Montreal May 28, 2008–The President of the Corporation signatory to the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement recently had to intervene and protest the actions of eight Quebec wildlife officers, of publicly searching luggage belonging to an elderly Inuk woman at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in Montreal.
Pita Aatami, the President of Makivik Corporation says he is outraged by the incident and in spite of a letter of protest to the Minister of Natural Resources in Quebec, Claude Béchard demanding the practice stop immediately, these “humiliating and insulting” searches are continuing.
The Quebec Government’s office Nord du Quebec has told Makivik that the wildlife department is adopting a “new” policy of enforcing wildlife regulations and has adopted the position that it is “illegal” to bring fish or wildlife out of the region or to provide it as a gift to non Inuit.
Mr. Aatami told the Quebec Minister that wildlife officers are “misinterpreting a constitutionally enshrined land claim agreement” that relates directly to the aboriginal rights of Inuit. He adds “Inuit will not allow any of our rights to be trampled on, and that includes the right to give or share food with others.”
The Makivik elected executive says the issue raises questions about the overall priorities of the Quebec justice system. It questions how on one hand, game officers can openly harass an elderly Inuk woman, while at the same time there appears so much inaction in other areas of enforcement, particularly the flow of illegal substances into the Nunavik region
Mr. Aatami is waiting for a direct assurance from the Natural Resources Minister that he will stop the practice of searching Inuit, for fish and wildlife food that they are entitled to. If it continues he says Makivik will take legal action against the department and Government of Quebec.
For more information:
Makivik Head Office
St-Laurent, Qc H4M 2X6
514.745.8880 ext 215
514.910.0169 cell firstname.lastname@example.org