Life during the Rankin Inlet Nickel Mine for Inuit
by Amy Owingayak
April 29 2011
To start with, I’d like to say that Inuit life style had completely changed for Inuit after the relocation. Inuit from Ennadai had just been relocated into a settlement and in the same year, the Mining in Rankin Inlet started. According to “The Rankin File: Inuit health and the Canadian liberal welfare state - Frank Tester” 79 Inuit from Eskimo Point worked at the Nickel Mine in Rankin Inlet. Therefore, I think it was a lot of hard work to be moving around so much and in this case, some probably had to leave their families to work. Although Inuit had always moved around living on the land, it was different to be moved to a certain place because Inuit chosed to live on the land where they wanted to for their own purposes. In other words, life was changing so quickly that most Inuit had to compromise their way of living to participate in a capitalist economy.
Secondly, it is shocking to see that the Mining set in Rankin Inlet seperated Inuit from the White People. On one hand, Inuit (from New Eskimo Settlement) had a camp of their own with no electricity, running water, or proper heating. They also lived about a mile away from the mine, can you imagine that? On the other hand, the White People lived closer to the mine in their own camps that had electricity, running water and had proper heating. Also, there is a difference between an Inuk’s wages from the White’s. Inuit made half of what the white people are making doing the same work. Another example is their movie nights were seperated ; white poeple having their movie nights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Inuit having their move nights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. As I said, it was much of a segregation between the Inuit and Qablunaaq (White People) between 1957-1962.
Lastly, it was pretty much two different world’s in the same community. The Old Eskimo settlement were the Inuit who did not work in the mine, living in shacks made from old scraps from the dump. The New Eskimo settlement were the Inuit who worked in the mine. Remember that they lived with no electricity, no proper heating and no running water. However, in the New Eskimo settlement Inuit lived in shacks built by the mine. Once they are not working anymore, they were not to live in the New Eskimo settlement, so they would have to move back into the Old Eskimo settlement which was on the other side of the hill close to the mine. In short, there is a difference between working Inuit and non working Inuit and ironically, still living the same (no heat, running water, electricity) except with a different life style.