Nick McGrath, the province’s minister for Intergovernmental and Aboriginal affairs and Labrador Affairs, was in Nutak today to participate in a ceremony in which a monument was unveiled to commemorate a formal apology made by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to former residents who were relocated from the northern Labrador Inuit community in 1956.
“This monument honours a willingness to accept and learn from past mistakes while ensuring we never forget this tragic time in Labrador Inuit history,” said McGrath. “I am proud to participate in this ceremony today as we commemorate a new beginning that was established in 2005 between the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Inuit and we look to the future and the continuance of a successful working relationship.”
On Jan. 22, 2005, the provincial government delivered a statement of apology to the Inuit of the former Nutak and Hebron communities, which closed in 1956 and 1959 respectively. The province apologized for the way in which the decision to close the communities was made and for the difficulties experienced by the Inuit of Nutak and Hebron and their descendants, as a result of the closures.
“We know we have enormous challenges to overcome as we move forward,” said Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo. “The sad reality is that these challenges are even greater for those who were forced to move away from their homes because of the decisions of past governments. As a strong and vibrant people, we know we will overcome these challenges. We are determined, ambitious, proud and resourceful. Those traits could never be taken away from us.”
The monument unveiled today consists of three separate plaques, each in English and Inuktitut. The first presents the statement of apology by the provincial government to the Inuit of Nutak and Hebron. The second displays the Inuit’s acceptance of the apology and the third plaque identifies the names of all the former residents of Nutak. A similar monument was erected in Hebron and unveiled during a ceremony in 2009.