Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 3, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Residential School – Chesterfield Inlet

(Posted with permission)


If you were looking for some light humour today, check out the comics or Colbert. You won’t find any in this post.

Unlucky numbers.

The obvious one is 13. When Friday the 13th rolls around, ominous things are supposed to happen. Many hotels don’t have a 13th floor. The list goes on.

I would like to add another unlucky number: 215.

Two hundred and fifteen, beautiful, innocent children were tossed unceremoniously into a mass grave in Kamloops. They were ripped from their parents’ arms and forced to attend a residential school. This is yet another stain on our country. The wounds left over from this tragic chapter of Canadian history never healed. The scab has been ripped off… again.

Over a year ago, I was introduced to Piita Irniq. Here is a brief bio. Please take time to read about this distinguished Canadian. Among other things, Piita is a survivor of a residential school seen in the picture above. He is a wonderful writer, storyteller, and educator. He regularly posts stories on Facebook, many of them explaining Inuit culture. A few days ago, after hearing about the tragedy, he reposted an older story that he had told before. With Piita’s permission, I am sharing it with you. There are thousands more of these stories.

“I feel, today is the right time to repeat these words, words I said, long time ago, and I said in part:

“I was kidnapped, by a Roman Catholic priest, in broad daylight, right in front of my parents! We were at our summer camp near Naujaat, a tiny settlement on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay, getting ready to walk to inland, for our annual caribou hunt.

It was in 1958, I was 11 years old, and I was to attend Sir Joseph Bernier Federal Day School in Igluligaarjuk – Chesterfield Inlet – for the first time.

Little did my parents or I know that this was the beginning of leaving behind my culture, language, Inuit Spirituality; and the practice of Shamanism for which we used for healing, special relationship among us Inuit, with animals, land, our past and the future. We were to be assimilated into the Qallunaaq world, to think like a European.

The losses we experienced were to be permanent. The impact on all of us – my family, my friends and many of us who are now seen to be leaders of our people – was traumatic. Many of us have spent our lives trying, in many different ways, to bring ‘meaning’ back into lives that were emptied of the ideas, beliefs and relationships that for thousands of years, brought meaning and purpose to Inuit. Some have turned to this modern religion, called Christianity. Others, like me, are convinced that recovering the culture we lost is essential to giving direction not only to ourselves, but also to future generation.”


I just returned home from two years in Northern Quebec in an Inuit community. Kangiqsujuaq is one of fourteen villages in the Nunavik region. It is a place of stunning beauty. It is also a place that still shows the scars of the past. I saw it in the weathered lines in the faces of older people in the village. These are people who for centuries lived on the land and lived off the land. They hunted, fished and trapped as a means of survival. Life was not easy but easier, as it turns out, before the arrival of European fur traders, missionaries and residential schools. The collapse of the seal hunt, thanks in part to the heroic efforts of starlets and famous musicians, devastated their economy and a way of life. Add forced relocations and the killing of the sled dogs and you can see why their brows are furrowed.

Lowering flags is an important gesture as is the placing of 215 pairs of shoes at various sites across Canada. Maybe it is time to take some of the passion and energy that we devote to sports and other endeavors, to learn a bit of history.  Maybe you can start by viewing this NFB documentary called “Angry Inuk”.


When you’re finished watching this, listen to some wonderful Inuit musicians, The Jerry Cans.


We have a lot to answer for, especially religious orders who have caused so much harm.


I am an angry Qallunaat (white person).


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