Ottawa, in August, initialed an agreement that would allow the
Inuit of Labrador governance over a territory almost
half the size of New Brunswick, to be called,
Nunatsiavut, which means 'Our beautiful land' in
The agreement, 26 years in the making, calls for a one-time,
$140-million payment to the Inuit. That's in addition to
$115 million for annual funding for education, health
and social programs.
The Inuit will own almost 6,000 square miles of land and will
have limited resource and management rights over 28.800
square miles in Labrador, but Nunatsiavut will not be a
reserve, which means the Inuit will have to pay federal
and provincial taxes.
The 5,300-member Labrador Inuit Association, the last Inuit
group in Canada to negotiate a land claims settlement,
will spend several months selling the agreement to its
membership. A ratification vote on the agreement is
expected next spring. With an agreement-in-principle
initialed last week, the Labrador Inuit Association is
looking toward ratifying the agreement.
Labrador Inuit will begin to inform the public about the land
claim, and are being trained right now to explain the
agreement to the 5,500 Labrador Inuit.
Theyíre hoping to see a final agreement done in the next 13
In August, community of Kangirsuk the the east side of Ungava
Bay remembered Martha Kauki, her husband Joanassie Epoo
and two of their children, Victoria and Jacob - all four
now presumed dead after the Canadian coast guard
recovered Kaukiís body and the familyís overturned canoe
Friends, family and acquaintances travelled from across
Nunavik and southern Canada to attend the ceremony - so
many people that local officials moved the service from
Kangirsukís Anglican Church to the local school to
accommodate them all.
Kauki, a revered interpreter and Makivik Corp. board member,
her husband and their two teenage children were last
seen near Aupaluk Aug. 15. They were on their way back
to Kangirsuk after attending a wedding in Kuujjuaq.
When their canoe never arrived home, a week-long search and
rescue ended after an Air Inuit plane discovered the
familyís overturned canoe and Kaukiís body about 10
miles off the northern tip of Labrador. The other bodies
were not recovered. The area experienced high winds,
rain and fog for much of later August.
Quebecís new premier, Jean Charest, officially announced the
creation of Pingualuit Park on Aug. 28 during a ceremony
in Makivik Corp.ís head office in Kuujjuaq. Pingualuit
Crater, aka Chubb Crater, is the centerpiece of the new
park. The crater is a perfectly circular lake that was
formed by a meteorite more than 1.3 million years ago.
It is more than two miles wide and 800 feet deep, and is
renown for the purity of its water.
The agreement between Nunavik and Quebec promised a budget
of $5.7 million for start-up and $3.9 million for
operating costs over the next five years. It was also
the culmination of more than 30 years of anticipation
for Nunavik, which has been pressing for regional park
development since the James Bay and Northern Quebec
Agreement was signed in 1975.
The new park, which is expected to be operational by the end
of this year, will be run by Inuit through the Kativik
Regional Government. This means local Inuit will keep
all traditional harvesting rights within the park.
Charest said he hopes the new park will serve as a model for
the development of other parks in the region. Four other
park projects are currently under study in Nunavik and
he believes the creation of more parks could encourage
eco- and adventure tourism in Arctic Quebec.
canoe party of eight young women travelling by canoe who were
rescued not once but twice in one day last week on the
dangerous shoes of western Hudson Bay.
First, the canoeists, from a YMCA-affiliated camp on
Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan, had to be rescued from a
polar bear. Then they needed yet another rescue after
they were stranded offshore by tides not far from Arviat,
their final destination.
Last Thursday, the group set up camp at the mouth of the
south fork of the McConnell River, 30 miles south of
Police said that at 2:30 a.m. a polar bear entered the camp,
tore down a tent and then broke into the food supply.
The eight canoeists stayed in one tent while the polar
bear circled around. They had a shotgun with them, but
didnít want to shoot the bear in the dark. It turned out
the shotgun was rusty, and its owners low on experience.
The scared women tried to fire emergency flares at the bear,
with little effect. So they called the Arviat RCMP
detachment via satellite phone, asking for help. At the
time, they believed they were five miles south of Arviat.
When rescuers werenít able to locate the camp three miles
south of Arviat, they contacted the women via satellite
phone and learned that they did not have a Global
Positioning System device with them and did not know
their exact position.
The officers continued to search and finally located the camp
30 miles south of Arviat after both parties had lit
flares. When rescuers arrived on the scene, the polar
bear, a young seven-foot-tall male, was sitting on one
of the tents. They managed to scare the bear away using
30 mm rubber bullets and Thunderflashes - a kind of
pyrotechnic or firework.
The group left to continue the journey to Arviat via canoe,
but found the headwinds and tidal waters on Hudson Bay
too difficult to navigate, and again, called for help.
Arviatís search and rescue teams brought the tired canoeists
back to Arviat overland on ATVs.
The previous week, a group of male canoeists from the same
camp had also abandoned their canoes due to the
tides.RCMP officers say most non-residents canít imagine
the enormous tidal action in the lower Hudson Bay and
are unprepared for it. Before the tide goes out,
sometimes to a distance of three km, canoeists must head
to shore and stay there or risk being caught in the
As for the bears, police say the canoeists should have
carried wildlife scare cartridges that produce a noise
when shot over the head of a polar bear. Maps are also
of little value in the flat landscape of Arviat,
compared with GPS devices.
They werenít affected the August outage, which threw Ontario
and much of the eastern U.S. into the dark. But the
blackout lent a new urgency to hydroelectric
developments in northern Quebec - projects that directly
Last August, Quebec released a document setting how
environmental impact statements for the Eastmain-Rupert
hydroelectric project should be conducted.
The 70-page package of directives left out any reference to
Sanikiluaq and Nunavut, or to Inuit, although this
project will alter the flow of rivers that empty into
James Bay and Hudson Bay.
The $3.8-billion project, part of the controversial James Bay
power development plan, would generate 1,200 megawatts
of electricity when it is completed in 10 years.
As Quebec gears up to fast-track hydroelectric development,
this means the Government of Nunavut will look at how it
plans to honor its recent commitment to protect James
Bay and Hudson Bay.
Shortly after Cree and Inuit signed deals with Quebec in the
spring of 2002 that would pave the way for new
hydroelectric projects, Sanikiluaq, fearing the effects
of more hydroelectric development nearby, asked for the
An agreement created a Nunavut-Hudson Bay working group. The
GN has already given the group $55,000.
The need to update aging electric infrastructure and meet
increasing demands for power means new hydro-projects
affecting James Bay and Hudson Bay are more likely now
then they were 10 years ago.
But time is short. Quebecís desire to speed up new projects
means that the environmental impact statements on the
Eastmain-Rupert project will be handed over next spring,
followed by public consultations later in 2004. A final
go-ahead order for the projectís start could be issued
early in 2005.
When its two proponents, the Societe d'Energie de la Baie-James
and Hydro-Quebec, complete their environmental impact
studies, these will be submitted to a provincial
evaluation committee (COMEX), which has three
representatives from Quebec and two from the Cree
Regional Authority. COMEX will then hold a round of
public consultations with a federal review panel.
This federal body will then carry out its own environmental
analysis of the project, and make its recommendations to
the provincial administrator of the James Bay land claim
agreement - which happens to be the Quebec environment
The GN can make sure a member of this committee is appointed
from Nunavut to represent the interests of Nunavut,
Inuit, and the people of Sanikiluaq.