To prevent the destruction of their hunting grounds, the remote hamlet of Clyde River in Nunavut and the Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed to hear the case later this year. This case is in an isolated region. But the threat of massive development in yet another traditional territory is not an isolated case.
Combined with the dramatic crash in fox fur prices, significant changes in Canada's welfare system post-WWII left Northern communities in a state of dependence. Family allowances became the major source of income, adding pressure on Inuit communities to conform and "modernize" according to Western standards. By the 1960s, most Inuit abandoned their semi-nomadic lifestyle, some by force, to live in permanent settlements. This new way of life was in complete rupture with their past.
The Alberta government clearly has a reason for wanting to facilitate the export of more oil and gas via the proposed TransCanada Energy East and Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipelines. But the NDP committed in its election platform to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to "work with Alberta Indigenous Peoples to build a relationship of trust and ensure respectful consultation."
To most Canadians, the Arctic is a faraway and mysterious place. It's a romantic piece of our history and identity. That wildness and cold is something we're proud of, but we don't know much about. It should play a bigger role in our consciousness. The Arctic makes up almost 40 per cent of Canada's landmass and two-thirds of our coastline.
Seven years ago today, the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons and delivered a poignant apology to the survivors of residential schools. The apology means nothing if all Canadians do not understand the history behind it. The Prime Minister has refused to deal with appalling gaps in health, education and economic outcomes, nor the deplorable living conditions in many aboriginal communities.
As Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) releases its final report about the residential school system for aboriginal children we wonder, where is Canada's catharsis? With little media coverage up until the release of the final report, and even less public engagement, Canada has had no such emotionally transformative moment. Canada needs reconciliation. The last residential school only closed in 1996. All aboriginal communities still suffer from their impact
Last week, the world observed Earth Hour. Across Canada people flipped off the lights in a symbolic gesture to support action against climate change. But some influential voices like Watt-Cloutier and Mary Robinson -- former prime minister of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner -- suggest we're looking at climate change the wrong way. Climate change is not only an environmental issue, they say. It's also a human rights issue.
On balance, however, this was not a good year for world peace. Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the West's response, pushed the world closer to a new Cold War. Revelations about the CIA's use of torture were enough to shake anyone's faith in the goodness of humanity. Meanwhile, the Middle East spiralled downward with greater violence in Gaza, Syria and Iraq. At home we are still not on track to meet our emissions targets. And the strongest praise environmentalists could muster for the climate change deal reached in Lima, Peru, last week was to wince and say it is "better than nothing."
Commercial sealing advocates find it exceptionally difficult to win hearts and minds with the truth. Because the truth is an industrial scale, non-aboriginal slaughter in which defenseless seal pups less than three months of age are horribly beaten and shot to death for their fur. It is a wasteful kill, in which the carcasses are normally dumped at sea.
Inuit live among polar bears. So it baffles me when well-meaning people who have never seen a polar bear outside a zoo or cruise ship or glass-walled buggy seek to impose rules to govern how Inuit interact with bears, to determine how we should engage in a cycle of life that has allowed both Inuit and polar bears to survive for thousands of years.
At its core, the book Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit captures Inuit worldview. It is a holistic way of living in an increasingly interconnected world and is based in four big laws. It is critical in preserving wisdom and cultural practices at risk of being lost in the next generation. I'm grateful to have spent the last four days in Arviat, Nunavut (Northern Canada) participating in a fascinating roundtable dialogue with Inuit Elders from across the territory about maintaining their traditional culture in a rapidly changing world.