2023 Annual General Assembly Wrap-Up Report
The NunatuKavut Community Council’s (NCC) 2023 Annual General Assembly (AGA) was held in Port Hope Simpson and Mary’s Harbour on January 27-28, 2023. This was the final gathering of an extensive AGA process that included meetings in communities throughout NunatuKavut.
Hundreds of NunatuKavut Inuit and supporters attended and participated in the AGA process, with over 250 at the closing assembly both in-person and virtually. There was also great participation from our youth!
The Inuttitut word for “to gather” is KatingaKatigek and is a beautiful word to describe the weekend assembly.
PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT
President Todd Russell presented an annual report on NCC’s successes and challenges over the past year.
“It has again been an incredible year for NCC, our people and our communities. As we reflect on the last 12 months, we are reminded of how much we have accomplished together,” said President Russell.
He outlined the significant progress that was made on files and issues of importance to the Inuit of NunatuKavut. More information on these files and other work that NCC Council and staff are involved in can be found in the 2022 Annual Report posted on our website at www.nunatukavut.ca.
President Russell also announced an exciting new program called the “Dog Team Driver Grant Program.” Dog teams are still an integral part of life in NunatuKavut. They helped families travel (“shift”) to their seasonal homes and hunters and trappers provide for their families. They allowed people to travel throughout our homeland and connected with one another. Today, there are a number of NunatuKavut Inuit in our communities who own dog teams. Understanding the cost of carrying on this important tradition, NCC is rolling out the Dog Team Driver Grant Program to help subsidize the costs. Read more about this program on our website.
Chief Governance Officer Amy Hudson presented and facilitated two engagement sessions at the AGA. The first was centred around NunatuKavut Inuit feedback and views on the Government of Canada’s action plan to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNRIP) Act. This is an important opportunity for NCC, representing NunatuKavut Inuit, to share perspectives and priority positions on inherent rights, rights recognition, and self-determination and self-government. The second session provided introductory information and engaged discussion around the planned development of a membership or citizenship code for NunatuKavut Inuit, grounded in Inuit values, connections to place and notions of kinship, family and community, among others.
From the lively discussions, it was clear that NunatuKavut Inuit are at a place where they are ready to revitalize traditional legal systems in efforts to further self-government and self-determination in NunatuKavut. This includes the management of our own resources and the development and enforcement of our own laws. The conversations at the AGA further demonstrated a readiness and preparedness to negotiate with Canada on the establishment of our own agreements around the priorities identified by our people, like health and education. NCC looks forward to advancing this very exciting work!
Nunacor CEO Andy Turnbull presented an update on Nunacor’s operations over the past year. From an economic vantage point, Nunacor has had a relatively successful year across all its lines of businesses. Part of the update included details on their plans to open a new restaurant in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in June of 2023. Named Mamattuk, the restaurant will be extremely dynamic in its offerings, serving guests as a restaurant, coffee bar and lounge throughout the day, celebrating Labrador with elevated comfort food featuring local ingredients.
NunatuKavut Youth Community Engagement Project (NYCEP) coordinators Wanda Lee Mesher and Marissa Burden premiered a new video that was taken during an event called the Celebrating the NunatuKavut Inuit Cod Fishery. It highlighted a wonderful event that our Environment and Natural Resources Department held in Pinsent’s Arm last fall. Watch it here.
NYCEP is a project where youth learn a variety of multi-media skills to help tell stories about community life and Inuit culture, traditions and history through photography, videography and journalism.
AGA participants had the opportunity to take part in cultural workshops as well. Those in-person could attend one of seven workshops: dog team rides and storytelling; learn to drum; learn to speak Inuttitut; rabbit snaring and cleaning with the Junior Canadian Rangers; gardening; sock darning; and a mental health break with a boil-up, sponsored by NCC’s Mental Wellness Initiative Team. Those joining the AGA virtually had the choice of attending a session on caribou, an Inuttitut session or a mental health break with Garreth Kippenhuck from Inclusive Health and Fitness and NCC’s Mental Wellness Initiative Team. Participants thoroughly enjoyed these workshops and all were very well attended.
CLOSING COMMUNITY SUPPER
NCC’s own company, NDC Fisheries (operated by Nunacor), sponsored a beautiful closing supper held at the Recreation Centre in Mary’s Harbour. Nakummek to Roxanne Notley for emceeing this event.
Nakummesuak, which means “thank you very much” or “a big acknowledgement,” is a prestigious award created by NCC. It is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding support for NunatuKavut Inuit and communities and have given unselfishly of their time and energy to make a difference.
The following well-deserving recipients were presented with a 2022 Nakummesuak Award:
Judy Pardy, Cartwright, for her tremendous volunteer work in her community, for advancing the priorities and needs in her community and working toward positive change. Judy is a huge support for seniors, youth, women, residential school survivors, and Inuit and all those she feels need support. Judy has an unconditional love for her family, friends and her community. She is full of knowledge and is firm in her faith – a hard working woman and a leader among her peers with a strong voice… who doesn’t mind using it!
Marilyn Bridle, Red Bay, is a proud member of NunatuKavut. She is a great crafter. She has contributed to keeping the traditional ‘Dickie’ coat alive. She has made many and gifted many. Marilyn, along with her husband, have been foster parents to many children from Labrador, up and down the coast for decades. In so doing, the foster children are able to stay in Labrador, close to their home and connected to their culture. Marilyn is an entrepreneur, and she has promoted her culture and her area through the Whalers Restaurant and Craft store to countless tours, visitors and friends. Her delicious traditional food brings many people back every year.
Jeanette Russell, Mary’s Harbour, for her efforts to raise awareness and improve search and rescue in Labrador. Since the tragic loss of her son Marc Russell and crewmate Joey Jenkins in September 2021, Jeanette has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and effort to address the very serious inadequacies and deficiencies of search and rescue services in Labrador. There is no doubt that her work has and will lead to increased safety for many generations of fishers and for safer travel around and between communities in NunatuKavut and in Labrador.
We also had a special performance by the Sandwich Bay Residential School Drummers, youth from Cartwright and Labrador West and Sherry Penney with the Labrador West Indigenous Service Centre. It was a powerful performance that shared the story of the impact of residential schools on NunatuKavut Inuit and how Inuit women are creating pathways to healing and reconciliation through their resilience and determination. Watch their performance here.
The Sandwich Bay Residential School Drummers also presented NCC with a beautiful painted drum (handcrafted and painted by Todd Davis) to hang in our office. This was in appreciation of all that NCC does for the community of Cartwright and the drumming group.
NCC Service Awards
NCC employees Donna Carroll (Environment and Natural Resources dept), Deborah Newman (Employment and Skills Development dept) and Sonya Blake (Office of the CEO) were recognized for their 10 years of service. President Russell, Darlene Wall (Health and Community Services dept) and Melita Paul (Research, Education and Culture dept) were recognized for 20 years and Pauline Elson (Finance and Administration dept) received her 30-year service award. Pauline is NCC’s longest serving employee. A huge congratulations to all and we thank you for your dedication to NCC!
President Russell made a special $10,000 donation on behalf of NCC to the Harbourview Manor in Mary’s Harbour. As a not-for-profit personal care home, they do an incredible job of taking care of their senior residents, many of whom are NCC members.
Again this year, NCC received significant support from a number of companies and organizations, contributing to the overall success of the AGA. Here is a list of our very generous sponsors in each of our sponsorship levels:
- NDC Fisheries
- Burchell Wickwire Bryson
- Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company
- Rio Tinto IOC
- NL Hydro
- Battle Harbour Historic Trust
- Grant Thornton
- Tacora Resources
- PAL Airlines
- RBC Royal Bank
- Search Minerals
- Trades NL
- HR Project Partners
Snowshoe (up to $1,000)
- Penney’s Pitstop
- Labrador Campus of Memorial University
- Timeless North
- LeGrow’s Travel
NCC organized a number of fundraisers at the AGA and raised nearly $18,000! This money has been set aside for our medical transportation program and to assist NunatuKavut individuals or families with urgent medical needs. Our sincere thanks to those who contributed in any way – from helping to sell tickets to buying them!
Thanks to contributions from sponsors, participants walked away with amazing prizes like airline tickets, a $500 cash prize, a handmade komatik and a trip for two to Battle Harbour.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Elmer St. Pierre also made a significant donation to our fundraising efforts with a personal $1,000 donation from the St. Pierre family. We are very appreciative of his thoughtful and generous donation.
Together, NCC has accomplished great things over this past year and, while we have so much to look forward to, we know that challenges remain.
We thank you, our members, for your steadfast support. Our work is guided by a strong and determined Governing Council, who work collaboratively to ensure that NCC continues to meet the priorities of NunatuKavut Inuit and our communities.
We are grateful for our dedicated and professional staff. They work hard each day to help us fulfil our vision of being self-governing, of providing and caring for one another, our families and our communities while nurturing our deep relationship with our lands, ice and waters.