The Experimental Eskimos

Poster for The Experimental Eskimos

Winter 2014 Documentary series

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Barry Greenwald

Starring Eric Tagoona, Zebedee Nungak, and Peter Ittinuar

Rated NR · 1h 10m
Inuktitut and English

View trailer

The Experimental Eskimos

In the early 1960s the Canadian government conducted an experiment in social engineering. Three 12-year-old Inuit boys, Peter Ittinuar, Zebedee Nungak and Eric Tagoona, were sent to live with white families in Ottawa, to be educated in white schools. The consequences for the boys, their families, their identity, and their culture were brushed aside.

The bureaucrats who brought the boys South did not anticipate the outcome of their experiment. The boys grew up to become leaders of their people, and lifelong thorns in the side of the government. The battles they fought and won were instrumental in the establishment of aboriginal rights in Canada, and led to the creation of Nunavut, the world’s largest self-governing aboriginal territory. But it all came at enormous personal cost.

The Experimental Eskimos is the untold story of how an experiment in assimilation not only changed three boys but changed a nation. Directed by Palme d’Or award-winning filmmaker Barry Greenwald and produced by Emmy award-winning Peter Raymont, it features a wealth of forgotten archival footage, family photos and government documents.

“This is a documentary that it must have been salutary for Euro-Canadians to see, for it exposes, not only the fact that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but the lack of wisdom and empathy that has characterized so much of Canada’s interaction with aboriginal people.” (Boyce Richardson, Boyce’s Paper)

“Strange, compelling and all too true.” (Andrew Ryan, The Globe and Mail)