NunatuKavut Community Council disgusted and appalled at continued attempts by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to erase the Inuit of NunatuKavut and deny access to critical federal supports
HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR, November 6, 2023 – NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) President Todd Russell issued the following statement in response to an open letter released today by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed:
“This latest correspondence from Natan Obed is defamatory and once again filled with outrageous claims, outright lies and falsehoods. First and foremost, ITK has no right to determine NunatuKavut Inuit identity. That right belongs to NunatuKavut Inuit and NunatuKavut Inuit alone. When it comes to federal recognition, the federal government has recognized our people as Indigenous and, as Minister Gary Anandasangaree said in a recent news article, ‘Indigenous rights isn’t motivated by politics, but law and history.’ It has been on the grounds of law and history that we have had our rights and recognition affirmed time and time again.
NCC represents approximately 6,000 NunatuKavut Inuit from south and central Labrador who are living proof that we exist. We are Inuit and remain connected to the land, waters, and ice of our ancestors. We continue to practice our traditions. We hunt, harvest, trap, and fish in the same places as those who came before us. We are rightful beneficiaries of the British-Inuit Treaty of 1765, entered into in our territory. This recognized and affirmed our presence and connection to these places. We have also been recognized by many levels of government, industry, the United Nations and through the Courts.
It is obvious that Natan Obed is profoundly ignorant. Despite our numerous offers to meet and to have dialogue to share our history, culture and governance, he has not responded or made time for conversation and learning. Yet he continues to expend time and effort spreading harmful misinformation.
Obed’s comments about “misappropriation of resources” very clearly demonstrates the motivations behind ITK’s allegations about us – money. They have manufactured a fear that they will lose something as we progress. This could not be further from the truth and there is not one shred of evidence to suggest otherwise. We challenge ITK to produce anything that supports their lies and inuendo.
The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to all Indigenous peoples in this country, which includes the Inuit of NunatuKavut. It is shameful that ITK continues to use the state of colonial Indigenous politics around identity to further its own agenda. This reprehensible rhetoric from ITK does nothing to achieve what is utmost important, advancing the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
It is appalling that groups like ITK and their affiliates have continued to try to erase our people and deny us our rights. They know better. While there is a national conversation about individuals who fraudulently claim Indigenous identity, this is not a circumstance that applies to NunatuKavut Inuit. We are an Inuit collective who have a long and unbroken connection to the land, ice and waters of our territory. Our genealogy and ancestry are well documented.
NCC wants to assure our people, especially our youth and elders, that while the lies and innuendo being spread about us are hurtful and disheartening, it does not change who we are as Inuit or where we come from. NCC will press on to ensure the recognition and affirmation of our Inuit rights. We will continue to strengthen our Inuit governance. We are committed to the revitalization of our culture and language. And we will build up our families and unify our communities. That is who we are as a rights-bearing people and as an Inuit governing body.”
To read previous statements on this matter, please check out the News & Media section of our website at https://nunatukavut.ca/news-media/latest-news/
To learn more about NCC and NunatuKavut Inuit, please visit our website at www.nunatukavut.ca and we invite you to check out our new Story Map page which helps tell our story. Please also join in the conversation at facebook.com/nunatukavut and Twitter @nunatukavut.
NCC Media Contact:
Chief Communications Officer