The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and the RCMP unveiled a new monument dedicated to the RCMP’s Inuit Special Constables and their Qimmiit (sled dogs) in front of the RCMP’s V Division Headquarters in Iqaluit on Dec. 2.
Featuring an Inuit Special Constable and a sled dog, the life-sized statue in front of the RCMP building was carved by Inuit artists Looty Pijaamini and Paul Maliki.
“V Division RCMP is honoured to have had the opportunity to work with QIA and the Inuit carvers on this incredible project that will recognize the courageous work of the Inuit Special Constable and the qimmiit,” said V Division RCMP Commanding Officer Amanda Jones.
Jones stated that it was the Inuit Special Constables – and those Inuit men and women who gave their aid before the role was established – that ensured the young RCMP men were able to perform their duties, guiding long patrols by dog sled and by boat.
“Without them, the RCMP would not have survived,” Jones added.
QIA president Olayuk Akesuk praised the monument as another step towards reconciliation as outlined in the Qikiqtani Truth Commission report, specifically recommendation three. “Since 2010, we have been implementing the recommendations coming from the QTC report,” said Akesuk, “QIA is proud of the work of Inuit carvers in bringing this era to life through their art.”
Nunavut Premier and former QIA president P.J. Akeeagok was also glad to see another one of the report’s recommendations moving forward, specifically with regards to the role the Special Constables had in Nunavut.
“They played a significant role right across Nunavut as well as the significant sacrifices they themselves and their families have made. It’s such a special moment to see the monument being unveiled today,” said Akeeagok.
Former Inuit Special Constable Lew Phillip, born 1947, spoke in Inuktitut and recalled life in Arctic Bay decades ago. He reminisced on regularly meeting with RCMP officers in Pond Inlet, the nearest police station at the time, sheltering and helping feed the officers when they were in Arctic Bay.
“They were clothed and fed by the people of these communities. Moving forward he’s hopeful and wants to move forward beyond all the painful experiences that happened in the 40s, 50s, and 60s when there was the culling of the dogs,” interpreted RCMP Cst. Pauline Melanson on behalf of Phillip.
From the early to mid-20th century Inuit Special Constables accompanied RCMP members serving as translators, guides and generally helping southern RCMP survive in the Arctic.
Wonderful and well deserved, our son-in-law is a new sergeant in Iqaluit and keeps us informed of activities in the North, and he really enjoys the RCMP and the area.
Thank you, Floyd & Theresa Skilliter
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