Charlie Watt wants to see Nunavik administer responsibility of its own public services and secure jurisdiction over its natural resources. (Photo courtesy of C. Watt)

Charlie Watt wants another term at Makivik helm to pursue Nunavik’s self-determination

“I’m in the perfect place to do this,” says former senator seeking re-election as president of region’s Inuit birthright organization

By Sarah Rogers

Nunatsiaq News is publishing profiles this week of the three candidates running for the position of president of Makivik Corp.: Pita Aatami, Noah Cain and Charlie Watt.

Makivik Corp. is the birthright organization of Inuit in Nunavik. Its main role is to administer the region’s land claim, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Makivik’s president serves as the corporation’s chief executive officer and chairman of its board of directors, exercising general supervision over the organization’s affairs. The president serves a three-year term.

The election will be held Feb. 4. Polls will be open in Nunavik’s communities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Advance polls will be held Jan. 28.

Makivik Corp.’s president Charlie Watt said he has started something and he intends to complete it.

That’s why the 76-year-old former senator and part-founder of Makivik is running for another term as president.

Watt plans to use the time to negotiate and secure self-government for Nunavik, a process he helped launch in 2018, and one he feels he’s best qualified to see through.

“I’m the only one with parliamentary experience,” Watt said. “I know people at a high level. I’m in the perfect place to do this.”

Watt served as Makivik’s president from 1978 to 1982 and again from 1988 to 1994. He was elected as president a third time in 2018.

Under Watt’s leadership in 2019, Makivik signed an agreement with the federal government that serves as a framework for negotiations towards an Inuit self-government for the region.

It’s unclear exactly what powers that agreement would transfer to Nunavik, but Watt said the region wants to administer responsibility of its own public services and secure jurisdiction over its natural resources.

“I think we’re on the right track,” Watt said. “We’re in in-depth discussions with the federal government and now we have to bring the provincial government in.”

Once Quebec is involved, Watt said the parties will need to discuss revenue-sharing and a dispute-resolution mechanism.

“It might require a longer time than three years, but I’d at least like to be able to get to the point where the discussion is underway,” Watt said.

“This is probably my last move. I’m going to push it one more time and get that done.”

Watt also wants to see major changes to the youth-protection legislation currently in place for Nunavik.

Quebec’s Youth Protection Act, updated in 2016, allows the province to enter into agreements with Indigenous communities to design and deliver their own youth-protection programs.

That’s a process that Nunavik’s health department has embarked on to develop more culturally appropriate services for the region.

But Watt wants Nunavik to go a step further.

“[Health officials] are looking at it administratively, but I’m looking at it jurisdictionally,” he said. “[Nunavimmiut are] having their kids taken away. And right now, we have no say at all about what happens to those kids.”

Similarly, Watt hopes to usher in changes to how justice is administered in Nunavik.

Makivik Corp. has been in discussions with the Quebec government about streamlining that system, which is largely reliant on an out-of-region court and prison system.

“A lot of our young people are in penitentiaries in the south,” he said.

“We’re looking at new ways of looking after these people, at home,” he said. “Some of them are dangerous, we know that. But some of them are picked up for minor things and are put into jail.”

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

    TIME TO RETIRE CHARLIE !!

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    • Posted by Time for you to go back to School in Inuttitut on

      it’s not Nunavimiuk, what a kutattuq pronunciation – It is Nunavimmiuq!

      Charlie has yet to finish his first prep as former NQIA, JBNQA starter with late Tommy Cain Sr. late Mark R. Gordon, late Mark Annanack, Zebedee Nungak, Johnny Williams, Putilik Papigatuk, Charlie Arngak, Robbie Tookalook, Sarollie Weetaluktuk, Putulik Papigatuk, Charlie Arngak and late George Koneak, they are were our harding working leaders with Charlie, and four interpreters/translators!

      They made our future strong, and stand still before a raptor tries to destroy us the Inuit from southern laws to Inuit zone by-laws!

      Let Charlie run one more time, to make our law solid as a rock, he is deeply working on our children being stolen from Social workers DYP’s racial system! Yet waiting from retired Judge Vien who went to meet the victim of Police brutality, being wrongfully treated by medical system, and Social Services wrongfully treating Inuit! Correct Quebec Court Justice system!

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    • Posted by ALEX on

      i AGREE HE NEEDS TO RETIRE AND HAVE Pita step in

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  2. Posted by Dream Land on

    Some of my fellow workers have trouble working a 5 day work week , and we are suppose to govern our selfs

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    • Posted by Hospital staff on

      Yes, went to clinic, all nurses, doctors, professionals there. No locals to be seen after bingo night. Now, if self government comes(not), who will be government employees, just saying.

    • Posted by ALEX on

      I worked at Makivik and people were working hard when I worked there over a year ago dont know if it has changed but I left after MR WATT was elected .
      Lets just say I am very happy Pita won !

  3. Posted by snapshot on

    Some people have big dreams, you just can’t take it from them and nobody can’t take it away.

    I think he still has it. Go Charlie Watt from Nunavut.

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  4. Posted by Another northern trapper on

    TRANSPARENCY, TRANSPARENCY
    NEED MORE TRANSPARENCY THIS APPLIES TO ALL CANDIDATES

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  5. Posted by Jack Napier on

    Time for a change. Out with the old and in with the new. Thanks Charlie but it’s time to bring back Pita.

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  6. Posted by I know more on

    Pita really ? He had his run , got his bonuses and then trying again? Charlie has and continues to bring genuine efforts for the betterment of Nunavik, Charlie has proven leadership and will
    Move forward on his agenda as he has done in the past – Good luck Charlie !!! Nunavut is voting for you !!!

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  7. Posted by Out with grace or regret on

    Charlie, it’s 2021. You started self government process in 2018. How many years after the affect? You with parliamentary experience and only started that self government process in 2018. Dear Charlie: our children are being taken away, oh , the saddest. Are you going to address our issues as to why our children are being taken away? Or just going to keep the status quo, and have better conditions for them as they are being taken away? Not good. The prison is full of our people, Charlie why? Charlie, it’s time you start promoting an education for our leaderships. Charlie, you should have let go and retired this time round. You could’ve have went out with grace, but if you get voted out, it will have permanent markings on an otherwise graceful departure. Good luck In Your future Charlie.

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    • Posted by When are we going to point out positiveness : to commenters on

      When are we going to be positive ?
      I cheer for you Charlie Watt, you have done a tremendous work on behalf of our Inuit fellows like no other. You and the signatories. Work hard without any pay, a lot of Inuit in Nunavik still haven’t heard about the story what you guys went through in the beginning, long before Makivik existed. It was never about the money or power. When are we going to finally see that, all your work was always been about Inuit and in Nunavik, We did not even have Nunavik until you and the other signatories fight hard with what you can get for us. More like fighting against the wind that are being ignorant Government as if we did not exist. I know there is a lot of work to be done and everything takes time.
      Finally someone spoken for our Inuit children being taken away in the South and never seen again by their families. More like stolen children.
      I’m happy to hear that your running again.
      Thank you for always supportng Inuit in Nunavik good luck.
      PS ignor those complainers they could never work like you do.

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      • Posted by I disagree as I saw on

        I don’t know where you have been all your life, but you weren’t watching the same show as I. What I saw in the beginning was party after party, drugs, alcohol, exploitation of women. Spending big with Inuit Money. In hotels downtown Ottawa and Montreal. Big houses, cars, boats. They partied and wasted money. It wasn’t even a good deal for Nunavik. If it were for the Cree, and Billy Diamond, Nunavik would be very worse off today. It always made me sick, and still do.

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  8. Posted by Bonuses on

    Inuit voters have a short term memory. The harder you kick the dog, the more the dog loves you. That don’t say much for the society we live in in Nunavik, but it’s real. It’s truely pathetic with leadership. I’m just thankful we are covered under the provincial and fed governments, not really governored by the locals. Makivik is an organization, like a business , thank you for that. They have no real powers in the real life of our population, thanks for that. Let them have their few days of campaigning , it’s not that important, it’s not going to affect any ones life, who gets to be Makivik boss, thank you for that. Voter turnout out is always low, many don’t forget bonuses, many know what I’m talking about too, when it comes to power. It’s pathetic.

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    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      Remember that Macleans magazine article ” BOSS OF THE NORTH ” dated March 28, 1994. GOOGLE IT !

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  9. Posted by No say about what happens to our kids on

    Picture this. It’s Nunavik, 2021, and we have no say in what happens to our kids that are taken away from dysfunctional homes. Yet, we are ready for self government. Charlie Watt campaigned in his last election about really doing something about kids and DYP situation. Have anyone seen or heard about what he accomplished since that time? People need to wake up, and start first of all looking after their kids, if I was Charlie, that would be my campaign. As far as doing something for the kids that are taken away, I would in Charlie Watts position, declare a state of emergency in the name of our kids, and anyone from the government would be protested out of the area, if they try to take our kids out of their culture, unless there’s seriously no other safe place for them in Nunavik. But our kids don’t need to go out of Nunavik, it’s safe within. If I was Charlie, I would stand up for kids in Makiviks purse opening big, and rock the boat , til she sinks.

    • Posted by Nunavik lady on

      It takes a lot of effort to continue working on children being taken away by Social Workers, it’s not going to happen in just one day, judicial system is screwed up system as well, they do not consider or focuss on other family members, or relatives that can take the children, not sending them down to unknown strange people.

      There is a child now an adult that needs to pay her own education living in south crying for help, she is over 18 years of age now willing to go back home, after she completes her education, why is she still kept?! Ok Charlie, we are trusting your Faith over us, good luck.

      You need to finish off, Inuit have forgotten, NQIA started KRG and Makivik, especial the new youth, learn your JBNQA history people!

      • Posted by Lots of work, need more than one day. on

        Yes, indeed a lot of work needed to continue the fight to fix the system that has taken our children. You indicated that it will take more than one day. This is the year 2021, surely this has been going on since god knows when. The When , where, what , how, and other such questions?? This will not be solved no matter the number of days. This will be the same story twenty or thirty years from now, never mind a day. There’s a group going around Nunavik, mandated under the Nunavik board, they’re doing absolutely nothing, except waste money. Have you ever considered, it’s not about getting our children back in Nunavik, as it’s about , why they are mistreated by their families in the first place, and taken away? Have you considered that group going around wasting tax money, could be more productive and enter the area of addressing the dysfunctional family situation in Nunavik? They’re all approaching it all wrong. It’s not about getting our kids back, it’s about not having them be abused in the first place. It’s the society of abuse that needs addressing.

  10. Posted by not ready on

    I wonder why he doesn’t get that we don’t want self government, we are not educated enough to presue this dream, we don’t have lawyers yet, doctors, another two generations before we need to open this again, we are fine with Quebec Government and they take good care of us, with our leaders still hooked on drugs and alcohol, we are not quite ready, Nunavik is in a mess alcohol and drug wise, so until our leaders start showing better lifestyle it will always be a tough place to live, I think it doesn’t matter as to who we vote for, Nunavik is not ready for self-government.

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    • Posted by Ready and Rearing to Go on

      I am glad he gets “We want self-government”. We are educated enough to know depending on help from the Federal and Provincial governments though begging for meagre assistance and getting less than needed is not serving the region well.

      Nunavikmiut rejected the last “Self-government” project not because we weren’t ready, but because we saw through the sham for what it was – a simple regrouping of existing Nunavik entities under one roof, to be left after the regrouping, to fight among (themselves) the “self-government” departments of health , education and municipal needs for a share of the block funding that was to follow.

      Keep it up Charlie. You are doing well.

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      • Posted by Annie Popert on

        Please take note I agree with the article but hit the thumbs down button quite by accident but then couldn’t undo it. i completely agree with the comment.

    • Posted by It’s the Inuit themselves hooked on Drugs & Alcohol, wake up people! on

      We the Inuit need to look at ourselves! Not on others!

      We need to focuss on our children, prioritize our children, it is you, that you became a Mother & Father to your child, work on it, get him/her good education, not just whining about who is who, focuss on your own family!

      This is very serious when we are pin-pointed that we are just alcoholics or drug atticks, no! let us face those people wrong naming us, focuss on our culture.

      I will vote on my own with true knowledge JBNQA followers, they fought for us, when even their translators didn’t even sleep sometimes trying to translate for JBNQA leaders, some even cried together.

      Nakurmiik, that they worked so hard for our future, I applause their hard work.

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  11. Posted by Right on Chalie Watt on

    He knows whats going on the Government of Canada inside out and he will do a good job. He’s been there for a long time. Look what happen to Joe Biden who’s been there for a long time. He made it, so will Charlie Watt. He’s full of energy when he start something. He will not just hanging around.

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    • Posted by Charlie and Joe on

      Comparing Charlie Watt to Joe Biden is like comparing a mouse to a cat. There’s no comparison. Charlie Watts campaign last a few days with little to say, whereas Joe Biden campaigning for nearly two years with worldwide action. Makivik is not a political party. Makivik is an organization, a business. USA is a powerful country. I think that’s one important thing people don’t understand about Charlie Watt, Makivik, plus most, if not all Inuit organizations, they’re powerless in the world outside on Nunavik, and only very limited power in Nunavik. Makivik, Nunavik, is at the mercy of the provincial and Federal govern, which we need to be thankful for. If anyone did read the article written in 1994, you would soon see clearly why the government is not going to allow a self government in Nunavik. It would be comparable to some third world country, where human rights would be among the worse on the planet. People need to understand what I’m saying here , to have peace with our way of life in Nunavik. Thanks that we are not under any Inuit organization power. Yes thanks for that.

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    • Posted by Chalie what? on

      How much longer do Charlie need to do a good job? Another 40 years? He’s had it all, to bring Nunavik into the real world, but he wasted it. His history is really not that great. I know, there are those whom have been brain washed into believing that he is great, that’s ok. You have a right to that view, just like my view to say he’s not that great. Today in Nunavik, we are living the results of the corruption, the neglect, the abuse of money over the past 40 something years. Pita Adamie will not fix that mistake, but it’s his time to try, again with a renewed vision. Chalie is done. It’s over for chalie.

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  12. Posted by Kuujjuaq VPN on

    A don’t think people realize if Nunavik become self government is go be the worst think for Nunavik, hello wake up what you think you go receive 1 million each commun dream on , You very lucky with 2 gouvernement Canada and Quebec to help , Charlie you make me sick when you talk about self gouvernement, first look about suicide problems and is not the fault of gouvernement of Quebec is the fault of too many family don’t have good value, only think about alcohol or drug and jealousy of other people, in the live people get what they work for , please stop to think about pass think about future for ur future generations.

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    • Posted by We have solid grounds, Charlie created JBNQA with his creations rather than someone claiming bonuses! on

      Suvisii, uiiviisartumik Bonus juvinirmik nirualaarqisi? Charlie stood up at very beginning supporting his Inuit signing for Inuit about to be stepped over by southerners, we were like a what?! a little mouse About to be stepped over? by faithless not respecting us holding our hunting grounds? do not forget our high power leaders 1975 signatories!

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      • Posted by That’s the problem on

        Nunavik’s problem is not having a good political voice. No one yet has come along to be that needed person. Those supposed stand ups are in it for personal gain. Whether it be through bonuses, or big houses, it all the same. Looking back over the years, it’s one personal trip after the other. We hear all the time about the James Bay Northern Quebec agreement being taught in school. Off course it should be taught to our kids, but have them learn about how abuse and corruption saturated the whole process, and it’s still going on today.

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  13. Posted by annahatakelder on

    you need to finish where you started Charlie! no bonus involved

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