Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2
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Mary Simon remembers a time not so long ago when her people lived off their land. They ate what they hunted and traveled with the seasons. But by the 1950s, the government of Canada began seeing the Inuit as strategic assets. When it came to the vast expanse of the Arctic, the existence of people on the land would mean Canada could stake a claim. It began moving a nomadic people into communities.
And that's when many of the problems began - problems that plague the Inuit to this day: housing, education, loss of language, loss of identity. These are problems that Mary Simon has fought most of her adult life; from enforced French to food insecurity to a high-school dropout rate of seventy-five per cent.
But Mary says change is coming. Canada's Arctic is not just key as a border area, it's resource rich. And Mary says if Canada - and others - are going to develop the north, then the north's people - the Inuit - should be full partners in that project. She says education is the first step. By taking southern education and incorporating Inuit ideas and language the children of the north will have the chance to participate in the future instead of watching the future pass them by.