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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

BACKGROUNDER ON HISTORY OF THE CREATION OF THE NUNAVIK COMMISSION

For decades, the Inuit of Québec have aspired to assume more control over their development. As far back as 1970, the Inuit were indicating their desire for self-government to the Neville-Robitaille Commission, which was travelling across northern Québec in a quest to seek out the concerns and aspirations of the people.

Since 1975, the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) has led to the establishment of several institutions allowing the region of Nunavik, the part of Québec north of the 55th parallel, to acquire a certain degree of administrative control. The Makivik Corporation speaks for the Inuit regarding implementation of the Agreement and is deeply involved in the social and economic development of the Inuit. These institutions also include the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, the Kativik Regional Development Council and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the latter having been replaced by the Nunavik Board of Regional Health and Social Services in 1994. These institutions all have a public nature and a regional calling.

However, the Inuit look for a united institution covering the whole region and enjoying broader autonomy. This concern with unity and autonomy surfaced once again with the 1983 Parliamentary Commission on Aboriginal People. At the time, René Lévesque opened the door to negotiations on the implementation of an autonomous regional government in northern Québec on condition that the various Inuit groups presenting their points of view to the Commission spoke as one. Following a referendum (1987) and an election (1989) in Nunavik, the Inuit developed a united approach and implemented the Nunavik Constitutional Committee with which the government of Québec opened discussions in 1990.

The discussions were interrupted in 1992 because of the constitutional discussions leading to the Charlottetown Accord and its rejection in a Canada-wide referendum. They resumed in July 1994 and continued until June 1995 following decisions made by the Québec government in 1994. The parties unanimously agreed to suspend discussions in December 1995 for several reasons (referendum campaign and post-referendum period, change in leadership at Makivik Corporation and change in premier).

During his visit to Nunavik in September 1997, the Premier of Québec, Lucien Bouchard, agreed with the President of Makivik Corporation, who was Mr. Zebedee Nungak, to reopen negotiations on the establishment of a public government institution in the part of Québec north of the 55th parallel (the Region of Nunavik). It was during this visit that the parties involved agreed to examine the conditions for resuming discussions. To follow up, the government of Québec gave the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones (SAA) the responsibility of setting up a joint task force with Makivik that would present to the political authorities of the two parties the parameters for a process of negotiation to establish self-government north of the 55th parallel.

Makivik and the SAA began working together on these parameters in December 1997. Many meetings took place in 1998 and 1999. They led to the current political accord that creates the Nunavik Commission, responsible for proposing a form of self-government in Nunavik to the three signatories. The federal government participated in these meetings to the extent that they involved issues falling under federal jurisdiction.

November 5, 1999

Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier, 1er étage - Québec (Qc)  G1R 5M6 - 418 643-3166
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