Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The True North Strong and Free

P.J. Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change and minister responsible for Parks Canada, and Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut's environment minister were in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, on Thursday for the announcement on the final boundary of a national marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound.

We lived in the Northern Ontario city of Sudbury for more than a decade where I served a larger downtown congregation. During our time there we were aware that people in Southern Ontario had limited knowledge of even the "near north, " let alone the issues and culture of the more distant communities of the province and country. While we sing of the "true north strong and free" in our national anthem, we don't know much about it, let alone visit it.

I appreciated the coverage in the Globe and Mail newspaper given to an important announcement made last week by the federal government about a new protected area in Lancaster Sound in the Far North. Tallurutiup Imanga will protect approximately 110,000 square kilometres of Arctic ocean, an area twice the size of Nova Scotia, and it is rich in biodiversity. This Lancaster Sound Marine Conservation Area has also been home to Inuit peoples for the past 4,000 years. Sadly, some of the current residents of the region were forcibly relocated there from Northern Quebec a couple of generations ago as "human flag poles" to establish Canadian sovereignty. Establishing this region will give priority to protection rather than economic exploration and will give a degree of autonomy to the people who actually live there. This has worked in Nunavut and we can pray it be the case here.

Image result for lancaster sound marine protected region

I have been waiting for the federal government to deliver on election promises for environmental protection and reconciliation with aboriginal peoples. This decision is a step in the right direction. I feel that as Christians who were complicit in the destruction of First Nations culture through the Residential Schools we should applaud and support these initiatives. Perhaps we should all write the government to express our appreciation.

Search out Margaret Wente's article in last Saturday's Globe and perhaps read Sheila Watt Cloutier's excellent book, The Right to be Cold.


1 comment:

Judy said...

I wish we could see more of this kind of information , and a lot less of our American neighbour's foolish leader's fiascos on the news !