Ceporah Mearns

I think that coming down to the South from home, from your own community, you realize more what you have. It helps you find who you are, rather than lose something else.
When you go back home, you cherish that a whole lot more, because you know what you have.

You can really tell, in the 3 generations of my family. My grandmother was born on the land. Same with my mother, but my mother was moved into the community as a small child. She never got to learn what my grandmother got to learn.

I wasn’t born in the North. So I didn’t get to learn what my mom or my grandmother got to learn. At times, I kind of feel that I’ve lost out, because there are so many aspects of our culture that I would love to learn, but I have no chance to. There are some aspects that are not used as much as they used to be.

I’m very proud to be a modern Inuk. There are so many opportunities that we have, especially with Nunavut today. We have so many opportunities with school, and jobs, especially…  They’re just up there, waiting for us. All of the negotiations that have been going on, and all of the people who went into government are now retiring, we’re the next generation.

It’s been a little hard, because the past couple of years, I’ve been off at school, and in the summers, I’ve been working. I spent the whole summer this summer at school, and I wasn’t at home a lot…  Those are the only times that I get to go out on the land, and spend time with my family. It’s a difficult time, because I can’t be at home. I do miss out on that.

My own idea is that women today have taken on more roles than men, especially in government. Women are still the caregivers, and now they have jobs, they’re the providers for their families. This is shown in the statistics in the government of Nunavut, because the majority of the Inuit employees are women. They’re the providers now.

Then there’s the issue of abuse, and violence against women in Nunavut today. Maybe that could be why it’s happening, there’s maybe that gap that men haven’t been able to succeed as much as women. Especially in school. The majority of graduates are women. The majority of the students in university are women. I guess that men take it pretty hard.

Maybe it’s the issue of power-- the men that want the power. In the government of Nunavut as well, the positions that they take in government, the majority of the legislature are men. The leaders are all men. The board members in NTI, and organizations like that, the men are the leaders, and the women are in the background, in the bureaucracy. I like to think that that’s where all the change is made.

Michael Gordon

My name is Michael Gordon, and I’m from Rankin Inlet. I was born and raised there, and this is my second year living in Ottawa. I attend the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program, and part of our courses involves university courses. We’re in the midst of finishing up a political science course. It’s been a very stressful semester.

The role of women in the North has changed drastically within the last 50 to 70 years.

Women played such a huge role in their families—they were the backbones of their families. But there was not a lot expected from them, say, for consultation purposes within a community, or a settlement. Now, women pretty much run their households. Most of the workforce is women, Inuit women. They hold better jobs, better paying jobs. Their lives have changed a lot.

There’s so many different reasons, or answers to this question: how women have succeeded in the workforce, and academically. Men were so used to being more ‘hands-on,’ and throughout the transition from living off the land to in the communities, I don’t think they were able to grasp the concept of sitting in a schoolroom, and just listening. Men are generally more hands-on. Especially Inuit men, who are used to doing physical labour. Sitting in a classroom didn’t appeal to them.

Women were the ones who were left to stay in school, and that could be one reason why they’ve succeeded so well. They stayed in school, and now they’re succeeding in jobs.

Lately, I’ve been getting really interested in how Pauktutit’s role is trying to transform society in Nunavut, how they’re trying to help women to stop family violence, and stand up against their abusers.

This whole – I don’t know how to say it. This whole thing with having two offenders in our legislature, two that I know of, really bothers me. I don’t agree that we should have to have somebody that’s been convicted of two serious offences run a community, even be allowed to run as a politician. If he does it again, he could go to a penitentiary, and how embarrassing would that be, to say that we have men like that running our territory? I don’t agree that he should even be allowed to.

And then the reintroduction of two sexual offenders being brought back to Nunavut within the last month. It’s embarrassing.

Inuit women aren’t being forced into marriage any more. That hasn’t been that way for the last 40 years, I’d say. Our parents’ generation was able to choose who their life partner or spouse would be. It might not have been the case for our grandparents. I don’t know how my grandparents were married, if it was an arranged marriage or not. It would be interesting to find out.

We’re not doing the same things our grandparents or even our parents were doing when they were young. It doesn’t mean we’re not Inuk any more- I think that every culture changes to transform into a more modern society. We Inuit have changed a lot.