Pangnirtung Art & Waste Project, NU
David Kilabuk and Pangnirtung Youth Photovoice Project
Since the 1950’s, the forced resettlement of Inuit has transformed the Hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, from a seasonal outpost for semi-nomadic peoples to trade and hunt in the summer, to a permanent settlement of 1,500. Inuit have survived despite the tide of colonial settlers and successive governments that have forced their disconnection from land and traditional hunting culture, in the pursuit of establishing Canadian sovereignty and resource extraction. In today’s context of melting permafrost, extractive capitalism continues to be a driving force of colonization with the reactivation of the nearby Chidliak Diamond mine on a caribou migration route. Whatever increased economic dividends this might bring to the community, one thing is sure: more people and equipment moving temporarily from south to North, significantly more drilling and extraction, and inevitably – the creation of more and more complex forms of waste. Inuit cosmologies have maintained a harmonious relationship with the land for millennia, now disrupted by decades of cultural imperialism. A symptom of this crisis of waste(s) is the unsafe, overflowing, open-air dump; with unregulated burning creating hazards to the health of all living beings and the environment.
This submission for Environmental Racism is Garbage, comes out of ongoing collaboration with Inuit artists in Pangnirtung, who are exploring the lived experience of waste(s) (broadly defined) through their art and who bear the intergenerational wounds of Canada’s colonial heritage. Photographer David Kilabuk has worked with a group of local youth for the past two summers who will be contributing to this project.