Borne from the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC) under the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), the Saimaqatigiingniq Fund was made to address recommendations which relate to lightening the burdens from the impacts of colonialism and racism.
Following a formal apology by the Canadian government on Aug. 14, 2019 to Qikiqtani Inuit for these impacts was a federal contribution to the Saimaqatigiingniq Fund which addresses the healing of past traumas and attacks on Inuit culture.
The inaugural report for Saimaqatigiingniq summarizes its programming since March 31, 2021.
Programs were established in three areas to address recommendations made by the QTC, which include:
– Acknowledging and health past wrongs;
– Strengthening Inuit Governance, and;
– Strengthening Inuit Culture.
The Fund’s first year coincided with the introduction of the Covid-19 pandemic to the territory, shifting QIA’s main focus to emergency support programs. Restrictions on travel within Nunavut also saw Saimaqatigiingniq programs get delayed, modified or outright cancelled.
In the final report by the Commission, QTC Commissioner James Igloliorte noted the importance of acknowledging past wrongs, that Qikiqtani Inuit will be forgiving as long as the apology is sincere and a respectful partnership with Inuit follows.
“They were clear that what they experienced needed to be hard, not just by the Commission, but also by the Government of Canada,” he wrote.
Initiatives specifically funded by Saimaqatigiingniq include Qimmiit Revitalization, which initially started off with a $100,000 commitment to support dog-racing related activities in the Nunavut Quest. However the Nunavut Quest races in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled and instead $5,000 in support was provided to 14 registered dog teams.
Another Qimmiit Revitalization program was the Qimuksiqtiit Gathering in Iqaluit, where the dog teamers discussed laying out a road-map to revitalizing dog teams in the eastern Arctic.
Also a part of Saimaqatigiingniq funding is a June 2021 agreement to produce more Inuktitut educational resources for Nunavut students between QIA and the Government of Nunavut’s department of education.
On the table as well are on-site healing programs for those who were made to relocate from the now-abandoned Nunavut communities of Dundas Harbour, Kivitoo, Padloping and South Camp (Belcher Islands) during the 1950s and 60s. These on-site programs would bring those relocated back to those places for on-site healing ceremonies and programming.
QIA president Olayuk Akesuk said Saimaqatigiingniq will play an important role in the healing of Qikitani Inuit moving forward.
“I am humbled by the resilience of Inuit as we strive for Saimaqatigiingniq, to heal from (the) heavy parts of our past and celebrate our culture and future as Inuit.”
QTC portfolio lead Liza Ningiuk also emphasized the importance of healing, saying “QTC programming holds great potential for our communities, including renewing parts of our culture that were discouraged and taken away from us, understanding the histories in our communities and what our parents and grandparents experienced,” she said.
The full Saimaqatigiingniq report can be found online on the QIA website.