Message from President Todd Russell
Ullukut. Good day.
I write to you, our people, on behalf of the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) and our Governing Council. It has truly been an honour to represent each of you over the past year and to stand strong with you on our journey to self-determination.
Some of you may have seen a recent Facebook post from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) that makes a reference to false claims to Inuit identity. Given the recent efforts of ITK and the Nunatsiavut Government to diminish and minimize our rights, we can only infer that this is directed toward NCC and our people. Any efforts to further displace us from our lands and disconnect us from our culture is a form of lateral violence and one of the greatest colonial threats of our time. Let me be very clear. Our resolve toward self-determination remains unshaken. Our way of life, values and traditional knowledge sustain us and keep us connected to our culture and rights as a people.
As an Inuk leader who was raised on the lands of my ancestors and who remains very connected to my traditional places, I am so proud of the determination and commitment of NunatuKavut Inuit despite the irresponsible and unethical actions of other Indigenous leaders.
We have always been self-governing and together we continue to exercise these rights. We live on the lands that were defended and protected by our ancestors over centuries. We travel the routes, on the ice and the sea, that our ancestors travelled. NCC has been working tirelessly over many decades to ensure that rights of NunatuKavut Inuit are respected in relationships with all levels of government. We have developed and sustained important relationships, partnerships and agreements with industry, academia and beyond. These are just some of the actions of a people who are committed to self-determination and continue to exercise our rights to self-governance.
As you may know, NCC applied to the Supreme Court of Canada as an Inuit governing body to participate as an intervenor in an appeal involving Federal Bill C-92, An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis Children Youth and Families. Upholding that legislation is vital to ensuring the well-being of NunatuKavut Inuit children, families, and communities so they do not continue to fall through the cracks. On October 7, NCC was granted standing to participate in that appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada. And just last week, NCC presented during the two-day appeal hearing and emphasized the need for self-government recognition for NCC in caring for the needs of our children and families.
Our presentation to the Supreme Court also highlighted the British-Inuit Treaty of 1765, which recognized that our Inuit ancestors were permanent and rightful owners of the lands and waters in NunatuKavut, the same territory we occupy today. Our ancestors offered no extinguishment of land or resources but, rather, made a commitment to co‐exist in peace and friendship with British outsiders.
Like many other Indigenous Nations, we are reclaiming our Inuttitut language, lifting up our own stories and working to ensure that modern education systems reflect our history and culture accurately. I thank our elders, youth and others who have so graciously shared their stories and are helping pass on our rich culture and traditions. And I especially commend groups like the Sandwich Bay Residential School Drummers, who are continuing their journey of healing and are telling their stories through drum dancing.
I want to assure you that NCC will press on to ensure the recognition and affirmation of our Inuit rights. We will continue to strengthen our governance. And we will lift up our families and unite our communities. We are moving forward on a path that builds up, not tears down. One that affirms and does not diminish. That is who we are as a rights-bearing people and as an Inuit governing body.
This Christmas season, I hope that you and your families will be able to embrace peace, love, and happiness. Be safe and, as our ancestors taught us, care for one another.
Kuvianak Inovia – Merry Christmas
President Todd Russell