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Dear Chief and Council,
This week I was in New Brunswick to celebrate two settled claims and an exciting Memorandum of Understanding on education with the province and 15 First Nations. I will write you with all the details on that shortly, but today I am writing you about a significant event that took place on Friday, March 28, in Kuujjuaq, QC.I had the honour of joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon for a ceremony and celebration of the Royal Assent to the Nunavik Inuit Lands Claims Agreement.
It was obviously a very happy occasion for the people of Nunavik, who have been pushing for this land claim for over 30 years. Transferring title to 5,100 square kilometres in fee simple would be a big deal any time, but the fact that this was the last of the Inuit land claims made this an important symbolic moment as well.
After the ceremony we spent a little time with former NHL’er Joe Juneau. Mr. Juneau retired from the big leagues in 2004 and has been working with young people ever since. He is encouraging them to stay in school, excel in hockey, and generally being a positive role model for the youth of Kuujjuaq. It reminds me of another former NHL’er Reggie Leach, who won an Aboriginal Achievement award last month for his work with youth.
Overall, the Land Claim Agreement, coupled with the AIP on self-government that our government signed in December with Quebec and Nunavik, is setting the stage for some exciting opportunities for the Nunnuvumiat.
The ceremony included a presentation of very special gifts, and Prime Minister Harper gave Pita Aatami (President of Makivik Corporation) the Canadian flag that was flying over the Peace Tower on the day the Agreement received Assent, February 14, 2008. It was a great moment for Nunavik and a great moment for Canada.
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians
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