The Canadian Arctic has four Inuit regions, each with a Regional Inuit Association, and a comprehensive land claim agreement.
Approximately 4,500 Inuit inhabit the five northernmost coastal communities of Labrador and the more southern communities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Northwest River. The coastal communities are Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet. Nain, with a population of 1,200, is the administrative centre for the northern coastal region.
Due to a lack of roads connecting the coastal communities, they can only be accessed by regular air service and marine transport. Locally elected community councils oversee functions and the provision of services to the municipalities.
Harvesting of land and sea resources continues to be an economic mainstay of the region with government employment and the service industry being primary employers. The Voisey's Bay nickel deposit offers potential for greatly increasing the economic activity of the region.
The region of Nunavik lies north of the 55th parallel in the province of Quebec. Nearly 8,000 Inuit call Nunavik home and live in 14 communities including: Kangiqsualujjuaq, Tasiujaq, Aupaluk, Kangirsuk, Quaqtaq, Kangirsujuaq, Salluit, Ivujivik, Akulivik, Puvirnituq, Inukjuak, Umiujaq, and Kuujjuarapik. Kuujjuaq is the regional administrative centre with a population of approximately 1,500 residents.
With a lack of roads connecting the communities, the primary method of transportation between them and the south is via air and marine vessels.
Each community has its local administration provided by municipal councils as established by the Northern Village Corporation. Each Northern Village is part of the Kativik Regional Authority that oversees the administration of the region.
The Kativik Regional Government is responsible for the delivery and coordination of municipal infrastructures and services, manpower and training, environmental issues and the coordination of economic policy. The Kativik School Board's responsibilities include the administration and delivery of education services to the people of Nunavik. The Kativik Regional Board of Health and Social Services is responsible for the administration and delivery of health and social services to the residents of the region.
Renewable resource harvesting, the Raglan nickel mine, tourism, the public sector, transportation and the service industry are all important elements of the regional economy.
Nunavut has an Inuit population of 23,000 living in the regions of Baffin (eastern region), Kivalliq (central region), and the Kitikmeot (western region). Nunavut was created on April 1,1999 and encompasses one-fifth of Canada's landmass. The territory's twenty-six communities generally have populations of around 1,000 or less. The regional administrative centres of Cambridge Bay in Kitikmeot, and Rankin Inlet in Kivalliq, have populations of 1,300 and 2,700 respectively. The territorial capital, Iqaluit, is the largest community with a population of over 5,250 and growing quickly.
Baffin Region - (Qikiqtaaluk)
The Baffin region is located at the eastern part of the former Northwest Territories including Baffin Island and the eastern High Arctic Islands. The Inuit population of the region is approximately 12,000 living in 12 coastal communities: Iqaluit, Lake Harbour, Cape Dorset, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay, Pond Inlet, Grise Fiord, Clyde River, Broughton Island and Pangnirtung.
The economy of the region is based upon renewable resource harvesting including a commercial inshore and offshore fishery, arts and crafts, tourism, and the public and service sectors. Communities depend upon air service and spring sealifts for transportation and supplies.
Kivalliq (formerly Keewatin)
The Kivalliq region lies on the western coast of Hudson Bay and includes Southampton Island. Just over 6,000 Inuit live in seven communities: Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Baker Lake, Coral Harbour, Whale Cover and Arviat.
Renewable resource harvesting is a primary economic activity and includes a caribou and arctic char processing plant. Tourism has grown substantially in the region and there is some growing interest in mineral exploration as well. The public sector is a major employer in the region.
The westernmost region of Nunavut has an Inuit population of 4,000 and includes the Boothia Peninsula and Victoria Island. The communities are Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Umingmaktuuq, Bathurst Inlet, Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven and Pelly Bay. As well as renewable resource harvesting such as a commercial char fishery and musk ox harvest, the region has considerable mineral wealth that is in the process of being explored and developed. In particular, the Bathurst Inlet road and port infrastructure project has the potential to rapidly advance economic development in the region while providing an important land link to the south.
The Inuvialuit region is located in the northwestern part of the Northwest Territories. The Inuit population is 5,000 living in the mainland communities of Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, and Paulatuk and the two island communities of Sachs Harbour (Banks Island) and Holman (Victoria Island). Inuvik is the administrative centre for the region and has a total population of 3,000.
The mainland communities are the only Inuit communities in Canada that have connecting roads to the south. The communities of Sachs Harbour and Holman continue to rely solely upon air and marine connections for transportation and supplies however.
Locally elected community councils oversee the administration and delivery of a wide variety of services to the hamlet residents.
The Inuvialuit region is poised for major economic development as extensive oil and gas activities begin to move into the production stage. Accompanying this rapid burst of economic development are concerns that the social and cultural lives of the Inuvialuit will be disrupted.