Join Inuit Elder and drum dancer, David Serkoak, a founding president of the Ahiarmiut Relocation Society, as he speaks about preserving the story of the Ahiarmiut and securing the 2019 government apology and compensation for relocatees.

David was the founder and President of  the “Ahiarmiut Relocation Society” from 1998 to 2019.  The Ahiarmiut were moved by force numerous times by Federal Gov’t in 1950s.  In Jan. 2019, Gov’t of Canada apologized to the Ahiarmiut in Arviat, the settlement included compensation and dedication plaque for the Ahiarmiut.

This is a recording from a live event at the Students on Ice Alumni Summit.

David Serkoak

David Serkoak was born into a traditional Inuit camp on the northern shore of Neultin Lake, south west of Arviat, Nunavut in 1952. He lived through the many hardships suffered by his people, the Ahiarmiut, as they were moved from place to place by the Federal Government.

Serkoak attended Territorial School in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove in the 1960s. He moved with his family to Arviat and for a while he worked at promoting art made by local Inuit artists. Serkoak got interested in education when working part-time in the local school. He attended Thebatcha College in Fort Smith, NWT (1976-78) where he successfully completed a diploma in education. In the summer of 1978, Serkoak returned to Arviat to teach, where he promoted Inuit culture, language and music in his classroom and throughout the school. Serkoak was appointed vice-principal in 1986 and he completed his B.Ed. in elementary education at Nunavut Arctic College/McGill University in 1993.

Serkoak has had a long and varied experience in education, teaching at the primary, and secondary and college levels. He was an instructor at Nunavut Arctic College, teaching courses in the B.Ed. program and Curator of the Arctic Exhibition at the British Museum in 1989.  Serkoak spent six years as Inuit Language and Cultural instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a college preparation program for young Inuit which is based in Ottawa. Serkoak developed Inuktitut teaching materials for every level at which he taught.

Serkoak is much in demand at regional, national and international conferences and events where he gives demonstrations in traditional drum dancing. He was a member of the Winter Olympic Symposium Committee in Vancouver, advising and coordinating on indigenous performances. He took part in the opening and closing ceremonies at the Aboriginal pavilion and at the games. He regularly gives drum making and drum dancing classes throughout Nunavut and other parts of Canada.

Serkoak is one of the four Inuit informants in Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut, edited by John Bennett and Susan Rowley and published by McGill Queen’s Press in 2004. This seminal work draws on the oral history of Inuit to provide insight into the culture and values of one of Canada’s first peoples.

In summer of 2017, David was invited to be a speaker on the Russian ship “50 Years of Victory” on route to the North Pole.  In the past few years, David also did some presentations for “Students on Ice” floating classroom.

Today, Serkoak spends much of his time making traditional Inuit drums and teaching Inuit youth about their culture and history. He and his wife Leslie have three daughters, Amanda, Meeka and Karla and six grandchildren, Briana, Makayla, Kyle, Laura, Ryan and Emma. When not travelling, Serkoak spends as many hours as he can with his beloved grandchildren. 

David was the founder and President of “Ahiarmiut Relocation Society”, 1998 to 2019.  The Ahiarmiut were moved by force numerous times by Federal Gov’t in 1950s.  In Jan. 2019, Gov’t of Canada apologized to the Ahiarmiut in Arviat, the settlement included compensation and dedication plaque for the Ahiarmiut.

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