On the Progress of Canada’s Civilizing Mission in the Colony of Nunavut
Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.
Iqaluit, year of grace 2009
My fellow Canadians,
It is my pleasure to report that my long and perilous voyage has ended without any serious mishap and that I have now reached the desolate camp that, I am told, is the capital of our newest colony. I write this letter from my frugal apartments overlooking a few hundred rooftops and the barren no man’s land beyond. There is not much here in terms of civilised comfort- except for hard liquor which is plentiful – but a gentleman does not travel to a foreign country 2500 kilometers from his loving wife and family for frivolous entertainment.
Barely had I set foot on this land that I was served an effusive greeting by an Eskimo, not a word of which I understood. Mercifully one of his fellow people, who spoke English, came to my rescue and helped me locate transportation to my offices. For some strange reason it seems that the first chap had come to believe that my position as a senior administrator of the colony somehow meant I was required to speak their language!
On the topic of language, I am extremely pleased to report that we are making tremendous progress and that the local people are abandoning their tongue and learning English at a faster rate than achieved anywhere else in the Empire. In a single decade the number of Inuit who speak their own language at home has gone from 76% to 64%! With 24 of the 25 schools in the colony giving out education in the English tongue, the adoption of our language by the local youth should only accelerate.
In the immortal words of Toronto’s Reverend James George, the “rich freightage with which this Argosy is so majestically sailing down the stream of time’ could be borne to all people, and as a means of combating the evils the Lord had brought on humans after the building of the Tower of Babel.”
It’s amusing to note that because of the great constitution of Canada and the Charter of Human Rights – that brilliant piece of law-making- we were obligated to build a French school, but not to build any for the Inuit!
What were we going to do? Teach the children in the vernacular and treat English speaking people like a vulgar minority? Oh my, what a dreadful thought. No, the French school was expensive but it keeps them quiet. In the end the French are just like the Scots: let them play “nation” with their costumes, flags, schools, foul national dishes and bogus “resolutions” in the House of Commons and they’ll become the fiercest defenders of our country and of the English language you’ll ever find.
Today they’re the one forcing the Inuit to speak English in the restaurants an shops about town! That good Dr. Laurin must be spinning in his grave.
Speaking of Dr. Laurin, I know there was worry back home after the Native council passed that legislation suspiciously similar to Québec’s Bill 101 that purposed to make the local tongue the language of education, administration and business. Mercifully our great leader Stephen Harper has made it clear that the Empire is not bound by the laws of the colonies. Since the 700 million dollar budget of Nunavut comes almost exclusively from the Federal coffers, we probably won’t have to start chewing eel fat with the elders just as yet!
The Native youth is learning English but still seems to be struggling with some of our more modern knowledge. The drop-out rate is quite high, with but a quarter of them finishing secondary education. My personal opinion is that it is all the better as the tasks for which they are destined do not require to be well versed in science and literature. To paraphrase Macaulay who served on the Supreme Council of India in Calcutta in 1835: « It is impossible for us with our limited means to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be the interpreters between us and the thousands whom we govern – a class of persons Inuit in blood and colour, but Canadian in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. »
The many gold, iron and diamond mine projects in the area are moving along nicely and we’ve set aside a quarter of the jobs for the locals. Now that their English skills are improving we are able to train them to drive trucks and work for the skilled labourers who will come from the South to operate the mines.
In any case, they’ve been living a purposeless life of government handouts ever since we killed their hunting dogs and relocated them all over the territory in the 1950’s, so they are ripe and ready to begin working for the mining companies. It’s not like there is a « traditional lifestyle » left to save.
We’ve also begun training and arming many of them to serve as Rangers and patrol the colony. As you know, some rival countries like the United States, Denmark and Russia don’t fully recognize our sovereignty over these lands on the pretext that we never bothered to build any infrastructure whatsoever over here until the last few years! (Some Inuit are actually suing us over this! Don’t they understand how much more urgent it was that we distribute Canadian flags all over Québec?)
Well let them try to take our land from us now that we’ve taught a few hundred natives to speak English and parade around with the Maple Leaf flag held up high!
Amusing anecdote: A ranger I was talking to asked me why the maple leaf on the flag (which he thought was a snowflake) was red. It turns out the closest maple tree is at least 1,500 km away!
Isn’t it just glorious? The Inuit are giving up their native language and culture for English, a Maple Leaf and a badly translated version of a an old French-Canadian resistance song while the emblem of this once proud arctic people, the Inukshuk, now symbolises Vancouver, a city 3500 km away where a snowstorm is an aberration!
God Bless Canada!