January 1, 1951
It is fat, fish, and meat that a man wants in this country. Are we white men harbingers of a new and brilliant era, or simply advance agents of destruction? Do we bring with us anything more than dollar corruption, and the corporal and moral germs that have afflicted our own civilization?
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The government family allowances, distributed to the Eskimos by the Hudson's Bay Company, have been precious help, especially to large families, and have been of great assistance in enabling the Eskimo people to bridge the gap created by the change in their economy wrought by the introduction to fox hunting. One deficiency of the allowance system is that it does not encourage Eskimos to teach their children to live off the country wherever possible. If the Eskimo takes his allowance every month or two, he can only obtain such items as fruit, tinned milk, jam, and so forth--things he doesn't particularly care for or need. It is fat, fish, and meat that a man wants in this country. To acquire credit for nets and ammunition an Eskimo must refrain from drawing his allowance until it amounts to forty dollars. Some arrangement should be made that would encourage the Eskimo to hunt, rather than to live on foods that are unsuitable.
Whatever the deficiencies of the new dispensantion, it is certainly true that the Inuk is less abandoned than he was a year, two years, ten years ago. And this we must applaud, for when we look at certain statistical data we are forced to shudder at what the figures demonstrate of man's inhumanity toward man.
Monez, in the wake of Diamond Genness, estimated the number of Canadian Eskimos to be twenty-two thousand before the arrival of the white man. Some eight thousand were left in 1921, six thousand in 1931, and about five thousand in 1950.
We are told that the Eskimo population trend has been reversed, that next year, and the year after, there will be more of them.
Will they be the same caliber of Eskimo, energetic, tough, healthy?
Or will they be a people broken in spirit and health, like the Chippewas to the south?
A single glance at the specimens now growing up seems to show that we may be gaining in quantity only what we have irretrievably lost in quality. The answer to this problem is in better government, better medical services, better police work. Only if epidemics are prevented, tuberculosis checked, ignorance ameliorated, and the methods of trade improved will the Eskimo people have a real chance of surviving with their own peculiar usefulness and beauty intact.
Are we white men harbingers of a new and brilliant era, or simply advance agents of destruction?
Do we bring with us anything more than dollar corruption, and the corporal and moral germs that have afflicted our own civilization?
If the future is to provide a satisfactory answer to these thorny problems, it is imperative that all those who work for the Eskimo, in any field or capacity whatsoever (the government, the civilian commercial enterprises, the Christian Churches), dedicate all their endeavors with supreme determination and utter selflessness not only to save the poor Inuk from extermination, but also to assure him a human "modus vivendi" compatible with the unique environment in which Providence wishes him to work out not only his temporal existence, but his eternal salvation. Then, and only then, will the Inuk, out there on the ice, perceive at last the promise of a bright new dawn that will scatter the darkness forever.