KRG celebrates 25th anniversary
Last regional council meeting before November elections
When the Kativik Regional Government first came into being a quarter century ago, its operations were sufficiently modest that they were able to fit comfortably in a house across the street from the federal Indian affairs office in Kuujjuaq.
Its entire operating budget was tiny — it totaled just $117,000. Today, that would barely cover the salaries of two public servants.
From that modest beginning, the KRG has grown enormously in size and sophistication. To mark this progress, the KRG devoted last week to a series of 25th anniversary celebrations that included dinner attended by many past chairmen, and the launch of its new Web portal at www.nunavik.ca in Inuttitut, French and English.
And to acquaint community members with the history of the KRG, the local FM community radio station held an on-air quiz about the organization, which held its first regional council meeting on August 30, 1978.
Listeners picked up tid-bits of information, such as the fact that the KRG’s annual budget has increased by a hundred-fold over the past 25 years, to its present $112 million.
To celebrate KRG’s achievements since 1978, regional councillors and executives also had a special dinner, where past and present KRG chairpersons were guests of honour.
Johnny Adams, who will serve as KRG’s chairman until the municipal elections in November, thanked all of his predecessors, as well as long-time employees such as KRG’s executive secretary Ina Gordon, who has been with the organization for most of its existence.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here today,” Adams said.
Adams also said to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.
Former chairmen were happy to reminisce about their past experiences, starting with Peter Inukpuk, who began his term in 1978.
Willie Makiuk, the second KRG chairman, who served from 1980 to 1983, was one of the first two employees at the organization in 1978.
He recalled how KRG first operated out of a house across the street from the federal Indian Affairs office in Kuujjuaq.
Many of those workers eventually moved over to KRG. Former chairman Jean Dupuis, who served from 1993 to 1998 and is now Air Inuit’s director of Nunavik operations, was one of them, along with KRG’s present political attaché, Louis Mercier.
Adams, who took over from Dupuis in 1998, pointed out that his predecessor’s dedication proves that Dupuis accomplished a lot for the region even thought he did not originally come from Nunavik.
Former KRG chairman Jimmy Johannes, who served from 1989 to 1991, noted that this position means constant demands, sacrifices, living out of suitcases and travelling from one meeting to another.
On the last day of the regional council meeting, a similar anniversary celebration was held at the Kuujjuaq Forum.
The whole community was present for this event, which featured throat-singers Robbie Watt, Annemarie Aitchison, Laina and Leah Grey, and local singers Edward Snowball, Derek Tagoona, Bob May Jr., accordionist Lucy Johannes, and their bands.
Bingo cards were then distributed, giving people a chance to win Air Inuit and First Air tickets, as well as a $2,500 cash prize.
KRG held its annual employee picnic the next day. All other communities around Nunavik will also get money to host similar events.
This regional council meeting is the last before November’s municipal elections, with the next meeting scheduled for Nov. 18 to Nov. 20, shortly after the elections.