Historical Events

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Buliard questions whether civilization has been positive for the people of the North: The Eskimo's fur clothing is perfect for the climate, and his diet, heavy with fat, was just the thing for a man who was going to hunt on the ice in forty-below-zero weather. In one sense, civilization, by making things easier for the Eskimo, has really set the stage for the Eskimo's destruction.

January 1, 1951

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Inuk

Roger Buliard

Diseases of Civilization
Nutritional Degeneration
Civilized Food
Christianization
Man The Fat Hunter
Eskimo
Fat

One cannot deny the great benefits that civilization has bestowed upon the Eskimos. Certainly the white man has made life easier for the Eskimo, giving him nets, rifles, and steady trade. And the possibilities for human development implicit in the word "civilization" have at least been indicated to the Inuit.


But it would be idle to contest the contest the statement that civilization has been a mixed blessing so far as the Eskimos are concerned, and sometimes the advantages seem to be outweighed by the real harm that has been done. The trade-store rifles helped the Inuk kill his caribou more easily, but they also led to wholesale destruction of caribou and a change in the animals' migratory habits. The substitution of wool for fur clothing has not been beneficial, nor has the introduction of unsuitable foods into the Eskimo diet. The Eskimo's fur clothing is perfect for the climate, and his diet, heavy with fat, was just the thing for a man who was going to hunt on the ice in forty-below-zero weather. In one sense, civilization, by making things easier for the Eskimo, has really set the stage for the Eskimo's destruction. And the introduction of disease germs has inflicted on the Eskimos the same scourges that decimated the Indians and destroyed their pride. The ravages of disease are plain enough here, and one may deplore the havoc wrought during the last fifteen years alone.


Who is responsible[not God, obviously]?


The government, of course, since any government is always responsible for the welfare of people under its jurisdiction.


What has been Canada's attitude toward "Natives" generally?[The same attitude that Catholic schools had?]


The goverment was unfair to the Indians. After the treaty, by means of which the Indians sold their birthright--the limitless prairies and rich forests--for a mess of lentils, the government permitted tuberculosis, starvation, and loss of liberty to reduce them from a proud, self-sufficient people to a race of permanent invalids.


Was this done innocently, or through oversight? Through ignorance?


One wonders. As an official told Bishop Breynat: "it had been thought that the Indian problem would resolve itself. Their number was diminishing steadily. They would disappear."


The same policy was adopted where Eskimos were concerned.


Toward them Canada had no written obligation, as it had toward the Indians, but only the Biblical warning that we are all our brothers' keepers. Nor did the government have any specific duty toward them, except in moral terms. And so the goverment fell back on a policy that can be summed up in a word: indifference.


Indifference!