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Sun Oct 24, 2021, 02:20 PM

'We know who we are': Inuit row raises questions over identity and ancestry

For centuries, Inuit in Canada have thrived in the sprawling territory known as Inuit Nunangat – the homeland – which stretches from a thin sliver of land in the Yukon territory to northern Labrador, a vast domain more than 3.3m sq km (1.2m sq miles) in size.

“Inuit have long understood where our communities are, who belongs to our communities, and have fought over the last 50 years to create modern treaties that identify these specific homelands,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a group that represents the four main Inuit regions.

But a new group, whose members trace their lineage to Inuit who lived in Labrador and intermarried with colonial settlers, have complicated that narrative.

Two years ago, the NunatuKavut community council signed a memorandum of understanding with Canada’s federal government that established their Inuit identity, effectively laying the groundwork for myriad benefits and paving the way for future negotiations over land claims. Controversially, their claimed territory lies outside the borders of Inuit Nunangat.

Canada’s largest Inuit organization has rejected the claims as “fraudulent” and in a recent letter called on the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to halt all negotiations with the group. The escalating row has raised thorny questions over identity, ancestry – and who speaks for Indigenous peoples.

Not dissimilar to things going on in the US

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