History of the Inuit People PDF Print E-mail

Several cultural groups have populated Nunavik. The first were the Paleo-Eskimos 4 000 years ago. Originally from Alaska, they settled mostly along Ungava Bay and the east coast of Hudson Bay. This population unexplainably disappeared some 2 500 years ago.

Around the year 0 of our epoch, the Dorset Eskimo occupied the territory. This complete occupation of Nunavik would last for over 1 000 years. Today, we have relics of Dorset art from that period.

One thousand years ago, the ancestors of today's Inuit, the Thule race, appeared in western Canada and migrated as far as the eastern Arctic. The first Thule sites were established in Nunavik during the 13th Century. The Thule possessed a more advanced technology, which enabled them to survive the colder climate of that epoch.

The First Outside Contact

The first written records by European explorers on a Thule group based on Baffin Island date back to 1570. In Nunavik, the first contact with white persons would not occur until the 18th Century and the establishment of trading posts. These relations would intensify and mark major, irreversible changes for the Inuit of Nunavik. However, in certain regions, lasting contact with white persons would not occur until the beginning of the 20th Century.

Quebec actually "discovered" Nunavik in the 1950s, when it became aware of the potential for economic expansion related to mining operations and hydroelectric megaprojects. After Cree and Inuit protests against the La Grande development project, Quebec agreed to respect the clauses of the 1912 bill. It signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement on November 11, 1975.

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