Canada’s attentiveness to the plight of its First Nations has been part of a broad upsurge in indigenous rights movements around the world. Increasingly, these movements demand not just protection of their culture, but also political power and a degree of self-rule. At the same time the pressure of economic development and cultural exposure tend to undermine the remaining elements of cultural distinctiveness.
The undergraduate students in the Nationalism class that I taught this past semester all prepare a 10 minute i-movie on a topic of their choosing. The challenges facing the Inuit people of Canada are explored in this presentation by Ryan Katz.
A terrific book on the fate of the Inuit is Melanie Mcgrath, The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic (Vintage, 2008). It tells the story of a Canadian government program in the 1950s to relocate Inuit families from Hudson Bay to the remote north, ostensibly to help preserve their way of life, but the real purpose of which was to forestall territorial claims from Denmark, which occupies Greenland.
One of the families sent to Ellesmere Island included the illegitimate son of Robert Flaherty, who made the classic 1922 documentary film Nanook of the North.