Wrestling with Colonialism on Steroids: Quebec Inuit Fight for Their Homeland by Zebedee Nungak, Véhicule Press, 2017, 132 pages

 

Zebedee Nungak is a writer, broadcaster and one of the chief negotiators in the James Bay Agreement (1971-1975). In this compilation of essays, Nungak delivers an often humorous, in-your-face account of the history of Nunavik, the hardball James Bay Agreement negotiations and the future prospects of Inuit identity in Québec.

The colonization of Inuit territory started with the British Crown through its surrogate, the Hudson Bay Company, which held a trading monopoly between 1670-1870 over the whole of the Hudson Bay drainage area also known as Rupert’s Land. In 1868, an Act of the British Parliament ratified the sale of this territory to Canada, without settling the issue of Aboriginal ownership of the land. The Ungava District, later known as Nunavik, was assigned to Québec in 1912. The author wryly notes that it was only fifty-two years later, in1964, when Québec government officials first arrived there, that Inuit identity and its modus vivendi felt really threatened.

This fascinating account of the intersections between the descendants of relatively recent French colonizers and longstanding Aboriginal populations will make you reconsider any preconceived notions you might have about the righteousness of Québec nationalism.