Canadian Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Mixing Politics and Business in the Canadian Arctic: Inuit Corporate Governance in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Gary N. Wilsona1 c1 and Christopher Alcantaraa2 c2

a1 University of Northern British Columbia

a2 Wilfrid Laurier University

Abstract

Abstract. Over the past three decades, Inuit economic development corporations (IEDCs) have played an important role in preparing the Inuit regions of Nunavik in northern Québec and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories for self-government. In addition to building vital capacity through the provision of services, programs and economic opportunities, IEDCs have also represented their respective regions in self-government negotiations with other levels of government. This corporate-led governance approach, which we call Inuit corporate governance, provides Aboriginal groups such as the Inuit with a de facto form of self-government and the opportunity to develop economic and political capacity in advance of adopting a more comprehensive and formal self-government arrangement. It also challenges existing assumptions about the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the liberal–capitalist order that underpins the Canadian state.

Résumé. Durant les trois dernières décennies, les Institutions de développement économique des Inuits ont joué un rôle important en préparation à l'auto-gouvernance de la population Inuit du Nunavik, dans le Nord-du-Québec, et de l'Inuvialuit, dans les Territoires du Nord-Ouest. En plus d'avoir permis le développement d'habiletés cruciales dans le domaine de l'offre de services, de programmes et d'opportunités de développement économique, les Institutions ont également contribué, à titre de représentantes de leurs régions respectives, lors de la négociation d'ententes portant sur l'auto-gouvernance avec divers paliers de gouvernement. Cette approche de gouvernance corporative Inuit fournit aux groupes autochtones, tels les Inuits, une forme d'auto-gouvernance de facto qui génère pour eux des opportunités de se développer économiquement et politiquement, en préparation à l'adoption d'un modèle d'auto-gouvernance plus élaboré et formel. Cette approche soulève également bien des questions quant aux fondements de la relation qui existe entre les peuples autochtones et l'ordre libéral capitaliste qui sous-tend l'État canadien.

Correspondence

c1 Gary N. Wilson, Department of Political Science, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, British Columbia, V2N 4Z9, email: wilsong@unbc.ca.

c2 Christopher Alcantara, Department of Political Science, Alvin Woods Building, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5, email: calcantara@wlu.ca.

Footnotes

  Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive suggestions for improving this paper. They would also like to acknowledge the assistance of their research assistants, Chantal Carriere and Steven Kennedy, as well as David Chandonnet for his help in translating the abstract into French.

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