About the Nanilavut Initiative

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Tuberculosis reached epidemic proportions in Canada in the early twentieth century and peaked among Inuit communities during the 1940s to the 1960s. Thousands of Inuit were sent south for treatment under the management of the Government of Canada. Although most returned home, many did not. Many families still do not know what became of loved ones who were sent south.

Many Inuit who died during the epidemic were buried near the southern hospitals and sanatoria where they were treated. Information on patients, whether living or deceased, was not effectively communicated back to family members.

Nanilavut, Inuktitut for 'Let's find them', is an initiative that will provide a range of supports including:

The database and other supports under the Nanilavut Initiative were guided by the Nanilavut Working Group, comprised of the Government of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Makivik Corporation, Nunatsiavut Government, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Kivalliq Inuit Association, Government of Nunavut, Government of the Northwest Territories and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada.

What the database contains

The Nanilavut database represents years of research. It is a secure and confidential database that contains information on more than 4,500 Inuit who underwent medical treatment during the 1940s to 1960s.

The database can include:

The database contains research gathered from the following sources:

Records contained in the Nanilavut database may be incomplete as only partial records exist. Many of the records were scattered, incomplete, lost or even destroyed. There will be some instances where the database will have no information about the family member from the past tuberculosis era.

The database will be updated as, more information becomes available on the status of former patients. 

Where to find information on a family member

To request information on a family member who died during the past tuberculosis epidemic, contact the Nanilavut Project Manager in your region:

Nanilavut project managers will be responsible for:

If the information shows that your family member died but the precise location of the gravesite or cemetery is not available, Project Managers will also help you contact appropriate provincial departments to continue your search.

Nanilavut Project Managers can also provide you with valuable information about:

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