Canadian Geographic
Our Land Our Strength Image Credit: Canadian Geographic
Our Land Our Strength Image Credit: Canadian Geographic

Our Land Our Strength

Reflecting on 20 years of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut.

Michael Kusugak

Late one night almost 40 years ago on my way to Whale Cove from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, my snowmobile broke down just past a point of land we call Pangniqtut, about halfway up the west coast of Hudson Bay. I walked back a few kilometres to where I had seen a tent. The occupants, a family of four, were all asleep. I laid out my sleeping bag on the floor and went to sleep. Early the next morning, I awoke to the smell of coffee. Nattat, a man I had known since my childhood, offered me a cup. There was no alarm, no sense of intrusion, just welcome.

Inuit have been on this land for thousands of years, so for the 20th anniversary of Nunavut becoming a territory, this is a reflection on the people, the land and the Nunavut Agreement.

THE PEOPLE

Inuit have always lived in Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada (including northern Quebec and Labrador) and Greenland. We speak a common language, Inuktut, with many different dialects. We share a common culture. Exactly when Inuit came to North America is a mystery. Some estimate we migrated, following animals, across a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska around 4,000 years ago. Others say there is archeological evidence we have been on this continent for close to 20,000 years. Even in this day and age, Inuit are little understood by people around t


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