Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Nunavut land claims agreement. And while there were no official celebrations, Inuit leaders did pause to reflect on the progress made since 1993 -and on the challenges that lie ahead.
Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie says the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement makes it possible for Inuit to control their own destiny.
She acknowledged the hard work and sacrifices of those Inuit leaders whose vision and sense of justice made the agreement possible.
She says Inuit are reaping the benefits -there are more Inuit employed today than in 1993, more in school, more running their own businesses. But Towtongie says much work lies ahead.
“The hopes and dreams that led to the successful negotiation of our land claim must still drive us on to more successes,” she says. “There is a long way yet to go, to see this claim fully implemented, with progress achieved on all fronts.”
Paul Quassa was the first president of Nunavut Tunngavik following the signing of the land-claims agreement.
He thinks much progress has been made in the last decade, but says the leaders of today need to be vigilant.
“The main part of this whole agreement is identifying Inuit rights, and we certainly would want to see all those rights being respected within the territory and in Canada,” Quassa says. “I think that is the big challenge.”
July 9th will mark the 10th anniversary of the agreement coming into force.
And April 1st of next year will mark the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Nunavut Territory.