Part of our History. In Greenland: Where will the future lead us?

From Nuuk, Little sister Noele paints a broad picture of the evolution taking place in the country and in the society where they live.

« In Greenland, the discovery of oil, of minerals like uranium, aluminium, gold, diamonds, etc. places the country in front of new alternatives. The possibility to be self sufficient economically and more independent towards Denmark is tempting, but there is also the risk of being dependent on other big powers. How to conciliate the possibility of exploitation of these riches with respect for nature, so fragile in the Arctic ?  How to respect the culture and the ways of the Inuit? A lot of Greenlanders live by fishing and hunting. What will tomorrow bring? Of course, these new discoveries will bring employment but there will be a need above all for specialized workers coming from elsewhere. There is talk of workers from China but the Unions reacted by saying this would be because of being able to pay lower wages. Some Greenlanders are already trained, but their skills are not necessarily adapted to this new work and they must also be able to speak Danish and English.

We see that Greenland is opening up not only because of better communications which have dramatically improved in the last 30 years, but also because it is making its stand on the world stage. An example would be at the time of the earthquake in Haiti. There was great concern and solidarity.

On the political scene, the country has changed from being a system where local government was linked to Denmark to being more and more independent. This stage is marked by concern for social realities.

Society itself is in full transformation and this touches family life. Families come together and break apart and sometimes children find they have several parents. There is little stability when they are sent from one family home to another. There has been a decision to establish a branch of UNICEF in Greenland and even include in the legislation the convention of UNICEF, in view of bettering the quality of life for many children, a third of them living in unacceptable conditions.

In town, we have noticed more and more people coming from different countries. In the group from Philippines several are Catholic. We are now about sixty parishioners, originating from five continents. The bishop thinks that it would be good to have a parish council and we hope this will soon be possible.

The three of us all work and have friends among different groups of people: Agnes Ghislaine at the hospital and Marie Julienne at a Centre for welcoming children and Noele at the Red Cross shop. Even though Greenland is the biggest island in the world, the small number of inhabitants, between 57,000 and 58,000, make us feel as if we all belonged to the same village! After 31 years in this little city, which we can only leave by boat or by plane, we know a lot of people and we can share the joys and the sorrows of many people. Through these friendly links we are often invited to the « kaffemik » (open house) for birthdays, marriages, confirmations in the Lutheran Church and even funerals. With closer friends, like Maja and Nuunu and others, we are part of the family. We spend holidays together and take a trip on the sea. On one of these occasions young Isaak captured his first seal, and now he is accepted into the adult world. Like so many seemingly small events of daily life this was a big step and we are proud to have witnessed it and to have been part of such a meaningful moment.