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Montréal, November 5, 1999 - A tripartite political agreement providing for the creation of the Nunavik Commission was signed today by Pita Aatami, president of the Makivik Corporation; Guy Chevrette, Québec Minister of Transport, minister for Native Affairs, minister responsible for Wildlife and Parks, and for the Nord-du-Québec region; Joseph Facal, Québec Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs; and Robert Nault, federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The mandate of the commission, which will be created shortly, is to make recommendations on a form of government for Nunavik, the territory covering the area of Quebec north of the 55th parallel. These proposals will include an action plan, recommendations on the structure, operation and powers of a Nunavik government, as well as an implementation timetable.

The three signatories have agreed that the proposed Nunavik government falls within existing Canadian and Québec jurisdiction. At the same time, it must also meet the needs of the Inuit and other Nunavik residents. This future government should also be provided with the necessary resources for its operations and a form of self-government for Nunavik.

"We have been working for this for more than 20 years," said Makivik president Pita Aatami as he signed the agreement on behalf of all Nunavik organizations, including his own, representing some 9,000 Nunavik Inuit. "This is an important step in helping all Nunavik residents move towards democratic government and management of their own affairs. The accord represents a natural political development in both Québec and Canada. We are eager to see what the commission will produce."

Minister Chevrette said: "The signing of this political accord is an extremely important stage in the evolving relations between Québec and the Inuit and is part of the process that has been growing over the last 30 years. During this time, the Inuit people and their institutions have successfully taken charge of their own development. I am particularly pleased with the fact that the proposed Nunavik government will be non-ethnic, and will represent all the people living north of the 55th parallel. I am proud that the Québec government has taken this step with the Inuit, in collaboration with the federal government, and will take an active part in the commission's work."

"For many years, the Inuit of northern Québec have hoped to create a unique and innovative form of government. Today they are one step closer to realizing that goal," said Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Robert Nault. "Canada is committed to improving the capacity of Aboriginal people and strengthening their economic development as they establish effective and accountable governments. As outlined in Gathering Strength - Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan, the federal government supports improving the lives of Aboriginal people."

The Commission, which will be created shortly, will have two co-chairs, one to be appointed by the Nunavik party and one by the Québec government. It will also have six commissioners, two to be appointed by the Nunavik party, two by the Government of Québec and two by the Government of Canada.

The commission will present its recommendations eight months after its creation.

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Contacts: Stephen Hendrie
Makivik Corporation
(514) 386-0669
Esther Boily
Office of Minister Guy Chevrette
(418) 643-6980
Marie-Dominique Loignon
Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada
(819) 997-8404
Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier, 1er étage - Québec (Qc)  G1R 5M6 - 418 643-3166
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