I don't understand numbers all that well and they don't make me get emotional. Therefore, when someone gives me a number, say, ten thousand killed in earthquake, it often doesn't compute of affect me that much.
Now that's a terrible thing to admit but I will explain. If someone were to go into the area of the earthquake and talk to the people, who would tell their stories of a child disappeared, then I would get an image of sorrow and it would become immediate to me.
In the ninties, I had a neighbour who was an Inuit. He used to tell me that he'd made himself employed by started a translating service. Now that Nunavit was a territory run by Inuit people, there were a lot of Inuktitut speakers and all the reports were done in that language.
So he came to Ottawa, where he happily translated the reports into English and French and took reports to be sent to Nunavit and put them in Inuktitut. I asked was there much competition and he told me he was the only one doing this so had great job security. The government wasn't going away.
He told me other things, too. With great passion and upset he told me that when he goes back to the arctic how ten year old Inuit children would come up to him asking if he had any drugs he could sell them. This bothered him so much and he could be on the verge of tears when talking about it.
It made me see how communities of indigineous people have been affected by 'us'. The white people. Not me directly but the whole process of taking them away from their traditional values. I have heard it said that in the old days, no Inuit child would think of talking back or disobeying an elder. Benefits of civilization?
So maybe I shouldn't feel too bad that someone telling me 80% of Inuit are into drugs or some other such number doesn't make me sad or even get in my head. Not like my neighbour. I still think about what he said today and become as sad as him. Perhaps someday things will improve up there.