Nunavik needs self-government before it needs protected lands: Makivik Corp.

“Right now our focus is our self-determination”

This map shows newly protected areas announced by the Government of Quebec in December. (Image courtesy of MELCC)

By Sarah Rogers

Makivik Corp. says Nunavik can’t support Quebec’s plan for new protected areas in the region — not while the organization is working towards self-government.

In December, the Quebec government announced plans to designate 29,785 square kilometres in new land reserves in Nunavik, as well as to expand two existing reserves.

Those areas include the Innuksuac River basin, Arnaud River, Tursujuq North, Tursujuq Centre, Tursujuq South, Eaton Canyon, Maritime Marsh, George River, George River North and Marralik River.

Once approved, those areas would be protected from industrial development.

But Makivik says the timing isn’t right for the organization to get behind the plan, because Nunavik Inuit are in the middle of consultation towards creating a new Inuit government for the region.

Makivik declined to collaborate on the Dec. 11 news release the Quebec government put out when it announced the protected areas.

“Right now our focus is our self-determination,” said Adamie Delisle Alaku, the vice-president of environment, wildlife and research at Makivik Corp. “We’re trying to regain our own authority over the lands and water.”

Makivik does not have the means to block the government’s plans, though the proposed protected areas must still undergo public consultations and an impact assessment before the province can give them the green light.

But the Inuit birthright organization hopes its message will be heard in Quebec City.

Nunavik organizations did participate in selecting the designated areas after the territory first launched Plan Nord, its blueprint for development north of the 49th parallel, in 2011. Their participation has been ongoing since then. But Delisle Alaku said the final proposal was delivered by the province using French language place names that most Inuit wouldn’t recognize.

Makivik Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government in May 2019 that serves as a framework for negotiations towards an Inuit self-government for the region.

It’s not clear what roles a Nunavik self-government would assume. But Ottawa’s Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination initiative pledges “the implementation and exercise of Indigenous rights,” including the recognition of Indigenous law-making power and inherent rights to land.

Makivik’s chief negotiator is in the process of drafting a Nunavik constitution, which the organization says will lay out the terms for establishing a regional government based on Inuit values, culture and language.

While Makivik is working with the federal government, the organization has yet to sign the same memorandum of understanding to work with Quebec.

“Right now we’re in the infancy of our negotiations with the feds, but that’s going to need to switch [to Quebec] soon,” Delisle Alaku said.

“And this whole notion of working together, nation-to-nation — we have huge strides to make.”

When the Quebec government first launched Plan Nord, it committed to protecting 20 per cent of the province’s landmass by 2020.

Now, 10 years and three government later, that process is ongoing; François Legault’s government recently launched its own scaled-back version of a northern plan.

The latest land designations in Nunavik bring the total protected area of the province to 12.7 per cent.

“To me it’s to have a good report card,” Delisle Alaku said. “They’re pushing their own agenda.”

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by not ready on

    Wow Our leaders must be dreaming for self-government we are not ready for it, no lawyers, Doctors, Medics and University graduate yet. we are not ready for self-government, lets stick to Quebec Government, lets not put burden on our children, with all of our leaders still drunk and into drugs we are not ready.

  2. Posted by Plan Nord on

    Self government is nowhere near Nunavik, today, tomorrow, or anytime in the future, that we can comprehend. It appears Makivik isn’t aware of that. Nunavik hasn’t the education to have a self government, unless the self government will exist on uneducated members. Just take a good look around Nunavik. Talking about self government, and see so many in the population not waking up for work in the morning. To see our government officials, with educated southerners, and high school( not really) graduates of Nunavik, whom has just squeezed through the pathetic school system of KI. To see our hospitals and nursing station, and social services manned by educated southerners, not one doctor, not one nurse, not one lab tech, not one X-ray technician, from the local population. How can you have self government in this deficiency of educated resources? Like I say , unless Nunavik will be unique and have uneducated self government. But I’m sure that in this country, and this Quebec province, will allow this. Human rights among the Nunavik population would suffer greatly. It’s not what you know, because you not know much, but family members, friends of this one and that one would dominate the agenda. Nope, it’s not going to happen, and thank god for that.

    • Posted by Tulugaq on

      This is a very colonial perspective of indigenous self-governments. Inuit have been governing themselves for thousands of years and it’s only the colonial governments that marginalized them and tried to eradicate their language and culture by sending their children to residential schools. Education has been used as a tool of assimilation and if English became the colonial language in Nunavik this is thanks to Premier Duplessis who went to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1939, arguing that Inuit were like Indians and the responsibility of the federal government and he won his case. It’s also very strange coming from Quebeckers to argue that Inuit cannot have self government because they are “uneducated” acting as a colonial power like the one they despise in Ottawa! I remember a time in the 1980’s when the Quebec government denied Inuit the right to have signs in their own language and all the signage on government buildings were in French, a language that most Inuit didn’t understand… More colonial than that would be difficult and they ultimately changed their “policy”. Like any other Indigenous people the Nunavik Inuit have the right to self determination and to govern themselves according to their culture and traditions; they also have the right to their own governance and legal systems, whether Quebec likes it or not. Quebec Premier denies systemic racism but comments like this may prove him wrong…

  3. Posted by Plan Nord Nunavik on

    Makivik Corp. on the right track to become self governing body. So glad to see the regional Inuit association is dreaming big, which other entity thinks this is possible, the federal government? I don’t think the goal is to look at what Nunavik doesnt have that justifies the answer, it is definitely better to look at what would be possible if it was its own government. Nunavik has the resources, population and very able regional inuit representation to become its own government. The nunavikmiut have already self sustained themselves, their environment and their people for thousands of years before outsiders came. I’m glad to hear this from Makivik, which is a good example for other regions and territories. There are other self governing bodies out there even their own country in such a worse condition.
    Possibilities are endless….. And please create a system based on Inuit values, culture and language. Not based on how many doctors, nurses or educated graduates, you are already educated enough to be negotiating this. Perhaps the next step can be to become your own country from the looks of it the rest of canada does not seem to care that much for you.

    • Posted by Don’t make sense on

      This don’t make sense. You can’t dream big without having the education to do your dreams well. First you dream about education, you dream that you can get educated, make it come true. Then you dream bigger. Self government will require that you have doctors, nurses, teachers, police, social workers, and on and on. Otherwise how can an area be self sufficient? It’s impossible. Having a self government, but the brains are from outside. Don’t make sense.

      • Posted by Ingrid Ekomiak on

        If we start the self governing process though, we can be in charge of educating and raising our own into these roles while slowly weaning off the need for southerners.

        • Posted by False start on

          I disagree. You’re trying to start in the wrong place. You must encourage or be part of being educated first. That’s how it’s done. It’s not done from the dreams of an elder or adult who thinks it’s a magical thing that appears on paper and you sign it to be. Self government means self sufficient in most aspects of decision making. In this big world, it also means communication with other governments in an educated format. Self governance therefore means education. You can’t have it without education first. It’s a false start and will never be. Look at what you are begging for from the provincial and federal government, to allow you control over the population but not qualified to do so, no Canadian government will grant that to an uneducated group to mess with the lives of people .

        • Posted by How is that going? on

          Educating and raising your own to fill these roles has been the plan for decades. How is that going?

  4. Posted by Johnny Kasudluak on

    You don’t need to limit yourselves into boxes.
    All world governments/jurisdictions cannot function without an immigrant population of skilled/professional workers. Inuit Nunangat is the same. Majority Inuit jurisdictions function this way. Nunavut is a Government without 100% Inuit employment, same for Kalaaliit Nunaat. That is the dream we all have. We always have to take the step.

  5. Posted by Nord 2.0 on

    Self governing Nunavik sounds better than the current condition, if theres been no improvement since its inception than it proves a need for change. Also education does not necessarily mean being a doctor, teacher and other mentioned titles, they are just apart of the system in whole it would not make sense to see the inadequacies when you come from a different background or culture.

  6. Posted by hunter3 on

    Does Makivik even represent the voice of the Inuit people anymore? Is this what the Inuit people want? I think Makivik has become too extremist over the past few years, and does not accurately represent the voice of our people. What do we do about this????? Time for a change in leadership!

  7. Posted by Self government and pandemic on

    Look at self government through the eyes of this Covid pandemic. Who’s in charge? Not Makivik, not an Inuk political leader. The director of public health mandated by the Quebec government is in charge. In what I’ve seen, the Makivik president thought at one point that he was in charge, trying to intervene in the open or closing of the mine, nope he was put in his place. The director at the health board found out also she’s not In Charge, nope. You see this is Inuit self government, it’s a unrealistic dream! As it stands in todays unpreparedness. This is what Nunavik has to offer as a self government. Southerners with the education, with Inuit faces on the pictures. That’s not self government.

  8. Posted by Stephen Grasser on

    I don’t see self-government and protecting areas to be an either/or zero-sum game. Both are important processes, and can take place at the same time.

    I don’t buy Makivik’s view that they can only work on one issue at a time.

  9. Posted by No to self government as before on

    We said no to self government before and we’ll say no again. It just don’t make any sense. We don’t gave the Human Resources and qualified to do that. If you think we do, then you are just dreaming without any reality. Look no further than Nunavut. We would never get anywhere near Nunavut. Nunavut is a territorial government, under the Canadian government. There’s no way , Nunavik would even get to where Nunavut is, under the control of the Quebec government. Self government is a waste of thoughts, money and time for Nunavik. It’s not possible.

  10. Posted by Yes government on

    Yes government to Nunavik, maybe your referring to Quebec almost becoming a country before. Then follow Nunavut, then become their own country.

  11. Posted by Does it mean they should self govern? on

    Inuit under the JBNQA have the right to self govern. Does it mean they should? Yes! Absolutely. Now? Absolutely not. We lack resources for self governance. Simple way to put it is that KI better start offering more than just “social sciences” to nearly 100% of our undergrads. We get nowhere and fast when you try to force educate social sciences to someone who wants to be educated in a different field. I speak from experience. Then students who drop out of college just feel lost and that promise that they can be “anything they choose to be”… but it’s exactly as far fetched as the dream that Makivik has for Inuit self governing.

    We are getting nowhere with this constant and endless circle.

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