Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 1st Vice President James Eetoolook, today called upon the Government of Canada to recognize the central place of Inuit in Canada’s Arctic.
“Inuit are the Original Peoples of the Arctic. If we were not living here, there would be no Canadian flag flying over the Arctic today,” Eetoolook said. “Inuit are what brought people from southern Canada up here in the first place,” he added.
“Traders, RCMP, teachers, government officials – they came up here because we were here. In practical terms, that is how Canada established its presence in the Arctic.”
He added that the current emphasis on military presence overlooks the historical reality, but the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement recognizes “the contributions of Inuit to Canada’s history, identity and sovereignty in the Arctic.”
Eetoolook emphasized that this is why implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is so important for both Inuit and Canada. ”
It makes us both partners for the future,” he said. “But often we feel like the forgotten partner, or even the invisible partner.”
Eetoolook said that the federal government needs to build an economically strong north, with prosperous communities. Currently Inuit face health, educational and social conditions that are generally disadvantaged compared to the Canadian average. ”
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement must be fully implemented in order to bring the changes we need to our communities,” Eetoolook concluded.
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