Canada Gets a New Territory: Nunavik in Northern Quebec
They have been negotiating for decades, but just this week Canada, Quebec, and Nunavik came to an "agreement in principle" between the three sides, with a formal signing ceremony to follow within weeks. What does it mean for residents north of the 55th parallel in Quebec consisting of one-third of the land mass? Residents -- regardless of ethnicity -- will be given an opportunity to vote for their own government. A Nunavik Assembly of five members will act as the cabinet and elect a speaker. Each member will be responsible for one governmental department, such as health, education, and local and regional affairs. This treaty is different from BC's Nisga'a Treaty, which is based on ethnicity. Learn more about the treaty, the region, and the people with links to literature from the region.
August 19, 2007 —
Nunavik History, Culture, Land & People
It's no surprise that this treaty was fast-tracked. At a time when Russians, Danes, and other nations seeking potential riches that lie beneath the melting ice pack are laying claim to the Arctic, the Inuit have long welcomed a role in promoting Canada's claims to the North. By maintaining traditional hunting practices and helping the Canadian Forces patrol the barren Arctic lands, they also participate in "Operation Nanook," a 10-day Arctic sovereignty exercise by the Canadian Forces under way in the waters between Nunavut and Nunavik.
Nunavik is not to be confused with the existing northern territory of Nunavut (which was created in 1999 from the Northwest Territories, and whose land mass, if it were an independent country, would rank thirteenth in the world behind the Democratic Republic of Congo!). Nunavik, spelled ᓄᓇᕕᒃ in Inuktitut, means "place to live." It covers over 171,000 square miles (larger than the state of California) with a population of just 11,600 people, 90 percent of whom are Inuit. There are no road links to Nunavik. There is, however, a year-round air link to all fourteen villages in the region that receive seasonal supply shipments in summer and fall.
Historically Canada census shows that several of these villages were first established as trading posts by the Hudson's Bay Company. Locals settled around the forts/camps and when the post closed, the villagers remained.
Aside from hunting, trapping, and fishing, there are vast mineral resources. The Quebec Inuit will not own the subsurface mineral rights, but mining companies would be required to pay millions of dollars in royalties to the Nunavik government for projects in the region.
Despite a rich tradition of spoken stories in the Nunavik culture, trying to find those stories in print is a challenge. The government website below is a starting point. Amazon and Google have not yet caught up with search phrases that link to useful content. If anyone has knowledge in this area, BookBuffet would love your feedback.
Government Resource Inuit Literature Search
An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English
The Flight of the Goose
(Far East Press 2005) by Lesley Thomas. "Lesley Thomas applies her extensive knowledge of the culture, use of language, Shamanism and way of life of the Inupiat people. The ecological destruction wrought by hunting and mining in the Alaskan system is a focal point. The spiritual enlightenment and how two people from different cultures find love brings balance to the story. Enriched with quotes from Shamans and poets, Flight of the Goose
is a story that will enlighten you to way-up North Country."
The Mi'kmaq Anthology The Mi'kmaq people's villages and summer camps extend from Northern Ontario through Quebec. (Joseph Boyden has Mi'kmaq heritage and returns each summer to the shores of Hudson Bay.)
The Magazine for Inuit People: Inuktitut