Christine Muschi The Canadian Press Prime Minister François Legault (center) made this announcement with a smile on Wednesday alongside the president of the Makivik Corporation, Pita Aatami (left), and the minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit, Ian Lafrenière (right).
On hold since 2011, negotiations aimed at creating an autonomous regional government in Nunavik will resume next year. An agreement was signed to this effect on Wednesday between the government of Quebec and the Makivik Corporation, which represents the Inuit living in this vast territory in the north of the province.
Prime Minister François Legault made this announcement with a smile on Wednesday alongside the president of the Makivik Corporation, Pita Aatami. The two men then formally signed in front of the cameras an agreement which provides that Quebec and the organization representing the population of Nunavik will resume negotiations which have been taking place periodically for decades to give more autonomy to this region, including 90%. of the population is Inuit.
“I am very happy to be with the president of Makivik, Pita Aatami, to sign a negotiation agreement on the self-government of Nunavik. We remember that a former government, in 2011, launched these negotiations, which were unsuccessful,” said Mr. Legault, who assured that Quebec and the Makivik Corporation were now “ready to resume negotiations” in 2024.
“Our nations share a territory, and we must continue to work together for the good of our people,” continued the Prime Minister, who said he saw in these negotiations a way to contribute to “reconciliation with indigenous communities”.
The last agreement resulting from discussions on the autonomy of Nunavik dates back to 2011, at the time when the government of Jean Charest relied heavily on its Plan Nord to develop the province's economy, particularly in further exploiting the natural resources of the northern regions. This agreement, which provided for the creation of a regional assembly elected by the population of Nunavik, was then rejected by 66% during a local referendum, its criteria having been refused by a majority of the population.
“I don’t want Quebecers to see our territory as a place to go and look for minerals. I want them to see a place of beauty,” said Pita Aatami on Wednesday, who also hopes that these upcoming negotiations will quickly lead to greater autonomy for Nunavik. “This is something we would like to see in the near future: to have control of our territory,” he summarized.
Québec and the Makivik Corporation have not, however, set an objective as to when these new negotiations could lead to an agreement which would lead to the establishment of a new form of governance in Nunavik.