Canada's new government introduces the Nunavik Inuit Land claims agreement act



    OTTAWA, March 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and
Non-Status Indians today tabled the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act in
the House of Commons.
    Passage of this Act would bring into effect the agreement signed on
December 1, 2006 by the Makivik Corporation, the Government of Nunavut and
Canada's New Government.
    "The enactment of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act will settle
a longstanding claim and will create significant economic opportunity for the
people of Nunavik," said Minister Prentice. "There will be clarity and
certainty over rights to ownership and the use of lands and resources that
will foster a stable environment for future development and investment in the
area."
    "The fact that Nunavik Inuit ownership of 80% of the islands will now be
officially recognized makes us extremely satisfied," said Pita Aatami,
President of Makivik Corporation. The corporation represents approximately
10,000 Inuit who reside in 15 communities along the coast of Ungava Bay and
the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. "In our minds we had never given up these
islands to anyone, we have been sheltered in them and they have been sources
of our food and will continue to be so."
    The agreement settles unresolved issues stemming from the James Bay and
Northern Quebec Agreement, to which the Inuit of Nunavik are signatories. It
covers the Nunavut offshore region adjacent to Quebec including the islands
and waters along the shores of James Bay, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava
Bay, as well as a portion of northern Labrador and an offshore area adjacent
to Labrador.
    Upon Royal Assent, the Nunavik Inuit would own and have both surface and
sub-surface rights over about 80 per cent of the total area of the islands in
the Nunavik Marine Region, an area of approximately 5,100 square kilometres.
In addition, approximately 400 square kilometres in Hudson Bay will be jointly
owned with the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. The Nunavik Inuit have already
independently negotiated three successful overlap agreements with their
neighbours -- the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, the Labrador Inuit and the Nunavut
Inuit -- providing clarity and certainty among the neighbouring aboriginal
groups on such issues as harvesting rights and land use issues.
    A separate agreement is currently being negotiated by the Nunavik Inuit,
Canada's New Government and the Government of Québec to address issues of
governance in the region.
    The financial component of the agreement includes a capital transfer of
about $54.8 million over nine years, $40.1 million to implement the agreement
over 10 years, an additional $38.7 million which will include costs such as
financial compensation for the resolution of Nunavik Inuit claims in Labrador,
and the Parks Impact and Benefits Agreement for the Torngat Mountains National
Park Reserve, as well as a share of resource royalties in the Nunavik Marine
Region.
    In addition, passage of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act would
give national park status to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve of
Canada, creating a new national park of approximately 9,700 square kilometres
of the Arctic wilderness in Labrador.
    "Today's news is exciting," said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of
the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada. "The creation of
Torngat Mountains National Park of Canada will contribute to the protection of
this spectacular natural area for all Canadians."
    In October 2006, 78 per cent of eligible voters supported the agreement
when a ratification vote was held in the15 Nunavik Inuit communities.
    Passage of the legislation by Parliament is the final stage of
ratification and will bring the agreement into force and effect.




For further information:

For further information: please contact: Deirdra McCracken, Press
Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; Eric Richer,
Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable John Baird, (819) 997-1441; Indian
and Northern Affairs Canada, Media Relations, (819) 953-1160

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