Labrador's Inuit sign land claims agreement

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Nunatsiavut means "Our Beautiful Land" in the Inuktitut language of the Inuit people of Labrador, and the name of their new land as part of a land claims agreement signed on Saturday by the Labrador Inuit Association and representatives of both the Canadian federal and Labrador provincial governments.

The flag of Nunatsiavut
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The land agreement, thirty years in the negotiating, covers 72,520 square kilometers of northern Labrador, as well as special rights over 48,690 sqare kilometers of coastal waters. The Inuit will become owners of 15,800 sqare kilometers of the land, and will co-manage the balance. Under the agreement the Government of Canada will transfer $140 million to the Labrador Inuit, as well as $156 million for implementation.

The agreement also came with an apology for a forced relocation program half a century ago. The apology was delivered by the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams.

Despite being delayed a day due to heavy snowstorms, the signing ceremony in Nain was attended by federal Indian Affairs Minister Andy Scott Williams and other dignitaries.

The land claims agreement must still be approved by the Canadian House of Commons, but has already passed through the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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