Canada’s Genocide: The Case of the Ahiarmiu

A family of Ahiarmiut, including David Serkoak pictured behind his mother Mary Qahug Miki (centre) at Ennadai Lake in the mid-50s before the Canadian government forcefully relocation them.

A family of Ahiarmiut, including David Serkoak pictured behind his mother Mary Qahug Miki (centre) at Ennadai Lake in the mid-50s before the Canadian government forcefully relocation them.

As a human rights scholar, I have long argued that Canada committed cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples. But recently, I’ve come to conclude, in the case of the Ahiarmiut, that it’s not cultural genocide —it’s actual physical genocide.

An article in the Globe and Mail last summer by Gloria Galloway told the story of what happened to the Ahiarmiut, a small group of Inuit in 1950.

The Canadian government forcefully relocated them 100 kilometres from their original home in what is now Nunavut. The government’s reason for moving the Ahiarmiut people was that they were becoming too dependent on trade with federal employees at a nearby radio tower.

Galloway got much of her information from David Serkoak, an Elder who lived through the relocations. Recently, Serkoak collaborated with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to tell his story and to be a storyteller for his community.

RHODA E. HOWARD-HASSMANN is a Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, at Wilfrid Laurier University.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE CONVERSATION