Home World Former Inuit children transplanted to Denmark now want compensation

Former Inuit children transplanted to Denmark now want compensation

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COPENHAGEN – Six members of the Danish Inuit community are demanding compensation from the government for a past of “social experimentation” gone wrong. The small people of the Arctic who inhabit the ice of Greenland, for many years were the protagonists of a sort of social experiment proposed by the mother country, Denmark.

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The story, told by Bbc, speaks of 22 Inuit children who in 1951 were separated from their families to land in Copenhagen and become “little Danes”. The aim was to make them a bridge between the two countries: many families reluctantly agreed to send their children, but did so by trying to offer them better living conditions. Things did not go this way: the little ones ended up in unwelcoming host families, isolated from each other and from their families of origin. For this the six survivors of the original group, now 70, are asking for compensation of $ 28,200 each, the lawyers said.

The apology came last year: “We cannot change what happened. But we can take responsibility and apologize to those we should have treated but failed to do,” said the Danish premier. Mette Frederiksen.

Helen Thiesen, a survivor of the Inuit group, told her story to the Bbc in 2015. In 1951 the Danish authorities decided to speed up the modernization process of Greenland and to shape a new type of local inhabitant. The task of selecting “the lucky children to be re-educated for a better life in Denmark” was entrusted to priests and teachers.

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So it was that in May of that year the MS Disko ship sailed from Nuuk with 22 children on board. Thiesen was 7 years old and remembers that at the time her mother told her: “Denmark is like heaven. Don’t be sad.”

But it wasn’t heaven. Once on the mainland, the children could no longer contact their families and were placed in foster families. Most never saw their parents again and, according to testimonies, “lived with a sense of loss and lack of self-esteem”.

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