Project 10

The Role of Inuit Land Claim Organizations in the Northern Social Economy

Research Team

 Thierry Rodon, Department of Science politique, Université Laval,  Québec, QC
Harry Tulugak, Inuit Co-negotiator for the creation of the Nunavik Government, Puvirnituq, QC

For further information about this project contact Thierry Rodon (email: 


Land Claim Organizations (LCOs) are powerful players in northern politics, and social and economic development but their role has not been well conceptualized or studied even if these organizations involve a wide range of activities: defending the rights of beneficiaries; managing land claim compensation funds and land holdings; negotiating resource development on these lands and collecting royalties on resource development.  This gives them an important financial leverage that is used for a variety of purposes. 

This research intends to analyze the role of two LCOs, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and Makivik Corporation in the development of the northern social economy in the Inuit region. This study will first describe briefly the state of social economy in each of these regions and examine the policies and investment strategies of these two organizations and develop indicators to measure their effect on the social economy in each of these regions. The most successful experiences in developing the Northern social economy will also be identified.

Land Claim Organizations (LCO) are omnipresent in the North and their role in the social economy and even more generally in the Northern economy has not been studied so far even if some LCOs have over 30 years of existence. In fact, the LCOs are going to benefit greatly from the mining development occurring everywhere in the Arctic and of the possible revival of gas exploitation in the Arctic. This research would provide LCOs with tools to develop policies aimed at developing a stronger Northern social economy.

In this research, we intend to analyze the role of two Inuit land claims organizations in the development of the northern social economy in the Inuit region.   However, it has to be understood that social economy in the north has its specificities with the existence of an hunting and gathering economy but also in some regions with the emergence of a strong cooperative sector. 

The research will follow a multiple case study design that will allow a comparison of the strategies and the role in the social economy of two Inuit land claim organizations: Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and Makivik Corporation.  This study will first describe briefly the state of social economy in Nunavut and Nunavik (drawing if possible from the information gathered by SERNNoCA project 1), examine the policies and investment strategies of these two organizations and develop a set of indicators to assess their role in the development of the social economy in each of these regions (using the work done by Saku, J. C. (1999). "The socio-economic impact of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement" Études Inuit Studies 22(2): 196-198)..  The most interesting experiences in developing the Northern social economy will also be identified in order to have some specific case studies.

In order to determine the policies and investment strategies used by the LCOs, we will collect and analyze the annual reports and official documents of these organizations and compare their strategy.  However, to provide some insight in the strategies we will conduct interviews with officials of the selected LCOs.   We will also conduct interviews with the social economy organizations in Nunavik and Nunavut (Fédération des cooperatives du Nouveau-Québec in Montreal and Puvirnituq; Nunavut Departement of Economic Development and Transportation in Iqaluit; Baffin Region cooperatives in Nunavut in Iqaluit and Pangnirtung; Hunters and trappers organizations in Kuujjuaq, Puvirnituq, Iqaluit and Pangnirtung).

The research will be conducted according to the following timetable

  • Summer 2008: Literature review on Land Claims organization, financial data analysis and preparation of interviews framework
  • Fall 2008: Interviews with Nunavik organizations representatives and contact with the Nunavut organizations and the Nunavut research Institute in order to obtain a research license for the Spring of 2009.
  • Winter 2009: Analysis of the Nunavik data and preparation of the Nunavut interviews
  • Spring 2009: Interviews with Nunavut organizations representatives
  • Summer 2009: Analysis of the Nunavut data and redaction of paper(s) that will be submitted to peer reviewed journal
  • Fall 2009: Final report

Update - Progress Report

Networking activities

The principal investigator traveled to Iqaluit in October 2008 in order to present the project to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) and Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA).  Both organizations agreed to support the project. The project was also presented to the SERNNoCa steering committee in Ottawa on November 28, 2008. The principal investigator traveled to Kuujjuaq in January 2009 and met with Makivik representative to discuss the research project.  Makivik agreed to provide financial data concerning its activities.

Ethical review and research license

The project was submitted in November 2008 for ethical review to the Comité d'éthique de la recherche avec des êtres humains de l'Université Laval (CERUL) and approved in December 2008. It was then translated in Inuktitut and was submitted in March 2009 to the Nunavut Research Institute (NRI). A research license was issued by NRI on April 16, 2009.

Research Activities

Two research assistants have been hired to work on this project: Alexandre Morin Chassé, a MA student in Political Science has conducted a review and an analysis of the Inuit organisations press releases and of the articles and papers concerning the northern social econony in Nunavut and Nunavik. He has also computed a statistical analysis on Makivik financial data. This work was completed during the Fall of 2008.  Based on this research, an inteview schedule was then prepared. Lisa Koperqualuk, a MA students in Anthropology has conducted interviews with various Inuit representatives of committees or organizations in Puvirnituq between March 21 and March 24.

Interviews were conducted in Inuktitut, each lasting about an hour (one interview was done in English). Individuals from the following organizations were interviewed :

  • Hunter, Trappers and Fishermen's Association of Nunavik, Anguvigaq.
  • Municipal Council of Puvirnituq
  • Nunavik Negotiator
  • Member of the Cooperative's committee
  • Member of the Church committee and the Education committee.
  • Nunalituqait Ikajuqatigiittut

The concept of social economy was explained before proceeding with the interview, as well as the consent form, before it was signed by the interviewee.  Each of the interviews were held in quiet places, either at the home of the person or at an office the interviewer was allowed to borrow at the Municipal Council. The interviews went very well and the interviewees articulated their views through the questions asked .

Future research activities

Lise Koperqualuk will travel to Kuujjuaq in the summer of 2009 in order to conduct more interviews in Nunavik. The principal investigator will travel with an Inuit research assistant, to Iqaluit and Pangnirtung in order to collect data on Inuit Land Claims Organizations and to conduct interviews with Nunavummiut.  The trip should take place in August 2009.

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