Inuit group, federal government endorse new policy to guide Inuit-Crown relations

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OTTAWA — Federal cabinet ministers and Inuit leaders have endorsed what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau describes as a potentially transformative policy for people in the North.

After an Inuit-Crown partnership committee meeting in the national capital Thursday, Trudeau announced the Inuit Nunangat policy has been endorsed.

It recognizes Inuit Nunangat, an area that compromises much of the North, as a distinct geographical, cultural and political region.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, noted at a Thursday evening news conference that Inuit are not part of the Indian Act and have a distinct relationship with the Crown, making a policy like this important to respect Inuit self-determination.

Trudeau said in earlier remarks the document also provides a blueprint for ensuring that the needs and perspectives of Inuit are reflected in all federal policies, programs, services and initiatives that apply in the area, or that they would benefit Inuit.

He pointed to the modernization of Norad and upgrading the string of satellites in the North as an areas where the government can work with Inuit and provide new economic opportunities.

Inuit leaders have done most of the heavy lifting on the policy, Trudeau said during his opening remarks at the start of the Inuit-Crown partnership committee meeting.

He said the policy is a long overdue, but positive step on the road of reconciliation and in recognizing Inuit self-determination.

"If it is endorsed today, as I'm sure it will be endorsed today, this policy will have a transformative effect not just on our partnership, but also on those in the Inuit homeland," Trudeau said.

Also in opening remarks at the meeting, Obed thanked the government for working constructively with Inuit on the new policy.

"We have over the course of the past year had to struggle with the pandemic, also a number of other challenges to undertake our regular work of this particular group, but we've persevered," said Obed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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