This lesson is based on viewing the Heritage Minute, "Inukshuk," which depicts an RCMP officer watching a group of Inuit build an inukshuk in the year 1931.
These activities are intended to give students an appreciation and understanding of the Inuit culture and "traditional" way of life, as well as an understanding of how new technologies might alter Inuit culture.
Contact with the south
The Minute takes place in 1931, after the Inuit have had years of contact with Canadians of European ancestry. In fact, it uses the contact between the Inuit family and the RCMP officer as the means of explaining the custom of building the inukshuk.
- From reading the story and watching the Minute, what are some of the most obvious differences between "traditional" Inuit life and the way most of us in "southern Canada" live? Think about some of the basics of shelter, food, clothing, work, and travel as starting points.
- Imagine what the impact of new technologies might be upon people living the traditional life. What might occur if they receive snowmobiles? Televisions and satellite dishes? Prefabricated houses? Frozen food?
- Is it possible to preserve important traditions under the impact of modernization? What might the Inuit do to keep the best of their ancestral customs and beliefs, while still benefiting from what the modern world has to offer?
- Learn more about the actual impact that "westernization" has had on Inuit life. One interesting source is the National Film Board documentary, Magic in the Sky, which shows the effects of television on the Inuit communities and the establishment of the Inuit's own television network.
- Nunavut is the name of the Inuit homeland that became a Canadian Territory on April 1, 1999. How might this recognition of the Inuit self-government contribute to the preservation of their cultural identity.
- What similar cultural crises have occurred with other aboriginal groups in Canada? What means might they take to preserve and enhance their traditional cultures? What changes have occurred in the government's position toward aboriginal people and in the public's appreciation of their history?
- As another extension, look at the conditions of indigenous cultures all over the world.