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Happy anniversary
Inuvialuit Day celebrates past, passes lessons to younger generations

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation building on Mackenzie Road Tuesday to help mark the 28th anniversary of the signing of the final Inuvialuit Agreement on June 5, 1984.

NNSL photo/graphic

Inuvialuit drum dancers Hester Inuaslurak, front row left, and her daughter Jade perform during Inuvialuit Day celebrations on Mackenzie Road Tuesday afternoon. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

"It's important to have this kind of a day to recognize (the signing of the agreement) so that the younger generation gets a grasp on why it's so important for the Inuvialuit people. The people behind it are elders, so it's important to give back," said Richard Gordon, MC for the events.

Inuvialuit Day was celebrated in various communities this week. Inuvik's celebrations involved shutting down Mackenzie Road to traffic, setting up a stage and hosting a community feast along with live music and drum dancing.

"That's a good day. There aren't too many people who can stop the traffic (on Mackenzie Road), and we're always blessed with the good sunshine," said Inuvialuit elder Edward Lennie.

"It's important because we worked hard on (the agreement), and now we can have a good time over it," he said. "We've got to keep it up and pass this on to the younger people."

The final agreement was struck between the Government of Canada and the Committee for the Original People's Entitlement (COPE) after 10 years of negotiations.

Under the agreement, the Inuvialuit gained full control of 91,000 square kilometres of land, along with the right to hunt and harvest anywhere in the their settlement area.

The Inuvialuit Final Agreement created the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, along with many subsidiary corporations to manage development, investment, resources, land, wildlife and more.

"I think it was an important day, it still is an important day, and it gives people a chance to see that the organization is still working for the beneficiaries," said Peggy Jay, director of beneficiaries and community relations at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. "But above everything, it's a celebration."

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