Home > North meets South > Inuit Recollections on the Military Presence in Iqaluit > Living near an air base: relations with the soldiers

The melting of the sea ice near Broughton Island.

Caribou in the Koroc River Valley, Torngat Mountains.

Living near an air base: relations with the soldiers

Iqaluk Ipeelee

"Perhaps [the RCMP officers] were sent here to make sure that there were no relationships between the Inuit and the qallunaat. One can assume that that was their purpose for being here. […] Perhaps they were here to stand guard for the Canadian government because we are part of Canada."
In Chapter Seven, the elders recall life near the Frobisher Bay base and relations between the Inuit and the soldiers. Pallu Nowdlak and Jayko Pitseolak remember that they were afraid of the police because their mother told them they would be arrested if they did not pay attention. According to Iqaluk Ipeelie, the RCMP officers were probably on hand to keep an eye on things for the Canadian government or to make sure there was no fraternizing between the Inuit and the qallunaat. However, from what Pallu Nowdlak says, the Inuit were free to visit the Americans and only the women were not allowed on the base. Inuapik Saagiaqtuq adds that the Americans were not allowed to visit the Inuit at night. The elders remember the leisure activities provided at the base: movies, Christmas celebrations, music. Sammy Tikivik tells us about the store on the American base, where everything was cheap. Uqi Kunuk says that the American doctors on the base made house calls. Kanaju Ipeelie says that the Inuit did not have much contact with the Americans, but that the Americans sometimes came to their tents and gave them things. But, Simonie Michael says that the Americans who wanted to go to the Inuit village to take pictures had to have police officers with them; Josie Itiitiq remembers that the Americans used to go for a lot of walks on Sundays and take pictures. Some of the elders talk about the dump, where the Americans threw away all sorts of things—food, canned goods, clothes, cups and containers. The Inuit went and took whatever they wanted. Akisu Joamie points out that the Americans had found that way to help the Inuit when contact between them was prohibited. Inuapik Saagiaqtuq emphasizes that the qallunaat these days are not so generous. Elijah Pudlu says that the Inuit at that time did not wear traditional clothing, except for the children, because the Americans only wore adult clothes. Uqi Kunuk adds that some people bought their clothes at the HBC, but others got them from the Americans directly, or at the dump. Elijah Mike recalls the Americans’ military exercises. Pallu Nowdlak also tells us that the soldiers had target practice using little balloons. He recalls that the Americans were always armed and that he was afraid of them. Inuapik Saagiaqtuq remembers the balloons the Americans used to send up in the air to receive signals.