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what’s that sound?

July 29, 2012

Midnight fireworks close by my house tonight.  I wasn’t sleeping anyway, but I’m done trying while I think through my reactions.

On first hearing youthful shouts and whoops and running footsteps, I become alert, listening for danger. Tonight, the voices sound more playful than aggressive.  Then a loud crack, and we’re all wide awake. Gunshot? Soon after, the lights start flaring from right below a neighbour’s house. Phew! It’s just fireworks.

“Is it dangerous? Is it just kids being kids? At what point should police be called?” No sounds of violence tonight, so no call to police. But the questions keep asking themselves, and resolve into:  “It’s not respectful.”  Is that objectively true, I wonder? Is it disrespectful to make noise at night when people may be presumed to be sleeping? To light fireworks right next to a house? I think so, but that reflects my upbringing and experiences. How might it look in terms of Inuit cultural values of getting along with each other, not complaining and not interfering in people’s choices?

“Is disrespect ultimately dangerous?” Without defining respect or looking at how expectations of respect can, in themselves, be oppressive at times, my answer for tonight is “Yes.” If neighbours become insensitive to disruptive human sounds, if we don’t say anything about behaviour which crosses our lines, then doesn’t that just make room for more extreme behaviour? Doesn’t it also make it less likely that we will call when it sounds like someone might be in danger?

It’s stressful listening to neighbours fighting, wondering if, when and how to intervene. Wondering if those explosive sounds are gunshots or fireworks. Wondering who is in danger tonight. Wondering if shots might come our way.

Today, RCMP were again shot at in Kimmirut. Community folks stepped in and stopped that violence.

In April, someone walked into Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani General Hospital with a gun and scared workers and patients. Afterwards, some of us who do not come from hunting communities questioned how a person could walk through town with a rifle without raising concern.

All I can say for sure is, it takes a toll.

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