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Put Your Mind in the Right Direction

Abraham Okpik
[That’s] when I started working in what they called the Eskimology section. At that time, this meant that they were trying to take care of the Inuit who were in long term hospitalization situations. Some of them had spent seven or eight years in the South, and they had to adjust when they came back. But they couldn’t adjust to the environment they used to live in, because they were not in any condition to do so. They would eventually die, because they couldn’t handle the harshness of the land! …I saw some of them later at the Judge Berger hearings in 1976 or after that, students who had gone to Akaitcho Hall and Sir John Franklin. Lots of them, when they married, had family breakdowns. They didn’t know how a family worked! … It’s not a one-day problem; it’s a problem created from way, way back, from school days, and even before that! It’s a long term problem that came upon us over the years, and I think that only now people are trying to rectify it.
Abe revisits some of the moments in his life that have already been described in this book, talking about his role at the Rehabilitation Centre in Apex and his work with social services for families in Yellowknife. He taught and did counselling for the high school students in Iqaluit. The children who went away to study needed help adjusting when they came back home. Many problems arise when the cultures clash, and Abe believes that modern technology and equipment is responsible for the loss of knowledge and intuition that his people developed on the land.