Be­ing Creenuk

Canada's History - - CHRISTOPHER MOORE - by Ju­lia Ge­orge

Ilive in a com­mu­nity with two names; Whap­ma­goos­tui/ Ku­u­jjuara­pik. In our com­mu­nity, we have sep­a­rated years ago as two com­mu­ni­ties in­stead of one, the Inuit side and the Cree side, even though we live in one area. Since the be­gin­ning of our an­ces­tors set­tling here, both parts of our com­mu­nity have been against each other be­cause of pre­vi­ous wars our an­ces­tors have had. We have sep­a­rate schools, hous­ing, gyms, ra­dio sta­tions, po­lice sta­tions, fire sta­tions, and clin­ics.

My fa­ther is Cree and my mother is Inuk, mak­ing my sib­lings and I Creenuk. Be­ing Creenuk, a mix of half Cree and half Inuk, has made a huge im­pact in our lives be­cause we can­not speak in Cree or in Inuk­ti­tut. In my child­hood, I strug­gled im­mensely with learn­ing each lan­guage in sep­a­rate pe­ri­ods in my life. To this day, I still strug­gle with learn­ing each lan­guage.

I have been trans­ferred to each school. I have gone to the Cree school in my early child­hood. I strug­gled with learn­ing the Cree lan­guage. As a re­sult I’ve been bul­lied in a way I thought I wasn’t good enough to be a proud Cree.

The bul­ly­ing got so out of hand, my par­ents de­cided I would trans­fer to the Inuit school in­stead to get away from the bul­ly­ing. But when I got there, I didn’t know how to read, write, or speak in Inuk­ti­tut. I can­not read or write in both lan­guages, only a lit­tle in Inuk­ti­tut.

At one point in my time at this school, my Inuk­ti­tut

teacher asked me to read Inuk­ti­tut in front of other stu­dents. I was only able to copy down the words she wrote on the board. When it was my turn, I wanted to try; but I knew I would be teased for even try­ing, so I didn’t say a word. My class­mates laughed at me, which led me to be­lieve I wasn’t good enough for my Inuit cul­ture.

I felt like a fail­ure. I felt re­jected. I felt like I couldn’t con­nect or com­mu­ni­cate with my other fel­low Inuks. I wish I could say I’ve learned Inuk­ti­tut in the past eight years of my time here at Asi­maut­taq School but I haven’t.

Our an­ces­tors, hav­ing no choice but to learn the English lan­guage, started los­ing their own lan­guages, Inuk­ti­tut and Cree. That may be why lots of Inuk and Cree are los­ing their lan­guages as well. Or, par­ents haven’t been re­ally told or telling their chil­dren how im­por­tant our lan­guages are. What­ever the rea­son may be, it is im­por­tant to keep our lan­guage go­ing, be­cause it’s ob­vi­ously a part of us, our cul­ture — just like the lan­guage you speak is im­por­tant to you, be­cause how else are you go­ing to com­mu­ni­cate? Sure, maybe through an­other lan­guage. But be­cause it is a part of our cul­ture and tra­di­tion, we’d like to keep it thriv­ing as long as we can. Oth­er­wise, we have lost a part of our cul­ture and our­selves.

My sib­lings have strug­gled and are strug­gling as well with our cul­tural lan­guages. My two older sis­ters and my two lit­tle broth­ers have trans­ferred schools count­less times for the past few years of their lives, for the same rea­son: Be­ing bul­lied for be­ing dif­fer­ent and for not un­der­stand­ing our cul­tures. My two older sis­ters have dealt with the same sit­u­a­tion as well. We all have.

We have felt re­jected, in­se­cure, iso­lated, and ashamed, ashamed of who we are. As we get older, wiser, we learn to ac­cept that we are dif­fer­ent. We are hy­brids of two very un­likely, beau­ti­ful cul­tures. It is okay to be dif­fer­ent. It is okay to be Creenuk.

We get ben­e­fits of be­ing Creenuk be­cause we are both. We are al­lowed to choose which ben­e­fi­ciary side we can be on. We are able to learn each cul­ture and tra­di­tion from our fam­ily mem­bers on each side. We are able to live up to each tra­di­tion our cul­tures have. We are able to un­der­stand our an­ces­tors and the life they had lived. It is im­por­tant that we the new gen­er­a­tions keep our tra­di­tions and cul­tures go­ing.

I will not point fin­gers as to why we do not un­der­stand our cul­tural lan­guages that we are “sup­posed to un­der­stand.” I will not blame my par­ents. I will not blame my teach­ers.

But, most of all, I will not blame my­self. I have em­braced two ex­tra­or­di­nary cul­tures into my life and into my heart.

Maybe we do not un­der­stand our cul­tural lan­guages, but that does not mean we are not Inuk or Cree. We are Creenuk by heart, blood, mind, and soul. I am a proud Creenuk, and I will con­tinue to em­brace two mar­vel­lous cul­tures as long as I live.

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