How did the Qikiqtani Truth Commission conduct its historical research?

Since its inception, the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC) has amassed an authoritative collection of historical documentation and interviewed hundreds of witnesses during public hearings to uncover the truth about the period of 1950 to 1975, a pivotal time of transition in the Baffin Region.

Our investigation had two closely related activities:        

  • The first was to gather testimonies about events between 1950 and 1975 from Inuit who had lived through this difficult period, as well as from their children, who continue to remember the suffering of their parents and other relatives.
  • The second was to complete an extensive archival research program and interview non-Inuit who worked in the region during this period. Interviews used for the investigation included several retired RCMP officers, government officials and academic researchers.

The Commission visited public, private and personal archives across the country, finding documentation that shed light on the events being studied by the Commission. Historians working for the Commission accessed historical documentation from the Library and Archives Canada, the Northwest Territories Archives, the RCMP records centre, the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Anglican General Synod Archives, the Autry National Centre and the Archives Deschâtelets. Personal archives of individuals, such as Bryan Pearson, as well as libraries across Canada, including the Nunavut Court of Justice, were also consulted during the research process.

The number of documents that have been written on the North, its people and governance is staggering. The Commission’s historians focused their attention on documents most relevant to the period and themes under study. Additionally, the Commission interviewed important contemporary scholars specializing in 20th-century Inuit history and practices, including Hugh Brody, Milton M.R. Freeman, John MacDonald, Frank J. Tester, George W. Wenzel, and Robert G. Williamson. Two scholars—David King and Francis Lévesque—generously assisted the QTC on issues in their areas of expertise (the schooling of Inuit and killing of qimmiit, respectively).