Author Larry Audlaluk’s first book is a memoir of his relocation experience to the High Arctic and its impacts on his family and him. What I Remember, What I Know: The Life of a High Arctic Exile, took about two years to write, said Audlaluk, adding it was “very therapeutic.”
“Many tears were involved because it’s very emotional,” said the 69-year-old Elder from Grise Fiord.
“There were days when I just simply cried alone.”
Audlaluk was almost three years old when his family was relocated by the Canadian government from Nunavik to the High Arctic in 1953. Inuit were forced to become pioneers of Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay, said the author.
The government misled the Inuit with lies about the High Arctic, said Audlaluk, who was born in Uugaqsiuvik.
The mental anguish from the lies and “broken promises” had “lasting effects for many of us,” explained the Elder.
“We felt like we were taken away to the dark side of the moon,” he said, adding, “We were deeply hurt.”
In his book, he wrote, “The dark season was a total surprise to my relatives. This neglect had a lasting psychological effect on the adults.”
“My mother had these moments of anger that came out of nowhere and you realize her mental state was affected deeply,” he said.
“Our parents felt betrayed and had no recourse, and sometimes took out their anger on their children,” he wrote in his memoir.
“I developed a very short temper and very quick reaction to any situation. Many times, I attribute it to the experience I inherited from my parents,” said Audlaluk.
“We were literally prisoners on Ellesmere Island,” said Audlaluk. “We were forced to stay in one little place.”
Almost seven decades later, Audlaluk is now the second longest-living resident of Grise Fiord.
Surviving relocation also allowed many Inuit to develop a “strong tenacity,” he explained.
“No matter how low a person can spiral down to depression, and have the feeling of gloom and doom, it’s not the end of the world for them,” said the Elder. “There’s always hope.”
Audlaluk was motivated to write this memoir with the hope people will understand what happened to Inuit during their relocation in the early 1950s.
Although it was a very emotional experience to write the book, he said he feels proud of his accomplishment.
“But I didn’t do it alone,” he emphasized. He is also proud of all the people who had the courage to share their stories about relocation for his book.
The memoir is available in English this October. It can be ordered online at inhabitbooks.com.