This article was first published by APTN News Canada. It has been republished with permission.
Hundreds of Iqaluitmiut filled the four corners intersection Friday in support of Black Nunavummiut, Black Lives Matter and George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis.
It’s the largest protest crowd in the Nunavut capital in recent memory and larger than one is permitted under COVID-19 restrictions laid down by the territorial government. The public health officer said authorities would not take action against the marchers.
To start, people laid down or took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the same amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.
“We are here in solidarity with our black community,” said Jukipa Kotierk.
“This is the black lives matter march and protest in solidarity. We need to recognize our place, and support our community as allies.”
While the ongoing crisis in the United States over the death of Floyd was the subject of the march, the violent arrest of an Inuk man made by Nunavut’s own police force in nearby Kinngait was on everyone’s mind.
Earlier this week a video was released of an Inuk man in Kinngait being hit by an RCMP police truck and then violently arrested by five officers.
“After today, there should be no more excuses of why we do not get involved,” said Clayton Greaves. “Why we do not challenge what’s happening, no more excuses as to why we are not intervening and supporting our neighbours.”
Friday in Ottawa, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he was “pissed” when he saw the video.
“A car door is not a proper police tactic. It’s a disgraceful, dehumanizing and violent act,” Miller said.
The relationship between Nunavummiut and the RCMP is a shaky one.
The history between the two sides is one that includes the slaughter of sled dogs, forced relocations and residential schools.
There are currently six open investigations into RCMP conduct in Nunavut by the Ottawa police service.
The Inuit experience with the RCMP give the two groups common cause.
By Kent Driscoll