The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) is the representative governing body for approximately 6,000 Inuit of south and central Labrador. NunatuKavut means “Our Ancient Land” and refers to our territory.
NCC was officially formed as a society in 1981 and incorporated under provincial law in 1985. NCC exists to promote and ensure the basic human rights of its members as NunatuKavut Inuit, and the collective recognition of these rights by all levels of government.
NCC is an affiliate of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a national Indigenous representative body.
Our people lived in Labrador long before Europeans set foot on North American soil. As it was in times of old, and still today, we are deeply connected to the land, sea and ice that make up NunatuKavut, our home.
For hundreds of years, we controlled the coast of Labrador. The rugged coastlines and the interior waterways were home to our families who lived off the land and sea. We had our own way of making decisions, we respected all things around us and we thrived. It was our way.
Over time, there were temporary visits by fishermen and explorers, people who wanted our resources: the fish, seal, whale and fur-bearing animals. Strife and warfare marked our early encounters and many of our people lost their lives, as did the Europeans. In 1765, a treaty called the British-Inuit Treaty of 1765 was reached to end the hostilities. Some European men from the Old World chose to remain on our lands and survived in our territory because of the knowledge and skills of the Inuit of NunatuKavut.
As time went on, there was intermarriage and our way of life began to change dramatically. Like all Indigenous peoples in Canada, we too, suffered the effects of colonialism. Outsiders pillaged our resources, brought their own form of government, denied our language and many of our people experienced resettlement and residential schools.
And yet, we survived. We built our communities. And still hold fast to our traditional territory. For centuries, our way of life has sustained us and our sense of identity has made us stronger. We have brought back the Kullik (a traditional seal oil lamp) and our drum. We celebrate our dog sledding tradition and we feel proud. Our traditions resonate with the ways of our Elders.
We are 6,000 strong. We know who we are and what we’ve accomplished. Our Inuit rights are protected and enshrined in the Constitution of Canada. All of us must respect and honour these rights.
WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE. THIS IS OUR HOME.
Our Traditional Territory
Our traditional territory map reflects a broad representation of past and continuing traditional use based upon generations of Inuit oral history and extensive research. It shows NunatuKavut Inuit travel routes, as well as hunting, trapping and harvesting areas, over hundreds and hundreds of years. It also depicts a marine area in which our people travelled, fished, sealed and engaged in traditional activities. This type of map looks very similar to traditional territory maps of other Indigenous peoples, both in Labrador and throughout Canada. NCC first produced a map, similar to the version below, in 1995 and it has been in circulation since that time.
It is well documented that Indigenous peoples have historically occupied and had a close relationship with the lands and waters of what is now known as Labrador, unrestrained by modern political and geographic boundaries. There were areas of exclusive and shared use among Indigenous groups, which is common throughout Canada.
The NunatuKavut flag design reflects our Inuit history, culture and way of life. Its symbolism honours the historic and present role of women as culture carriers in our homes and communities.
The large image is that of an ulu, a traditional Inuit women’s knife. It was used for multiple purposes like skinning and cleaning animals, cutting food or trimming blocks of snow and ice to build an igloo. It is still used today.
Depicted on the lower blade of the ulu is a Kullik, a traditional seal oil lamp. Traditionally, it was used as a means of lighting and heating our homes and cooking and feeding our families. Today, we light the Kullik for ceremonial purposes to honor and respect our Inuit grandmothers and all our ancestors. The flame of the Kullik is bright, signifying that our culture is still very much alive and our future is filled hope and optimism.
The carving on the handle of the ulu is that of a dog team carrying a seal, which once played a critical role in the lives of NunatuKavut Inuit. Dog teams are still prominent in many communities throughout NunatuKavut today. The husky continues to hold a special place in the heart and stories of many of our people. The seal is also so important to our people. Its meat gave us nourishment and its skin was stretched and used to keep us warm, provide clothing and used for traces for our dog teams. Today, it is still significantly used by our crafters.
Since time immemorial, our identity has been shaped by our relationship with all that surrounds us. The blue, white and green colours in the flag represent that which makes up our home territory: the land, inland waters, the sea and sky and the ice and snow.
This flag was inspired by a design submitted by NunatuKavut artist Barry Pardy of Cartwright.