Puzzling Over Identity

Weather: -6c

Nuuk, Greenland – I met a fascinating woman this week. Her name is Olga. She’s a former journalist and she now runs a small shop in town. When I tell her I’ve recently been in Nunavut she gets to talking about identity and how she thinks it’s tough for many Greenlanders.

She told me about growing up in the 50s and 60s and how, back then all teachers were Danish and all text books were Danish. She said whenever she or her friends spoke Greenlandic her teacher would punish them and send them immediately out of class.

She went on to tell me that she was well into adulthood before she learned that there were people – ‘just like her’ – that lived right next door to Greenland. The Inuit of Canada.

“Can you believe that?,” she asked me. “I went to Iqaluit as an adult and there were people there that spoke my language. I had no idea before and I couldn’t believe it. They looked like me and talked like me and were there less than two hours away from Nuuk. But all through school, I’d never heard a word about them.”

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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