Indigenous Success Stories: Inuit

May 3, 2023


Naujaat elder remembered as tireless advocate for Nunavut land claims

Donat Milortok died April 26

Donat Milortok, ready to go caribou hunting, in May 2014. (File photo courtesy of Piita Irniq)

By  Cedric Gallant – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

This story was updated on Wednesday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET

Donat Milortok “put Inuit first, and he worked tirelessly to make sure we had land claim agreements that Inuit would be proud of,” said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. vice-president Paul Irngaut.

Milortok died on April 26 at the age of 80. He was a founding board member of Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut, the predecessor to NTI. A message posted to the NTI website said the organization was saddened to hear of Milortok’s passing, noting he played an important role in establishing the negotiating team for the Nunavut Agreement.


Donat Milortok, left, and former negotiator James Arvaluk in October 1984. (Photo courtesy of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.)

The Nunavut Agreement, signed April 30, 1990, gave Inuit title to the land that would eventually become Nunavut.

In 1969, Milortok became the first council chairman of Repulse Bay (which was later renamed Naujaat), and his continued efforts toward Inuit rights brought him national recognition. He became a land claim fieldworker for Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and then did the same work for the land claims commission.

In an interview with Nunatsiaq News on Monday, Irngaut said Milortok knew the importance of creating land claims for Inuit. Citing another instance of his activism, Irngaut recalled when Milortok helped Naujaat re-establish the tradition of bowhead whale hunting in 1996.

“He was instrumental in having the first bowhead hunting, after so many years,” Irngaut said. “He was always outgoing, he was always friendly. He will have a lasting impact with NTI and the signing of the agreements that Inuit can be proud of.”

Milortok remained active into his later years by winning a Naujaat council seat in 2017 and again in 2019. According to the NTI statement, Milortok “was a fierce advocate for Inuit management of wildlife and the land itself.” He spoke in support a protest against the Baffinland Mary River mine in 2021.

Donat Milortok is survived by his sister Susie Angotealuk, and his children, Jackie Milortuk, Linda Tinashlu, Aari Milortuk and Elaine Nalungiaq.

Tinashlu said there are many things she could share about her father, but kept it simple in a message to Nunatsiaq News over Facebook. “We will miss him, from all the kids and grandchildren,” she said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the date of Donat Milortok’s death. 

From left to right, John Allupalik, Donat Milortok and Susan Black in Fall 1988. (Photo courtesy of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.)

October 3, 2022


Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and Canada take a step toward reconciliation with partial settlement of historic claim dating from 1837

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada: Today, Chief R. Donald Maracle with the Council of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations, announced the conclusion of a partial settlement agreement regarding the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim.

The specific claim arises from the unlawful 1837 alienation of 923.4 acres of unsurrendered land, known as the Culbertson Tract, which breached the Simcoe Deed, which the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte recognize as a treaty. Canada and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have reached a full and final settlement of a 299.43-acre portion of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim. Through an arrangement with the fee simple owner on a willing buyer/willing seller basis, this land will be confirmed as reserve land.

Today’s partial settlement agreement is without prejudice to the balance of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim. Canada and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte look forward to continuing those negotiations.

Achieved through dialogue and cooperation, this historic settlement agreement will help address the government’s past. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation.

Honouring Canada’s legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships are key to righting historical wrongs and to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.


“This is a significant day for our community and in our history. Our original Mohawk Tract has been greatly reduced by surrenders and other alienations, many of which are suspicious and, in this case, simply illegal. With the signing of the Culbertson Tract Partial Settlement Agreement, we have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse this trend and to reaffirm administration and control of our land illegally taken from us. We look forward to continuing the work on having the remaining 623.4 acres of the Culbertson Tract restored to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.”

R. Donald Maracle
Chief, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

“This historic settlement with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte shows what we can achieve when we work together to reach shared solutions guided by the values of respect and partnership. We acknowledge Canada’s failure to protect your community’s right to your land, and we reaffirm our commitment to addressing this wrong. This settlement is an important step forward to creating new opportunities for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to advance their ongoing work to improve community well-being.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • In 1793, the Mohawk Tract was granted to the ancestors of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte by the Simcoe Deed, which the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte assert to be a treaty. In recompense for the losses sustained by the Mohawks as a result of their ongoing loyalty to the British Crown during the American War of Independence. A particular procedure was specified for surrenders and sales of any of that tract.
  • Since 1793 the original Mohawk Tract has been reduced to less than one-third of its original size.
  • In 1995, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte submitted a specific claim alleging that the Crown, not having obtained a surrender for the Culbertson Tract, breached its fiduciary and treaty duties to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte by illegally transferring the Culbertson Tract in 1837 (the “Culbertson Tract Specific Claim”).
  • In November 2003, Canada accepted the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim for negotiation under its Specific Claims Policy, though negotiations were paused in 2007 due to incompatible positions.
  • In 2017, the parties resumed negotiations to settle a portion of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim consisting of 299.43 acres without prejudice to negotiating a settlement for the balance of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim.
  • The membership approved the partial settlement agreement in a ratification vote certified on November 4, 2021, and no appeals on the ratification vote were received.

April 22, 2022

Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi sign MOU Establishing a Permanent Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec

NationTalk: In an on-going effort to continue in the path of our past leaders in building and maintaining relationships with one another, the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, the Inuit of Nunavik, and the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Establishing a Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec.

As parties to James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975 and the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) of 1978, our collective challenges, although made distinct by our respective territories, politics, language, and customs, do hold similarities, especially when it comes to finding solutions in a reality that can only be truly understood by the inhabitants of Eeyou Istchee, Nunavik, and Nuchimiyuschiiy. It is by sharing our experiences and victories with one another that we can help one another succeed.

“Although we have always had connections with our neighbors to the north and to the east, having a permanent forum where common issues are exchanged on can only be positive for the well-being of our communities. Together, we can ensure the best tools are in place for the future and that representation of our nations in the region, province, and nationally is fair and inclusive.” – Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty, Cree Nation Government

This newly established permanent forum will promote cooperation and coordination on matters to advance Indigenous self-determination and aboriginal and treaty rights. It is important to understand that this forum will not substitute existing committees or forums provided for in the JBNQA, NEQA or established between other governing bodies.

“I am very proud of what Inuit have accomplished over the years on the Nunavik Territory. With our Indigenous Forum on Northern Quebec and our collective efforts with the Crees and the Naskapis our voice will even be louder and stronger.” – President Pita Aatami, Makivik Corporation

“Today marks an important milestone in our deep nation-to-nation collaboration, cooperation, and friendship. On our long journey towards self-determination, the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy are proud to count on our long-time neighbors, the Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. It is only by working together that we will achieve our shared objective to exercise full autonomy on our traditional territories and improve the well-being of our communities.” – Chief Theresa Chemaganish, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Discussions of the forum will be guided priorities that are deemed by each nation to be significant and relevant for the well-being of their communities and people and for the sustainability of their traditional territories. Our worlds are rapidly changing and challenging us to evolve quickly. We are resilient peoples who have adapted through generations of challenges and understand that it is when we are together that we can advance with high hopes and aspirations for our respective future generations.

August 5, 2020

Indigenous Advisory Committee

NationTalk – For the first time ever, Canada’s federal energy regulator has an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) who will advise the Board of Directors on how the Canada Energy Regulatort (CER) can build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples. Members of the IAC are leaders at the local, regional and national level, are respected voices of their communities, and bring deep experience in the energy and natural resources sector.

The committee is made up of nine members, three of whom are appointed directly by national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The IAC provides advice from the diversity of its members’ Indigenous perspectives and is an integral part of the CER’s formal governance structure. IAC Members:

  • Contribute strategic advice and perspective on how the CER can make meaningful progress towards reconciliation in Canada;
  • Promote opportunities for positive systemic change through building and strengthening new relationships with the Board and CER staff;
  • Leverage their experience with the energy and/or natural resource sector in providing advice;
  • Share Indigenous values and teachings as a respected voice of their communities, so the IAC and CER can learn from each other and integrate Indigenous perspectives in the CER’s strategies, plans and actions.

August 28, 2018

Ahiarmiut Relocation Society: Inuit group from sothwestern Nunavut

APTN – Awarded $5M in damages for their forced relocation. The Canadian army had built a radio station at Ennadai lake in 1949 and administrators in the south feared local Inuit would become too dependent on southern supplies so had them forcibly removed from their land and relocated elsewhere Steven Cooper, a lawyer who represented the group in the lawsuit, says Inuit starved and died as a result of the move. Their plight came to the attention of southerners through the work of Canadian writer Farley Mowat in his book People of the Deer and was also featured in a 1956 edition of Life magazine.