Sanikiluaq, Que.? Residents take 2 views on border question

Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, could become part of Quebec, if the province's northern boundary is redrawn according to a recommendation from the 1970s.

'In the 1960s, we had a choice,' says former MLA Peter Kattuk, and the N.W.T. was it

Quebec's 2,500 km-long northern border, set in 1912, ends at the shoreline along the Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay. The province is asking to move the border so it can proceed with Plan Nord. (Laval University)

Proposed boundary changes in Quebec could have big implications for one community in Nunavut.

When Quebec's northern boundary was drawn up more than a century ago, it ended at the shoreline. Now Quebec wants to change that boundary so it can build ports in Nunavik under its Plan Nord strategy.

The hypothetical boundary would run down the middle of the Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay. The Belcher Islands, home to Sanikiluaq, pop. 800, would fall on the Quebec side of the border.

That's welcomed news for some Sanikiluaq residents who think the community should be part of Quebec.

Kelly Fraser was raised there, and says it would make sense: the islands are geographically closer to the province, and there are cultural ties too  

"Our traditions are very much like the people in Nunavik. And we came from the same people."

Fraser also says Quebec's education and health care systems are better than in Nunavut.

'In the 1960s we had a choice'

Peter Kattuk, on the other hand, says the community had a choice fifty years ago.

"In the 1960s, we had a choice to be Quebec or Northwest Territories," says the former MLA. "So we chose that we will stay with the Northwest Territories, but it became Nunavut."

Kattuk says if there are any changes to the border, Sanikiluaq residents need to be part of the discussion.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna says he spoke with the premier of Quebec about the issue.

In a statement, Taptuna says he and Premier Couillard are "open to concluding a cooperation agreement on cross-border development projects."

Taptuna says the government does not "see a reason to open discussions on the referenced boundaries specific to Nunavut."

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. says it will refrain from commenting for now.