About „IQ“ — and about lack of respect in Cambridge Bay

reblogged from October 10, 2012 – Deutsche Version hier

The topic here is not „intelligence quotient“, but Inuit Qaujimatuqaangit. This term is Inuktitut for „that which has long been known by Inuit“. It is also often translated as „Inuit traditional knowledge“, but „IQ“ is not only knowledge in the sense of a stock of information, it includes also principles and values, it works as a code of behaviour and can navigate the way forward in life.

Aaju Peter, story telling - Foto Wolfgang Opel
Aaju Peter, story telling

As I have learned from Aaju Peter the Inuit originally did not know the term of “ownership of the land” – the land was „owned“ only in the way that everyone came from a place that was appreciated because it offered what was needed. The Inuit would not have survived in the inhospitable Arctic over thousands of years, if they had not respected the land, the sea, the animals, the plants, the rocks, the rivers, the mountains and even the icebergs as entities which have a “spirit”.

Flag of Cambridge Bay
Flag of Cambridge Bay

Such a perception of the environment and the corresponding behavior has enabled them to develop abilities and skills using what the land was offering and to develop a culture of perfect adaptation to the existing resources. They were able to do this in an extreme environment where, over the centuries, so many „white“ explorers had miserably failed, and where even today the average people, used to “civilization”, could hardly survive on their own.
IQ stands for Inuit knowledge of the interrelations in nature, and is based on the principle that humans are permanently learning beings with an infinite potential for problem-solving within the dictates of nature and technology. IQ embraces the concepts of serving, consensus-decision making, collaborative relationship or working together for a common purpose as well as the concept of environmental stewardship.
Could our “Western” society learn something from that?

Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Cambridge Bay
Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Cambridge Bay

Recently, in Cambridge Bay there was a public meeting regarding the future Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), where engineers, scientists, architects and federal government bureaucrats met with local residents. The Inuit want to make sure that the research station should bridge Western science and Inuit knowledge, but not only in one direction, like in the past. CHARS should be a „two-way bridge“.
And one of the goverment agents actually assured that the research institute will be guided by the principles of Inuit Qaujimatuqaangit.


A few days ago, some „Western“ visitors of Cambridge Bay proved that they are equipped with a substantial „AQ*”. A luxury yacht from Australia, during traversing the famed Northwest Passage, moored in Cambridge Bay, and some young Inuit women, among them minors, were invited to a party with alcohol and fireworks, which both are illegal in that community. And that’s not all: the passengers from the Fortrus also appeared to have harassed muskoxen near Mt. Pelly, with the help of rented vehicles, for gaining some extra-ordinary photos and video shots. There are outstanding fines of $10.000 which are still not paid until today.

*AQ here means „Arrogance Quotient“

posted by Mechtild Opel on October 10, 2012

Update by Nov 23, 2012: As to be read in Nunatsiaq News online, the owner of the Fortus, Australian tycoon Paul McDonald, has paid his outstanding bill for Nunavut Liquor Act offenses – he has paid $10,000 on Oct. 29, as RCMP confirmed on Nov. 20.

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