Home > Winds of Change > Shamanism and Reintegrating Wrongdoers into the Community > Chapter 4

Caribou in the Koroc River Valley, Torngat Mountains.

On the shore of Ungava Bay south of Killiniq.

Chapter 4

Ollie Itinnuaq
« We elders are also to blame because we are not talking to young people as much anymore. We are relying on the teachers. Our parents did not have teachers or anyone else to rely on. If we talk to them once or twice, then we say we have talked to our young people, but it is not enough. Some people think that because their children are able to speak English, even though they can’t understand them, they follow them, because they think they are more capable than they are. That is not the way it is. We elders are just as much to blame because we don’t talk to our young people enough. I find that I, too, don’t teach my children enough. People fluctuate in the amount of time they spend talking to young people. Sometimes they become too preachy and other times they totally neglect them. This, too, is not good for young people. » (Page 199)
This final chapter focuses on non-shamanistic traditions and their possible use in managing social conflicts and maintaining order within Inuit communities. Elders first talk about tirigusuusiit. These are the daily-life rules, interdictions and obligations that varied greatly from one family to the next but which nonetheless formed a code of conduct that can evoke the Christian way (ie. not working on Sundays, not eating meat on Fridays, etc.). Naqqiqsuuniq, confession, is another topic with rich Christian parallels.

The next turn of discussion sees the elders listing some of the topics that could not be discussed in the course of the workshop, for lack of time: inuksuit (stone structures used as a mean of communication), apsait (spirits that took possession of vacated igluit), and nunaturliit (camps Inuit returned to year after year).

The next topic on the agenda is counselling by the elders. The oldest members of the community would get together to talk to wrongdoers and convince them to change their behaviour or, if that proved impossible, decide what to do with them. This type of community involvement with wrongdoers and reintegration through counselling and community service is at the heart of this chapter and the recommendations made in the wake of the workshop.

The remainder of the chapter revolves around a single major idea: the negative influence of the South (television, institutions such as child protection departments and women's safe houses) which rob families and the community of their role as mediators. Elders complain about the pursuit of pleasure (gaming and alcohol) that has taken hold of the younger generations and the lack of responsibility young parents show toward their children. But they also complain about how quickly child protection removes children from troubled homes and how women's safe houses threaten the family unit, as they short-circuit the intervention of the entourage.

The elders also stress the importance of holding other interview meetings like this in order to continue shuffling through their recollections and before too many of them pass away.