By Jack Hicks
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Northern Public Affairs’ editorial policy.The editors have contacted the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq’s office and offered space on this website to respond.
Our Nunavut political correspondent, Jack Hicks, on Minister Leona Agglukkaq’s recent comments about the United Nations food envoy.
Once upon a time there was a very lovely land populated by a wide range of Indigenous peoples, who differed by language, kinship structure, and economic activity.
Then non-Indigenous peoples showed up, and gradually… took over the best of the land. They cut down trees, put up fences, created farms, built shops and factories, and eventually built cities.
The Indigenous peoples in the south of the country were gradually dispossessed of their land. They ended up living largely on their own in marginal areas far away from cities, or in poor neighbourhoods in the cities. A modest Indigenous middle class developed, but the majority of the Indigenous population was, at least in cash terms, poor. And their health indicators (average life expectancy, etc.) were poor too.
That Indigenous communities and culture survived at all was remarkable, given the multiple assaults embodied in colonization.
The north of the country hadn’t yet proven to be of significant economic value to the non-Indigenous economy, so the Indigenous peoples who lived there were left alone for much longer. Eventually traders and missionaries arrived in the north, and government officials (starting with police officers) followed. It took a while for the government officials to decide how to deal with the Indigenous population, but eventually it was decided that for administrative convenience they should be coerced into living in settled communities.
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