Urban Inuk Uprising
2011 – Urban Inuk Rising
Story – by Lynda Brown
Photos from the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre – by Stephanie Foden
I was given a T-shirt years ago that features in bold letters the words “Lifelong Urban Inuk.” Those words began as a joke between friends but have come to define who I am and who I represent. We urban Inuit are creating a new and exciting culture, earnestly trying to preserve a noble heritage steeped in tradition and knowledge. In Ottawa we are a mix of those born in the North and those born to Inuk parents yet raised in the south. Opportunity to learn from elders, artists, storytellers, and performers is abundant.
We are trying to fix something that has been broken. My mom was born way up north, near Broughton Island, in an area that most Canadians know very little about. The shame and culture shock she experienced at residential school is why she didn’t pass along the Inuktitut language and didn’t teach me the things that I’m now teaching my kids.
I was born in the North to a white father and Inuk mother in the 70s. Back then mixed blood children were not befriended by either the Inuit or white children. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I was teased for speaking only English.