Nunatsiavut is an area claimed by the Inuit in Canada (not to be confused with the territory Nunavut). The claim extends from Labrador to Quebec. In the year 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The constitution was ratified on 1 December 2005, at which time the Labrador Inuit Association ceased to exist, and the new Government of Nunatsiavut began operations, initially being responsible for health, education and cultural affairs. It is also responsible for establishing and holding elections, the first of which will be scheduled to conclude before the end of 2006.
In Inuktitut, Nunatsiavut means "Our Beautiful Land." This name was ratified by the Labrador Inuit Constitution, passed by the Labrador Inuit Association in 2002. One of the main objectives of autonomy is for the preservation of the Inuit culture and language, as well as the environment through environmental stewardship.
On January 22, 2005, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut signed an agreement with the federal and provincial government covering of land, including the entire northern salient of Labrador north of Nain as well as a portion of the Atlantic coast south of there. The agreement also includes 44,030 square kilometres of sea rights. Although the Inuit will not own the whole area, they will enjoy special rights related to traditional land use, and they will own designated Labrador Inuit Lands. The agreement also establishes the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in the northern area of the land claim.
The package also includes $130 million in compensation for the forced relocation of the Inuit in the 1950s; provincial royalties for resources; land, mineral, and marine rights; and $120 million to establish self-government.
The land claims agreement provides for the establishment of a Nunatsiavut Government to represent not only the residents (Inuit and non-Inuit) of the land claims area, but also Labrador Inuit living throughout Canada. Although Nunatsiavut will remain part of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Nunatsiavut government will have authority over health, education, and justice in the land claim area. Nunatsiavut operates under a consensus form of parliamentary government.
According to the agreement, the government of Nunatsiavut will be based in Hopedale and Nain. It will consist of a President elected by the people of Nunatsiavut for one four-year term, an Executive Council, and an Assembly.
The Nunatsiavut Assembly, acting as the area's parliament, will consist of no fewer than 16 members representing seven constituencies: the land claims areas of Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Rigolet, and Postville, plus the Inuit of the Upper Lake Melville area and Labrador Inuit in the rest of Canada.
From the Assembly, a member will be elected to act as First Minister. The Assembly would act as a forum for discussion of laws, and it will oversee the Executive Council.
The Nunatsiavut Executive Council will be appointed by the First Minister. It will implement laws, develop and implement policy, initiate and prepare legislation, oversee the administration of the government, and be accountable to the Assembly.
Inuit Community Governments will be established in Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet. Each will consist of a municipal council, elected from and by both Inuit and non-Inuit residents, and will be led by an AngajukKâk, a chief executive officer and mayor, who must be Inuk.
Large settlements of Labrador Inuit outside the settlement area will be represented by Inuit Community Corporations.
The AngajukKâk of each Inuit Community Government and the chairperson of each Inuit Community Corporation will represent his or her community in the Nunatsiavut Assembly.
Elections were held in 2006. Currently, William Andersen III is President and Tony Andersen is First Minister.
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