Relocated Labrador Inuit to get apology monument

Inuit in northern Labrador who were forced to abandon two communities in the 1950s will receive some closure when the provincial government unveils a monument with an inscribed apology during a ceremony set for August.

Inuit in northern Labrador who were forced to abandon two communities in the 1950s will receive some closure when the provincial government unveils a monument with an inscribed apology in August.

Premier Danny Williams and Nunatsiavut president Jim Lyall will unveil a huge stone monument and plaque on the site of the old school in Hebron during a ceremony set for Aug. 10.

The August event will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Hebron relocation.

"I moved from Nutak myself in 1956, so I went through my 50th anniversary three years ago, and I know it's a very emotional time," Lyall told CBC News on Friday.

Lyall said the August ceremony will include a gathering and feast on the beach.

Several hundred Inuit were forced to leave the community of Hebron, at the northern tip of Labrador, in 1959. The provincial government had closed its government store and cut off services in the community. Residents were compelled to resettle in  communities in southern Labrador as a result.

Three years earlier, the provincial government had closed the government store in Nutak.

In 2005, Williams apologized to people affected by the relocations.

But when the monument is unveiled in August, the Nunatsiavut government will only be able to afford to send 20 survivors to the commemoration.

Andrea Webb, one of 150 survivors of the Hebron resettlement, said she is disappointed that not all Inuit affected by it will be there for the ceremony.

"I would rather see every relocatee go up and see the monument themselves," Webb said Friday. "That would have been my dream, to see their faces and finally see something solid in their lives, because there has never been anything solid in our lives since we were relocated," she said.

On the 40th anniversary in 1999, 168 Inuit returned to Hebron for a gathering in their former home.