MINISTER BENOIT PELLETIER VISITS NUNAVIK WHERE PITA AATAMI EXTENDS WARM WELCOME
Kuujjuaq, Thursday January 27, 2005 – President Pita Aatami welcomes Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and of Native Affairs Benoit Pelletier on the occasion of his second visit to Nunavik to meet with Inuit leaders from Makivvik and the Kativik Regional Government in Kuujjuaq January 27 and 28. Minister Pelletier and a delegation from the Secretariat aux affaires autochtone are to convene to discuss matters of concern in Nunavik, and to cement Complementary Agreement No. 18 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
Complementary Agreement No.18 is an amendment to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) regarding eligibility of Inuit beneficiaries. This agreement provides for a new Nunavik Enrolment Office and Inuit Beneficiaries Register to be based in Kuujjuaq. Previously, there was no such office in Nunavik, and the registry was maintained in the Secretary General´s office outside of Nunavik. Each Inuit community will also create a “Community Enrolment Committee”, which will receive applications for beneficiaries.
Complementary Agreement No. 18 brings eligibility criteria and the definition of who is an Inuk into the hands Inuit, as they have been asking for the past ten years when Makivvik created a special committee to consult the Inuit on eligibility criteria. Pita Aatami states, “The missing link on eligibility criteria is now being put in place through this agreement, that is, the Inuit communities will now have direct say, because we as Inuit are the best placed to decide who can be defined as an Inuk and eligible as a beneficiary of the JBNQA.”
Various matters such as the economic development of the region, municipal infrastructure and the more recent Federal Northern Strategy were to be discussed among the Inuit leaders during the two day visit of Minister Pelletier.
Makivvik, established in 1978, represents the political, social, and economic rights of the Nunavik Inuit. Makivvik’s activities include treaty negotiations, environmental impact evaluations, compensation accord negotiation, social and environmental research, renewable resource development, and various local and regional economic activities. Approximately 10,000 people live in Nunavik, 9045 of who are Inuit beneficiaries of the JBNQA. Unlike other First Nations, the Nunavik Inuit are taxpayers in their own right, paying both federal and provincial taxes on all the products and services they purchase.
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