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On Friday February 13, 2009 the Aaqitauvik Healing Centre was officially opened in Quaqtaq. Armbruster (2009b) reported: “The main visionaries behind this project are long-term Quaqtaq residents and community leaders Bobby and Eva Deer.” Eva Deer is a former mayor and school principal, and her husband Bobby is originally from the Mohawk Nation and plays an important role in Quaqtaq. The centre they created “does not belong to any one sphere of the community, or to any one institution or organisation, but is for the whole community” (ibid.). Armbruster listed all the dignitaries present at the opening. Besides three executive members of Makivik Corporation, including its president, Pita Aatami, these dignitaries represent leading socio-political institutions in Nunavik:

 

1.Johnny Adams (chief negotiator with the federal and provincial governments for territorial status for Nunavik)

2.Joseph Annahatak, mayor of Kangirsuk, and representing the mayors of Nunavik

3.Maggie Emudluk (chairperson of the Kativik Regional Government)

4.Alacie Arngak (chairperson of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services)

5.Michael Gordon (Economic Development vice president of Makivik)

6.George Berthe (corporate secretary of Makivik, and president of Air Inuit)

 

The presence of Makivik leaders is interesting. This Inuit organisation is mandated to represent and promote the interests of Nunavik Inuit, to ensure proper implementation of the political, social, and cultural benefits of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and to manage and invest monetary compensations so that the Inuit may become an integral part of the northern economy.

Also present were Vae Eli and Roger Armbruster. Armbruster gave a short speech addressing especially the elders. He explained “the healing process is foundational to dealing with the economic, social and environmental issues of future generations” and that it is “a real and a tangible hope for many people to see themselves, not as victims of past wrongs, but as a free people who are taking responsibility for their own destiny” (ibid.). The Samoan leader Vae Eli Samoa stressed various threats to Indigenous people, performed a haka dance, and distributed gifts to all the Inuit leaders (ibid.).

The creation of the Aaqqitauvik Healing Centre was well received by the Quebec provincial government, which provided a $350,000 grant via Ungaluk Nunavik’s crime prevention program (George 2009: 1).