Nunavut Inuit org wants to drop words like “beneficiary” and “land claim”
“Inuit are very much active participants and decision-makers”
Nunavut’s Inuit birthright organization wants to change the language people use when they talk about the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, signed in 1993.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. board members voted to move away from the terms “land claim” and “beneficiary” last month at the organization’s annual general meeting in Rankin Inlet.
Instead, NTI is asking Nunavummiut, governments and media organizations to refer to the treaty as the “Nunavut Agreement,” and those enrolled under it simply as Inuit.
“The Nunavut Agreement is the result of two equal parties putting aside unresolved legal issues concerning rights in Nunavut in exchange for a constitutionally protected treaty,” said James Eetoolook, NTI’s acting president, in a Nov. 24 release.
“Inuit are not passive recipients of benefits. We are very much active participants and decision-makers in the negotiation, design and implementation of the Nunavut Agreement.”
The full title of the treaty is in fact the “Agreement Between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.”
And the agreement contains many critical promises that deal with issues beyond ownership and management of lands, NTI pointed out, including sections on Inuit employment and Inuit participation in social and cultural policy development.
In the past, the term “beneficiary” has been used to describe those enrolled under the agreement and the recipients of income from the Nunavut Trust.
Moving forward, however, NTI will use the terms Inuit, Nunavut Inuit or person enrolled under the Nunavut Agreement, “to properly reflect the authority and rights of Inuit under the agreement, as well as domestic and international law,” NTI said.