Tuesday, February 27, 2024


     In my last post there were details missing that could help to make more sense of the situations. 

     The isolated settlement I went to had 188 Inuit and 12 white guys. I was hired as Local administrator , principal of a two room school and teacher. The administration was a tremendous amount of work but very interesting. For the local Administration I had a one hour open office right after school. With this job I issued welfare money. I would give them gas so that they could go hunting  with canoes or skidoos. I bought soapstone carvings everyday for the government. I had a $2000.00 monthly budget to buy carvings.  I supervised the mechanic who didn't need supervision. I had to check off supplies that came in on the ship. I looked after visiting administrators. Since there were no facilities to look after travelers I looked after them and as a result met some very interesting people. Fred Breumer a noted photographer and author stayed with us for a week. In other words administration at times was a full time job.  However, it was very, very interesting. For all this work I received $1000.00 per year. This was in 1967. 

    The Inuit did not speak English. There were a few younger people who could interpret. The people looked after their own affairs as in if someone died, they looked after all of it. Al and I were worried about the lack of communication. However, they knew this situation was different and did not interfere. 

    I had written to the Quebec Dept. of health describing Alisi but received a blah, blah letter which said they would do nothing. My predecessor had also written. 

    So in less than a year Alisi came back on the  plane with clean clothes and tailor made cigarettes. None of us had any idea that she was coming back. She was not charged but was probably assessed and given medication. I don't know how any assessment could be made as she didn't understand French and they didn't understand Eskimo. I don't know how she would get more medication as we were 300 miles from a pharmacist. 

    One day one of the elders asked me where Alisi's baby was. So the child was taken out so decisions could be made. So none of us had thought about the closure needed for the loss of this child. This was a serious mistake in handling the body.

    However, I've always said that this whole northern experience changed my life forever. 

    In most ways these Inuit were very independent. However, since they were encouraged to live in a village and send their kids to school, they very quickly lost hunting skills or the will to hunt.