The Harold Innis Foundation and Innis College present the 2022 Harold Innis Lecture, “Twice Colonized,” with Inuit rights advocate and lawyer Aaju Peter, OC.
Aaju Peter was one of many Greenlandic children sent to school in Denmark in the mid-twentieth century. She felt lost upon return, struggling to reclaim her language and way of living. Peter soon relocated to Iqaluit, where she learned Inuktitut and English and has led a prolific career as a translator, lawyer, entrepreneur, activist, and collector of traditional law.
In her lecture, Aaju Peter will speak about her experience of being “twice colonized” — first as a Greenlandic girl in Denmark, then as an Inuk woman in Canada — and her full-circle journey now teaching Inuktitut to Inuit adults who never got the chance to learn their mother tongue.
Margaret Atwood, CC, OOnt, will offer introductory remarks.
This free, public lecture is offered in person (Innis Town Hall) and online (Vimeo). Please complete the corresponding registration form below.
Born in Arkisserniaq, a northern Greenland community, in 1960 Aaju Peter has lived up and down the west coast of her native country as a result of her father’s teaching and preaching career.
At age eleven, Aaju left Greenland to attend school in Denmark where she learned to read German, French, English, Latin and speak Danish. At age eighteen, she returned home to Greenland.
In 1981, Aaju moved to Iqaluit, in Nunavut, Canada where she has taken up residence. Here, Aaju picked up English and Inuktitut, which has helped her succeed in her work as an interpreter, and she has done volunteer work with various women’s and interpretation organizations. Her interests led her to the Arctic College where she took Inuit studies. She has travelled Greenland, Europe and Canada performing modern drum dance, traditional singing and displaying sealskin fashions.
Currently Aaju has a home-based sealskin garment business, translates, volunteers for the music society, collects traditional law from Elders, raises her five children, and just recently graduated from Akitsiraq Law School (2005) and was called to the bar (2007).
Today, Aaju advocates for Inuit rights to seal and sealskin products as well as the Inuit right to be involved in issues related to Arctic waters. Aaju received the Order of Canada on December 30, 2011.
A forthcoming documentary, also titled Twice Colonized, which tells the story of Aaju Peter’s fight for Indigenous representation in the midst of personal crisis, received a prestigious Marché du Film award at the Festival de Cannes 2022.