Arctic Justice

ARCTIC JUSTICE:  On Trial for Murder, Pond Inlet 1923

Arctic Justice by Shelagh GrantAlthough there was no Canadian law enforcement in the eastern High Arctic when a crazed white fur trader was killed by an Inuk, authorities put Nuqallaq and two other Baffin Island Inuit on trial. The Canadian government saw Robert Janes’s death as murder; the Inuit saw it as removing a threat from their society according to custom. Nuqallaq was sentenced to ten years hard labour in Stony Mountain Penitentiary where he contracted tuberculosis. He died shortly after being returned to Pond Inlet.

Shelagh Grant’s award-winning Arctic Justice is a reconstruction of these tragic events at the intersection of Inuit and Canadian justice. Combining original Inuit oral testimony with archival history, Grant sheds light on the conflicting values and perceptions of two disparate cultures. She shows how the Canadian government’s decision was determined by fear and political concerns for establishing sovereignty over the Arctic.

Arctic Justice is also a social history of North Baffin Island in the twentieth century with vivid portraits of Janes, Captain J.E. Bernier of the CGS Arctic, investigating RCMP officer A. H. Joy, and the remarkable Nuqallaq, his wife Ataguttiaq, and the Inuit of North Baffin Island.

Arctic Justice was awarded the 2003 Canadian Historical CLIO prize for Northern History and short listed for the 2003-2004 Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities Raymond Klibansky Prize.

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: McGill-Queen’s University Press; illustrated edition (Nov 5 2002)

9 maps, 81 photographs

Language: English
ISBN-10: 0773523375
ISBN-13: 978-0773523371
Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 16 x 3.2 cm

Comments by Reviewers:


“Masterful, compelling, and insightful. A superb work of ethnohistory that shows a great deal of respect for the historical traditions of the Inuit of Baffin Island.” CHA Clio Awards
“Grant reveals a gulf in understanding that dwarfs the familiar two solitudes of French-English relations.” MacLeans
A compelling account of cultural conflict and misperception.” The Beaver
“This is a truly magnificent book. Arctic Justice is a rich and intriguing account of Inuit’s early experience with Canada and its justice system.” Eva Aariak as Nunavut Language Commissioner, later Premier of Nunavut.
“This is a fascinating story and a valuable contribution to the history of Northern Canada. Most significantly, because Grant has talked to the Inuit, this is the first time that the story of the relations between Inuit and newcomers has been told from the Inuit perspective.” William Morrison, history, University of Northern British Columbia and the author of True North: The Yukon and Northwest Territories
“The Janes murder trial is among the most telling events in modern Arctic history. Shelagh Grant’s book will fascinate all who are interested in the North and in the nature of northern colonial history.” Hugh Brody, anthropologist and author of The Other Side of Eden.
“Grant provides a riveting illustration of how Inuit traditionally handled dangerous people in their society. She gives an excellent and dramatic account of the trial, the circumstances behind it, and the tragic aftermath.” Dorothy Harley Eber, author of When the Whalers Were Up North and Images of Justice
“Meticulously researched and informatively presented by Shelagh D. Grant (Adjunct Professor of History and Canadian Studies, Trent University), Arctic Justice: On Trial For Murder, Pond Inlet, 1923 is the true and accurate historical account of how the Canadian government asserted its power and control in the High Arctic….  A fascinating and carefully detailed account of law, history, politics, and the erosion of Native American sovereignty, Arctic Justice is an original and very highly recommended contribution to Native American Studies and Canadian History reference collections.”  Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

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