Case study: Inuit - language learners version

Context card

Black and white photo of an Inuit family.
Source: NWT Archives, Archibald Fleming fonds, N-1979-050-1122

 

Inuit are a distinct Indigenous people. Their homelands are in northern Canada. For thousands of years, they have governed themselves.

Much of the Arctic, where Inuit live, became part of Canada in the 1880s. Inuit got the right to vote in federal elections in 1950.

Today, Inuit are active in Canada’s elections and democracy.


Activity cards

1880

Black and white photo of a group of Inuit in Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik, Quebec.
Source: A.P. Low, Library and Archives Canada, PA-051445

 

Canada expands its borders to include the Arctic lands where Inuit live. Inuit are not asked about this change. Canada’s laws do not say whether Inuit can vote.

Inuit continue to govern themselves in their own ways.


1934

Black and white photo of the House of Commons Chamber.
Source: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque, Library and Archives Canada, PA-801205

 

Parliament creates a new law. The law makes it clear that Inuit are not allowed to vote. This is the same as the rules for First Nations peoples.


1950

Black and white photo of a cabinet meeting. A group of parliamentarians are seated at a large oval table.
Source: C. Lund, National Film Board of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, PA-196460

 

Inuit gain the right to vote in federal elections. The federal government makes this decision.


1953

Black and white photo taken in Labrador (Nunatsiavut) during an election. Returning officer Harry Nosworthy swears in Joe Millik as an election official.
Source: 1953 – National Film Board of Canada

 

Inuit vote for the first time in a federal election. Some communities have voting places, but others do not.

In this photo from Labrador, Joe Millik is trained as an election worker.


1962

Black and white photo of a group of Inuit watching a helicopter taking off in Salluit, Nunavik, Quebec.
Source: Wilfred Doucette, National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque, Library and Archives Canada, PA-111207

 

Voting services are expanded to all Inuit communities. Voting materials arrive by ship, helicopter and even parachute.


1979

Black and white campaign photo of Peter Ittinuar.
Source: Courtesy of Peter Ittinuar

 

Peter Ittinuar is the first Inuk in Canada to be elected as a member of Parliament.


1992

Dépliant d’information en inuktitut produit par Élections Canada. Il y a quatre images de personnes. À côté de chaque image, il y a du texte en inuktitut.
Source: Courtesy of Elections Canada

 

Elections Canada provides voting information in Inuktitut. This is the language that Inuit people speak.


2005

Map of Canada where the four Inuit regions, commonly called Inuit Nunangat, are listed and colored: Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik et Nunatsiavut.

 

All four Inuit regions now have formal land agreements with Canada. Inuit vote for leaders in their own Inuit regions. Like other Canadians, they also vote in federal and other elections.


2008

Photo of Leona Aglukkaq in the House of Commons.
Source: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand

 

Leona Aglukkaq is the first Inuk cabinet minister. She is elected in the riding of Nunavut. She is the federal Minister of Health.


Time immemorial to the present

Lithograph print in the shape of a circle. Hills make up the outer edge of the circle. Within are scenes of Arctic life throughout the seasons, such as hunting, kayaking, and dog sledding. Several animals are shown, including a wolf, raven, caribou and owl. At the centre are the sun, moon and stars.
Source: Nunavut (Our Land), Kenojuak Ashevak, 1992, Lithograph on paper, 230 x 370.5 cm. Reproduced with permission from Dorset Fine Arts. Image courtesy of the Canadian Museum of History, UN CD 1993-001, IMG2009-0063-0040-Dm

 

For thousands of years, Inuit have governed themselves in their homelands. Traditionally, the heads of families took on different leadership roles. Today, leaders are elected.