The Ahiarmiut: Out-of-the-Way Dwellers

Ayaaq (Mary) Anowtalik and David Serkoak recount the Canadian government’s forced relocation of Inuit from their homeland in the interior of Nunavut in the 1950s and their long struggle for justice.

Text by Louise Abbott

Posted May 11, 2020

In The Ahiarmiut: Out-of-the-Way Dwellers, Ayaaq (Mary) Anowtalik and David Serkoak recount the Canadian government’s forced relocation of Inuit from their homeland in the interior of Nunavut (formerly the Northwest Territories) in the 1950s and their long struggle for justice.

This short film by Quebec director Louise Abbott was produced in association with Friends of Canadian Broadcasting for the advocacy group’s recently released Tell Our Stories documentary series.

Abbott was inspired to make the film after meeting Aayaq Anowtalik—the oldest surviving Ahiarmiut elder—during a research trip to Arviat for a cultural repatriation project sponsored by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI).

“I think that Canadians have become aware of the tragedy of residential schools in recent years. But I don’t think that they’re nearly as aware of the forced relocations of Indigenous peoples that took place. I wanted to bring the story of the Ahiarmiut to public consciousness and to do so in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”

The Tell Our Stories project presented documentaries that were limited to five minutes. But Abbott hopes to expand The Ahiarmiut: Out-of-the-Way Dwellers in the future and make it available for educational purposes.

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Some of the photos used in The Ahiarmiut were originally published in the 1968 issue of The Beaver for Geert Van Den Steenhoven’s article “Ennadai Lake People 1955.”

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