Inuit

In Québec, almost the entire Inuit Nation of over 13,000 people live in 14 villages in Nunavik, north of the 55th parallel. Inuktitut is the mother tongue spoken by the majority while English is the second language for most.

During the 1950s, the Inuit changed very quickly from a semi-nomadic to a sedentary people and had to adapt to centuries of technological advances over a few short decades. This drastically changed their way of life. Today, the Inuit are eager to retain their values, language and culture.

The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA), signed in 1975 by the Inuit, the Crees and the Québec and Canadian governments, recognized the rights and territorial interests of Inuits and Crees under various agreements. It granted the Inuit exclusive rights and interests in 8,417 km2 of land and hunting, fishing and trapping rights on a surface area of approximately 82,000 km2. It also stipulated various obligations on the part of the government with regard to health and social services, education and public safety, primarily through associated public funding and certain compensation arrangements. The JBNQA has transformed Inuit communities since it brought about the creation of several institutions and administrative organizations, such as the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik School Board, and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, and many businesses that have contributed to the population’s economic vitality.

For more than 30 years, the implementation of the JBNQA has led to stronger ties between northern public bodies and Québec government departments with respect to policy development, increased funding and adaptation of the legislative framework. For example, Québec and the Inuit signed the Partnership Agreement on Economic and Community Development In Nunavik (Sanarrutik Agreement) in 2002. In 2004, the Gouvernement du Québec and the Kativik Regional Government signed the Agreement Concerning Block Funding for the Kativik Regional Government (Sivunirmut Agreement), which allowed for much of the funding from several departments and agencies to be consolidated in a single resource envelope.

Starting in the 1980s, the Inuit made the Gouvernement du Québec aware of their aspiration to have their own government institution. Following the creation of the Nunavik Commission in the late 1990s, Québec, the Inuit and the federal government signed, in 2003, a framework agreement regarding the negotiations required in order for a regional government to be formed. In 2007, the three parties signed an Agreement-in-Principle that established the framework and the process under which the future regional government of Nunavik could be created. On April 27, 2011, Nunavik held a referendum on the establishment of a regional government. The proposal was rejected.

In 2014, the Inuit Nation presented the Parnasimautik Consultation Report. This report is the outcome of the most comprehensive consultation process involving the Inuit population. It presented several recommendations regarding Inuit living conditions, the preservation and practice of Inuit language and culture, economic, community and social development, access to essential services and self-government in particular.

In 2016, the Gouvernement du Québec renewed the mandate of the Table Québec-Nunavik, an important discussion forum for the provincial government and the Inuit Nation.

Last update: September 20, 2022

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