Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A hunter/gatherer society never intended to sit still for very long.

Random thought. Air plane. August 29, 2011. Move from Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut, to Wolfville, home of Acadia University. Thought: the hunter gatherer society never intended to sit still for very long.

More thoroughly thought out: I guess this idea comes from my up bringing, my work, my school, more work, and meeting with people, new, and some I've known my entire life, and those of which I am rediscovering. I have most recently worked in the area of poverty reduction in Nunavut. It meant communicating with people in each of Nunavut's twenty-five communities, all asking people what they think poverty is, and how they think it can be reduced. In the workshops I have been apart of, the work was taken on with a positive thought first: drawing on community assets, visioning and then deciding as a team what we feel should be done in the community, together.

My favourite part of the workshops always was the visioning exercise. Often, older Inuit in the room would recite their lives as children, when their dad would create beautiful homes for them every new location they decided to settle at, just for a while. I recall Rhoda Ungaalaq saying "my dad created a new home for me and my family, with his own two hands! He knew where to create our home at every new stop he decided was best for us at the time. The new house was white, round, warm, full, filled with the love of my family. My mother prepared good food for us, and made sure we had a warm bed to sleep in, with her own two hands."

An Inuk man recalled being a small boy and just running into a sod house and pouring a cup of tea for himself, and enjoying some freshly made bannock his mother made. Even as he told us about his "ideal community" filled with welcoming people and friendly homes, he sat back in his chair to be more comfortable and closed his eyes to tell the story as he remembered it. Everyone else in the room was in awe at his story, smiling because they too remember days like this. Great thing about it is, it still happens in our small towns today. The open door policy is fantastic in small friendly communities.

The idea of poverty reduction often took some people by surprise. What does it mean to be poor in Nunavut?What do we have to do to make the community a better place? My thought: Inspire youth, and be inspired.

Encourage the youth to go out and explore the world that surrounds us. Go out on the land with some experienced hunters, and learn to navigate on the land the way our Inuit ancestors did for thousands of years before. Learn to have the patience to make the right choices in any given situation. Record what you see, and what you've learned so that it does not escape your memory. (I read once that writing allows you to taste life twice! Thought it was brilliant!)

As for young Inuit girls, learn to sew and make clothing that you like, for yourself and people that you love. Create something with your own two hands. Take pictures and take care of any items you receive from family and friends. Take care of yourself, and take care of the children that are around you. Children look up to everyone that surrounds them, and if they are surrounded by love and positive environments, they will feel safe enough to explore and develop their own talents.

I speak from experience when I say that children are the exact epitome's of their parents personalities. We are each made up of our parents, and the people in our lives as children. I am definitely my father's daughter, and I am aslo my mother's daughter. Truth is, I am simply a daughter, their daughter, and I love them for it. I am also my niece and nephews Atsak. My aunts niece, my cousins cousin. And my grandparents grandaughter.

Currently, I am inspired by a book titled Our story. It is composed of fiction stories written by nine Aborginial writers from across Canada. Each has written a story about a point in time, about Canada's history. An Inuk author is in this book, Rhoda Qitsualik from Igloolik. She is a fantastic writer. I fell in love with reading all over again after reading her story about when Explorers first landed on Baffin Island "bfore it was ever named."

I am fascinated by these stories and am so happy to find something I can understand and relate to. Reading is like listening to somebody talk. If you like what you are listening to/reading, then you stick around to hear them speak until the end.Sometimes you'll feel urged to respond to what you are reading, like in a conversation and you want to speak back. That's when you tell other people about what you are reading, or, you write about it. (I am just leanring how to write down my thoughts, as I am often accustopmed to talking, mostly with such emotion and detail to whomever is around to listen to what I have to say...)

Anyway, I guess all of this adds up to my message for now: GO out and explore the world that surrounds you. Go beyond the roads in your own community. We are in a special place and time, on top of the world. Whether we know it or not, the world as their eyes on us - on the land in which we call Nunavut, our land...on the waters that pass through the North to Asia.

So, be inspired, and inspire the youth. Take a moment today to figure out what you want to do tomorrow. Take a longer moment to think about what has happened in your home town over the past 50 years, and then think about where you think things could be in 50 years from now. Imagine it. Imagining things is half the work to making it happen. The other part is planning, and making it work out, with others who think the same. Agree to work together as a team - instead of breaking each other down. Don't be distructive, be constructive.

Cool? That's all for now. This is when my plane was landing, and I had to end my note there. Music shall occupy my time now. Just because it's worth listening to. All the love! Always. Kerri

PS. Nobody ever liked being told what to do, and with everything else going on in NU...it's time for us to decide where we want to go from here. All with the best intentions for our children. Because we are so so so lucky!! Whether we know it or not. We are awesome.

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