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The construction of Nunavut : the impact of the Nunavut Project on Inuit identity, governance, and society



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This thesis examines the impact of the 'Nunavut Project' on Inuit identity, governance, and society. This is illustrated through three manuscripts, where I demonstrate the effects that the establishment of Nunavut has had on the Inuit of the Canadian Central and Eastern Arctic. The first manuscript (Chapter 2) presents a critical literature review of scholarly works on Nunavut. It also proposes a theoretical model based on boundaries and symbols to help comprehend the impact of Nunavut on the changing Inuit collective identity. The model shows that political elites and leaders in Nunavut are promoting the idea of a civic/regional form of collective identity for the Inuit pulling them away from a more cultural/traditional form of sub-regional groups of collective identities. The establishment of Nunavut also has had an effect on Inuit governance through the creation of the government of Nunavut and through the establishment of the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization representing the interests of the Inuit beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and managing the implementation of the Agreement. In my second manuscript (Chapter 3), I examine the mode of operation and the activities of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. I demonstrate that the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is based on a Euro-Canadian corporate model foreign to a traditional Inuit model of governance. Today, the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is the most important political player in Nunavut. The government of Nunavut regularly consults with the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. before taking any decision that may impact the Inuit beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The 'Nunavut Project' seems to not only have changed the Inuit modes of identity and governance; it has also had some effects on Inuit socio-economic conditions in the Canadian Central and Eastern Arctic. My third manuscript (Chapter 4) recounts the events that led to the creation of Nunavut (1999); but more importantly it argues that although Nunavut has reinforced the sense of pride and collective regional identity of Inuit, Nunavut's political institutions have not helped to improve the socio-economic conditions that plague Inuit society. I note, however, that Nunavut has provided Inuit with all the necessary jurisdictional powers to help improve their socio-economic conditions. I remain optimistic that in time, with additional financial contribution from the Canadian government, the Nunavut experiment may prove to be a success in alleviating some of the Inuit socio-economic challenges. Results from this thesis have demonstrated that the 'Nunavut Project' has had an impact on Inuit identity, governance, and society.



social housing, education, regional identity, Inuit, new regional geography, Nunavut, Inuit harvesting activities, Inuit language



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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