Monday, 20 August 2012

To be or not to be

The other day I was having a meal with my best friend when I went outside for a smoke. While I was smoking a compatriot of mine came over and asked me if I had gone completely "qallunaaq" (non-Inuit). I must admit that the question hurt me a bit. But I understood where she was coming from: my aippakuluk is an uiviiq (Quebecoise); my best friend is a qallunaaq.

These facts are incidental to me. The people I love and am close to are not deliberately chosen; they being qallunaat or Inuit is never (has never been) an issue to me. I have many friends and family that are Inuit. The colour of their skin has nothing to do with my love for them. I, myself, am truly proud of my being Inuk.

I know there is a fascination on part of some Inuit with the qallunaat; that being with, having some qallunaaq blood, or acting and appearing qallunaaq is very important to them. This, to me, is wrong-headed thinking. Stupid.

I'm "westernized" but I have no intention of being a "qallunaaq" - totally happy and proud of being an Inuk. I don't romanticize being an Inuk; I don't romanticize qallunaat either. I have some idea about genetics and feel that the variety of its possibilities as a richness of nature, not as a badge of superiority/inferiority. I view things at the -emic level - superficial appearances mean little to me. It is the substantive material of people I either admire or am aversed by - ie, their personality.

The notions of integrity and honour are very important notions for me. I may slip and fall or be found wanting but the ideals I hold dear to my heart are not determined by societal norms nor influenced by mass media. To me, the question of "to be or not to be" is an indication of ambivalence and second-guessing of one's self and one's values. How we act and treat each other are the true measures of our humanity.

Jay

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