Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Northwest Passage is already Canadian

So read the headline in the October 27, 2009 edition of the NATIONAL POST.

By and large, I agree with the writer, Michael Byers, especially when there were motions within the federal government to change the name to “Canadian Northwest Passage” and “ the Canadian Internal Waters.”  As most know this was to try and settle the on-going sovereignty issue from external challenges. The article went on to read that any new name would (should) “reflect the history of Inuit use and occupation of the waters in question for thousands of years, and the reality of continuing Inuit use and occupation.” I’ll second that.

The Arctic is a huge part of Canada’s image, i.e. the inukshuk, the polar bear, northern lights, igloos, icebergs, the people and their art; yet, very few people including ordinary Canadians have experienced its allure. Myself, being Inuvialuit (Inuit) from the Western Arctic have traveled throughout the Arctic including a voyage of the “Northwest Passage” in 1995. Those memories are still very vivid. My account of that trip includes Inuit still occupying the land, hunting, fishing, and gathering according to the rhythm of the seasons. They will continue to do so for as long as the rivers flow. Thanks to the Inuit across the Arctic, the Northwest Passage will always be Canadian.

Regarding any name change, it is a requirement in the Nunavut Land Claim agreement, “to consult the Inuit before changing the name of any geographic feature in the territory.” After all, the Inuit too are already Canadian given their allocation of social insurance numbers, health care numbers, and passport numbers...and whatever other numbers that denotes them already Canadian.