Makivik’s president concentrating on Nunavik accord

As delegates prepare for next week’s Makivik Corporation AGM in Quartaq, Pita Aatami is pushing Quebec City and Ottawa for more progress in signing the Nunavik political accord on self-government.


MONTREAL — As Nunavik’s land claim organization prepares to meet next week in Quartaq, there’s a lot weighing on the mind of Makivik Corporation President Pita Aatami.

“Number one is the political accord,” said Aatami.

Aatami is holding last-minute discussions with Quebec native affairs minister Guy Chevrette to see if there’s any way to shake some life back into talks on a Nunavik political accord.

This accord would establish a tripartite Nunavik Commission whose mandate includes the planning of a new regional government structure for Nunavik.

Its content has been fully negotiated for months, but efforts to sign the deal bogged down last summer.

Several Quebec government departments were reportedly lukewarm over granting Nunavik any more regional autonomy. A changeover in leadership at Makivik, Quebec’s provincial election, and the January 1 avalanche also contributed to accord talks being shelved.

But Aatami said he still has some hope that he will have something concrete to bring to Makivik’s membership at their annual general meeting next week. Chevrette and his federal counterpart, Jane Stewart, have also been invited to attend the AGM, just in case the accord moves ahead.

Delegates will also look at other outstanding federal and provincial issues, such as the offshore agreement and Nunavik’s marine infrastructure program. Housing and beneficiary eligibility are expected to spark heated discussions.

Aatami also plans to bring a new subject to the table: dogs.

During his recent field trip to all Nunavik communities, Aatami said he kept on hearing heart-breaking stories about how authorities killed sled dogs during the 60s. Without dogs, hunters were deprived of their livelihood and could no longer put food on the table.

“There was no compensation given out at the time for people who lost their dogs,” said Aatami.

Recently, because of an airlift of stray dogs from Kangirsuk to Montreal, national media attention focussed on Nunavik’s dog surplus. Shooting dogs as a method of controlling the canine population came under fire.

“Now, they make a big story about shooting a few dogs, but they never made a big thing about shooting dogs in the 1960s,” said Aatami.

Aatami will also face a new executive at the end of the annual general meeting. On Friday, March 19, some 4667 eligible voting beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement go the polls to choose for a new treasurer and a second vice-president.

Three candidates are running for the position of treasurer, Bob Deer, Minnie Grey and Anthony Ittoshat. Two are vying for the position of second vice-president, the incumbent Johnny Peters, and Mark Papigatuk.

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