Friday, 15 October 2010

For some (in Nunavut), Internet defines freedom

For some, Internet defines freedom

Steve Haycox

Published: October 14th, 2010 09:37 PM
Last Modified: October 14th, 2010 09:38 PM


Driving down the Alaska Highway gave me the opportunity to listen to CBC
radio earlier this week. I was particularly struck by an interview of
people in various villages in Nunavut, the new Inuit territory north of
Quebec, such places as Iqaluit, Kimmirut, Rankin Inlet, Kugluktuk, Gjoa
Haven, Resolute Bay and others I keep tabs on weekly through Northern News
Service. The interviewer was doing a feature on how the Internet has
changed life in these places. As in Alaska villages, perhaps the greatest
impact has been the upgrade of medical and health services. But the
interviewer keenly focused his attention on the personal level, and what
most of the respondents wanted to talk about was freedom.


But it's fair to ask, if more freedom does not provide a greater
opportunity to realize one's capacities and potential for discovering the
meaning of human life, is it worth it? Few would dispute that much
American freedom is not only squandered in such meaningless pursuits as
shooting up old cars and road signs, wasted days and wasted nights playing
"Grand Theft Auto IV" and "Super Mario Galaxy 2," and watching the 15th
rerun of the "bubble boy" episode of "Seinfeld," but also in just shooting
up, and in the vicious exercise of domestic violence and abuse of the
homeless and powerless.

That's apparently not what freedom means for most of the villagers in
Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet. There, and in Mekoryuk, Wainwright and St.
Mary's, Alaska, people are grateful for the government subsidy, paid by
national taxes, that facilitates their connection with ever-widening
circles of society, in Taloyoak and Cape Dorset, and Montreal and Ottawa,
and far beyond.

Steve Haycox is a professor of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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