I've been reading a few articles lately by Lawrence Smith talking about the changes coming to the North by the time 2050 rolls around and how awesome they're going to be. That the countries that border the arctic, like Canada, are going to be in the position to become the next global super powers. This one, that my friend Chris linked to, is just the latest example. And my thoughts are, once you get beyond the unseemly cheerleading for global warming as an awesome development opportunity, is always this: "I wonder how the Inuit are going to handle all of this?"
Because the author of this piece, and others I've seen like it, always portray it as a good thing. More development and prosperity for the north and lots more people. However, from my perspective the Inuit have always had a love/hate relationship with the idea of a booming economy. I suspect they're for it, but very much on their own terms. And these articles tend to show that's not likely to happen. Instead, if this is the future they're predicting, there's going to be huge pressure to dictate those terms to them. And call me a cynic, I don't think that's going to go over big.
It leads me to another question that's rattled around in my mind since we moved here. The Inuit are by far the majority in Nunavut. I believe the breakdown of the population is along the lines of 85% Inuit and 15% non-Inuit. And under the Land Claim Agreement, the Inuit have numerous special rights that protect them and their way of life.
However, the population of the territory is barely more than 30,000. Yes, the Inuit population is growing fast. I suspect in a decade or so Nunavut will no longer be the least populated territory. It'll likely overtake the Yukon. But if people start to view Nunavut as the land of opportunity and immigrate en mass, what happens then? What happens if that ratio goes from 85/15, down to 60/40? Or 50/50? Or even 30/70? Are all those newcomers going to be happy with the LCA and those special rights, or are they going to kick up a racket about it? We'll see.
It's a nice piece of science fiction Smith is weaving. I think if mass, rapid development of the north is going to happen because of climate change, it's going to be a tricky bit of business, welcome by some, but fought against hard by others. And I will not be at all surprised if some people get trampled on in the stampede.
1. Tape song - The Kills
2. Wait for you - Lindsay Buckingham
3. Mushaboom - Feist
4. Gypsy - Fleetwood Mac
5. The end of medicine - The New Pornographers*