Nunavik Inuit to revisit self-government based on Inuit values, heritage and language
Mary Simon appointed chief negotiator
Nunavik Inuit have given their birthright organization the go-ahead to enter into a new round of negotiations towards self-government.
Delegates passed a resolution to that effect last week at Makivik Corp.’s annual general meeting in Aupaluk.
And to guide that process, Makivik has appointed Mary Simon as the new chief negotiator of Nunavik self-determination and Inuit government, according to a March 21 news release.
It’s been eight years since Nunavimmiut voted on a proposed self-government model called the Nunavik Regional Government.
The NRG provided for a merger that would have joined existing regional bodies like the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, putting them under the authority of a new elected body called the Nunavik Assembly.
The proposal was ultimately rejected by 66 per cent of voters in a 2011 referendum.
But under the leadership of Charlie Watt, Makivik Corp.’s founding and returning president, talks aimed at developing a new self-government agreement were revived last year.
And while the last proposed model was for a public government, Makivik is now looking to establish an Indigenous government based on Inuit values, heritage, identity, culture and language.
In October 2018, Makivik Corp. says it began negotiating with the federal government on a draft memorandum of understanding to facilitate that process.
And then in February 2019, participants of an all-organizations meeting gave Makivik the mandate to establish a Nunavik Constitutional Task Force.
That group will create a constitution for the region, in consultation with Inuit.
“We have been engaged in this process for decades, and it has gained tremendous momentum in the last year,” Watt said in a release.
“The legal framework that has evolved over the years, notably our Aboriginal rights in the Canadian Constitution, and more recently the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are the foundation on which we are building our self-determination.”
Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution also acknowledges self-determination for Indigenous groups: “The inherent right to self-government is recognized as an existing Aboriginal right,” it says.
Watt said he was “proud” to count Simon as the lead in negotiations.
Simon, who is from Kuujjuaq, is a past president of Makivik; she has also been president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and was a special advisor on Arctic issues to the federal government.
She was Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, and served as a lead negotiator for the creation of the Arctic Council in the 1990s. She later served as ambassador to Denmark.
Simon’s role going forward is to keep Inuit and Nunavik organizations informed and involved in the progress and status of those negotiations.