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Monday, June 27, 2005

Inuit Land Claims Agreement Achieves Royal Assent

Late last week a Labrador Inuit Land Claims agreement between the Inuit people, the Canadian Government and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador was given royal assent by Gov. General Adrienne Clarkson. The bill, which will allow the Inuit people to have some control of their own future, is a long overdue step in our provincial and national history.

This agreement which will see the formation of Canada’s newest territory, Nunatsiavut , Inuit for “our beautiful land”. The agreement has been many years in the making. William Anderson, president of the Labrador Inuit Assoc. has been there from the beginning of negotiations in 1996 and was in Ottawa for its passage in the House, the Senate and at Rideau Hall for the historic signing.

The agreement provides the Inuit with full ownership of nearly 16,000 square kilometers of land and co-management status, along with the Provincial Government, of a further 58,000. As a part of the agreement, the federal government will transfer $140 million to the Inuit Association to help finance the creation of this new level of government.

The Inuit must now focus on the road ahead, one of true self government. The agreement allows the Inuit to develop their own laws, government and social systems as well as manage their own tax and revenue regimes, contingent on all activities remaining within the parameters of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It will no doubt be a long hard road, but one which the Inuit hope will lead to a renewed sense of pride and responsibility the likes of which has not been seen in the big land since Europeans claimed it as their own.

After centuries of abuse and mismanagement these people are finally being given a hard fought opportunity to stand on their own feet and make their own decisions. It may not be a perfect solution but it is one that may be workable.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Inuit people all the best in their home land and to congratulate them all, especially William Anderson and others like him, who worked so tirelessly for the better part of two decades in order to make this dream a reality.

4 comments:

namut said...

I would like to thank you for your post on the Inuit Land Claim Agreement, as a resident of Northern Labrador it's very encouraging to read positive coverage of the area.

But the post is a little puzzling vis a vis William Andersen lll [spelling] and later Wally Andersen lll. If these are supposed to be one and the same, then your information is some what misleading. William Andersen lll has not been directly involved with negotiations for the whole negotiation period, your post seems imply this. There was another president in place for most of the 1996 to present time frame. WA lll spent most of that time living outside the land claims area with neither an elected or employee roll within LIA. He did have a small advisor roll towards the end of the land claim process, and was re elected president in the last LIA elections.
I hold no brief with any of the past or present LIA leadership, or it's negotiators. All played major rolls in this historic agreement, but it would be nice to get the facts straight some what.

Personally I think it's the Inuit of Labrador who should receive most of the kudos in being so patient and supportive of a leadership that has been mediocre at best over all these years. Colonialism has dealt a bad hand to them, and things have not improved greatly under a some what disconnected local leadership. The Land Claims process took precedence over day to day issues that have had a devastating effect on Inuit, especially the youth.

As you mention, it will be a hard road ahead, I just hope that the power pods with government aspirations can put there parochial agendas aside and work to making life a little easier for the less fortunate of the Inuit communities.

Patriot said...

Namut,

I appreciate your comments and I have corrected the issue with Willim and Wally. Sorry about that.

As to William being involved from the beginning, this information came from Mr. Anderson himself in an discussion on VOCM Nightline. Whether or not he led the Association for that entire time, I can only assume that he was providing accurate information on the topic of his involvement.

Regardless of any descrepancies, I just wanted to let the Inuit people of the big land know that there are many in the province who are overjoyed with this agreement.

Thanks again for your comments.

Peter said...

Thanks for publishing this. Its nice to see some representation of Labrador issues.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Great piece, Thanks Patriot.

Here are the web sites for our 4 four native communities.

http://www.innu.ca/
http://www.nunatsiavut.com/
http://www.fni.nf.ca/
http://www.labmetis.org/