Heritage Fair…in the Arctic

Each winter, at the Inuksuk High School, like so many teens across Canada, teens present their Heritage Fair projects. My son, Brennus, won 2nd in his class for his Heritage Fair presentation on the Prince Edward Island Railway. Being born white, in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he had the luxury of writing about a historic means of transportation and moving supplies. It’s history is so cool, and so well documented. A boastful, prideful history for PEI. Easy peasy.

“It is with a heavy heart for me experiencing the Inuit teen’s displays of their heritage. Filled with their history of residential school, relocation, the early years of trading of alcohol for furs. Even the Inuit history of being renamed with E-tags (a tag with a number, like a dog tag) is part of their Heritage.”

Congrats to the Inuit students for displaying and discussing their heritage. Their displays were very creative and well presented. But, I couldn’t help but leave feeling so saddened that this was the Inuit teen’s heritage.
The Qallunaat (non-Inuit) did such atrocities for so many years.
To my southern friends; No one is blaming you. Don’t get defensive when you read these, don’t say, “well, I didn’t do that, my parents didn’t do that…”, Don’t tell me how “bad your Irish great grandparents had it”. Just read, and understand and feel the pain in this history. These are excerpts of heritage fair projects by Canadian teenagers today. This is their heritage, their history and it’s not from very long ago.
Let me put this into perspective for some.
In the 1940’s the PEI Railway was the first in the country to introduce diesel fuel, a much more efficient and clean fuel. Cool, right!?
In the 1940’s the Canadian Government issued a dog tag to each Inuit for identification and they weren’t recognized by their name. What? Yeah…

Please don’t say to me, well, “they should just get over it”. These are today’s teens in Canada!!! They were asked to study their heritage and present it, like ALL other teens across the country. This is Canadian History! If you are Canadian, then this is YOUR history too.
Stop saying things to me like, “they are all drunks” (no, they’re not!!!), “why do they drink so much?”. Seriously? I grew up in Cape Breton where alcoholism was very common. I see lots of white drunks. Why does anyone drink a lot? Because they are hurting, they are lost, it’s a disease. We all know this, right?
Our country needs to heal. You need to help heal it. Read, understand, sympathize, don’t get defensive, stop slandering, stop generalizing.
Just be a nice human.
Just be nice.
On a positive note, there were a few displays of recent history about the Inuit tattoo revival and about the Canada Goose and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami program!
Google it all, read, understand, sympathize, don’t get defensive, stop slandering, stop generalizing. Be a nice human.
Perhaps in another 50 years, Inuit teens will be making presentations about marvelous, cool inventions and have an easier time during Heritage Fair time.

Inuit Tattoo revitalization.

2 thoughts on “Heritage Fair…in the Arctic

  1. This is a great blog and one beautiful thing about having widespread communication is the fact that humans can “really listen” to real stories to help make the world a better place. When humans listen to stories about how things work in other places, we can put in place change.


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