Creeping Yellowknification

. Forty years ago Kenneth Boulding cracked up Toronto's York University audience with an opening sequence to his celebrity lecture there. "I couldn't help but wonder at the architecture as I drove in." (a few snickers in the audience)

"I had some trouble, at first, placing it in the correct period." (more chuckles and a few outright guffaws)

"Then it came to me," he said. "Early Brutal!" (pandemonium of uncontrolled laughter.)

"I will suggest to you that it falls into the broad contemporary trend of creeping Wichitization, that remorseless and rather disconcerting pressure where Bangkok, Bombay, Beirut and Budapest become more and more like Wichita." (No more laughter.)

Twenty years later, in a column for Yellowknife's News North amidst the struggle for division of the old Northwest Territories and creation of Nunavut, I borrowed from Boulding by describing Yellowknife as a victim of creeping Sudburization. A tendency for once predominantly aboriginal communities across North America to become more and more like Sudbury, with increasingly white, Euro-Canadian administrations and business communities supplanting increasingly marginalized aboriginal and M├ętis inhabitants.

I concluded with a fervent plea to our N.W.T. neighbours to admit the demographics were hopeless in the West, to graciously relinquish the fractured and bare aboriginal majority they could only temporarily maintain with Inuit influence, and to allow the Eastern Arctic to go its own way in order to benefit from its overwhelming majority Inuit electorate.

They did. A deliberate and noble sacrifice. Surprising and historic.

So "Here's the question", as Jack Cafferty would say. What do you detect in the following sequences of names?

(1) Carmen Levi, Rosemary Keenainak, Koovian Flanagan, Alooki Rojas, Victor Tootoo, Melinda Janes and David Akeeagok, et al;

(2) Bob Long, Janet Slaughter, Kathleen Lausman, Louise Wasson and Markus Weber, et al.

That's correct. They have all been appointed Deputy or Assistant Deputy Ministers with the Government of Nunavut at some point.

Yet there are other thought provoking patterns that emerge. One group consist entirely of beneficiaries to the Inuit Land Claim, the other none, and the other has largely replaced the one.

Coincidence? Possibly. A sign of the times? Probably. Creeping Yellowknification and Ottawization? Almost certainly. Discouraging? Can the Nunavut and Tamapta dreams survive it? Too soon to tell.

Our kids will decide.

Meanwhile, we do need to clean up our finances, housing, health, educational effectiveness and the environment. Leona, Eva and Elisapi seem sincere in their desire to provide better governance and services to citizens in each of these regards.

But you tell me. Are the cultural distinctions, the deeper IQ, the language, the precious payload of Inuktitut Social Values slowly slipping away as an inevitable part of the process?

Say it ain't so. ..


  1. Is Nunavut to become like the old Ikajuqtauvik (BCC) which was operated with a vast majority of Inuit employees and a real land program. After a few yrs, this Inuit operated facility became BCC and the vast majority of employees are non-Inuit and it has become just another institution. Is the Nunavut government on the path to becoming just another ... See Moreinstitution? Someone once said Nunavut is for the next generation. Like I said before, the people have to take "ownership" of their territory for Nunavut to really succeed for the people who dreamed of it.

  2. Agreed. Applies to the trades too. When the old DPW did all the maintenance of buildings, hospitals, schools, staff housing etc., nearly all the trades people were Inuit who had their Journeyman certification and constant training courses. But ever since Econ Dev was co-opted by the neo-con private sector dogma out of Ottawa, all the jobs were outsourced to the pseudo-private sector, none of which is truly Beneficiary-controlled, with the result that all the jobs and cash are being sucked out of Nunavut by a neo-colonial Nulummariikjuaq

  3. You know it sounds like you may be missing the "old days".

  4. I just want us to think through a realistic plan for standing Nunavut on its own strengths and I'm not convinced petroleum is the only or most sustainable driver for the long term.

    Surely there are better strategies than colonial (old days) or neo-colonial (status quo)?