Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations delivers apology to Qikiqtani Inuit

News release


August 14, 2019 — Iqaluit, Nunavut — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Canada is facing the difficult parts of our shared history and acknowledging the hard truths of our past.

Today, in the spirit of Saimaqatigiingniq — a concept that means when past opponents come together, meet in the middle and are at peace with one another — the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations delivered an official apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to the Qikiqtani Inuit for the Government's actions in the Qikiqtani region between 1950 and 1975.

The Inuit-Crown relationship, for far too long, was filled with unfairness, inequality, and harmful treatment. During this period, Government policies included forced relocation and family separation of Qikiqtani Inuit, the killing of qimmiit (sled dogs), who were key to culture, survival and community health since time immemorial, and other assimilative actions. These actions have resulted in deep and lasting effects on Qikiqtani Inuit.

The Government acknowledges the important work of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC), an initiative led by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, in bringing this history to the forefront within their final report, Achieving Saimaqatigiingniq. The Government of Canada encourages all Canadians to read the findings of this report.

To move forward, Minister Bennett announced that Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association have established a Memorandum of Understanding to work in partnership to build a long-term and sustainable response to the Qikiqtani Truth Commission's findings. This includes identified funding to implement programming for Qikiqtani Inuit to promote Inuit culture, healing and well-being for current and future generations.

Today's apology to the Qikitani Inuit was a collaborative effort between Inuit and the Crown, through partnerships with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. It is also a reflection of the Government of Canada's firm commitment to renewing the Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.


"Canada made unilateral decisions about Inuit lives, assuming the Government knew what was best for Inuit. We have and will learn from these great errors. We are committed to ensuring our future is different from our past. We apologize to Qikiqtani Inuit for the deep and lasting effects this has had in their lives and in their communities. Today is the first step in moving forward on our journey of coming together in a place of Saimaqatigiingniq."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"This apology paves a path towards a shared vision of an inclusive Canada that celebrates the lives of all its citizens. The road towards reconciliation has not been easy — it has taken years, and the dedication of a generation of Inuit to secure an acknowledgement for the modern-day colonial policies and practices in the Qikiqtani region — in our Inuit nunangat. I am pleased that today we are not only accepting words of regret from the Government of Canada, but also concrete actions and investments that will help Inuit heal and secure a better future for generations to come."

P.J. Akeeagok,
President of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association

Quick facts

  • The Government directed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to look into the allegations surrounding the killing of qimmiit, and report to Parliament.

  • QIA felt the RCMP report contradicted Inuit accounts of this history.

  • As the Government of Canada did not create a public inquiry, QIA established an independent truth commission to gather its own account of what happened to Qikiqtani Inuit between 1950 and 1975.

  • Approximately 350 people testified through public hearings to uncover the truth about the Government of Canada's policies and practices.

  • The Qikiqtani Truth Commission's Final Report, Achieving Saimaqatigiingniq, distills three years of interviews, testimony, and archival research about the experiences of Qikiqtani Inuit with modern day colonialism. The report includes 25 recommendations.

  • The Qikiqtani Truth Commission released their final report in 2010 outlining the effects of government actions between 1950 and 1975.

  • Government of Canada and QIA will continue to work together on next steps beyond the signed MOU.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Matthew Dillon-Leitch
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Sima Sahar Zerehi
Director of Communications
Qikiqtani Inuit Association

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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