddamned indicator of manliness. i didn't say that!

anyways, we were sitting and i asked him, you are the minister of environment and he says yes. I don't like politicians and i had to make a remark, because i think its absurd you can be a minister of the environment, so i remarked to him what he thinks of the weather today as the minister of environment. He says its warm. hahahaha. Does he know that i am without underwear in this warm weather?

Because i had already met a woman politician, i didn't go say hi to the premier. not because she is a women but because she is a politician. I detect fake smiles better than NASA detect new planets. i don't feel like talking to people today. remember i was angry.

to end this off, i will tell this: The minister of health Leona said "its not everyday that i get to meet my constituents" And i feel like lashing out "I am not your damn constituent, i have been living in Ottawa longer than you have." Which i don't do because my father tells me to be nice.

You decide if this is a true story. you decide if i really went commando to meet the minister of health. but i did meet all those people the other day, the question is was i or wasn't i wearing underwear?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hospitality of Montreal

I just came back from a day trip to Montreal. it is now 7:30 and i am now writing about my day in Montreal and how refreshingly hospitable it was in such a big city as itself. Maybe its a once in a lifetime hospitality that I'll never experience from complete strangers again.

We left this morning, me and Derek, and started driving in the rain. We talked about a poetry reading we went to the other day and how one of them was very good. He managed to talk about Canada in a positive way but at the same time exposing what is negative about the country. I really like his show. if you want to see him, he is here.

to get back to the point, we drove through the rain. The mist from big trucks was hard to see through.

We made it, without getting into an accident. We made it with our bodies intact, with eye balls still in the socket. We made it to the second largest city in Canada, with confusing traffic signs and even crazier drivers that don't really care if you swerve two meters away from them. We went through the endless traffic of downtown Montreal, with faces of black, green, brown, many brown, white and all sorts of colours that there is no label for. We make it to our destination and head to the elevator.

I am lead to a room, a waiting room, which is so modern i feel like i am at the Jetsons cartoon show. It eerily has the same colours except there is no escalator to lead us everywhere. While we waited, a Mohawk comes through and he has to be at least 7 foot. Huge. I looked up to him and shook his hand. He did the English recording. Imagine that, a Mohawk encouraging all Canadians to become RCMP officers. And out of nowhere he says he hates the RCMP. He hates the RCMP, he doesn't get along with them politically. He says fuck this and that. He seems to be on his ground, but i wish he wasn't so angry, then i realize he has a five hundred year history with the authorities and the RCMP is one of them again: to encroach their ideas of justice to another group of people not like them.

In half an hour I am done with my recordings. At the beginning, the guy says he will be my director. I ask him to direct me on what? he says on my recording. So, i ask him how can he direct me when he has no idea what i am saying, unless he can learn Inuktitut in five minutes, only then will he direct me. He gave me an uncomfortable smile. I instantly start feeling bad for him and try to help him out as much. At the end, he shakes my hand and says i did well.

After the recording, i go meet up with my buddy Derek again, at a restaurant. We talk with another lady and have some soup and the greatest falafel sandwich ever. i was amazed by the taste and the atmosphere of the restaurant is peaceful and hippie-ish.

After lunch, we go to the bus station and he drops me off. I didn't have my ritual of smoking after eating, so as soon as i buy my bus ticket to go back home. I go outside in the rain for a cigarette. Now, i have been outside of that bus station many times and have been asked for a cigarette many more times. But this guy goes up to me and asks for a light. I give him one. He jerks his head so fast to look to towards me that it almost frightens me and asks something in french. In my best french i say s'il vous plaƮt anglais? He smiles and says in french accented english: I just came back from the country after two weeks, you want to smoke a joint? I say, no (pretty rare, if you ask me) and tell him i still have to work and be on the bus and says, "me understand, i don't do in front my parents too."

I didn't think much about it. And now a "guy", another french man, goes straight up to me and says something in french again. I say, sorry, i don't speak french. and the first guy who offered me weed, starts translating for me. At first i think he is kidding, but realize that the "guy" is serious. The "guy" asks: do you have 50 cents, i am trying to get to Quebec city and i can smoke with you. I hear this through a translator and i think he is kidding but he is serious. I had just arrived to the bus terminal and have been offered two joints in a matter of five minutes. Now this is strange, i don't usually get offered free weed. What is even more strange is the fact that the "guy" has shaved sideburns, with a hint of grey hair and on top of his head is nothing but neon green hair. I start thinking: he must be the oldest Emo that this country has! of course he asks me if i am chinese or first nation and i say no to both and i am glad he doesn't ask again about my identity.

I said no to them both because i learned on TV when i was a kid that a mother once said to her little girl, "never take offers from strangers" and i go off with this thought.

an hour ago now, i was getting off the bus and a student from University of Ottawa bumped into me pretty hard. he doesn't even look back to say sorry or just to acknowledge that he walked into someone. Nope, he doesn't, he just walks and bumps into other people as well, without regard to them. I start thinking, since this is Ottawa, his parents must be bureaucrats, that walk like a zombie as much as he does.

And Montreal was so hospitable!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I had wrote this piece back in August of 2009, basically out of sheer desperation to write something. Any form of creative writing should be welcomed by Inuit. We should demand novels, poems, and essays rather than health reports and "state of the Inuit" reports or such boring crap. We have been written in reports as if we are disappearing, even from our own organizations. I know some of the reports accurately depict life in our communities but with such deplorable explanations of life, it diminishes our expectation for life.

Even short stories will tend to have an effect on society where it comes from, no matter how small.

ELMO is an acronym for a new organization that is being started up by thoughtless and irresponsible E-Know-Its. It stands for: E-Know-It Liberation Movement Organization.

ELMO tries to represent people who call themselves Inuit or Eskimos or however they want to be called. it strives to collectively recuperate the lost tea and biscuits the people couldn't have in the early 19th century and early 20th century.

In a interview with it's reclusive "leader", who can't be named for criminal activity reasons, he stated the intentions of the organization.

what is ELMO?

Elmo is a stuffed animal created by Sesame Street in the early 70's, who achieved fame in the 90's with it tickle me Elmo doll. it's rather creep and high pitched.

No, what is your organization ELMO?

Oh, sorry, i was phasing out, looking out the window. ELMO is a organization that was started after a realization that the colonizers of our lands were tea drinkers and they brought in the infamous hard biscuit and the pilot biscuits, that go so well with tea, and that this realization culminated from drinking tea. ELMO strives to bring back "sivataarvik" which is Saturday in your language, which means: the day to receive biscuits. With this first mission, we plan to bring the community to its grassroots policies, instead of this assimilation and integration policies, that brings us further away from our people.

Why E-Know-It?

the current young population is the first generation to have the knowledge of the wide range of information and the internet and what people call E-commerce. We just basically know it. And you may not know it, our people love to say "Eeee" when they are disgusted or astonished by something. It's a kind of a play on words, combining Inuit, knowledge, Eskimo, and we are working on our way to E-Commerce. Does that suffice?

Yes it does. and what are you liberating yourself from and is it really a movement?

Well, liberation from the constrictions of the world economy and produce our own form of monetary management, without using the capitalist and socialist systems. we are liberating ourselves from that. and yes, how dare you challenge that it's not a movement, when it surely is. I may be the only member at the moment but i plan on doing an extensive media campaign and public relations tour around our territories which cover the whole arctic archipelago and circumpolar north. you dig?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Year of the Inuit

This is my year!

If you are an Inuk, and living in Canada, this is your year. According to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

January 14, 2009 was the start of the year of the Inuit, which ITK has initiated, to raise awareness of Inuit issues to Canadians. On November 24, 2009, ITK president Mary Simon, announced the intention, before the start of the Olympic games in Vancouver. She stated, "While we are pleased that the Inuksuk, an Inuit symbol, is being used at the upcoming Olympics, we also have to ensure that our country sees us in more than just symbolic terms. The North wants in.”

We want in. Inuit want in. Or is it ITK that wants in?

I believe this is great idea, and how many times in our lifetimes as Inuit, can we ever have a whole year dedicated to our issues and ambitions?

So this is where i start telling my night for the event. I just had to explain a little about the event and what it was for. But this is my story as much as it is Inuit organization's stories.

I consider myself rather lucky, but i think ITK is rather lucky as well for me to attend the event. I first heard about the event and laughed about it and made fun of myself by saying that we going to have bannock making classes, no taxes for a year, proper implementations of Inuit land claims and that we are holding Inuktitut dances every month for twelve months. I had fun with the idea.

Then an idea came around when me and a buddy were eating, and we talked about creating a blog, for me to start writing on a weekly basis. We thought it was a great idea and i thought about it for week and decided that a great way to start this blog would be to write about the year of the Inuit event, where Inuit politicians are to be found, and it would be a great story. so I contacted the director if communications of ITK and asked him for the events and if it's possible to attend the event without me having to pay $200. i told him i am starting this blog. the next day i received an email from him saying that I'll be going as a freelance journalist, for free! How excited i was! did you get that? for free!!!

maybe i was wrong. maybe its not such a great story. who knows, you decide.

I walked over with Murray Angus to the event, which was held at the National Art Gallery. Just before the night started, people were encouraged to go see the Cape Dorset 50 year anniversary of their art production. I didn't go see the arts. I've seen enough Inuit art through my 27 year of living on this blue planet. So Murray and I were one of the first to enter the room where the celebrations were to happen. But just before we entered the room, we saw the president of Nunavut Tunngavik, and the first remark he made to us was: "you don't even look happy" we laughed with him. And i wondered if he really was that happy too?

the room we entered looked like the Star Trek Enterprise space ship, with strange blue lights all over, flat screen TV's showing images of Inuit in the Arctic, and an ice carved with the numbers 2010, slowly dripping and melting in the room. The servers were going around the room with trays of "exotic" Inuit foods, such as: caribou meatballs with LingonBerry sauce, (is that even a food Inuit have heard of LingonBerry?), smoked char on baguette croutades with dried blueberry butter, (what are croutades, another form of bannock?) dried caribou jerky which the server pronounced in Inuktitut, nikku, dried arctic char which she called pitsi, also correctly, Baffin shrimp bisque, pan seared scallops, served with porcini mushroom relish and celeriac salad, birch syrup glazed arctic char with confit potatoes and braised greens, agnolotti pasta with muskox tomato sauce and get this: natsik shepherds pie with sweet corn and mashed potatoes topped with herbed goat cheese butter. Because the potato, tomato and herbed goat cheese are such Inuit delicacies. for dessert we had akpik berries and minnie blueberry cakes and cranberry tarts. thats how it was, the food. and throughout the night, inuit musicians were played through the speakers, from throat singing to Charlie Adams.

Then the night started. Mary Simon went up to the podium and started the process. you know the usual political speeches, thanking people and whatnot and she announced the money raised will be put towards the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation and also who will be performing.

first to perform were the Ottawa Inuit children's centre preschool choir, which i thought was the best performance, as they sang in Inuktitut, while all the others didn't even do anything in Inuktitut. what a night for the start of the year of the inuit. a bunch of dignitaries were there, ranging from regional presidents to Peter Mansbridge and the wife of the prime minister, whose name i can't remember. Peter Mansbridge received the award for excellence in arctic journalism. and i did get to shake his hand. he didn't even look at me, just shook my hand, as there was a more important white dude talking to him. Taqralik Partridge performed as well accompanied by a violinist. Susan Aglukark sang a song, but i didn't bother listening and went for a smoke, with a white wine on my right hand and a cigarette on my left.

that was one of the best things about this event, the free wine. an eskimo is likely to be happy when anything is free. and the wine was free. i saw inuit holding beer and wine in there hands, mingling with the nations capital's politicians and people who are interested in inuit issues, mostly white haired retired individuals who need any excuse to mingle with the prorogued politicians. we talked and talked.

many people i know and have worked with were at the event, with the usual questions of: what do you think of the event? do you like the food? what do you do now? where are you working? what was your favourite performance? and so on...

so i drank more white wine... five glasses later, i was starting to feel my blood heating up, intoxication creeping in to my blood stream, no double vision yet, but i got the feeling there were people who were feeling like i do. people were laughing now, mingling, asking questions, giving out business cards and so on...

at the end of the event, Mary Simon announced that Inuit organizations were contributing $100,000 towards the Haiti Relief, with First Air flying a couple planes down to Haiti. I commend them for it. By this time, people were leaving and announcing where they were going after the show. Many of us went for a drink. At one point, i was sitting with the minister of health, premier of nunavut, president of NTI, and many Inuit who work in Inuit organizations. We drank beer. We got intoxicated, but we were not the typical Eskimos of the north, we were the southern Inuit who try to act like Inuit, who without realizing are much more different than the people we represent.

If i were the president of this organization, i would have done things so differently. I would let the audience (who were mostly white) know the realities of life in the north. It wouldn't be a formal event and it'd be held at a local inuit residence, with the same housing conditions of the north. I'd have obituaries of suicides from inuit communities throughout the walls, bannock would be served with jam and peanut butter, raw and cooked seal meat, all done the way Inuit would have done it, on the floor or just plain boiled. Farley Mowat would be in one room reading one of his books. Instead of Peter Mansbridge, I would have picked an Inuit former journalist. Forget poetry and throat singing, get one of those Nunavik rappers and a rock band from Igloolik and computers throughout the room with the connection speed of Inuit communities internet. I'd get the children who sang to read out articles and policies that the federal government hasn't implemented yet from our land claims and just like a inuit community christmas games, we'd stay up until 4 in the morning, dancing and playing games. Now that's how most Inuit start there year!