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Not to be confused with Nunavut.
Not to be confused with Nunavik, a region in northern Quebec.
Autonomous area
The sunset in Maaquvik, Labrador
The sunset in Maaquvik, Labrador
Flag of Nunatsiavut
Country Canada
Province Newfoundland and Labrador
Created 23 June 2005
Capital Hopedale (legislative)
Nain (administrative)
 • Type Consensus government within the parliamentary system of Canada
 • President Sarah Leo (since 2012)
 • Resource rights 72,520 km2 (28,000 sq mi)
 • Officially 15,800 km2 (6,100 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Resource rights 2,160
 • Density 0.03/km2 (0.08/sq mi)
Time zone AST (UTC-04)
Postal code prefix A0P
ISO 3166 code NL
Federal riding Labrador (electoral district)
Provincial riding Torngat Mountains (electoral district)

Nunatsiavut /nˈnɑːtsiəvᵿt/ is an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The settlement area includes territory in Labrador extending to the Quebec border. In 2002, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a proposal for limited autonomy to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The constitution was ratified on 1 December 2005, at which time the Labrador Inuit Association ceased to exist, and the new Government of Nunatsiavut was established, initially being responsible for health, education and cultural affairs. It is also responsible for setting and conducting elections, the first of which was executed in October 2006. An election for the Ordinary Members of the Nunatsiavut Assembly was held on 4 May 2010.[1] The Nunatsiavut Assembly was dissolved on 6 April in preparation for the election.[2] Its incumbent president is Sarah Leo, who replaced James Lyall in 2012.

In Inuttut, Nunatsiavut means "Our Beautiful Land". This name was ratified by the Labrador Inuit Constitution and passed by the Labrador Inuit Association in 2002. A primary objective of autonomy is for the preservation of the Inuit culture and language, as well as the environment through environmental stewardship.


The Labrador Inuit Association had filed a land claim for portions of Labradorian land in 1977.[3] In 1988, the Labrador Inuit Association, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the government of Canada began negotiations based on the land claim.[4] An agreement-in-principle was achieved in 2001, and on 26 May 2004, the agreement was ratified by over 75% of eligible voters subject to the land claim.[4]

On 22 January 2005, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut signed the Labrador Inuit Lands Claims Agreement[5] with the federal and provincial governments covering 72,520 square kilometres (28,000 sq mi) of land,[3] including the entire northern salient of Labrador north of Nain as well as a portion of the Atlantic coast south of there. The agreement also includes 44,030 square kilometres of sea rights.[3] Although the Inuit will not own the whole area, they were granted special rights related to traditional land use, and they will own 15,800 square kilometres (6,100 sq mi) designated Labrador Inuit Lands.[3] The agreement also establishes the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in the northern area of the land claim.

The Labrador Inuit Lands Claims Agreement is a treaty between the Inuit of Labrador, the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the federal government of Canada, that is constitutionally protected under the aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada granted by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.[5]

The self-governance agreement included a transfer of $130 million from the federal Government of Canada in compensation for the forced relocation of the Inuit in the 1950s; $120 million to establish self-government; royalty payments from the provincial government for resource extraction; and land, mineral, and marine rights.[6] Unspecified benefits for Inuit in Labrador not within the settlement area were also part of the agreement.[3]

The agreement was ratified by the Labrador Inuit, the Legislative Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Parliament of Canada, where it received Royal Assent on 23 June 2005.[7]

On 1 December 2005, the constitution was formally adopted, and a swearing-in ceremony was held for the first cabinet,[8] an interim government which consisted of members of the Labrador Inuit Association board of directors.[8] This day marked the official transfer of power from the provincial government to the newly formed Government of Nunatsiavut "to make their own laws relating to cultural affairs, education and health".[9]

In October 2006, Nunatsiavut held its first election to form a nine-member government, which was sworn in on 16 October in Hopedale.[10]

Nunatsiavut Assembly and Executive Council[edit]

The land claim agreement provided for the establishment of the Government of Nunatsiavut to represent the residents of the land claim area and any Labrador Inuit living elsewhere in Canada. Nunatsiavut remained a part of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the Government of Nunatsiavut acquired the jurisdictional authority over health, education, and justice in the land claim area. Nunatsiavut operates under a consensus government within the parliamentary system of Canada.

The legislature of the government is based in Hopedale, and its administrative centre is in Nain. It is subject to the Nunatsiavut Elections Act. The Nunatsiavut Assembly consists of a minimum 16 members, including:

  • a president, who chairs the Nunatsiavut Executive Council,[11]
  • ten ordinary members[11] (one each from Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet;[12] two each from Nain, the Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Northwest River and Mud Lake area, and all Inuit elsewhere in Canada)
  • the AngajukKâk of each of the five Inuit Community Governments (one each in Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet)
  • the Chairs of the Inuit Community Corporations.[11]

There are currently two Inuit Community Corporations, NunaKatiget Inuit Community Corporation and Sivunivut Inuit Community Corporation,[13] and 18 members in the Assembly.

From the Assembly, a member will be elected to act as First Minister. The Assembly would act as a forum for discussion of laws, and it will oversee the Executive Council.

The Nunatsiavut Executive Council will be appointed by the First Minister. It will implement laws, develop and implement policy, initiate and prepare legislation, oversee the administration of the government, and be accountable to the Assembly.

Inuit Community Governments were established in Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet. Each consists of a municipal council, elected from and by both Inuit and non-Inuit residents, and is led by an AngajukKâk, a chief executive officer and mayor, who must be Inuk.

Large settlements of Labrador Inuit outside the settlement area will be represented by Inuit Community Corporations.

The AngajukKâk of each Inuit Community Government and the chairperson of each Inuit Community Corporation will represent his or her community in the Nunatsiavut Assembly.

Current Members[edit]

Executive Council

  • Sarah Leo - President of Nunatsiavut Executive Council or Head of Government and Nunatsiavut Secretariat (AngajukKânga Nunatsiavut)
  • Kate Mitchell - First Minister of Nunatsiavut Government and Minister responsible for Nunatsiavut Affairs (Ordinary Member of Makkovik)
  • Daniel G. Pottle - Minister of Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology (Ordinary Member for Canadian Constituency)
  • Patricia Kemuksigak - Minister of Education and Economic Development (Kiggatuttik Upper Lake Melvillemi)
  • Richard Pamak - Minister of Culture Recreation and Tourism (Ordinary Member of Nain)
  • Greg Flowers - Minister of Health & Social Development (Ordinary Member of Hopedale)
  • Darryl Shiwak - Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (Ordinary Member of Rigolet)


  • Sean Lyall - Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly (Ordinary Member of Nain)

Non-Cabinet Members

  • Patricia Ford - Ordinary Member for Canadian Constituency and Deputy Speaker
  • Roy Blake - Ordinary Member for Upper Lake Melville
  • Tyler Edmunds - Ordinary Member for Postville
  • Trudy Mesher-Barkman - Chairperson, Sivunivut Inuit Community Corporation
  • Gary Mitchell - Chairperson NunaKatiget Community Corporation
  • Diane Gear - AngajukKâk for Postville (Inuit Community Government)
  • Herb Jacque - AngajukKâk for Makkovik (Inuit Community Government)
  • Jack Shiwak - AngajukKâk for Rigolet (Inuit Community Government)
  • Joe Dicker - AngajukKâk for Nain (Inuit Community Government)
  • Jim Tuttauk - AngajukKâk for Hopedale (Inuit Community Government)

Former Members[edit]

  • Jim Lyall - first President of Executive Council 2008-2012


There are seven departments headed by 6 ministers with Nunatsiavut Secretariat headed by the President of the Executive Council.[14]

  • Department of Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology
  • Department of Education and Economic Development
  • Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism
  • Department of Health & Social Development
  • Department of Lands and Natural Resources
  • Department of Nunatsiavut Affairs
  • Nunatsiavut Secretariat

Government Buildings[edit]

While each community has government facilities, there are two key sites:

Nunatsiavut Government Head Office is located at 25 Ikajuktauvik Road in Nain, NL houses the administrative functions of the Government of Nunatsivut.

The Nunatsiavut Legislative Assembly sits at Nunatsiavut Assembly Building in Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador. The building opened in 2012 facing Hopedale Harbour[15] and is the first permanent home since 2008 (previous assemblies met at various locations in Hopedale).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nunatsiavut General Election". Government of Nunatsiavut. Retrieved 2010-04-22. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Nunatsiavut Assembly to be dissolved April 6" (Press release). Government of Nunatsiavut. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Labrador's Inuit cheer land agreement". CBC News. 23 January 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  4. ^ a b "Nunatsiavut: Our beautiful land". CBC News Online. 2 July 2004. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  5. ^ a b "Land Claims". Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  6. ^ "Labrador Inuit to sign self-government deal". CBC News. 21 January 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Labrador Inuit land claim passes last hurdle". CBC News. 24 June 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  8. ^ a b "Labrador's 5,000 Inuit take charge of 'our beautiful land'". CBC News. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  9. ^ "Inuit celebrate self-government turnover". CBC News. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  10. ^ "Labrador Inuit vote for inaugural self-government". CBC News. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  11. ^ a b c "Assembly Structure". Nunatsiavut Assembly. Government of Nunatsiavut. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  12. ^ "Welcome to Rigolet". Town of Rigolet. Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  13. ^ "Inuit Community Governance". Government of Nunatsiavut. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  14. ^
  15. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 59°39′36″N 64°16′25″W / 59.6600°N 64.2737°W / 59.6600; -64.2737