Saint Mary’s researcher receives Inuit Cultural Repatriation Award

  2018 Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Awards and Feast, Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre, Inuvik NWT. Pictured from the left are Nancy Hurn (Anglican Archives), Deanna Marie Jacobson, (Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre / ICRC), Natan Obed, (President of ITK), Val Marie Johnson (Saint Mary’s University), Ethel-Jean Gruben (ICRC).

2018 Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Awards and Feast, Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre, Inuvik NWT. Pictured from the left are Nancy Hurn (Anglican Archives), Deanna Marie Jacobson, (Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre / ICRC), Natan Obed, (President of ITK), Val Marie Johnson (Saint Mary’s University), Ethel-Jean Gruben (ICRC).

Saint Mary’s University researcher Dr. Val Marie Johnson’s collaborative work to repatriate copies of Inuit cultural and historical materials is being recognized by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) with the ITK’s 2018 Inuit Cultural Repatriation Award.

The Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre (ICRC), together with the Anglican Church General Synod Archives and Dr. Johnson received the award earlier this month. The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have taken steps to repatriate Inuit intellectual or cultural property or other items that hold significance for their people.  

"It is a deep honour to have Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami recognize the collaboration among myself, the ICRC team, descendants of Shingle Point School students and staff, other community members, and the Archives team, on repatriating to the Settlement Region documentation of the living history of residential schools,” said Dr. Johnson.

They received the award for repatriating copies of archival materials from St. John’s Eskimo Residential School at Shingle Point, Yukon, and related materials. Shingle Point is an Inuvialuit whaling and fishing site that today forms part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Area. The Anglican Church opened St. John’s School in 1929 with 14 students. Enrollment peaked in 1934 with 44 students. The school closed in 1936 when a new residential school opened in Aklavik,  Northwest Territories.

Since June 2017, Johnson has worked with ICRC staff, elders and descendants of students and staff to repatriate copies of photos, artwork, student letters, and language materials collected by Anglican missionaries and held in the Anglican Church Archives in Toronto. The materials will soon be available at the ICRC, digitally, and through publication.

“Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is pleased to see these organizations and individuals recognized for the dedication and personal sacrifice each has given for the wellbeing of the Inuvialuit and others, as well as promoting our culture amongst others,” said Duane Smith, Chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.