Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Olympic Flame...Government Shame?

Seems as the 2010 Olympic flame criss-crosses Aboriginal communities, issues such as environmental, social conditions, and past experiences are exposed. The latest headline read, “The flame arrives, but Inuit still await an apology,” outlined in the Nov. 10, 2009 issue of the GLOBE AND MAIL.

In recent years, the federal government has been mired in a caseload of claims regarding students who have experienced the former residential school system and are living the legacy of physical and sexual abuses by the various churches. After some pressure from former students and politically bodies, Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally apologized on national television in June, 2008 to all Aboriginal people for its 130 years of institutional ill-fated attempt to assimilate and integrate the First Nation, Inuit, and M├ętis people. Apology accepted.

Seems another apology is warranted, This time, in the historic relocation of Northern Quebec Inuit to what is now the community of Resolute and, may I add, the community of Grise Fiord both located in desolate locations in what is now Nunavut. In 1953, “families (were) dumped and abandoned by Ottawa…” According to Inuit Survivors still living today, the federal government promised to return a year later to bring them back south to their former homes in Northern Quebec. They’re still there. One of them was George Eckalooh who as 11 years old at the time said, “My parents tried to get back to Quebec but the government never gave them an opportunity.” Apparently, this government initiative was to address the sovereignty issue during the beginnings of the Cold War.

While there has been financial compensation offered to the dislocated Inuit, they want “to get the one thing the people of Resolute Bay want most: an apology from Ottawa.” Still, the Inuit of Resolute have taken part in the celebration of the 2010 Olympic flame as George Eckalooh says, “If the torch makes them (youth) happy, or better still inspires them to do great things, then its presence here will have been worth it.”

In the end, the dislocated Inuit would like the federal government to do one great thing….apologize.