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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

Naskapis

The Naskapi nation has approximately 850 members. There is only one Naskapi village in Québec, Kawawachikamach, situated some fifteen kilometres north of Schefferville. The population speaks Naskapi and uses English as a second language.

When the Europeans arrived, the Naskapis lived off caribou hunting, an activity that provided them with food, clothing and tools. Forced to live as nomads and to follow the caribou during this animal’s migration, and benefiting from the self-sufficiency associated with this activity, the Naskapis long resisted the idea of participating in the fur trade.

Beginning in 1893, several famines decimated the Naskapis. They settled in Fort Mckenzie from 1916 to 1948, then in Fort Chimo (today Kuujjuaq) around 1952, after which they went to live with the Innu of Matimekosh near Schefferville in 1956 in the hope of improving their living conditions.

In 1978, the Naskapis signed the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) by virtue of which they are the exclusive owners of a 326.3 km2 territory. They also have an exclusive hunting, fishing and trapping territory that covers 4,144 km2. Since their traditional territory is located north of the 55th parallel in Nunavik, they have a seat on the council of the Kativik Regional Government (a supramunicipal organization in charge notably of public administration, economic development, police services, transportation and telecommunications in Nunavik).

In 1983, to symbolize the rebirth of their nation, the Naskapis began construction work on the Village of Kawawachikamach. Unfortunately, the closure of the Iron Ore company, the main employer of the Naskapis, dealt a severe blow to the community.

In 1984, the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act excluded the Naskapis from the Indian Act and granted them greater administrative autonomy. The Société de développement des Naskapis was created to ensure the community’s socioeconomic development through the operation of an outfitting establishment, a shopping centre, an arts and crafts store and a construction company, as well as by providing road maintenance services. The main economic activities of the community revolve around adventure tourism, construction, the trapping of furbearers, and arts and crafts.

The Village of Kawawachikamach has well equipped community buildings, including a school that offers primary and secondary instruction, a CLSC, a fire hall, a police station, a shopping centre, a community centre, a recreation centre and a Naskapi-language radio station.

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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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Last update: May 19, 2009
Online as of: November 11, 2004