November 21, 2019 – Kuujjuaq, Nunavik – Makivik President Charlie Watt gives a big thumbs up to the return of the Department of Northern Affairs, this time solely devoted to the Arctic. The announcement of Dan Vandal as the new Minister of Northern Affairs was part of the 36-member federal cabinet sworn in on Wednesday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa for Canada’s 43rd Parliament.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting with Dan Vandal, the new minister of Northern Affairs,” said Charlie Watt. “As he is Métis from Manitoba we will probably talk a lot about Churchill, where many Inuit went to school, and get into the areas of work that Inuit in Nunavik are focussing on now, such as Self-Determination, enhancing Arctic Sovereignty, and of course the critical needs all our communities need, which is housing and infrastructure, and mitigating against the effects of climate change.”
Watt also noted the other ministers responsible for relations and implementing policy to ensure advances continue to be made with Indigenous communities across Canada. “I’m glad to see Carolyn Bennett continue as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, as well as the appointment of Marc Miller, who is fluent in Mohawk, to Indigenous Services Canada. Each has a role to play in advancing our social, political, and economic development in Nunavik. Having Minister Bennett there provides us with much needed continuity as we move forward with Nunavik Self Determination.”
Arctic Sovereignty is an issue that is important for Inuit as well as neighbouring Arctic states. Charlie Watt views positively the announcements of ministers in key positions that may play a role in working with Inuit to enhance Arctic Sovereignty. These include the new Minister of Global Affairs Canada, François-Philippe Champagne, as well as former GAC Minister Chrystia Freeland, now Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
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Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.