In 1998, a group of people in Gjoa Haven wrote to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Vice-President James Eetoolook, “In regards to the Hudson’s Bay trading post which was established at the location known as Perry River.” The letter was signed by six people, representing the larger group who, in 1967, moved from Perry River to Gjoa Haven. In their words, “This was a very difficult time for the people of Perry River. We are not angry or anything [but] we would just like people to know our story, and how difficult it really was.”
In 2003, NTI hired oral-history specialist David Pelly to conduct a thorough set of interviews in Gjoa Haven. That process took two years and several visits, first to meet the survivors, to develop the plan with them, then to do interviews and follow-ups, and finally to confirm the transcriptions were accurate. The final product was a 200-page volume with interview transcripts from six informants in three languages: English, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. Their story, as they wished, is well recorded. At one of the group meetings, as the process ended, there were tears and hugs, but above all there was a satisfaction that the journey of their lives would be remembered by others for years to come.
By David Pelly