Documentary portraying the young men who left Scotland in the 1960s - 1980s, travelling to the extremes of the Canadian Arctic to work for The Hudson's Bay Company.
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The Canadian Arctic. Wild, majestic and alluring.
For 300 years, it drew thousands of Scots to work for the Hudson's Bay Company,
trading with the native Inuit across the frozen planes.
Working on a dairy farm in Dumfriesshire, it seemed quite exotic and quite exciting.
The Hudson's Bay Boys fell in love with the land and its people.
I've just enjoyed every single minute that I've lived in this beautiful community,
in this beautiful land.
But were shaken to the core when the Inuit survival was threatened.
What it did was destroy a way of life, really, just basically overnight.
Totally unfair, and really made me extremely angry.
The Bay Boys lived thousands of miles apart,
spread across this vast territory.
Now, they are coming together.
This has been absolutely a trip of a lifetime.
They changed the Arctic.
As a Scot, I felt very privileged to be part of the team that developed the government.
-And the Arctic changed them.
-When I left, I felt a loss.
When I came back, I found...
I found it again.
The Inuit have survived in the Arctic for 1,000 years.
Nomads hunting for food in the harshest conditions.
And for the furs they trap, they found a willing buyer.
The Hudson's Bay Company.
Set up in 1670, it recruited young men in search of adventure.
Thousands of Scots took up the challenge,
and by the 20th century, they made up half the workforce.
I saw an advert in the Scotsman newspaper,
and it said, come north, young man, to the Hudson's Bay Company.
We left Scotland and I didn't really know what to expect.
It was an adventure.
The thing that used to blow me away was I would suddenly look up
and look around, look at these mountains over here, and it would
just suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks, my God, I live in the Arctic!
I'm in the Canadian Arctic. I couldn't believe it.
Donald Manns was posted to Pangnirtung,
which lies at the edge of the frozen Arctic Circle.
Other Hudson's Bay outposts were
scattered across Canada, so the Bay Boys rarely saw each other.
Now, four Scottish Bay Boys are coming from across Canada
for a unique reunion.
We're going to pick up the Bay guys at the airport,
and try and get the pipes tuned in.
I broke my chance just before they are coming in,
so I have got my old chanter that sounds dreadful,
so it's a bit of a panic.
I'm among the last Bay Boys that came across, so this is
really quite something, all these guys to come together with the tradition
that goes from 1600s onwards of Scots coming into the Arctic
and coming to the Hudson's Bay from many different parts of Scotland.
The recruitment from Scotland stopped in the 1980s.
These are the last of the Scottish Bay Boys.
This is one of the last chances for an event like this to happen,
because none of us are getting any younger.
-Hello. How are you doing?
-Hello, Johnny boy. How are you doing?
I haven't seen this fella since 1966.
-When he stepped off the plane, Cambridge Bay.
-Wearing a violet shirt.
It was my first posting. It's 44 years ago, almost to the day.
I was here, and it's 42 years since I left, so it's quite an occasion.
We had a bit of catching up to do.
In the 1900s, modern life caught up with the Inuit.
By the '60s, they abandoned their nomadic existence
and formed communities around Hudson's Bay posts.
Every outpost had a general store, from which a Hudson's Bay Boy
traded basic supplies for furs brought in by Inuit hunters.
They established that a little outpost,
so you can get the basics, sugar, tea, flour.
-They had posts in different places.
-They had so many of them.
-Perry River, Cape Parry.
These were all small outpost camps.
Hudson Bay stores, that one guy would be there.
He would have no electricity, no running water, etc, etc.
I mean, some guys would wait six months before they would get mail!
I remember the big shortwave radio sitting in the corner
of Bob's office, and there was always stories about the boys who'd
speak Gaelic back and forth.
I always thought it was fantastic, just fascinating.
Usually the store would be a store and a little staff house combined, right?
-And that was it. You would listen to the radio.
Shortwave radio them big bush radios and you would read.
Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol, A Tale Of Two Cities, you know,
any of that. Any of that kind of stuff.
-And you knew it from back to front because you read it.
-Read it twice.
For the Scottish Bay Boys, the Arctic offered a new start.
I came across here not long after my father died,
and you're a young guy, 20-years-old,
you don't really understand the emotions at running inside you.
And you go a bit wild, you know?
And I came north here and grew up, actually matured, grew up
and got a chance to grow up away from home, in a different situation.
We were given responsibilities,
we were put in charge at the age of 20 of a 1.5 million store.
I think the Hudson's Bay Company in some ways saved my life.
And through the company, soon after arriving, he met a local Inuit girl.
Donald married Meeka in 1983.
I'm preparing a big meal for the Hudson Bay Boys.
I cooked some caribou, some fish, some halibut, some ribs and haggis.
And my sister has cooked some rabbit and Arctic hare.
It's all different.
There's Yorkshire pudding, so it's all different kinds.
I'd just like to thank everybody for coming along.
It's a wee celebratory feast.
We have about every single Arctic animal,
including the wild haggis,
that also grazes the plains of Pangnirtung.
And as my mother used to say, "Stick in till you stick oot."
Come on, you must know Address To A Haggis.
Far fa' ye...
Far fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin' race.
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, trip or thairm,
Weel are ye wordy of a grace, As lang's my arm.
Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
-Oh, shut up!
The temperatures have plummeted overnight.
It's minus 20 and visibility is poor.
Pretty white out there.
But it should burn off...
The Bay Boys are braving the extreme conditions to go on
one last hunting trip together.
They plan to camp out overnight
and travel to the frozen water's edge to hunt seal.
Donald and his Inuk brother-in-law, Noah, a local hunter,
will guide the Bay Boys.
The last time that I went sealing on the frozen sea ice
was a long time ago.
It would be really nice to get one today.
But we don't know what it's going to be like until we get down there.
Like Donald, Bay Boy John Graham made his home in the Arctic.
Leaving the family farm in Selkirk in 1976,
he was posted to Iqaluit, where he met his Inuk wife, Eva.
They're asking for Elizabeth.
Yeah, they already selected who's supposed to skin them.
The seal is at the heart of the Inuit way of life.
And every year, the community holds a festival to celebrate the animal.
One, two... Move back!
And the highly-prized skills of the hunters.
Just about every house would have one of those wooden racks outside,
with the sealskin pelts actually stretched out on them.
The ladies would string them up on those wooden frames
and basically get them prepared for bringing in to the store
for selling to the Hudson's Bay Company.
The fur trade, really, it was what the Hudson's Bay Company was all about.
And absolutely hundreds of sealskins would be brought into the store
here in Iqaluit.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the few at Iqaluit,
probably I was the last one trained
actually in the process of grading the furs.
So you take the seal, basically.
I mean, these are beautiful examples of seals.
You just loved when the hunters brought in this type of pelt here.
It's got a beautiful finish to it,
there's absolutely no grease or anything on the surface of the fur.
When you look at these sealskins, one realises just how
important that was to the local economy for the Inuit hunters.
Because, you know, someone comes in at the end of the hunting season,
it's an expensive business doing that in the Arctic.
But these folks,
these families relied on the tariff that we paid for these skins.
That paid for their food and groceries for the winter.
On the hunting trip, the Bay Boys
have been travelling for an hour,
with the wind chill taking temperatures down
to a biting minus 40.
They're setting up base camp 40 miles from the water's edge.
I'll have to eat my piece.
That would be nice!
That place was so cold, the margarine on the toast froze.
This is exhilarating.
This morning has been exciting. It feels good.
64 years old, you know, getting on in life.
Got to watch your step, your old ticker.
It's... Who wouldn't, right?
Good company, beautiful scenery and here we are pitching a tent
so we can have a cup of tea.
I'm going to follow the rest of the guys
and leave here because I haven't a clue what I'm doing.
There's a job for a tall man.
This is the old Red Duster, as some used to call it.
This was the Hudson Bay flag.
So we thought it appropriate to bring it along on this trip here.
The last time we put a flag up
was in 1966 in Mount Pelly, Cambridge Bay.
I used that pillowcase and I wrote "Scotland forever".
There was me, you and Dave Dickson from Tighnabruich.
So here we are again, 2011. 40-plus years later.
-It was probably taken off somebody's bed.
-It was my bed!
-Blowing like a bugger, it was.
-It was. It was blowing.
The oldest of the group, Jim Deyell,
was posted to the remote island community of Sanikiluaq in 1968.
Jim spent two years on the island, and as a Bay Boy lifer,
he continued to work for the Company across the Arctic
until he retired to southern Canada.
This is the Hudson's Bay Company Store, where I worked in 1968.
Quite different from what it was then.
Wow! Not much left of the old girl at all.
Boy, oh boy!
This is where we had the cash register.
Everything was served from behind the counter.
There was no such thing as self-service in those days.
It was all here on the wall, lined up in some orderly manner.
I remember I used to know pretty much where everything was by...
I just had to turn and it was almost like a sequence of buying things.
Certain customers would have a sequence of buying things.
Some would come in and their highest priority was maybe flour and sugar,
and others would come in and the first they wanted was cigarettes.
So I got to a point where I would almost know where
I was going to go next.
When I first saw him, he was huge. Huge man!
He had muscles and he had red hair and my first impression was,
"Oh, my goodness, he's a monster!"
But he was gentle, too.
And I was... He was kidding a lot, too.
So I liked him right away.
What's all this fur on your head? You look like a bear!
Like Dora, many people remember Jim.
-What happened to your hair?
-Same thing to you!
-I know - I lost mine.
Did you find yours?
Stay away from me, you bad girl.
People welcomed him as part of the community and their culture.
And they automatically trust the person,
cos they know the person is going to help one way or another.
At the tender age of 19, Jim was relied on heavily by the community.
As a Bay Boy, responsibilities included all that was required
for this community, all the souls in it.
That was clothing, that was food. All their needs for a year.
And making sure you had it right.
The medical work, the dental work, the midwifery...
Looking after dogs, giving them rabies shots,
all the extracurricular...
There was a vast amount of stuff, frankly.
In 1969, Jim featured in a German documentary.
It shows how he and other Bay Boys took on
the role of doctor in the community.
These little lungs...
She's not breathing too well.
Let's see what these little lungs say.
We'll have to get on to that nurse again.
'What have you given her so far? Over.'
Roger. So far I've given her ampicillin, 250mg.
What else can you advise me to give her?
The poor little girl.
This cursed weather, you know. Is it always like this?
Every time we need a plane.
When he couldn't deal with the situation himself,
Jim would call out a plane to airlift the patient.
Once, though, on the remote island, help was simply too far away.
It was totally out of control. No book told me anything about this.
I was told later that the only thing I could do was drill
a hole in her head to relieve the pressure from the meningitis,
the membrane of the brain that was swelling.
I had no means to drill a hole in anyone's head
and I don't think even then I would have attempted something like that.
At the time, I wanted to do more. I just didn't know what I could do.
I'd never seen a death like that - a person losing control
of one bodily function after another in fairly rapid succession.
I can see people looking at me yet, saying, "What are you going to do?"
And there was nothing I could do.
But Jim also played a part in bringing new life to Sanikiluaq
when he delivered a baby boy.
Jimmy is what's known as my saunik.
The word saunik is an Inuit word and it literally means "from my bone".
He's not my biological son,
but he is essentially me, and I him.
We haven't seen a whole lot of each other or kept in touch that much
so I'm looking forward to seeing Jimmy.
The biggest event in the Bay Boy calendar
was the annual sealift where 95% of the post supplies for the year
were landed and when all the skins bought over the previous year
were shipped out.
You've got the frozen Arctic Ocean.
That is only open for three months of the year
so that's a very narrow window
in which to get all the goods and supplies here to the post
so that you're all set up for the remainder of the year.
You only have one chance to do that.
The first sealift began in the late 17th century
as the Hudson's Bay Company sought to exploit its trade with the Inuit.
The sealift was the highlight of the year, really, for the company.
We'd all be working together in great big chains moving the cases.
A real sense of community involvement
and that was necessary to get all the goods from the ship
and into the warehouses.
We have all these good memories with our elders
and we talk about it quite often. It was a very exciting time because
it was a time we saw different people.
Cos we'd been seeing the same old people all winter long.
The ship comes in and all these new people,
they are shaking hands, and they're patting your head.
And... Yeah, and they smell good. Because they wash. We didn't!
Ann remembers helping out with the sealift as a child.
Our payment was hard candy and hardtack biscuit, and tea.
And that was very exciting and that was overwhelmingly good
because we didn't get to have those treats.
The new people, they have music, the squeezebox music,
Scottish music and there'd be dances at night
after we worked all day long.
SCOTTISH FIDDLE MUSIC
And this went on for all night long. Not just a few hours, all night.
Jim and the other Bay Boys had a reputation
throughout the Arctic for partying.
And the Friday night dance was a fixture across the North.
We were encouraged not to fraternise.
I thought it was discriminatory, really.
If you're told not to do a thing, what's the first thing you do? You do it, right? You know?
I guess you'd put it, there was a lot of debauchery went on.
-Speak for yourself!
But that was the way it was. You had this relationship
with the community and, you know... Right?
Am I right or what? Just ask any of these guys, they'll tell you.
I would say, put us in the same category as Rasputin.
The mad monk from Russia.
Overall, though, there was a moral code.
Yeah, we got drunk and the ends got a little loose, you know.
But overall, no.
We hung out with the folks we worked with.
And Inuit worked in the store, they were our friends.
-I never thought of Inuit as any different than anybody else.
That's the kind of way your thought processes when you're 18, I suppose.
That's why... Look, he's married an Inuit, he's married an Inuit. I was married to an Inuit.
Three out of five, right?
Four, sorry, my apologies. Four out of five, and it wasn't unusual.
We identified with the folks in the town,
more I think than anybody else.
I felt I was part of the community. I guess I've always felt that.
During his posting to Sanikiluaq, Jim became
so involved with the community he helped deliver a baby boy.
It's been 20 years since he last saw his Saunik and namesake, Jimmy.
-It's all right, now.
Annie. Come on, where's my hug?
-Good to see you again.
-You got thin.
-Just like me!
I was taken into their family.
They gave me everything. They had little, very little really.
Poverty was really a way to describe Sanikiluaq in all forms.
But even then, that which they had they gave to me,
they shared with me, provided for me.
-Uh, my family's here.
Wow. That's your family? What happened? Where did we all come from?
I know this one!
-I won't remember all these names, of course.
And there is the family, eh? Who's this guy down here in the middle?
-Anybody you know?
-That's you, Jimmy.
-Grandmother herself. She was smoking a pipe there.
-It had that little thing.
-The lid, the metal lid.
Yeah, that's right.
You're my second mum. You're first mum, I think.
Back in the 1960s,
Jimmy's family made sure that Jim was looked after in his own home.
Big chimney on it, never was there before.
Go in. Go inside.
One of the sisters, Annie, became Jim's housemaid.
In you go.
Moves on and it changes, Annie, eh?
-All the houses and everything around us now, it's all different.
Some nights I would just open the curtains
and I would sit and look at the stars and play my accordion.
Remember that? Maybe you don't.
Annie's mum saw that Jim missed his family in Shetland.
What your mother was to me was like a mother to me, really.
Because I sometimes thought that if I wasn't nicely dressed or clean
or looking good, then your mum would be upset.
She was like a mum.
-She was like a mum.
Then you came along and this house was as clean as any house
I ever lived in.
Sometimes I tease my wife about that. She says, "Oh, really?"
-Still after all these years.
-Still after all these years, I know.
And you've got more hair than me now! Even though it's white.
For Jim, being a young Hudson's Bay Boy was tough but unforgettable.
There was great stress in it.
At the time I didn't dwell on the stress
and maybe the reason I didn't dwell on the stress
is that the love that was reciprocated to me, that was...
I just felt part of their family.
The stress in that sense was eliminated.
It's when I left, you know...
When I left I was smoking 60 cigarettes a day
so there were signs obviously that things were heavy on me.
But it's when I left, I felt lost and when I came back, I found...
I found it again.
The Bay Boys are continuing their journey across the ice
to the open water.
Donald's Inuit brother-in-law must check the ice is solid.
If you walk about drive about down there...
We could lose a machine and lose people that way.
-if we don't check anything.
-I think that it's a mile thick!
They must travel 40 miles to the flow edge
where they're hoping to hunt for seal.
If it's really, really cold and you're seal hunting
in the middle of the winter, and somebody gets a seal
and you go over, you can feel the cold into the middle of you.
And then you have some raw seal meat.
It's just like a little furnace has gone off inside you.
My wife loves it when you come back with a nice, fresh seal
and she can share it with the family and she's proud of me
because I've been out hunting.
I mean, it's not... This isn't part of my culture
so you do what you can to fit in.
Meeka also introduce Donald to ice fishing,
the Inuit way of catching Arctic char.
When the sun comes and it gets warmer,
we just want to be up at the lake.
And the work gets in the way sometimes!
Ooh, that's one.
We usually go as a family, always going with my sister
and my brother's also going.
Just to be outside and have a family time.
Sit here in quiet place.
I'm just waiting for that catch!
For me it's not even about the fishing,
I just love being here with Meeka.
It's something we can do together, something that makes her happy, something she loves.
Donald and Meeka have three children and four grandchildren.
The family speak both Inuktitut, the Inuit language, and English.
For them all, they've benefited immensely from their Inuit heritage.
They're very much I think at home with who they are.
They have their Inuit background and their Scottish background,
and quite proud of both of them.
Lunchtime! Come and get them before they disappear in snow.
Want a bowl...?
It's very hot.
You know what, there's nothing better...
I think Inuit people are...
they're a stunningly attractive race,
they're beautiful people, with a unique culture
that they can be so proud of. And I'm so happy that my kids
have been able to, er...have that.
On the hunt, the Bay Boys have reached the open water.
It's absolutely spectacular.
It's hard to believe that we're standing here
on ice at the floe edge on Cumberland Sound.
I feel kind of blessed to be here, to tell you the honest truth about it all.
Just being here kind of makes this trip for me,
to be honest, it really does.
Never thought I'd see myself on the...
here at the floe edge on Cumberland Sound.
It's quite spectacular, and the ice floe's just gently moving.
The slushy surface, a kind of gelled water, that's in a semi-frozen state
is just moving gently past us,
and there's a lovely piece of clear water out there that we're
hoping we can see a seal's head pop up
and then we'll hopefully have something for supper tonight!
For centuries, Inuit hunted seal,
and the outside world found it acceptable.
Fur was a must-have fashion item in the '60s.
But taste changed.
In 1977, Brigitte Bardot staged a photo call on the Canadian ice,
to denounce the cruelty of killing baby seals for their fur.
Images of the seal cull on the east coast of Canada
highlighted the killing of seals for their fur across the world.
Across Europe, activists lobbied their governments to ban the trade in seal fur from Canada.
I got a call from Bob Young, who was the manager at the time,
and he had a memo that had come in,
and he said the seal prices had changed.
And when I looked at the prices I was quite shocked.
We were told why it was happening, that there was a market collapse,
but the people here didn't understand that.
I mean, it was "What do you mean? You were paying 32 yesterday,
"and today you're telling me that the skin is worth 8?"
I mean, it was just a disaster.
And there was nothing one could do about it.
The fact that Inuit hunted adult seal for food and fur,
and killed just five per cent of the total cull,
did not protect them.
It was annoying,
to see Inuit lumped in in this suddenly fashionable thing,
and people making judgments on Inuit,
based on their own ignorance, on not understanding what the whole picture was.
Totally unfair. And really made me extremely angry.
What it did was destroy a way of life, really, basically overnight.
What it did was put people on welfare,
that's the bottom line of it.
They stayed here in town all the time.
A lot of impact on family, and suicide gone up, skyrocketed.
A lot of kids, young people, were killing themselves.
A lot. I mean, a lot.
And the Greenpeace didn't do nothing.
They wanted to save seals, that's it.
For the Inuit, it was a social catastrophe.
For the Bay Boys, it meant making a choice.
They chose to stay.
Neil Greig settled with his Inuit family in Kuujjuaq.
It's the largest settlement in Nunavik,
the Inuit region of northern Quebec.
The collapse of the fur trade hit this town pretty hard.
In this part of town
you'll certainly find a substantial amount of substance abuse,
alcohol, drug abuse,
which today has become a major problem for us in the community.
-This one is my daughter, Joanna...
This is my granddaughter, Leanna, from my older son.
Iko is Joanna's son - my grandson.
And then we have Robert, who is my son,
and he's holding onto Gabriel,
who is Joanna's adopted son.
And then we have, over in the far corner... ALL LAUGH
we have Simeone Greig, who is Joanna's son,
He's 15 now,
and Simeone was somewhat handicapped when he was born.
And he's lived with us off and on ever since then, so...
He's the one that's always laughing.
Simeone was brain damaged
when his mother was run over by a local drunk driver when she was pregnant.
It was horrific, it was, erm...difficult.
It's hard to put everything in words...
You know, we still get emotional when we talk about it,
we still get angry when we talk about it.
I mean, you've seen our grandson. He's happy.
For us, as long as HE'S happy, we're happy.
It was tough at the time, but you've got to move on.
You can't rest in the past, and live in the past.
After the accident,
Neil worked with the community to set up a treatment centre.
It's the first to use traditional culture to help the Inuit
overcome their addiction.
I'm here for the treatment, for healing.
Cos I had an alcohol and drugs problem,
and I couldn't handle it any more.
THEY CONVERSE IN OWN LANGUAGE
'When I got here, I started a programme,
'it changed me. Changed me a lot.'
I feel lighter.
This treatment really helps.
Neil also saw that locals needed help
to preserve their traditional lifestyle.
We were scared that through the collapse of the fur trade,
we were going to lose all the traditions
and harvesting that people did in the past.
So we put in place the Hunter Support Programme,
and in essence it's to help those hunters
and trappers make a decent living,
and to ensure that the culture of that continues.
The Hunter Support Programme has enabled people like Thomas to learn the ancient skills.
His first fox yesterday, and his first ptarmigan today.
Very good for the young people.
Tradition to keep our youngsters like this hunting. It's very good.
I used to drink a lot before, but now I don't. Now I live off the land.
And I am happy for that.
It's more fun hunting than drinking.
You can remember the next day.
Very good stuff when it's fresh.
We prefer to eat it like this all the time.
And this is our special dip...
..Beluga whale dipped in fat, or seal oil, whichever you prefer.
We ferment it, and then we use it as a dip.
And it's very good, we use it with all our food.
It's very important to keep our heritage,
to keep our young people learning, teaching them.
This is what we eat, this is who we are.
I don't think we're going to have much chance of a seal.
I think we should head for camp. What do you think, Noah, good idea?
Okey-doke. Let's get going.
We've fed our eyes if we haven't fed our bellies, eh?
In sub-zero conditions, Inuit hunters often spend days waiting for a seal.
But with darkness approaching, the boys head back to base camp.
Like Neil, none of the other Bay Boys
thought the collapse of the seal fur trade was a reason to leave.
I never ever thought once about going back to Scotland, I don't think
that's the kind of folks that we are -
we got a mission, you got a job to do,
and you forge ahead and you get it done,
and you're not happy until it's, er...completed to the...you know,
highest standards or whatever.
I never thought about going anywhere else.
In fact, the fact that this happened maybe compelled me all the more to stay.
I mean, I still love Scotland dearly,
but this is my home here now,
and it's taken a long time to realise that.
But one day you wake up, and you go,
"Well, actually, things just don't get better than this. This is where it's at."
My wife said to me, part of me lives in the north,
part of me lives in the Shetlands, and she has the balance.
And that's the way it is.
For me, I'd been a big fish in a small pond.
And so with kind of an ego-driven guy like I am,
that was what really sort of got me engaged.
John Todd settled in Rankin Inlet,
after a nine-month stint with the Hudson's Bay Company.
From here, he joined forces with the Inuit
and set about building a business empire.
I am obsessed by trying to do the right thing,
trying to make sure that the folks that I've grown up with
get a fairer opportunity, you know, get some chances
of jobs and prosperity.
I mean, half the folks I grew up with lived in poverty.
John's entrepreneurial flair saw him grow into a millionaire.
And in the '90s, he became a key political figure.
I used to pinch myself every day,
thinking I've gone from a Bay Boy making 146.26 a month
to the number two guy in the territory as the finance minister.
For some reason I'm nervous.
Mr Speaker, today it's my pleasure to present the first budget
of the legislative assembly of the Northwest Territories.
'As a Scot, I felt then as I feel now,
'very privileged to be part of the team
'that developed the Nunavut government,
'which was a major constitutional change in Canada
'that really put the Inuits' future in the hands of Inuits,
'because you have a government that is now run and controlled
'by the folks that live in the country
'and that are basically the custodians of the Arctic.'
Now John is turning his attention to mining,
which he believes is the key to the future prosperity of the Inuit.
Here we are with a real,
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create some jobs,
give the kids some opportunity, and I think that it'll only come by once.
-Hello. Welcome to Meliadine.
Thank you very much. Good to be here. Me too.
John's spent decades lobbying big business
and government to invest in mineral exploration in the Arctic.
And here at the Meliadine mine, they have found one of the largest
undeveloped gold deposits in Canada.
Right there. See that? That's gold.
You haven't got a larger nugget you can give me
to take home with me as a gift?
-We do not.
-Oh, OK. All right. That's kind of disappointing!
Mining in the Arctic is controversial,
but many Inuit see it as a way to secure their future.
You're a millionaire. I'm poor.
More than half of those working at the mine
are from the surrounding communities.
-Do you like the work you do?
-I really like it.
-Yeah? Make good money?
-New skidoo? All that kind of stuff?
-How about you? You're from?
Oh, OK, OK. I knew the face!
-So you're doing OK, right?
Do you think you would have had a job without the mining thing?
-To be honest with us?
-You don't think so?
-I don't think so either. You know? It's been tough, right?
When you see it happening, it kind of overwhelms you, to be honest.
Because I don't think anybody give a shit for these people, to be honest.
I think they're kind of left out of the loop,
if you want to call it that, in my opinion,
and I think this kind of sense of...
I call it economic independence is going to make the country better
and it's going to make the communities better,
and for me at a very personal level, it... It makes you feel good.
I can't say any more.
Here in Rankin Inlet and across the Arctic,
the economic and cultural prospects are looking good.
The seal fur trade has expanded to Asia
and the young Inuit are reconnecting with the old way of life.
It's the end of the hunting trip,
and the Bay Boys are heading back to Pangertot.
Soon they'll return to their different corners of Canada.
But not before one last celebration.
We've tried to piece together a dance, like the old days,
like the things we used to go to in the community hall,
the way it used to be, and it's rare that they happen now
so it's quite special to pull it together
and we're looking forward to everybody managing to make it in.
I think we'll have a good night.
LIVELY ACCORDION MUSIC PLAYS
The Arctic, really, has made me the person I am.
Even though I've been away, when I come back, we haven't been forgotten.
I will say this for certain -
I got far more from the Arctic than I ever gave. This place...
It's in many ways my home.
I fell in love with the landscape and the people.
This community has been so good to me over the last 36 years that I have been here.
I've just enjoyed every single minute
that I've lived in this beautiful community, in this beautiful land.
I think probably, for me, it's the people.
It's about what the people have given me in me being here.
I wouldn't be who I am now without the support and the kindness of so many people.
-Take care. See ya!
The Scots may have stopped coming to work for the Hudson's Bay Company in the Arctic
but the Bay Boys and all those who came before them will not be forgotten.
Subtitling by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
From the 1960s to 1980s, a generation of young men left depressed Scotland to journey to the frozen extremes of the Canadian Arctic to take up work with the Hudson's Bay Company. Sent to remote outposts, their job was to trade goods for fur with the Inuit, but these young men took on far wider responsibilities: pulling teeth, administering penicillin and even delivering babies. When the fur trade collapsed, instead of coming back to Scotland, many of the Scots stayed in the Arctic, married the natives and set about rebuilding the Inuit communities broken by the dying fur trade. Now, the last of the 'Bay Boys' have come together for a hunting trip reunion in order to tell their incredible story.
They take us on a spectacular journey through the arctic landscape to relive their dramatic adventures and with emotional encounters with lost friends, reveal how they devoted their lives to repair the damage done to the Inuit communities.