On March 3rd, representatives from Nunavik met with Québec Government officials in Kuujjuaq to discuss the province's ambitious northern development plan, the Plan Nord. On hand for the province were Nathalie Normandeau, Québec's Deputy Premier, Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord, Mr. Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Mr. Pierre Corbeil, Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Nord-du-Québec regions.
Among the topics covered at the Kuujjuaq meeting, government officials notably announced the creation of a Québec-Nunavik discussion table made up of representatives of the Kativik Regional Government, Makivik Corporation and the Québec Government. The discussion table's mandate will be to reflect on and implement solutions to several issues facing the Inuit Nation, therefore improving the daily lives of Nunavik residents.
Quebec's Plan Nord, which is to be officially launched in the next few weeks, is a major sustainable development project in the fields of energy, mining, forestry, biofoods, tourism, transportation and wildlife development, with an emphasis on environmental protection and the preservation of biodiversity. Its sponsors have expressed that it is to be the fruit of combined efforts of task forces from various sectors, the Partners' Discussion Table and the Aboriginal Partners' Discussion Table.
Commenting on the Plan Nord, Minister Normandeau explained that "[…] the Plan Nord is a priority for our government. What makes this collective project so unique is the process we have chosen. We want to point out in particular the participation of four Aboriginal nations, including the Inuit nation. Together, we are working to define the development priorities for Northern Québec for the next 25 years. It's an inspiring challenge!"
Emphasizing the key role First Nations play in the development of the province's vast northern territories, Minister Corbeil added "From the very beginning, we have worked with all of the communities directly affected by the Plan Nord. Today it is important to remember that the development of Northern Québec will proceed with these communities, for them and for all Quebecers, with full respect for their culture and their identity,"
More information on the Plan Nord can be found here.