Tester, Frank James (1994) Integrating the Inuit: social work practice in the Eastern Arctic, 1955-1963, Canadian Social Work Review 11(2): 168-183        

    KeywordsIqaluit (Frobisher Bay)Rankin Inletresettlementsocial worktuberculosis

In this article, Frank Tester examines the role of social workers in the Eastern Arctic from 1955-1963 and their role of assimilating Inuit to Euro-Canadian culture. During this time, the Canadian federal government saw “integration" as a positive and desirable objective for aboriginal policy. Tester argues that 1955 to the mid-1960s was the period of most dramatic change for the Inuit in history of the Canadian Eastern Arctic.

Due to the decline in the price of Arctic fox pelts, many Inuit moved to settlements where trading posts and church missions were located. Increasingly the Inuit became dependent on the upon Royal Canadian Mounted Police and trading company officials, who administered their family allowances and welfare. Furthermore, in some cases the Anglican and Catholic churches encouraged settlement near missions, where Inuit children were schooled by priests and nuns. Tester argues another reason for the movement to these settlements was directly related to the introduction of social workers to the Eastern Arctic.

Social workers were responsible for coordinating people and dealing with rehabilitation and repatriation to home settlements. In addition, due to the tuberculosis epidemic by 1954 Inuit patients had been evacuated to a southern sanatorium. Once these TB patients were sent back to the north they were deemed unfit for living in a camp, and were encouraged to live in settlements instead. Thus, in 1957 and 1958, two rehabilitation centres were created, in Rankin Inlet on the west coast of Hudson's Bay and in Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay). These centres were designed to help facilitate the process the Inuit moving into settlements, and provided training for Inuit for settlement life. Social workers were responsible for socializing Inuit into the norms of a nuclear family, having a wage-earning husband, having wife who cared for the home, and family setting with standards of health and hygiene matching those of middle-class Canadians.