Nungak takes unity message to Europe



Nunavik Inuit face years of political upheaval as Quebec separatists try to steer the province out of Canada one referendum after another, Europeans were told last week.

Makivik Corporation president Zebedee Nungak warned audiences in Geneva, London and Brussels that Nunavik’s place in Canada would not easily be altered by a separatist victory in southern Quebec.

“Quebec separating from Canada is not going to be the cakewalk that the separatist leadership tries to characterize it as,” Nungak said Monday between speaking engagements. He has been in Europe since Feb.17 and was scheduled to return to Canada on Wednesday.

The flamboyant Inuit leader has been touring the country with essentially the same message since late 1995, after federalists narrowly defeated the Parti Québécois government’s second attempt to gain majority support for sovereignty.

Nungak told his European hosts he believes it’s only a matter of time before separatists finally succeed.

“People have to be aware that in this scenario, it would no longer be simply an internal Canadian matter,” Nungak said. “We as an aborignal people have clearly said that we are not coming along on the journey toward separation, and that we are quite determined to remain in Canada.”

Ninety-five per cent of Nunavik Inuit opposed the idea of Quebec sovereignty in 1995.

While in Europe, Nungak met with the United Nations’ deputy high commissioner for human rights and with a British parliamentary committee on human rights.

Nungak also gave a presentation to the Royal Geographical Society in London.

In Brussels, the Inuit leader met with members of the European Alliance with Indigenous Peoples.

Last year the outspoken federalist carried his message to Washington, D.C.

Though he found his European hosts to be “surprisingly enlightened” about political issues facing Inuit in northern Quebec, Nungak said he came away feeling Nunavik’s own political aspirations are now much better understood.

“Any future campaign where we have to drum up international support for our position will be easier as a result of me having shared this,” Nungak said.

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