Nunavik’s offshore claim almost a done deal

The Makivik Corporation’s six-year-old offshore claim may be close to a resolution.


MONTREAL — For years the Makivik Corporation has been negotiating with the federal government to settle Nunavik’s offshore claim — and it’s now getting very close to reaching an agreement.

But the resulting deal may not be to everyone’s satisfaction in Nunavik.

Makivik’s president Pita Aatami said he is sworn not to reveal even the sketchiest details of the offshore deal.

However, he said in February he will tour Nunavik communities to tell beneficiaries exactly what’s in the proposed AIP.

But Aatami hinted the offshore agreement is likely to fall short of what Makivik initially wanted — a reported $500 million in compensation, and a deal with the same treaty status as the Nunavut land claims agreement.

“It’s been a long process. It’s not what we wanted, but I understand where the [federal] government is coming from,” Aatami said.

A 1994 draft offshore agreement submitted by Makivik for negotiation asked for the creation of several bodies: a wildlife board, policy council, planning board, and a secretariat, as well as protected marine areas.

Provisions for a number of new programs were also included: a government-funded Nunavik Economic Development Council, a revolving fund for economic development projects, facilities for historical research, cross-cultural educational and training programs, a Nunavik Inuit youth and cultural support program and an Inuit income security program for Nunavimmiut to pursue harvesting and related activities on a full-time basis.

A condition for any agreement-in-principle was Makivik’s willingness to drop a court case that claimed overlapping rights for Nunavimmiut in the Torngat Mountains of Labrador.

Makivik’s outstanding offshore claim in Labrador is also reportedly settled by provisions in the upcoming offshore agreement.

Nunavut and Makivik Corporation already have an overlap deal that grants Nunavimmiut joint use, occupancy and rights on several islands in the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.

But the James Bay Cree have a unresolved claim to islands in the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait that, up until now, haven’t been settled with Nunavut.

Brian Craik, director of federal relations for the Grand Council, said the Crees have wanted a negotiated regime for the disputed offshore islands since 1978.

Craik, who discussed Nunavik’s offshore agreement-in-principle with representatives from the federal government last week, said the Crees are being offered overlapping use of the islands in conjunction with the deal.

An information session on the offer and the details of the Nunavik’s offshore AIP are in the works, as are community consultations in the Cree communities.

“Our overlapping rights are something we want to protect,” Craik said.

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