Nunavut Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement Signing - Premier's Speech

We did it! We’re ready.

Inuktitut: We did it! We’re ready.

Our land, our resources, in the hands of our people.

Inuktitut: Our land, our resources, in the hands of our people.

Namminiqsurniq, devolution, is one more step in the realization of the vision of a self-reliant Nunavut. This is the next big chapter in the story of our territory.

We did it!

Firstly, I want to acknowledge: Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, President Aluki Kotierk, Minister of Norther Affairs, Dan Vandal, as well as all the other former premiers and commissioners of Nunavut and dignitaries joining us for this historic moment.

Inuktitut: A warm welcome to the signatories of the Nunavut Agreement, the NTI Board, and members of the legislative assembly of Nunavut.

Together we are making history.

Inuktitut: Guided by the principle of Piliriqatigiinniq/Ikajuqtigiinniq.

Working together for a common cause – is the Inuit societal value that led us here.

I stand here as the sixth premier of Nunavut – Following on the footsteps of my colleagues who have all played a part in realizing this agreement.

We, as premiers made it to this day because of the hard work and vision of our former leaders and those who founded our territory – but today’s signing is not about the past it’s about the future.

Inuktitut: Today is about the future.

Namminiqsurniq is about Nunavummiut making decisions about our land and waters.

Namminiqsurniq, devolution, is about Nunavummiut making decisions about our land and waters. It means that we, the people most invested in our homeland, will be the ones managing our natural resources.

Nunavut is a land of abundance – our waters are teeming with sea mammals and fish that can support sustainable fisheries. Our land is rich with precious metals, minerals, and rare earth that can secure economic opportunities for our future.

Our water, wind and summer sun can be harnessed to supply green energy to foster new industries. Our shores encompass Canada’s most expansive coastline connecting our country to the circumpolar world and beyond.

However, our most precious resources are our people – particularly our youth.

Today’s signing is for the young man in Mittimatalik, Pond Inlet, who has been working with a team of scientists to monitor sea ice conditions in his community. Blending traditional knowledge passed down from Elders with new scientific know-how.

It’s for the young woman in Cambridge Bay pursuing studies in law so she can better serve our territory with her knowledge of governance and legislation.

And for the young biologist completing a PhD in marine mammals so she can better advise our communities on wildlife-life management.

Today’s signing is for all the young Nunavummiut across our territory dreaming of a better future, imagining what others think is impossible, working hard to achieve what hasn’t yet been tried.

I know what it’s like to be from a small community.

As a young boy growing up in Ausuittuq, Grise Fiord, I felt disconnected from the rest of Canada.

The outside world seemed remote.

Not much came in or out of our small runway tucked at the foot of glacial mountains.

Supplies arrived by ship, of course, but just once a year, and the ships could never dock on our shores because of the lack of ports.

Today, I have a new perspective on Grise Fiord.

Inuktitut: I see my community differently now.

Standing on top of the hill, by Looty Pijamini’s statue of the mother and child, a monument that stands as a reminder of our history of relocation and resilience as Inuit, I see Grise Fiord, Canada’s most northern community, as a testament to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

My home community, inhabited by Inuit who opted through the Nunavut Agreement to be Canadians, stands proudly on guard.

Grise Fiord overlooks the entirety of our country, with Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands across one ocean, and Alaska, Siberia, and Northern Russia across another.

In a rapidly warming Arctic, where Arctic security is once again on the line, Grise Fiord and all the communities of the Canadian High Arctic have a strategic view on a region that is central to the world.

Our people made many sacrifices in the name of Canadian sovereignty.

In the past, too many decisions about us, were made without us.

With the signing of this agreement, we can now bring decision making home.

We are ready.

Being innovative and resourceful is one of our founding societal values.

Inuktitut: Qanuqtuurniq – our Elders have shown us the way.

If we had backed down from a challenge, we would not be here today.

The road ahead will be difficult. We will face obstacles – but our vision for the future is clear.

A Nunavut with opportunities for young people.

Safe, secure housing to raise a family-in.

Strong, resilient communities, anchored by prosperous economies.

I want to end by once again by speaking to young Nunavummiut: whether you’re in Kimmirut, Gjoa Haven, or Whale Cove, you have a future.

Inuktitut: You have a future.

It’s our time. Our territory, our decision, our future.

It’s our time. Our territory, our decisions, our future.

It’s our time. Our territory, our decisions, our future.

I would like to welcome Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated President Aluki Kotierk to the stage.