Inuit in Arctic Quebec moving ahead on self-determination talks

Mary Simon, pictured here at the Aupaluk AGM, is the chief negotiator of Nunavik Self-Determination and Inuit government. (Makivik Corporation)
Makivik Corporation, the Inuit land claims organization in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, says it’s moving ahead with the Nunavik self-determination process.

“Our new approach aims to be fully transparent and inclusive of all organizations in Nunavik,” said Makivik President Pita Aatami in a news release on Thursday. 

“We will continue our negotiations with Canada, and we will also start talks with Quebec.”

Self-government plan previously rejected

Quebec Inuit previously voted “no” to a self-government plan in 2011.

The agreement had been drafted by Ottawa, the province of Quebec and Makivik Corporation.

However, it was rejected by 70 per cent of the voters at the time.

But the project was then relaunched.

In May 2018, Makivik held a meeting involving all major Nunavik organizations, where a declaration was passed  giving Makivik the mandate to `…establish an Indigenous Government based on Inuit values, heritage, identity, culture and language.

The Makivik office in the Nunavik community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Ottawa began negotiations with Makivik in October 2018 on a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will guide the negotiations

In a February 2019 meeting, Makivik received the mandate to create a task force that will develop a Nunavik Constitution in consultation with the Nunavik Inuit.

Mary Simon back as senior negotiator

Mary Simon, Canada’s former Arctic Ambassador and Ambassador to Denmark, as well as former President of Makivik Corporation, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), will be the senior negotiator of Nunavik Self-Determination and Inuit government and Lisa Koperqualuk is the deputy negotiator.

“I’m excited to be part of the renewed process to achieve self-determination for Inuit in Nunavik,” Simon said.

“We have created a new Inuit Advisory Committee (IAC) composed of six Inuit, two from each coast, who are critical and independent thinkers to provide us with guidance, strategic advice and recommendations as we develop our negotiations priorities and positions.” 

The Inuit Advisory Committee will consist of Adamie Qalingu, Jobie Epoo, Nancy Etok, Olivia Ikey-Duncan, Sheila Ningiuruvik, and Peter Ittukalaq.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, the Nunavik regional school board in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec. The school board is one of the organizations on the Nunavik self-determination committee. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

There is also a Self-Determination Committee (SDC) made up of Nunavik organizations that is chaired by Lisa Koperqualuk.

The committee includes: Kativik Regional Government (KRG), the Nunavik regional administraiton; Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS), Kativik Ilisarniliriniq (KI), the Nunavik school board; Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau Quebec (FCNQ), owned by the 14 Nunavik co-ops; Nunavik Landholding Corporations Association (NLHCA); Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik; Qarjuit Youth Council, that represents Nunavik youth; and the Avataq Cultural Institute, the Nunavik cultural organization.

The Nunavik is made up of 14 communities with a population of around 13,000 people.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Dene, Métis end self-government talks in Canada’s Northwest Territories, CBC North

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: The Arctic railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Indigenous Peoples call on Nornickel’s global partners to demand environmental action, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Indigenous groups in Alaska welcome Biden’s bid to protect critical Bering Sea area, Radio Canada International

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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