March 21, 2019 – Aupaluk, Nunavik – Inuit delegates attending the Makivik Corporation Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Tarsakallak school gym in Aupaluk passed a resolution supporting negotiations towards long sought-after Self-Determination for the Nunavik region in northern Quebec.
The 64 Inuit delegates representing all communities in Nunavik, the Makivik Board of Directors, and Landholding Corporations, were informed of the work done over the past year to prepare the Self-Determination negotiations.
Since its last AGM in Puvirnituq, Makivik has held two major “Nunavik All Organization Meetings” in May 2018, and February 2019 bringing together Inuit representing many sectors of society. The “2018 Nunavik Inuit Declaration” was passed at the May 2018 meeting providing Makivik Corporation with the mandate to establish an Indigenous Government based on Inuit values, heritage, identity, culture and language.
The participants at the February, 2019 Nunavik All-Organizations Meeting gave Makivik the mandate to establish a “Nunavik Constitutional Task Force”. The Task Force will develop a Nunavik Constitution in consultation with the Nunavik Inuit. Makivik has appointed Mary Simon as the Chief Negotiator of Nunavik Self-Determination and Inuit government.
Mary Simon is from Kuujjuaq, and is well known in Nunavik, across the Inuit homeland and the circumpolar world. She is a former President of Makivik Corporation, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and Canada’s first Ambassador to the Arctic. She was also Ambassador to Denmark. Simon contributed to the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and was instrumental in the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996.
Inuit self determination is recognized in the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982 as follows: “The inherent right to self-government is recognized as an existing Aboriginal right,” under section 35. In addition, self determination is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada adopted in 2016.
During this week’s AGM Mary Simon reported and discussed with delegates on the status of the project. Since October, 2018 the government of Canada began negotiations with Makivik on a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will guide the negotiations.
“I’m proud to be working with Mary Simon on this again. We have been engaged in this process for decades, and it has gained tremendous momentum in the last year,” said Makivik President Charlie Watt. “The legal framework that has evolved over the years, notably our Aboriginal rights in the Canadian Constitution, and more recently the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are the foundation on which we are building our self-determination. We are working towards governing our own affairs based on Inuit values, heritage, identity, culture, and language.”
The delegates at the Makivik AGM: “Support the establishment of a process for Makivik to engage in negotiations regarding self-determination for the Nunavik Inuit;” and that “Makivik will keep Nunavik Inuit and Nunavik organizations informed and involved in the progress and status of the negotiations.”
All meetings since the 2018 Makivik AGM have been broadcast live on Taqramiut Nipingat Incorporated (TNI) Radio to the entire Nunavik region, and via the internet to Inuit living outside of Nunavik.
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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.