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Berger Inquiry hearings conclude

It was going to be the biggest private construction project in history. But before a pipeline could be built from the Beaufort Sea to energy-hungry markets in the south, the impact on the North's people, economy and environment had to be determined. That task was given to Justice Thomas Berger, who embarked on an extraordinary three-year odyssey across the Arctic. His report shocked the government that appointed him, and was heralded by some as "Canada's Native Charter of Rights."

After more than two years of hearings, the Berger Inquiry hearings wrap up. As Justice Berger gets ready to write his two-volume report, CBC reporters Ken McCreath and Whit Fraser review the final messages presented by each side. The oil men say the North will become a welfare state without a pipeline, and warn against further delays. Native groups present a common front: no pipeline should be built until land claims are settled.
. Throughout the Berger Inquiry, CBC Radio broadcast the hearings live in English as well as six native languages from almost every community. In this manner residents across the North heard — in their own language — what had been said in previous hearings. As a result, residents were well-informed and felt more comfortable testifying when the hearings arrived in their community. It was the start of native-language CBC broadcasting in the North.

. Abraham "Abe" Okpik, a respected Inuk (Inuit person), was a translator for CBC during the inquiry. In 1965 Okpik became the first Inuk to be appointed to the Northwest Territories Territorial Council. Between 1968 and 1970, he headed "Project Surname," which visited every Inuit home and asked the head of the family to choose a surname to replace the government-assigned numbers they had used since the 1940s. Okpik received the Order of Canada soon after.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Magazine
Broadcast Date: Nov. 21, 1976
Guest(s): John Bailey, Pierre Genet, Joe Tobey, Ron Vale
Host: Bob Oxley
Reporter: Whit Fraser, Ken McCreath
Duration: 13:59

Last updated: January 20, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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