July 26, 2017
I am fortunate to be traveling through Nunatsiavut as a participant in leg six of the ambitious Canada C3 project. We are sailing north from Nain through some of the most beautiful parts of the world, destined for Iqaluit, Nunavut by way of Torngat Mountains National Park. I share this journey with approximately sixty other Canadians on board the ship Polar Prince, plus many other Nunatsiavut Inuit along the way who have provided incredible hospitality to the interested and open Canadians who have predictably been amazed by this land, by Inuit strength and resiliency, and by the work left to do on our path to reconciliation.
I am from Nain, Nunatsiavut, and much of my family comes from much further north, in the Nutak and Hebron area. I’ve been lucky to have been to my family homeland before with my good friend Richard Pamak by speedboat, and in official capacities related to my duties as a trustee of the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies. I’ve always wished for more time here, but I have cherished the brief moments in this special, spiritual, and beautiful part of the world that I proudly call my homeland.
I have played many roles on this journey, but my role as ambassador for Inuit has been most important. We have a cross section of Canadians on this ship, and most are not familiar with Inuit and want to learn more about Inuit history, present, and future. I enjoy the opportunities to tell Canadians about Inuit, but hardly ever have I had the spectacular Inuit Nunangat backdrops to tell our story in, or other strong, proud Inuit to tell the story with in the moment of telling.
Elders John Jararuse and Sophie Keelan have shared with the group the history of Inuit in Nunatsiavut, specifically in the Hebron and Torngat Mountains areas. They also proudly tell the group of their associations with younger generations, so that participants see an unbroken chain of Inuit society caring for and living in our homeland.
Artists like Sylvia Cloutier, Madeleine Allakariallak, Twin Flames (Jaaji and Chelsey June) have proudly shared throatsinging, ajaaja’s, drum dances, and Inuktitut contemporary music with enthralled audiences, most recently at Ramah Bay in a natural amphitheater steps from the beautiful sandy beach.
Also, we have had Inuit who are Parks Canada’s employees, Students on Ice employees, Nunatsiavut Group of Companies employees, and Nunatsiavut Government employees and their family members who have shown Canada C3 what Inuit self-determination looks like. We are capable, who can do anything, and we are resilient. I have a special appreciation for Gary Baikie and Caitlyn “Baby Girl” Baikie who have been superstars in the eyes of the C3 participants.
I enjoy facilitating learning moments, providing information that leads to respect, and the immediate connections to Nunatsiavut being formed. I am having a blast seeing and sharing time with my friends and relatives, and becoming fast friends with many people on this ship, with a special mention to my Cabin 38 brother Shaun Majumder.
As Canada C3 sails through inuit Nunangat over the coming months, I am confident many more Canadians will come to better understand Canadian Inuit, and we, as we always do, will share our story with pride and love.
Natan Obed, written in Nachvak Fiord