Pact would create process for regional assembly, amalgamating existing organizations

Charest to sign Nunavik agreement


KUUJJUAQ- Jean Charest, the Quebec premier, will sign the long-awaited agreement-in-principle for a new Nunavik government Dec. 5 in Quebec City with Nunavik leaders and a federal representative, likely Chuck Strahl, the minister of Indian affairs and northern development.

This will be Charest's second ceremony with Nunavik leaders in less than a week. On Nov. 30, weather permitting, Charest is to travel to Kangiqsujuaq for the official opening of Nunavik's first provincial park.

Scheduling and government changes have postponed these two events several times. The agreement-in-principle on a new form of government for Nunavik was to have been signed this past August at the Katimajiit conference on social and economic development in Kuujjuaq.

Charest was there, and so was the newly-appointed Strahl, but they never signed the AIP in a large white tent that had been set up for the occasion.

The Dec. 5 signing ceremony in the plush Salon rouge room in Quebec's National Assembly building will kickstart the creation of a new regional government body for Nunavik.

This will see Nunavik's existing organizations roll into a single organization governed by a regional assembly, although the actual amalgamation won't happen until the final agreement is signed and the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement is amended.

This will take at least one year, if not more, while Nunavik's organizations work out how to harmonize their management, pay scales and benefits.

The official opening of the Pingualuit Park was also postponed several times. Late November is not an ideal time to open a park, but some Nunavik observers say Charest wants to improve his record as a environmentally-friendly leader with the park's opening.

Pingualuit Park will be Quebec's first park managed by Inuit through the Kativik Regional Government.

The park has been years in the making. Seven years have passed since the public hearings on Pingualuit were held in Kangiqsujuaq.

Four years have gone by since Charest officially signed the park into creation. And, three years ago, a kayak made by Maasiu Ningiurivik in 1966 returned home to Kangiqsujuaq to become the centrepiece of the new visitors' centre.

During his brief visit to Kangiqsujuaq, Charest planned to visit the new park shelters for visitors and overfly the Pingualuk crater.

Located 88 kilometres southwest of Kangiqsujuaq, the perfectly round crater is the result of a meteorite that crashed there 1.4 million years ago.

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