Inupiaq man living in Aklavik, N.W.T., fights deportation to Alaska

An Inupiaq man living within the Northwest Territories is preventing a deportation order that would see him despatched again to Alaska. 

In 2018, Herman Oyagak travelled across the Arctic by way of snowmobile so he could reside along with his spouse, Carol Oyagak, in her house group of Aklavik, N.W.T., about TWO HUNDRED kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. 

Three years later, the Canada Border Products And Services Company (CBSA) moved to deport him. He used to be arrested, taken to Yellowknife, and launched on bond.

He’s to be deported to Juneau, Alaska — a city he hasn’t ever been to — on Dec. THIRTEEN.

“i don’t even need to take into consideration that date,” said Carol. “i do not even need to put into phrases how i am going to really feel or what i am going to do.”

Oyagak used to be deemed inadmissible to Canada because of criminal activity, in step with his legal professional Nick Sowsun.

He was once convicted in Alaska of prison mischief for belongings damage under $250 and, sooner than that, of offences like housebreaking and poaching walrus off the Alaskan coast, Sowsun stated.

Revered member of neighborhood

But in view that assembly Carol at a drum dance competition in Alaska, Sowsun said Oyagak has turn out to be a respected member of his community. 

“Together, Herman and Carol began a new life,” he said. “Herman turned into sober, deepened his connections to his traditions and tradition, and he became rehabilitated … Herman is now 5 years married, 3 years sober.”

In Aklavik, Oyagak is a standard harvester and is easily-known for his knowledge of the land and the language. he’s additionally a member of the native dance and drum teams.

“Ever seeing that i have been right here, I were given to know everyone and everyone were given to grasp me,” stated Oyagak.

Aklavik is “where my wife used to be born and raised and Aklavik is a fair place for me.”

The couple has received many letters of toughen from others in the community who don’t wish to see Oyagak separated from his circle of relatives in Aklavik, the place his wife’s son calls him “dad” and her just about EIGHTY-year-old mom calls him “son.” 

‘An affront’ to cultural traditions

The pending deportation is “not approximately protective the neighborhood or Canada, it’s about blindly following process,” in line with Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Local Organisation.

“Indigenous rights take prison precedence over procedure,” he said in a statement towards the deportation.

Sowsun is arguing that — below the United International Locations Assertion of the Rights of Indigenous Folks and the Constitution Act of Canada — Oyagak has the best to stay.

“The Inuvialuit and Inupiat in Alaska, they have got very close cultural ties, social ties and blood members of the family,” said Sowsun.

“They Are each Inuit. And earlier than the land claims process, they were considered to be one other people. The land claims procedure separated them into two groups, and the border now divides households and pals. For these other folks, this border is bigoted and it is an affront to their social and cultural traditions. they have got been vacationing throughout this border for lots of years to interact in social and familial relations. 

Inupiaq man living in Aklavik, N.W.T., fights deportation to Alaska

Yellowknife-based legal professional Nick Sowsun says the Alaska/Canada border is ‘arbitrary’ and an affront to the social and cultural traditions of the Invuialuit in Canada and Inupiat in Alaska. (Olthuis Kleer Townshend – LLP)

Carol stated she is “actually annoyed” with how her husband is being handled. 

She mentioned her circle of relatives isn’t inquiring for a lot — just that they no longer be penalized for traveling along the similar direction through the Arctic Circle that Inuit other folks have taken for “masses and masses of years.”

“We just need to reside our lifestyles,” she said. “We just want to live our happy little life in our small town with our family.”

Sowsun will ask the CBSA to defer the deportation order. Failing that, Sowsun says he’ll take the case to federal courtroom. 

A consultant of the CBSA used to be now not in an instant available to comment. 

If Oyagak is deported, Sowsun stated he may most likely not be allowed again in Canada for plenty of years — if in any respect. 

Alaska man can provide us of a meals by snowmobile to Aklavik, N.W.T., family

For the family, that would be a devastating consequence. 

“it could just be so heartbreaking if I go away my wife,” stated Oyagak. “For me, it is kind of hard to consider all this is taking place. I just can not consider all that is taking place and it is going down now. 

“We cry day by day, wishing for the best. Praying for the most productive.”

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