28 March 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, accompanied by Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Chuck Strahl and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, today joined with the Nunavimmiut of Northern Quebec to celebrate the enactment of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act, which received Royal Assent on February 14, 2008. The Act gives effect to the Nunavut Inuit Land Claims Agreement, which resolves the last major Inuit land claim in Canada.
"It took 30 years to bring it to fruition, but this historic milestone hails the dawn of a new era for the Nunavimmiut," said Prime Minister Harper. "By resolving the issues of land and resource ownership and usage rights, the agreement creates a stable environment for investment and development that will mean new jobs and business opportunities for people throughout this region."
The land claims agreement enables greater local control over economic and social development by providing:
Clearly defined and constitutionally protected land and resource ownership rights within the Nunavik Marine Region.
Joint ownership with the Cree over 400 square kilometres of land on Hudson Bay.
Formal creation of Torngat Mountains National Park and harvesting rights for the Nunavimmiut within the Park.
"The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement is a big step forward for social and economic development in this region. But still ahead is the final step in this process, regional self-government for Nunavik," said Prime Minister Harper. In December, the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and the Makivik Corporation of Nunavik signed an agreement-in-principle on self-government. A final agreement is expected to be reached as early as 2009.
While in Kuujjuaq, the Prime Minister also met with former Canadian Olympian and National Hockey League star Joé Juneau. After retiring from professional hockey in 2004, Juneau moved to Kuujjuaq to operate a hockey program that encourages Inuit youth to stay in school. "I commend Joé Juneau for his work with Inuit youth," Prime Minister Harper said. "His personal record of athletic and academic achievement is an inspiration to young Canadians everywhere."
As well, the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon inaugurated the new terminal at the Kuujjuaq airport.
"The Kuujjuaq airport will obviously play an important role in developing the vast potential of this region," said the Prime Minister. "The ability to move goods and people in and out of Nunavik efficiently is essential to regional economic growth and prosperity, and the new terminal is a vital part of Nunavik’s transportation infrastructure."