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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

'Everyone thought we were stupid'

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by Fred Lum.
The Globe and Mail, December 14, 2001

Part 4 of 7: Time becomes an issue


Salluit Among the first batch, time soon became an issue. Many showed up an hour or more late for a shift. Entire teams of workers were held up waiting for them. Some even skipped flights in to the mine site, thinking they could start their rotation a few days later.

A schedule that requires someone to work 12 hours a day for 21 straight days and then take two weeks off is difficult for anyone. Gradually, the Inuit let it be known just how difficult they found it to be separated from their families and close-knit villages, especially on a 1,600-hectare site without the screaming delight of even one child.

"The family is more important than the job," says Robert Lanari, an anthropologist working for Makivik Corp. as a special projects adviser. "For us, it's difficult to understand. We're not used to dealing with that in a capitalist society where work is a primary activity. It's almost more important than the family. I think the company is starting to understand this."

At the same time, some Inuit are adapting to the new demands. Puassie Uqittuq is a single mother and one of the mine's few long-term Inuit employees. As much as it pains her to be away from her eight-year-old daughter three weeks at a time, she says it is the only way she can save for the girl's education.

When she was not much older than her daughter, the village school burned down, taking with it her dream of studying botany at university. Now 36, she wants her child, who lives with relatives, to become a nurse. To help make that happen, she has risen from being a janitor to supervising the housekeeping staff of 12. "I love my daughter a lot," she says. "That's why I'm working here. Her future. I want her to go to university. She wants me to quit. I tell her. `I'm working for your future.' "
THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 7):


Photo Essay
Heavy Mettle


1. 'When we first started, we were nothing'
Life at the Raglan mine

2. Getting the nickel out
Fresh food, workers flown in weekly to remote mine

3. 'I feel like a white man hunting for ore'
The racial divide at Raglan

4. Time becomes an issue
'The family is more important than the job'

5. Increasing Raglan's Inuit workforce
'I don't think we're joining the mainstream of society as well as we should'

6. Knowing how to adapt
Preparing for the next generation at the coastal village of Salluit

7. Inuit savvy makes them a business partner
'The Inuit adapt admirably to the site, but I contend the site is not very good at adapting to the Inuit way'


 
 

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