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Inuit and dogs in a multicultural and (post)colonial Arctic city: an examination of dogs in Iqaluit, Nunavut (Canada) - Francis Lévesque

3:00 PM, Saturday 5 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Iqaluit is home to a population of around 8,000 people, a majority of whom are Inuit. Before settling in the community in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Inuit used working dogs extensively to pull sleds in winter, carry packs during the fall months, and assist them during seal and bear hunts. They also integrated dogs into their kinship system and, as such, shared family ties with them. However, the arrival of colonial agents and settlement life changed Inuit-dog relationship over the next decades. As early as 1957, Canadian authorities imposed dog-control measures meant to make Iqaluit a microcosm of a typical Canadian city. Amongst those measures were bylaws forcing Inuit to keep their dogs tied up at all times, vaccination and feeding campaigns, and episodes where ill, loose, roaming and potentially dangerous dogs were indiscriminately killed. By the mid-1960s, Inuit adopted snowmobiles to replace their dogs for transportation on the land. By the end of the 1960s, most Inuit had stopped dogsledding. From that moment on, southern Canadians who came to live up north came with their own pet dogs, which meant Inuit were introduced to new breeds and to new ways of being with dogs. Since then, many Inuit have incorporated pet dogs into their daily lives. This talk is based on observations and interviews made in Iqaluit in 2016 and 2017. It will show that although their relations have changed overtime, dogs are still important for most Inuit who consider them as a meaningful part of their collective identity.