Nunavik, Nunavut

These questions were sent to us by a visitor to the website:

> I am a new resident of Fort Smith, NWT and am interested in
> self government issues. Looking in from the outside it would
> seem to me that Nunavik would have more power if it was separated
> from Quebec.
>
> a) Could Nunavik become a separate territory like Nunavut?
> b) Could Nunavik join Nunavut?
>
> It would seem that the people in Nunavik have much more in common
> with Nunavut than Quebec, thus would be better off joining Nunavut.
> I would think that if Nunavik was still part of the NWT when Nunavut
> was created that Nunavik would have become part of Nunavut, thus
> joining Nunavik with Nunavut would seem to make sense.
>
> Best regards,
> Brian S

What do you think? Why have the people of Nunavik chosen to negotiate their own government? What kind of a relationship do you think Nunavik should develop with Nunavut?

  • September 2, 2005
  • Webmaster

Comments

On behalf of the negotiating team the webmaster would like to thank Brian S. for his comments and questions, and is posting their response. After reading the response you are invited to continue the discussion by adding your comments.

"The Constitution of Canada provides the provinces with exclusive powers over a variety of subject matters within their boundaries, and it also guarantees that their boundaries cannot be changed without the consent of the affected province. In addition, any change to a boundary must take place through a formal constitutional amendment provided for in the Constitution itself.

The situation is quite different for the Territories. Because they are not defined as provinces under the Canadian Constitution, their boundaries can be changed through simple federal legislation. In fact, this is exactly what happened when the Northwest Territories was divided into two and Nunavut was created in 1999. The different jurisdictions and powers of Canadian Territories derive from a Federal Act and can consequently be modified by a simple federal legislation.

Even if making a change to provincial boundaries was a simple matter, there would be other factors to be considered with the idea of creating a giant territory which might, for example, include all the Inuit in Canada. Such a territory would be huge, and it would stretch from Labrador all the way to the NWT/Yukon border in the west. Obviously, it would be very difficult to create a government and establish an administrative structure that would adequately respond to the needs of all the residents in a territory that would encompass such a large geographic area. Geographic distances was one of the reasons why the Inuvialuit chose to remain in the NWT rather than become part of Nunavut.

In the case of Nunavik, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) provides us with some very favorable conditions for the creation of a new form of government. The new Nunavik Government will largely be based on the amalgamation of the three major public institutions established under our land claims agreement, namely the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. In keeping with the terms of the JBNQA, these institutions were established through Quebec legislation and are, in large part, funded by the province.

There are a number of other advantages to building on the JBNQA to create a Nunavik Government. First and foremost, the JBNQA is considered a treaty under which our rights, as Inuit, are constitutionally protected. Moreover, by building on what already exists in the JBNQA, we are not starting at ground zero for the creation of a Nunavik Government. The three institutions to be amalgamated have, in one form or another, a 25 year track record in delivering important services to the residents of Nunavik. All of this will be carried over in what will be the new form of government for Nunavik.

Although the Nunavik Government will be created as its own distinct entity, it is essential that it be able to pursue strong relationships with Nunavut, Northern Labrador, and other Arctic jurisdictions where Inuit constitute the large majority of the population. In varying degrees, this ability exists with the organizations to be amalgamated, and it will be an important function of the new form of government that will be put in place for Nunavik. This will allow the Nunavik Government to take its place alongside Nunavut and other Arctic jurisdictions as an institution capable of managing its own affairs in a manner that will reflect northern realities, and acting as a vehicle that will enable Inuit to realize their aspirations."

  • September 8, 2005
  • The Webmaster

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