John Amagoalik


John Amagoalik was born north of Inukjuaq in 1947. His testimony recalls the conditions of camp life while growing up before his family was relocated in 1953 when he was six years old. John recalls that his family was visited by the RCMP and asked to move to the High Arctic. During this first visit, John’s father informed the RCMP that he was not interested in moving his family from their hunting grounds. There were several RCMP visits and John states that relocation was an important topic of discussion in the camp. Eventually his parents did decide to move under the conditions that all families be kept together, and that they be allowed to return if they did not like their new home. John states that the RCMP agreed to these conditions. John remembers families being relocated by boat, along with their belongings and dogs. On the ship families were informed that would be divided between two locations. Half of the families were dropped off at Craig Harbour, while the remaining were taken to Cornwallis Island near Resolute. John describes the initial impression of Cornwallis Island as shocking, and very different from northern Quebec. It failed to be the fertile hunting ground that the RCMP had promised. John states the adults in the community told the RCMP that they wanted to return to their home, but that their request was refused by the RCMP. John’s testimony also includes information on education. He states that he began school at Churchill when he was ten years old, and went to grade six before starting at the Churchill Vocational Centre and completing up to grade nine. He was forced to stop his education and support his mother when his father was diagnosed with tuberculosis. From 1971 to 1974, John worked for the Government of the Northwest Territories as a Regional Information Officer. He then went on to work as the Director of Land Claims for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. He stayed with the organization for twelve years before working as an advisor for the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut. He returned to Iqaluit in 1992-93 to become chairman for the commission charged with creating the territory of Nunavut. In regards to dog shootings, John recalls that he left Resolute in 1963 in order to attend school, and he returned ten months later to find that all the dogs in the community had been shot.