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Photo Inuit quarters aboard the  CD Howe

The Early Stages of the Nunavut Land Claims

John Amagoalik

I was sitting near the front of the plane and the mechanic was sitting just a couple of rows ahead of me, so I said to him, “Is there something wrong? What’s wrong?” He turned around and his face was white and he said, “We are going to crash! We are running out of fuel!” That was our first warning. The engine was just wind-milling. Everybody panicked. We did not know what to do for a while, and of course when the mechanic said, “We are going to crash!” we all assumed, “We are going to die!”
In Chapter Six, John tells about the first Nunavut-wide conference on land claims that he attended to get a grasp on the main issues. He explains why, at the time, they had to claim their land in the first place and, second, how they felt no great attachment for Canada. He brings up the themes that the Canadian Government and the Inuit wanted to include in the land claims agreement at the start of the negotiations as well as the positions and reactions of both parties. In fact, the position of the Inuit negotiators was far broader than that of the federal negotiators; they wished to change the situation and improve the services that the Government of Canada provided their people by creating various institutions within Nunavut.

John also speaks about the first proposal of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada—its content and its weaknesses. He talks about the importance of the work in the field and communities and of the consultations with them that led to working out another proposal. He conjures up the context of the first negotiating sessions and explains the reasons the negotiations went on for so long. Then, he tells about a tragic plane accident in which he nearly died coming back from the conference in Pond Inlet.