The Experimental Eskimos

A film by Barry Greenwald | Canada | English/French | 69′ / 42′

In the early 1960s the Canadian government conducted an experiment in social engineering. Three 12-year-old Inuit boys, Peter Ittinuar, Zebedee Nungak and Eric Tagoona, were sent to live with White families in Ottawa, to be educated in White schools. The consequences for the boys, their families, their identity, and their culture were brushed aside.

The bureaucrats who brought the boys South did not anticipate the outcome of their experiment. The boys grew up to become leaders of their people, and lifelong thorns in the side of the government. The battles they fought and won were instrumental in the establishment of aboriginal rights in Canada, and led to the creation of Nunavut, the world’s largest self-governing aboriginal territory. But it all came at enormous personal cost.

The Experimental Eskimos is the untold story of how an experiment in assimilation, not only changed three boys, but changed a nation.

Directed by Palme d’Or award-winning filmmaker Barry Greenwald and produced by Emmy award-winning Peter Raymont, The Experimental Eskimos features a wealth of forgotten archival footage, family photos and government documents.


A co-production of White Pine Pictures & Paunna Productions in association with APTNand CBC Newsworld, with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund, the Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Nunavut Film Development Corporation, The Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit and the Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit

“Director Barry Greenwald zooms in on the emotional centre of these stories.”

NOW Magazine

“A great documentary with incredible characters and amazing archival footage.”

Montreal Mirror

“The Experimental Eskimos shows that the scars will always be there.”

MSN Entertainment

““Strange, compelling and all too true.”

The Globe and Mail



Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival | Dreamspeakers Film Festival, Edmonton | Alianait Arts Festival, Iqaluit | Festival of Inuit Film, Toronto | DocFest Stratford | Cinema Politica (Canada, Indonesia, Sweden) | Leipzig DOK Festival, Germany | Regent Park Film Festival, Toronto | Global Visions Film Festival, Edmonton | Ambulante Film Festival, Mexico | Docs for Schools – Hot Docs 2010 | DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver | Montreal First Peoples’ Festival Présence autochtone | Kumu Art Museum, Estonia | Yellowknife Film Festival