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Notes for a speech by Mr. Rémy Trudel, Minister of State for the Population, the Regions and Native Affairs at the time of the signing of the partnership agreement for the economic and community development of Nunavik between the Government of Québec, Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Government Tasiujaq

APRIL 9, 2002

The spoken version takes precedence

Mr. Pita Aatami, President of Makivik,
Mr. Johnny Adams, President of the Kativik Regional Government,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Mr. Minister delegate for Native Affairs and the development of Northern Québec,
Mayors of the Northern Village Municipalities,
Members of the Kativik Regional Government,
Mr. André Caillé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to be here with you today and to take part in the annual general meeting of Makivik Corporation. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to find myself here in Nunavik in the land of the Inuit with whom we have maintained very good relations for many years, particularly since the signing of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement in 1975.

For a very long time now, the organizations and institutions of Nunavik have been evolving within Québec's jurisdiction and have been working in close cooperation with the departments and organizations of the Government of Québec. Two nations that talk to one another and that understand one another: this has been the history of the relations between Québec and the Inuit. It is not surprising then that over the last few days we have arrived at a major partnership agreement for the long-term economic and community development of Nunavik. On February 15th of this year, I met with Mr. Pita Aatami and Mr. Johnny Adams, and we agreed to step up the pace of discussions that would eventually lead to the agreement that we are signing today. Having been able to work out such a major agreement in so little time shows just how close and productive the relationship between Québec and the Inuit is.

This agreement reached between Québec, Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Government is also in keeping with the government action strategy respecting aboriginal matters. This strategy proposes agreements to foster the taking on of greater responsibility and to promote development, the carrying out of tangible actions to achieve economic development and job creation, and the adoption of measures leading to greater financial autonomy. Partnership, development and actions are all words that summarize our approach.

Long-term economic development of Nunavik

The agreement stipulates that Québec and the Inuit will work in close partnership to develop the hydroelectric, mining and tourism potential of Nunavik.

It also encourages the Inuit to take on more responsibility, thereby ensuring greater participation in their own economic development. Various models are put forward in the agreement to develop natural resources such as mines and hydroelectricity, as well as the important sector of tourism.

In particular, over the next five years, studies will be carried out to identify the hydroelectric potential of the territory's rivers and tides. One of these studies will consist of examining the feasibility of a power transmission line, possibly accompanied by a fiber optic telecommunications network. This network could connect all the northern villages to Hydro-Québec's main network.

If the decision is made to go ahead with hydroelectric projects, Québec will share the profits with the Inuit of Nunavik according to the extent of the production of the hydroelectric facilities, their profitability and the selling price of electricity in Canada and the United States.

Québec will also encourage the reaching of agreements between the Inuit and the proponents of hydroelectric and mining projects, with a view to ensuring more jobs and more contracts for Nunavik.

Of course, every hydroelectric or mining project will be subject to the current environmental protection framework described in the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement.

Moreover, to development Nunavik's tourism industry, Québec will work in close cooperation with the Kativik Regional Government over the next five years to examine the possibility of developing other parks in Nunavik (Monts Torngat, Lac Guillaume-Delisle and Lac-à-L'Eau-Claire, Rivière Koroc).

Québec, the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corporation will see to it that Nunavik takes charge of the management of Pingualuit Park and that the economic spin-offs provide maximum benefits for the region.


Priority projects stipulated in the agreement

In addition to the natural resource development projects, Québec is also seeking to take tangible steps in other sectors. The government's action will involve carrying out several others projects included in the partnership agreement:

  • paving of roads (including airport access roads) of all northern villages;
  • construction of maritime infrastructures;
  • increase in the number of police officers;
  • construction of new police stations;
  • construction of detention facilities and a 10-bed transitional community residential centre;
  • hiring of six new wildlife conservation officers and creation of wildlife assistant positions.


This summarizes the content of this important agreement that we are signing today. It contains major leverage tools to ensure that the Inuit take greater responsibility for their economic and community development. It also offers additional means to existing organizations that must meet the needs of the population. This agreement will enable such organizations to act right away to create jobs and business opportunities, and, in so doing, to contribute to the quality of life of Nunavik residents.


Self-government in Nunavik

The agreement also contains an important provision that will help meet a major expectation of Nunavik. Indeed, Québec agrees to ensure that the grants, which currently come from various Québec departments and organizations, are grouped in one budget that will be indexed annually. Hence, there would be one budget for the Kativik Regional Government and one budget for each northern village.

This step is part of a broader initiative that we have been engaged in over the last few years and that concerns the creation of an autonomous government in Nunavik.

Moreover, one year ago, at the time of the 2001 annual general meeting, the Nunavik Commission tabled its report entitled - Mapping the Road toward a Government for Nunavik. We all know the importance of the work of this Commission. And we wish to recall the commitment made in the Political Agreement of 1999 by Québec, the Inuit and the federal government, namely to negotiate a form of government in Nunavik, once the Nunavik Commission had tabled its recommendations. Today, I am pleased to inform you that Québec will soon be designating the person who will represent it at the negotiation table. We plan to move ahead with determination in this matter, which holds such promise for Inuit youth.

Conclusion

Our common achievements can largely be attributed to the close and harmonious relations that we have forged. This climate of agreement is a guarantee of future success in the resolution of various questions and matters. It is with great pride that I will affix my signature to the bottom of this document, which heralds a new and even more profitable era between the Government of Québec and the inhabitants of Nunavik.


Thank you!
Nakurmik marialuk
Signature gouvernementale
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