Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are we too nice for our own good?

I have been thinking about this question for a while.

Are we, as Inuit, too nice for our own good?

The reason I ask is that i was in Iqaluit last week and went to a concert where the half or more than half the audience was Inuit or English speaking Inuit. No french, well maybe, but you could count them in your hands. But in spite of that, the audience was listening to french performers from Quebec and an over-hyped french MC.

I have nothing against the french, except that they are kinda arrogant. And I know because I have lived among the french-canadians. They are nice people and are not too nice for their own good. I like their toughness and insistence that people who go to Quebec speak their language, which is french. I like that about them.

So back to being an Inuk.

When I was growing up I have been told to be nice through out my whole childhood and to respect people no matter who or what they might be. And I believe I act in such a way sometimes. Not all the time but sometimes and anyways, who was the last person that was absolutely nice to everyone? Even Jesus wasn't nice in the church when he went mad. Buddha wasn't always nice either and made some mistakes. My parents who are mostly nice are not always nice either. Even you who might disagree, your grandparents were not always nice. Inuit were not always nice. Its a fact. We are just human beings.

So to that concert, again. No one understood except the two black performers who spoke french and maybe the MC. After the concert, I was having tea with my father when i told him the show sucked because no one understood them and he said something that surprised me: imagine you were bilingual and you get mail from the government and you have no idea if you are summoned for a jury or if you own money or if its just mail. It hurt me that my father has been on this earth for 68 years and has never had a good service in Inuktitut.

And then, it hit me again. Are we just to nice to not be demanding Inuktitut in our services? Are we too nice not to force the Northwest Company to start hiring Inuktitut speaking managers, or make every traveller have a difficult time understanding when they come through?

Do you think this is bad?

It never stops a white man to travel to China just because he doesn't speak chinese or to Japan. Those countries don't succumbed to english just to welcome their money or just to be nice to them. They've had enough of people going to their country and accommodating them.

Have you had enough of accommodating these people?

I have had enough of turning the other cheek. Not only turn the other cheek, it's as if we had been bending over for them, walking on fire for them and even zipping their fly for them.

I am going to force the next person who doesn't speak Inuktitut to hire an Inuk to translate for him or her and not just succumbed to being nice.

I went to a government of Nunavut services desk and, get this, its an Inuk lady that say qanuippit perfectly, but when i start speaking Inuktitut she gives me a look of disgust because she doesn't understand anything i say. This is a government that prides itself of being in an Inuit territory. Its not the way to go anymore and we have to be assertive.

I am doing this because i no longer want my father to feel like an outsider in his own town, territory and country.


Robin said...

You could at least fucking cuss a little.

Anonymous said...

That sounds terrible. I'm sorry that it's like that. I would love to learn Inuktitut, and then travel to Nunavut and be able to impress people with my skills. I'm sure I'd get a few laughs for my accent, but I'd certainly try!

For some reason though, I feel that your situation and the French is a little different. I guess mainly because it goes back to you guys actually living here first. So it would be nice if your language could be used more often and for you to get services in your own language, whereas for the French maybe it's just the way they go about it that bothers me, I'm not sure.

Anyways, you have a good blog. It's nice to read from your perspective: An Inuk down south instead of only (mainly) white people up north. (But of course I love reading their blogs too).

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