I am an ex-miner with ten years of service underground and on one occasion when preparing to leave the site for my two-week R&R (rest and relaxation), we were asked to think about joining an organized group-union. I told my crew to vote no and here’s why: we are isolated and if there is great unrest or dissatisfaction with our leadership, the atmosphere will never be the same. There will be no trust and we’ll always be looking over our shoulder.

In like manner, we the Indigenous people living in our homeland of Nunavut are basically in the same situation.

We were coerced to move into a supposed organized community with amenities we never dreamed of – running water, flush toilets, mechanized vehicles and light switches – only to find out that the difference between me and the government worker is that my house is literally a shell with no furniture and we pay according to salary. The government worker gets a unit that is carpeted, couches, chairs, table and beds.

We the common people have to not only pay a damage deposit but pay a quarter of our paycheques and buy all the furniture needed to have a sense of comfort that the government of the day did not explain to us, while the expected rent of the government occupant is by square footage. Explain to me the equality in this formula?

My understanding of organization or working together is that when we formed our government the ideology was of the people, by the people and for the people. This ties in with a couple of the principles of the IQ (Inuit Qaujimajatuqannik) stating that we are working together for a common cause or caring for family and community.

In preparation for the government moving forward, there is constant planning going on. In two years we project that our departments will require an additional number of positions, therefore we need to make sure and build 15 to 20 more multi-plexes that are furnished while our wait-list for local tenants continue to balloon and to repair old units without furnishings.

I have referred to a quotation several times that goes like this: “Where there is no justice there is no peace, where there is no peace there is no justice.”

The Inuit can share with anyone interested in how they survived a harsh climate, their dwellings were not permanent, they traversed by dog-teams and they shared their harvesting by giving or bartering and not by selling.

Our very government is governed by the simple eight principles that must be referred to and applied accordingly and daily. Fairness and equality brings a true sense of belonging and the will to engage.

– Harry Maksagak

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