Explore travelled to the Arctic, on a philanthropic, fact-finding mission to uncover the traditions of the Inuit people.

Hi, my name is Charlie. Welcome to explore. We’re in the Arctic. I’ve a great job. I travel to different places and try to find positive people doing good things on the planet. Then we help fund (financiar) some of them. Now we’re doing something on the Arctic. Here’s a photograph of the mayor.

My name is Elisapee Sheutiapik. I’m the mayor of city of Iqualit. Iqualit is the capital of a new territory called Nunavut, which became its own territory in ’99. As mayor, what are some of the changes you’d like to implement? Right now, I’m going through a long-term planning and visioning.I understand our elders have always been really good at planning. They’ve gone through and seen so much change in a very short time. Their words are very important to us.  Even at the government level, they have a committee of elders. There’s an elders’ society where they meet every day, and this is also not another opportunity for us to go and seek advice.

So the phrase respect your elders is very alive and well in Iqaluit?

oh very much.

When we went to the Iqaluit elders’ centre, it struck me that we were visiting the first settled generation. The parents of these men and women lived as nomadic hunters. Also, up until this generation, all of the Inuit traditions in history were passed down orally. Nothing had been written down, making their knowledge of the past invaluable.

This is great… great stuff. Great photography.

Has the role of the elder changed from when you were growing up?  Yes. I think so. It has changed. Elders would always play advisors to generation to generation.  Advisors meaning that no one person makes a decision to survive. Everybody makes the decision to survive. One will be expert on the weather, one will be expert on environment, one will be expert on a different kind of animals. So in our society today, in our generation today, it’s hard to imagine how they were.

I believe as Inuits we’re very happy with the very basics and it’s about life experience that’s brought us to where we are today.  So one thing my mother always said to us was never forget who you are.  she went from living on the land to settling to a community and saw a lot of changes in a short time, but she reminded me that we will probably forever be changing, seeing change, but not to forget who we are.

Another reason this group of elders is so special is the disproportionate age groups of Iqaluit. Factors such as lower infant mortality and improved healthcare have allowed the population to grow, but means more young people and fewer elders. All the more reason to now obtain their advice and unique perspective.

What is the key to living a happy life? Respect yourself and those around you. It’s important to have high self-esteem and encourage yourself and the others to be positive.

How has life changed today versus when you grew up? It’s a challenge to pass on words of wisdom to the youth because of the communication barrier. Some of them may understand basic Inuktitut language, but not enough for me to converse with them.

We have such a young population that our average age in Iqualit, for example, is 23 years old.

We had a culture where it was all verbal, and the youth they acknowledge that they have to hear these stories and they think it only helps them understand where their ancestors came from.

Tradition, culture, history.The future can only be improved by knowing the past. Only 2% of the entire population of Iquailt is aged 65 or older. Responsibility now lies with today’s generation to record and pass on the wisdom of the ages.

Transcription by Y.Muriel



Licencia Creative Commons Contenido Web de Yolanda Muriel está sujeto bajo Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 3.0 Unported.

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