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OUR HISTORY, OUR CULTURE
The history of Nunavik dates back thousands of years and has been passed down from generation to generation of Inuit people.
Archeologists believe that groups of Palaeo-Eskimo, Dorset Eskimo, Thule and Inuit peoples progressively spread across Nunavik over the last 4,500 years. The Thule, who are the direct ancestors of the Inuit, arrived in the area around the year 1000 C.E. Effective survival techniques allowed them to thrive in the harsh Arctic climate. With a primarily nomadic lifestyle, the Thule lived along the coast and relied on hunting—and ingenuity—for their subsistence.
Similarly, the Inuit way of life is also closely linked to the natural environment and its resources. Keenly aware of how fragile the northern ecosystem is, the Inuit have always been avid environmental stewards.
Contact between the Inuit and European settlers began in the mid-19th century, though many Inuit continued to live as their ancestors did well into the 20th century. Missionaries and fur traders were the first southerners to venture into the North, bringing with them different values, new customs and excellent tools for hunting, fishing and trapping.
It was only when government was introduced to the North that irreversible change occurred. The Inuit gave up their nomadic lifestyle for good and established community settlements.
The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, signed in 1975, is widely recognized as the first modern-day land claim treaty in Canada, establishing Inuit ownership of land in Quebec’s Arctic as well as other rights. The Agreement protects traditional rights of Nunavik’s Inuit people and lays the groundwork for respectful relations between the Inuit and the governments of Quebec and Canada. The Agreement covers a wide range of topics, including hunting, fishing, trapping, education, health, economic development and public administration.