Jim Learning Case Study

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Jim Learning, 78, takes off his black baseball cap to reveal his long white hair. His complexion is fair and his small hazel eyes are framed by his thick white eyebrows. The elder has a silver-white mustache and a wizened face full of wrinkles. One would never think that Learning is a Canadian aboriginal, but he is. Learning’s mother was Inuit and his father was French, so he describes himself as “Euro-Inuit.”
“I might not look like an aboriginal but my looks don’t authenticate who I am, my family and my culture. When someone sees me and hears that fact that I’m known as an elder for this community, it challenges their perceptions or stereotypes of what an aboriginal person should look like,” Learning said, speaking via Skype from his home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. “People tend to accuse us for wanting benefits but we don’t need benefits if we have our land. I’m very proud of my ancestors and what they went through to protect our land and I will continue to fight for it.”
Originally from Cartwright, Learning moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay when he was a teenager and has resided there ever since. Now retired, he is known as an Inuit elder in NunatuKavut - the territory of the Southern Inuit, who reside in southern and central Labrador and
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“We were not included in any plans happening on our land so we were protesting for our right to be there.” After several protests, Learning and seven others were arrested in April, 2013. Learning held a five-day hunger strike when he was in solitary confinement at the Labrador Correctional Centre. “It wasn’t so much a hunger strike as it was a protest. I did it to highlight the fact that I was not just another prisoner…I was defending my right as an Aboriginal on the land,” Learning said. “As soon as I came out of the prison, my hunger protest was finished and I had gotten a lot of support from Aboriginal communities right across the
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