Aug 5, 2005

Chapter 46

Killiniq Island
The Creative Cartography of Empire

‘Every conflict in the world today has its origin in the imagination of British cartographers’. Maureen Dowd. NY Times, Jan. 16, 2012

The Killiniq map is an in-joke among cartographers; a miniature model of the cartography of empire, an inter-generational clin d’oeil. - Bob Dawson - Parkinson’s Patients – yes, we can dance - weblog, Jan. 30, 2012

Cet obscur objet de désir

What do you see when you look at this map?
Three governments, for one thing.

The French part of this map, the northern tip of Quebec,
has never been inhabited by the French.

The English part of this map,
the northern tip of Labrador, has never been inhabited by the English.

The Inuit part of this map,
Killiniq in Nunavut, was inhabited by the Inuit
from 5,000 B.C., until February 8, 1978.

No one lives there now.
Mission accomplished?

What is the hunger for this place?
There are 35,623 islands in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago.
Thousands of these islands have never seen a human footprint.
Why such a fuss over this one little island, that is only 35 km. long and 13 km. wide?

Is this the siren of the northern seas, a mermaid disguised?
Every ship hits the island, its crew mezmerized?
Why do imperialists jostle, for centuries, for leverage to control a wind-swept rock?
Killiniq Island once flew the Portuguese flag.
(It caused the British to rush in to kick the Portuguese out.)
(Too bad because it could have become a colony of Brazil).
The school at Killiniq used to be bilingual: Inuktitut and German.
In the year 1900, Inuit on the coast of Labrador
Had a higher literacy rate than farmers in Europe.
In the 1960's, you could still meet Inuit who used German words for numbers and days of the week and months of the year.
Lots of Inuit archives for Ungava and Labrador are at a German university,
But you learned all that in your Canadian history course, right?
And about the automated weather station a German U-Boat crew installed in Labrador.

Oh, Killiniq, mon amour!

Killiniq Island is a big rock in a frozen seascape.
You can’t grow food there.
No vegetables, no fruits, no cereals.
No trees, no lumber, no firewood, no fuel.
No Wal-Mart.
Look around and see what you’ve got:
Ice, snow, ice-cold water, rocks. Wind. Extreme cold. Months of darkness.
Most of the coast plunges straight down into the ocean;
Impossible to land from a boat, except for a few safe havens, such as the sheltering Port Burwell.

The tides are treacherous, being 600% stronger
because of the funnel effect of McLeland Strait, between the island and the mainland.

Wildly dangerous to land a bush plane – rocks everywhere, not much flat land for a runway.
Preferable to land on the sea ice. If you are confident about the stability of the ice.
You would have to be crazy to think that you could survive on Killiniq Island.
Crazy, or Inuit.
Oh, but the hunting and fishing at Killiniq? The best.
The latest archeo excavation show Inuit camps there in 5,000 B.C.
The Inuit are sea people and they chose this island
because migrating sea mammals and fish go past Killiniq to get to or from the North Atlantic.
Nobody ever went hungry on Killiniq Island.

Well, fish and sea mammals are not the only traffic on Hudson’s Strait.
These days you get migrating nuclear submarines from several nuclear powers.
And soon, if the ice keeps melting
there will be thousands of container ships and oil tankers in Arctic waters;
the shipping time between Europe and Asia would be cut in half.
But most countries do not agree that the northern waterways belong to Canada.
Russia does not agree that Canada has anything much to do with the Arctic Ocean. Russia has positioned one-quarter of its navy in the Arctic. China is building ice-breakers and making incursions right into Inuit territory.
And the U.S.A., Canada’s closest ally, clearly states that the North-West Passage, and Hudson’s Bay, and all of the navigable Arctic waters,
are not governed by Canadian law. What Canadians have long assumed to be theirs is assumed by the rest of the world to be international waters, same as the Atlantic Ocean.
And Killiniq Island looks out over the passageway that takes you from the North Atlantic, to the centre of the continent.

Some rocks are more strategic than others.
Some rocks are better positioned for re-transmitting information of military importance.
Some rocks are invisible, just below the waterline of our perfect Franklin Expedition luxury liner, our bloated self-satisfaction, our open-mindedness in giving God a second chance to Be on Our Side despite His previous failures;
just below bigotry, just out of sight, invisible to radar and sonar, just slightly below the waterline of our profound superiority and our unsinkable democracy,
suddenly the rocks rip a huge hole in the hull of our ship, like a can-opener slicing open a can of cheap sardines
And our ship capsizes and sinks
and the captain and officers can be seen fleeing in the only available lifeboats.

As the ice-berg was to the Titanic
As the rocks of Giglio Island were to the Costa Concordia cruise liner;
So are the rocks of Killiniq
To Canadian and Québécois conceit.
A total hull breach; a system-wide collapse
and the boat turned turtle and sank like a stone
the first chance it got.
The Emperor had no clothes, and the Captain had no ship.

The best-laid plans of mice and men
Gang aft agley

And karma is a bitch

Killiniq is the only place where the boundaries of French, English and Inuit jurisdictions meet.
The Treaty was signed by all three.
The first modern treaty with “aboriginals” in Canada.
Immensely more inspired than the shamefully racist “Indian Act”.
It was a national opportunity to be Holy.

It was a test of nation-building and ethnic relationships,
and Canada and Quebec fumbled clumsily,
snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Every year, Curtis showed the Killiniq map to each new class of rookies at Westpoint Military Academy, and asked: What geo-political power struggle is symbolically embedded in this map?

The military strategy students saw it right away: Quebec ends at the shore of the mainland, even though Killiniq Island is only a stones-throw away. Whereas, Newfoundland & Labrador continues onto the island, at Cape Chidley. The English province includes off-shore islands in the north; the French province does not.

His Majesty’s Royal Cartographers have a chuckle:

Spencer, what say we amuse ourselves by playing an April Fool’s trick on the Frenchies in Quebec?

How so, Nigel? Do tell. How can we tease the frogs?

Very simple, my dear Spencer. Let’s draw a new map. Giving each island to the nearest loyal British colony, but none to disloyal Quebec.

Sable Island is 300 miles off-shore in the Atlantic. We will give Sable Island to the loyal Province of Nova Scotia, our New Scotland. We will give the islands off the coast of British Columbia to the loyal province of British Columbia, and praise them for including “British” in their name. Every province should do likewise. “British Ontario”. “British Saskatchewan”.

But “British Quebec”? Never. They may well learn English, but that does not mean they will understand us any better. Their ways are not our ways. Our logic often escapes them. No matter what they do, they will never be truly British. They are Papists, you know. Wine drinkers. Be-headers of kings. Cannon fodder for the tyrant Napoleon. And they drink coffee at 8 a.m., instead of tea at 4 p.m. And their women are all loose and improperly revealing. ‘Tis a most scandalous race, disrespectful toward Britain's royal family, and British haute-cuisine.

So we will not give Killiniq Island to Quebec, even though it almost touches Quebec. And the same with all the islands in Ungava Bay and down the east coast of Hudson’s Bay – let’s stamp the British flag on every one of them. Even if the island is only ten feet offshore, and you can walk to it with rubber boots at high tide, we will draw the map so that it is not part of Quebec!

And when the French whine or shout about the injustice of it all, we shall sit back in our chairs, smirk condescendingly, and then take a sip of tea. You know how that unhinges them!

And let’s take Labrador out of Quebec as well, and grant it to the King's loyal Newfoundlanders. That should drive Quebec batty, they will climb the curtains, (“grimper dans les rideaux”) and then we will remind them that, at the height of empire, the British Navy had effective control of the 75% of the earth that is ocean; and the British Army took effective control of one-third of the land of the planet. So we will re-draw the maps of the entire world, to our own benefit. Rule Britannia! The greatest empire since Rome.

Excellent cartographical prank, Nigel. Future generations will giggle at our satiric maps and the trouble they cause down through the centuries. Now let’s have four o’clock tea and wet cucumber sandwiches with thick gobs of extra-salty butter, and converse elegantly about important matters of Church and State.

Yes, my dear Spencer. And I am sure His Majesty will be wryly amused by the pith and wit of our new Quebec and Labrador maps.

Suite aux émeutes, les québécois en délire, et les canadiens anglais paralysés par leur à-plat-ventrisme devant n’importe quel empire…

Oh, Nigel, I thrill at our genius. We re-invented cartography as a weapon of destabilization, and we conquered huge territories simply by drawing new maps and dividing up friends and enemies. It is the greatest trompe-l’oeil art project of all time. We created countless future wars around the world by drawing arbitrary border lines, in the comfort of our studio in London, without even visiting some of the countries that we re-mapped or countries we created out of thin air. Did you see the straight lines we drew between Iraq and Syria and Kuwait and Iran, completely ignoring the local inhabitants and their traditional territories? The borders we made between India and Pakistan? Not to mention the non-boundaries of Kashmir? How about “Saudi” Arabia, granted to the Saudi clan for services to be rendered, giving them territory stolen from other tribes? And putting borders in Africa right through the centre of tribal hunting grounds, guaranteeing generations of tribal warfare?

Never, in the field of human cartography, have so few screwed up so much, for so many.

Pip, Pip, Pop, Pop and all that rot.
Ten Sixty-Six and All That.

(Woody Guthrie is back and he is mad as hell and he ain’t gonna take it no more.)
He changed the words of his number one hit song:

This land is my land, it isn’t your land,
from Kuujjuaq, to Resolute Island
See this piece of paper here?
It says this land belongs to me.
So why don’t you go climb the evolutionary tree?
And become just as greedy as me.
What’s mine is mine
and what’s yours is mine;
it has been like that every time
this land is my land
so get off my diamond mine
it’s all myself and me and my and mine

René Levesque, separatist leader of Quebec: …:
“We are reaffirming our rights,
these are obvious rights, morally, legally,
the right of Québec to have Labrador.
(and the islands).
It was a legal theft that was perpetrated against us;
it’s still a theft,
and we said that we will proceed
with the occupation of Labrador….”

Uh oh. Trubble. Them is fightin’ words. … them folks is itchin’ fer trubble.
Honey, go git me mah shotgun.
Ain’t none of them furiners gonna steal cabbages outta my cabbage patch.

…. As Government of Quebecwe will proceed with the occupation of Labrador… hmmmm (later changed to “judicial occupation”)… would NORAD and NATO welcome that?... Do we have to be nice to the other scorpion in the bottle? Niceness between the English and the French, hereditary enemies for eight centuries? What are you, some kind of a nut? A namby-pamby pacifist?

Brush up on your Bismarck and your Kissinger – this is realpolitik, in which ethnic relations and international agreements are a matter of un rapport de force and alliances are nothing more than temporary marriages of convenience in a struggle without end; until it reverts to fang and claw and gets settled by brute force.

A struggle over Labrador between the English and the French would have nothing to do with Labrador, any more than the endless Wars of Religion had to do with religion.

‘Je me souviens,’
dis-tu, jour après jour.
Et bien, moi,
j’ai complètement oublié.
je ne me souviens même pas de quoi on parlait.
C’était quoi, cette maudite histoire?
J’en ai manqué des bouts.
Et je n’ai pas besoin d’un drapeau
pour dire qui je suis.
Le drapeau n’en sait pas plus que moi.

They also serve, who only watch and laugh.

When cartographers go wild

Who are you?
I am King of the British.
Who are the British?
We are all British, and I am your King.
How did you get that job? I didn’t vote for you.
Well, you don’t vote for a King.

Above: Canadian Federal map. The yellow area is the big chunk that once supposedly belonged to Quebec, until the British simply gave it to Newfoundland, without even discussing it with Quebec. See how easy it is, Nigel? Draw a few lines and change the colour, and you can create generations of animosity at almost no cost.

Canadian federal map, 1867; Quebec controlled only the land on both sides of the St. Lawrence River. All of Northern Quebec was part of the NorthWest Territories, of the federal government. So if Quebec wants to separate, let’s go back to this map.
Quebec would lose all its northern territory.
Thus, Quebec Premier Charest’s “Plan Nord” to the rescue!
“Mighty Mouse will save the day; Mighty Mouse is on his way!”

Choose your favourite year, and have a different size Quebec. It’s a very flexible territory, available in many sizes, but only one colour. No refunds if separated. A deposit may be required. Knowledge of French essential.
Notice that there are no Inuit villages or Inuit territory on this map, no matter if you are thinking about 1927 or 1949, or 1867 A.D. or 5,000 B.C.
At no time did the native people show up on the map.
Because they did not draw the map.

Uh oh. The Inuit now have their own cartographers and make their own maps.
That’s one obvious danger of allowing them to get an education.
They are learning our pale logic. They have figured out our nation-state dogma.
Well, there goes the neighbourhood.

The Inuit map of Quebec, shows Nunavik, the traditional territory of Quebec Inuit.
Fourteen Inuit villages on the Quebec coastland of Ungava Bay and Hudson’s Bay, plus Killiniq, technically in the North-West Territories, but inhabited by the same people as in the Quebec Inuit villages.
The “Offshore Area” was always used by Quebec Inuit as hunting and fishing grounds, but none of the islands belong to Quebec, or to the Inuit.
And there is a debate:
If the French can separate from the English
And the English can separate from the French
Then surely the Inuit can separate from both? Right?
The Inuit don’t talk about that.
But political strategists in Canada and the U.S.A. have talked about it in great detail.
Because it is what they would do.

Quebec Government map.
This is the shape of Québec in the dreams of all Québécois.
Labrador? Labrador? Where is this English territory of Labrador? Seems to have disappeared from the map.
Inuit territory? What Inuit territory? If it existed, it would be on the map.
There is no such place as “Labrador” or “Nunavik” on this map.
It is all French Quebec.
There is one official language, and it is not Inuktitut.

See? My cartographers are WAY cooler than your cartographers.
Nigel and Spencer, you have been out-classed by map-making spirits greater than your own.

You loved us as losers, now you fear we just might win.

Hey Curtis, check out the map for the Circumpolar Alliance. This is an entirely different map of the north. It’s not from the British Admiralty. It’s not from the Canadian Government. It’s not from a free and independent Quebec. It’s from Inuit cartographers at Makivik. The Inuit figured the British Admiralty was right: first take control of the cartographers, all the rest will follow. I have seen the future, and it is roadless. Come and keep your comrades warm! This may be your last chance to visit our Arctic Third World before they strike oil, at which point they will have the highest GNP per capita in the world, and the Inuit will probably all end up living in mansions in Florida and hiring us as pool-boys and eye candy.

You can see why there is so much competition now to cozy up to the Inuit. Even Canadian Prime Ministers now jet to Resolute or Iqaluit once a year for a photo-op with an iceberg. Trouble is, the Russians are saying they are going to run the Arctic. Every nationality that sets foot on Inuit territory claims it for themselves. There was a time when Killiniq’s co-op was the most profitable in Canada’s Arctic. But it had to close down, because… well just because, is all you need to know. It’s none of your damn business, what happens in the north.

And if we wanted to hear your stupid opinions, we would tap your phone.

Ah well, things have not changed;
little wheels spin and spin,
to make the big wheel turn around.

Radio-Canada asked: Do we have to die for Labrador?
(somewhere around 1972, or 1975) (Everybody was young and stupid, okay? Die in a war over Labrador? It was actually a very serious question at the time.)
Radio Canada TV Journalist: … Occupy Labrador?.... it becomes an act of war, a provocation. Insolent action.
Nationalist–separatist leader Lévesque: Look, again, it’s a judicial act of war.
Journalist: Wars start like that; you’ll have to have an army.
Lévesque: Oh come on now.
Journalist: It’s a form of occupation, insolence, brutal, military occupation.
Lévesque: No, it’s legalisms.
Journalist: Isn’t it the American technique to install yourself and protect your own interests only? … For the partisans of independence. Labrador is an obsession… (You-tube of this interview will be posted, approximately next chapter) In French of course. Will de-encrypt. (We have the Enigma Machine.) (We have the Enigma Machine and you don’t.) (So be nice.)

Jes’ like I told ya, them is fightin’ words. Them folks is out lookin’ for guts and glory. They is gonna need martyrs, real quick. Ain’t no political religion what got no martyrs. Honey, go fetch me some more shotgun ammo. Them folks is cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Truth in packaging: Mountains and oceans are things that actually exist, no matter who is running the government. The Atlantic Ocean is not a theory. The Torngat Mountains were not created as a movie set by George Lucas. Some things are actually real. The traditional Inuit way of life soared with spirituality; but also, and more-so, they lived in The Real. They had no heated bus shelters. They knew all the different ways nature could suddenly kill you. In a kayak, the difference between a calm sea and a rough sea becomes very focused.

A coat will keep you warm. A photograph of a coat will not keep you warm. An Inuit stone carving of a bear cannot eat you, but an actual bear might. Watch out for that. One is the actual item, the other is an artist’s inspiration about the actual item. If you confuse the two, you could end up being very confused. I have seen it happen. The confusion, I mean.

But political maps are all Hollywood special effects. Political maps are made up by somebody for a purpose. Political maps are not created to show you where the mountains are. Political maps are created to show you where the power is. To show you who has effective control over the territory. Somebody from the government arrives with a map. It shows that you are now a tenant on your own land, and your culture and language are no longer required. Nobody realises the map was an April Fool’s joke from a cartographer.

And Canadians say, The Arctic? Is that part of Santa Claus Village,
where the toy penguins live in plastic igloos and there’s a McDonald’s?
Yes, dear, now go to sleep.
Is it all full of Eskimos killing cute baby seals?
No dear, there is no such thing as Eskimos, now go to sleep.

And such was the way things were.
On February 7, 1978, there were 15 villages of the Quebec Inuit.
On February 8, 1978, there were 14.
The one that disappeared was the one on the island.
A few feet off-shore.
The only one outside of Quebec.
On the wrong side of a fictitious line on a piece of paper
Drawn by Spencer and Nigel
In their studio in London.
Long ago.

An inter-generational clin-d’oeil.

And the Inuit village of Port Burwell, on Killiniq Island, ceased to exist.


Camping on Killiniq Island
There is one thing you can see
In your own mind
You can always be free
And to every heart
love will come
Like a refugee
Perhaps not today
But if not today
Then maybe tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow.

Killiniq Island
Cet obscur objet de désir

No comments: