Nunavik task force to draft constitution for Inuit government

“We need to negotiate to bring back the authority that has been taken”

Mary Simon, second from right, is pictured in 2019 with Makivik’s Nunavik Inuit Constitutional Task Force. Makivik announced this week that Simon has returned to her role as senior negotiator after departing in 2020. (File photo courtesy of Makivik Corp.)

By Sarah Rogers

Makivik Corp. has appointed members to a new group tasked with exploring self-determination for Nunavik Inuit.

The Nunavik Inuit Constitutional task force is chaired by Mary Simon, who was appointed as its lead negotiator last March.

The group’s mandate is to prepare a draft Nunavik constitution, which will spell out the creation and role of an Inuit government in Nunavik, based on Inuit values, heritage, identity, culture and language.

Simon helped recruit the newly named members of the task force, who are Nancy Etok (Ungava), Olivia Ikey Duncan (youth representative), Thomassie Mangiok (Hudson Strait), Jani Marik Beaulne (Hudson Bay) and elder Makussie Anautak, who met in Kuujjuaq for the first time this week.

Simon called the meetings “inspiring” and “all in Inuktitut.”

Discussions on self-governance in the region didn’t just start this week, she noted, but back in 1982, when the Canadian constitution was repatriated from the United Kingdom.

“We made our case then that we were people with a heritage, an identity, our own language and that we always had the right to be self-determining people,” Simon said.

“Over the years we have realized more and more that to have the kind of government that will be more responsive to a region like Nunavik, then we have to have a lot more control than what we have.”

There have been a number of reports published since the 1980s looking at different models for self-governance in the region, she said.

The most recent of them was a proposal to merge Nunavik’s regional organizations under the umbrella of a new public body called the Nunavik Assembly, though it was ultimately rejected in a 2011 referendum.

This latest effort looks to the creation of an ethnic government, by and for Inuit in the region, which would have the power to make its own laws and hold authority over the territory.

“Now we have to think outside of the box, which means bringing in new ideas and a vision that hasn’t been articulated just yet,” Simon said.

Within the coming weeks, Makivik should enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ottawa to serve as the framework for its ongoing discussions and negotiations with the federal government.

Next, Inuit in the region will begin that same process with the province.

“We aren’t really asking for anything,” Simon emphasized. “We’re taking a position that we already had, that we need to negotiate to bring back the authority that has been taken.”

Nunavimmiut will have a chance to weigh in on that process, Simon said, through different forms of in-person, radio and online consultations over the coming months.

The task force is working to prepare a draft of the Nunavik Inuit government constitution, to be presented to an all-organizations meeting in September.

But Nunavimmiut shouldn’t expect to see changes soon, Simon warned. “This is a long-term project,” she said.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Non signer on

    I’m hoping never to see that day, and I’ll never see it, that Inuit of nunavik have a self government. Just look at us. At the present time, so many people smell of marijuana. It stinks. That smell is more then indicative of a legal activity going well, it’s misery spilling the illnesses of our time. It’s a society dependent of drugs. Look at our co-op stores at Puvirnituq and kuujjuaq, running a overwhelming profit based on overwhelming high price beer, and its getting busier and busier at the hospital, courts and jails. Self government, for what, for who, and how ? I don’t see any Quebec or Canadian political process allowing Inuit to suffer more under a self government, where human rights and freedoms, and protection of our children will be jeopardize into further torment. Too many so called leaders have the smell d drugs and high priced co-op beer as well, and their saturated with the problems also. Inuit and n9n- inuit will suffer dearly with even the thought of such a thing. Let’s just focus on educating the population first.

  2. Posted by Johnj on

    Image a self government, undereducated and making laws for the people. If anyone looks just even a little, it easy to see the majority of educated professionals come from outside of Nunavik. How would an uneducated group of self governing people issue laws of the land, and how will the educated outside professionals tolerate any nuisance intimidation? Today, because our Inuit population is under educated, the only jobs are in Inuit organizations for these uneducated. The professionals, like doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, teachers(with teaching degrees), are from outside Nunavik. The blue collars jobs are filled by inuit, and white collar Inuit work mostly under the laws of an Inuit organization. Will a self government make it any easier, for the uneducated to become a professional, without the proper education? A scary thought, if you aske me. Uneducated making laws. No going to work.

    • Posted by hmmmm on


      • Posted by Jake on

        Exactly, imagine all the people gone home. Professionals will be gone, and the locals will be in the news similar to the news on those countries where human rights and freedoms are the worst of worst. No image that for me.

  3. Posted by Johnny Kasudluak on

    Interpreting the Comments above, and those that will be similar to the ones above.
    ~~It is so scary to see self-determining Inuit. ~~
    ~~I choose to see hopelessness and despair, put down the people of an entire region sitting on my high horse and call it reality.~~
    ~~Inuit can’t make choices for themselves. Southern non-Inuit are more equipped and know best how to serve us. It’s all I’ve ever known.~~

    I believe in us Inuit, not matter the challenge, we will overcome it. Perseverance is in our genes. I believe in everyone who works for Inuit, both Inuit and Non-Inuit.

    I have hope for this team. I wish them all the best.

    At the end of the road we will either embrace the path presented, or reject it.

  4. Posted by Nay vote on

    It’s not a matter of not wanting self government for nunavik, it’s a matter of the reality that lives in nunavik. The dependency on the south for literally every aspect of existence don’t go well with that concept of self government. It don’t add up to anything but the need to keep the governments in place as is. The wood to build houses, the cars and trucks, the skidoo’s and outboard motors are far greater in need than kayak, igloos and dog teams to state the least. There’s no turning back. And don’t compare Nunavut to Nunavik, as Nunavut is a territory, not in a province like Quebec. We all know how firm Quebec is on ruling the land. Even with rare earth mining, only technology, that’s not in nunavik is needed. That economic gain is not really nunaviks either.

  5. Posted by Law on

    It’s not scary to see inuit making attempts towards self determination. But I like to see the lawyer thou. Its not possible to have such a government within our area of Nunavik. I agree , there not enough educated from within. I don’t see a group, like in the photo, coming up with a draft for the seriousness of a constitution. I Supposed, there’s a southern lawyer behind the sciences here. Never heard of a group as such, drafting a constitution. Not possible. Never going to come to pass.

  6. Posted by Oh my on

    I congratulate the fact that the representatives chosen are from the younger generation , I wish them the best, as mentioned above the issues to be tackled are substantial. How will voting. take place,?will there be genuine civics courses provided to all,?will there be participatory democracy, ?will there be a minimum level of turnout in order for an election to be valid?, anti nepotism clauses, ?term limits, ?the current system with elected boards providing a platform for Inuit participation and voices is clearly dysfunctional, Iit can be done but I sincerely hope that the core issues are addressed that discussions with other nations that have taken this step are undertaken etc.. again congratulations to all

  7. Posted by This is not the law on

    I never heard of ordinary citizens, drafting a constitution. Is this some kind of joke? Even thou, I can see the good intentions here, it’s not good enough. You can’t just sit down and brain storm into a constitution. This needs to be drafted by lawyers, and educated individuals. I value the young and old, and wish to hear their side of the story. Respecting elders, is not the same as having them draft a constitution, just because they lived longer. The young I see in the photo , didn’t live long enough yet for the same reasons. Plus, they don’t have the education required. Mary Simon has been around , but she’s no lawyer. This is not feasible.

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