How did the Lawdawg get his name?

Qiviuq and Ovayuk

 

A few years ago when I began doing a public legal education column with the CBC in Iqaluit, a discussion with a producer about Inuktitut got side tracked into dogs and the idea that qimiq is a word for dog but it does not need kamotiq (sled) as a descriptor because qimiq includes a notion of sled already.

 

She agreed that you would have to describe a guide dog or a police dog in a particular way. Anything out of the ordinary for an arctic dog would be required as an adjective, but anything that dogs traditionally do, is an unnecessary descriptor – it is captured by the concept qimiq.

 

“So if the dog practices law, he would need an adjective?”

 

“Exactly, malagak qimiq”

 

“Malagak kimik?”

 

“No that would mean law ankle. Qimiq is the word for dog.”

 

“Aha” I said having finally figured out what the q is for.

 

“So malagak qimiq would be a lawyer dog?”

 

“Yes but in Inuktitut that is complete nonsense.”

 

“A lot of people feel that way about everything lawyers say.”

 

We got back to our discussion about the upcoming program.

 

The next day when I called in to do the interview she welcomed me with “Hey it’s the Lawdawg.” And it has been ever since.

 

Coming face to face with peoples in the North has taught me that culture and language set important frameworks, and sometimes boundaries and limitations for thought and communication, which are not typically respected by southern institutions.

 

Working in the North has shown me the extent to which, from a cultural / linguistic perspective, it can be truly impossible both for the criminal justice system and for those who are dragged into it, to think outside the box.

 

Lawdawg is a reminder that paradigms are everywhere and critical to fully understanding the behavior of those around us.