Number of protests increasing in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut

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A surprise entry in Iqaluit’s Canada Day parade took aim at the federal government. (CBC)Activists say feeling ignored by Ottawa making them more vocal

An increase in the number of protests in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut in recent months has some saying that people are more likely to take to the streets and internet to protest.

There have been three in the past couple months, including two rounds of “Feeding My Family” food-price protests.

There was also a surprise entry in the Canada Day Parade in Nunavut’s capital Iqaluit – a protest float under the banner “Celebrating Canada, Not Harper!”, referring to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The float appeared at home in Iqaluit’s rag-tag Canada Day Parade – smiling, waving people, a pickup truck, plenty of red and white. But the message on the banners was political.

The protesters were reluctant to talk about the float but some said feeling ignored and muzzled by Ottawa made them take action.

The float was well received by people watching the parade. It also included signs listing the things the participants cared about, including freedom of speech, the environment, and aboriginal healing. The protestors who created the float said they wanted to be positive, too.

Leah Inutiq helped organize the parade. She said she’s become more politically-active in Iqlauit because the federal government isn’t addressing residents’ concerns.

“Our current government … we don’t seem to have a voice at all. Even if we try to voice our concerns, it’s not going anywhere,” she said.

She said people in Nunavut are becoming more vocal to make their feelings known.

“Inuit are very patient people and we will wait and wait, and to me, I’m over 50 years old and waiting and waiting, I don’t see anything. And [a protest] seems to be the only way to have a voice, to make things happen.”

Law graduate Marie Belleau has been active with a number of social causes in Iqaluit. She attended the Canada Day parade, and said protests could continue in Nunavut because they unite people.

“You know, it might create a wave and people will be able to see that, you know, they’re not alone and that other people share the same message, and maybe there’ll be more discussion,” she said.

“It’s so unacceptable for a lot of people, the way the government is going right now that people feel that they have no choice but to say something and we can’t just stand by and not do anything.”

Belleau, and some other activists, said there is still a big difference between protesting in the South with thousands of people because in the North everyone knows you, and everyone sees you, including your employers.

Related Link:

Nunavut holds second round of food price protests, CBC News

For more northern stories from CBC News, click here

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