June 30, 2017 – Many Inuit have said that we are proud Inuit and also proud Canadians. The late Jose Kusugak, who is someone very dear to me and a former ITK President, coined the phrase “first Canadians, Canadians first.” That is the way that many Inuit describe ourselves to Canada and to the world, despite being subjected to Canada’s colonial policies in their many forms. This speaks to our resilience, patience, and forgiving nature as a people.
This July 1st, ITK is celebrating Inuit society and celebrating Canada. We have an amazing language culture, history, and future. What we want for ourselves and our families, we would also like for all other Canadians. Our differences can be our greatest strength in building a Canada that is more respectful, more enlightened, and more Indigenous. Canada has a unique opportunity as a nation to truly embrace Inuit self-determination, and the time is now to realize this opportunity.
On Canada’s 150th anniversary, we are proud to introduce a storytelling project focusing on our relationship with Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homeland in Canada) from time immemorial (taimannganit). Over the next two years, we will be sharing stories about our legends, our histories, and our relationship with the land, sea, environment, and all living things within it. Through these stories, we hope to build Inuit unity, and create a greater appreciation of Inuit history among all Canadians. We are still here. We are resilient, and we look forward to sharing our resilience, our knowledge, and our love of our environment and land with you through this project.
In our first Inuit Nunangat Taimannganit story, Allen Kooneeluisie takes us to his hunting place, Nalluqsiaq, outside Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. Sadly, Allen died just a month after this piece was filmed. We dedicate it to his memory and offer our thanks to his family for allowing us to share this story with you.