The site where the first exiled residents of Resolute took shelter is buried in garbage and the community’s mayor wants the situation addressed quickly.
“It’s very important because it’s where our community was and that’s where our original first relocatees lived,” said Mayor Susan Salluviniq. “They were literally dropped off and lived in tents.”
Salluviniq’s husband Allie was among the four families who were shipped to Resolute from Inukjuak, Que., and Pond Inlet in 1953. It was part of the Canadian government’s attempt to demonstrate sovereignty in the High Arctic.
Mike Stephens, Resolute’s senior administrative officer, said he started pushing for the dump relocation last November, shortly after moving into his job. The response from the Government of Nunavut has been that the metals dump could be moved, but it could take up to nine years for the remainder of the dump due to regulatory assessments for a new location, according to Stephens.
“It’s a travesty. It should never have happened,” he said. “I don’t think they (the GN) understand that it’s a real source of contention here on a daily basis.”
Community and Government Services did not respond to Nunavut News/North’s inquiry prior to the newspaper’s deadline.
Stephens has since turned to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in hopes of obtaining a heritage designation for the original exiles’ site as well as a nearby Thule site.
A past hamlet council would have had to approve the existing dump location, Stephens acknowledged. He’s still searching through records to find out when it happened. Some councillors in the small community of close to 200 people may not have been aware of the significance of the site at the time, Stephens speculated.
“There seems to be a gap in the information. Nobody seems to remember who it was (that approved it) or how it became the dump,” said Stephens.
Salluviniq said there’s also a problem with the dump’s location – a few kilometres outside the existing community – due to leeching into the nearby ocean.
“But the most important part is the historical site,” the mayor said. “There’s a monument where the garbage dump is and that monument was put in (in 2010) to show where people were relocated, and yet it is still being used as a dump site.”