Nunavik Inuit to renew self-determination talks with Ottawa, Quebec

“Our new approach aims to be fully transparent and inclusive of all organizations in Nunavik.”

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Mary Simon, second from right, is pictured in 2019 with Makivik’s Nunavik Inuit Constitutional Task Force. Makivik announced this week that Simon has returned to her role as senior negotiator after departing in 2020. (Makivik Corp. via Nunatsiaq News)

Makivik Corp., which represents Inuit in the province of Quebec, says its leadership will resume negotiations over a self-determination agreement for Nunavik.

Newly elected president Pita Aatami is picking up a project first launched by his predecessor Charlie Watt in 2018 to establish a form of Indigenous government in the region based on Inuit values, culture and language.

Under Watt, Makivik Corp. signed an agreement with the federal government in 2019 that serves as a framework for negotiations towards an Inuit self-government for the region.

“Our new approach aims to be fully transparent and inclusive of all organizations in Nunavik,” said Makivik president Pita Aatami in a Thursday news release.

“We will continue our negotiations with Canada, and we will also start talks with Quebec.”

Aatami has already been in regular communication with Ian Lafrenière, Quebec’s minister of Indigenous affairs.

Aatami also announced this week Mary Simon will return as Makivik’s senior negotiator, a role she was first appointed to in 2018 but left in 2020.

Simon herself once served as Makivik president, as well as president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

She will now work closely with a new Inuit advisory committee made up of Adamie Qalingu, Jobie Epoo, Nancy Etok, Olivia Ikey-Duncan, Sheila Ningiuruvik and Peter Ittukalaq.

“I’m excited to be part of the renewed process to achieve self-determination for Inuit in Nunavik,” Simon said in the release.

Lisa Koperqualuk, who took on the role of Makivik’s negotiator in 2020, will stay on now as deputy negotiator, Makivik said.

Koperqualuk will chair Makivik’s self-determination committee, which is made up of representatives from Nunavik’s major regional organizations: Kativik Regional Government, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec, Nunavik Landholding Corporations Association, Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik, Qarjuit Youth Council and the Avataq Cultural Institute.

The federal government is currently working with Indigenous groups at 80 Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussion tables across the country, with a goal “to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination,” according to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.