Tammarniit (Mistakes): Inuit Relocation in the Eastern Arctic, 1939-63

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UBC Press, Nov 1, 2011 - Social Science - 434 pages
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Recent media attention on the dire living conditions of the Innu in Davis Inlet, Labrador, has served as a stark reminder of the tragic outcome of Canadian government policy toward the Inuit in the eastern Arctic between 1939 and 1963. In Tammarniit, Frank Tester and Peter Kulchyski focus on the roles of relief and relocation in response to welfare and other perceived problems and the federal government's overall goal of assimilating the Inuit into the dominant Canadian culture. As a result, the seeming benevolence of the post-Second World War Canadian welfare state is seriously questioned.

The authors have made extensive use of archival documents, many of which have not been available to researchers before, among them the Alex Stevenson Collection, which was stored in the Archives of the Northwest Territories and which proved to be invaluable in determining the course of events and the evolution of northern policies.

Tammarniit begins with an account of the debate over which branch of government should be responsible for the Inuit and whose budget should cover the costs for providing relief. This debate was resolved in 1939 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government was responsible. The following chapters cover the first wave of government expansion in the north, which coincided with the evolution of the postwar liberal welfare state; the policy debate that resulted in the decision to relocate Inuit from relatively southern communities on the east coast of Hudson Bay to the high Arctic; and the actual movement of people and materials.

The second half of the book focuses on conditions following relocation. A great deal of attention is paid to the Henik Lake and Garry Lake famines, both of which occurred in the Keewatin district in the late 1950s, and to the subsequent establishment of the community of Whale Cove. The book concludes with an examination of the second wave of state expansion in the late fifties and the emergence of a new dynamic of intervention.


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1 Are Inuit Indians? Relief Jurisdiction and Government Responsibility
2 Social Welfare and Social Crisis in the Eastern Arctic
3 Planning for Relocation to the High Arctic
The 1953 Relocations to Resolute Bay and Craig Harbour
5 The Ennadai Lake Relocations 195060
6 The Garry Lake Famine
7 The Whale Cove Relocation
8 Relocation and Responsibility 195563

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Page 8 - In other words, the cultural scheme is variously inflected by a dominant site of symbolic production, which supplies the major idiom of other relations and activities. One can thus speak of a privileged institutional locus of the symbolic process, whence emanates a classificatory grid imposed upon the total culture.
Page xv - Research for this essay was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and one from le Fonds quebecois de la recherche sur la societe et la culture.

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About the author (2011)

Frank Tester is a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia. Peter Kulchyski is a professor in the Department of Native Studies at Trent University.

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