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The teacher who liked to make love to boys

A Book Review

Robin Sharpe, 2006

THE PEOPLE'S LAND: Inuit, Whites and the Eastern Arctic, by Hugh Brody, (Penguin Books 1975) Douglas & McIntyre, 1991 paperback edition, 272 pp.

There's an interesting tale about “sexual abuse” and cultural perceptions in the book, THE PEOPLE'S LAND written by Hugh Brody in the 1970's. Brody was a sociologist who was studying settlements in the Eastern Canadian Arctic and looking into the attitudes and relationships between the Inuit and the Whites.

In his An Introductory Story chapter he tells how soon after he arrived in one settlement he heard stories about a crisis some years earlier involving a White teacher who was sexually involved with several of the local boys.

He was told that the young man had been considered an exemplary teacher and was well liked by most in the community, but then rumours among the Inuit had led to an investigation. The school principal had interviewed the boys (and their fathers) who were happy to give detailed accounts of the sexual activities and the teacher was subsequently confronted and confessed. The Whites were scandalized with some expressing extraordinary anger. Brody was told that the Inuit were so outraged that they had to place the teacher under house arrest to protect him from some of the fathers who were after him with a gun. The RCMP was called in, the teacher was formally charged and taken away in handcuffs.  

Some time later when Brody knew the Inuit community better and began to participate in their conversations about the past he heard no mention of the incident. Uncertain about their feelings he broached the subject indirectly and was told of a teacher who had to leave because he liked to make love with young boys. He was astonished by what they had to say.

The Inuit had heard about men having sex with each other but were perplexed as to why they would do it. Loneliness perhaps? The incident had been a bad thing.

“The bad thing was the way the teacher had left – suddenly taken away by the police.” They thought the Whites had behaved terribly.
“After all”, one explained, “he had been making love with Inuit boys, not with White boys. So it was a matter for the Inuit.”

He said that the man was a good teacher and should not have been sent away. He should have been warned and told to stop making love to boys. The Inuit were angry about the way he was treated and not being asked what they wanted.

Two years later Brody met another man who showed him his photos and pointed out one of the teacher. He described him as one of the best men sent out to work with the Inuit. He wished he would come back again, at least for a visit.

Brody wrote THE PEOPLE'S LAND in the seventies before the current hysteria about man/boy sex had become pervasive. In his book he hardly mentions sex again as he explores how the Inuits and the Whites see themselves and each other.

He uses the story about the teacher who liked to make love with boys as an illustration of the differences in perception and lack of communication between the arrogant Whites and the reticent Inuit.

Unfortunately the more restrictive moral viewpoint of the Whites has come to prevail. As Canadian Aboriginals absorb the venom of our “family values” values their communities will turn against their gay and deviant youth. Already the reversal of their traditional tolerance has led to the addiction, misery and death of many of their gay youth who felt alienated and condemned by their communities.

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