By Darcy Kuppaq and Cassandra Elphinstone
To focus attention on the changes affecting Inuit traditional subsistence lifestyle, Darcy Kuppaq organized a forum at her high school in her small community of Hall Beach, Nunavut during the GAIAactivism Day of Gathering. These initiatives by Inuit youth are an important step for communities to communicate locally as well as to help outsiders understand the Inuit viewpoint. Here are Darcy’s comments about what occurred during the forum:
I talked to my classmates about climate change, community development, and our habits that seem strange to white people. What has come up during the forum is that our culture became at risk when the first white people came here. When this happened we were not allowed to talk our language and they told us about our behaviors and that we had to change our behaviors. That’s not like our being ourselves. That was us having to be someone else. We have struggled to regain our power back from the white people. This has influenced our youth very badly. At the forum I was talking about how we could make a change because we have the power to. God said so. Youth here in this town of Hall Beach are still wandering and trying to belong. That’s how it is poor here in my town.
I said to them that when we were kids, we were pretending to be adults. We didn’t grow out of this and now we are still pretending to be someone else. We are still not being serious. I then yelled at them “You guys are capable of doing things that are Impossible to others. All you need to do is choose to be and to do things. Now our climate is going to change forever. We have to wake up and move on. Our community has seen little changes and that is good for us. Youth can progress with this. We don’t need modern changes. We need to be one with the nature.”
I asked them what they wanted for the future.
They replied a bigger arena, a theatre, and a swimming pool.
I asked what you can do about it. How can you make it happen?
They were silent for a while. I said to them “Don’t you know that you are the key to open every door that you want. Don’t you know what great power that you have as youth? Sure all of us have problems in our families. I have a brother that smokes up every day, my sister tells me the right things to do and I have alcoholic parents. I survived and I chose to have a better life. What about you? You have a special gift too.”
What we could do about these sorts of situations? We can talk about it, learn from our mistakes and get people to know about it. Inuit people today are humble and trying to live comfortably while facing the challenges of everyday life. We are not striving for survival anymore. It’s now about our need for money in order to live decently.