Born in Kuujjuaq, Julie Grenier is a beadwork artist and Director General of Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. whose mandate is to promote Inuit culture and image, by Inuit and for Inuit. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network).
« In Nunavik, ever since contact, the meeting of cultures has existed. Society would not have evolved in the way it evolved if this had not occurred. My parents are a result of North-South meeting, and that's something we see more and more. In Nunavik, there are tensions, not everyone agrees, it is like in any society. But I do believe that people live quite harmoniously together.
Kuujjuaq is a little different. Since it is big with a larger population, we will find more closed groupes, some are exclusively Inuit, or francophones, or anglophones, or from the same working environment.
For the Inuit, living in a larger city like Kuujjuaq is relatively new. Nunavik is a society that, 60 years ago, lived a nomadic life, with small families and groups that traveled together. Having had to integrate amongst ourselves and with others in a town with a larger population like Kuujjuaq made a big change for the Inuit.
I think that, for today’s youth, the survival of traditions is very much alive. People of my generation went through a phase where some were not as proud, rejecting traditions and customs and trying to assimilate more to an urban life of the South ... But today we see young people who are proud to be Inuit, in all sorts of ways.
For example, different workshops such as beadwork, or courses where I personally learned to sew, to make clothes… these are things you see more and more, like how to make a parka… and we see young people create their own clothes. There is a pride in that, to wear what we created.
It's the same with the Inuktitut language or camping on the land, young people want to go out. It is as if they decided to take control of that pride, and talk about it. In schools too, thanks to culture teachers, the youth go out even more.
Some people of my age, early thirties, say they were ashamed of where they came from, until they realized that they can be proud of their origins. This awareness was passed on to their children, and made them proud.
I think this momentum is not due to a single group or infrastructure, it really is a combination of different elements that have made people want to learn more, and pass on their knowledge. For example, there was a big push at one point, as with the Avataq cultural institute, or in school boards, and at the Makivik local level, where sewing houses were built in the villages, so we had a place where we could get together, learn together. Funding was available to buy material and teach. So there are several factors that have contributed to bring us where we are today.
Today, talking to young people, one feels that there is great pride... People of my age and the youngest are proud of their language and their origins. It's something that comes naturally.