Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 September 2009
In 1950–1958 Ahiarmiut were relocated, in three stages from Ennadai Lake to Nueltin Lake, from Ennadai Lake to Henik Lake and from Henik Lake to Arviat (Eskimo Point). This paper presents the results of a workshop conducted with elders and youths in Arviat, in May 2006, on these events. The participants in the workshop were Job and Eva Muqyunnik, Mary Anautalik, John Aulatjut, Silas Ilungijajuk, Geena Aulatjut from Arviat, Andrew Alikashuak, from Whale Cove, and Mary Whitmore from Churchill. The workshop was set up from an anthropological perspective and focused on Ahiarmiut perspectives of the first three relocations. Comparing archival and oral materials, the paper confronts the strategies, choices and decisions of the administration of the Canadian federal government with the experiences and views of the Ahiarmiut participants. The paper explores the causes of the failure of the relocations, notably the discrepancies between the values of the administration and those of the Ahiarmiut as well as the lack of communication between those parties. The paper concludes that there is no convincing evidence of any agreement between the Ahiarmiut and the administration so the relocation effectively became a deportation causing great economic and cultural distress as well as loss of life to the Ahiarmiut.