8th General Assembly: Inuit Spirit for Global Partnership
July 24-31, 1998
The eighth Inuit Circumpolar Conference General Assembly was held in Nuuk, the capital of Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) from July 24-31, 1998. The theme for this Assembly was "Inuit Spirit for Global Partnership", emphasizing that it has been the Inuit spirit of willingness to work in a cooperative manner that has contributed to many successes of the ICC over the past 20 years. It also recognizes the importance of continuing to build partnerships as we enter the new millennium.
The official Canadian delegation to Nuuk comprised approximately 70 members including the 18 ICC Assembly delegates, four Elders' Conference delegates, youths, interpreters, performing artists and staff. Representatives of other aboriginal organizations, governments, academics, film crews, and the media brought the final number closer to 150.
During the nine-day meeting, 32 resolutions were passed on a variety of issues including subsistence rights, economic development and trade, education, transportation, communications and environment. A Declaration of Inuit Rights to hunt, share, and trade marine mammals and their products was passed. The Elder and Youth delegates also passed a number of resolutions addressing their concerns. The resolutions reflect the hard work of the assembly and determined the direction of work to be done over the next four years.
The substantial and impressive participation of the Russian delegation from Chukotka was of particular importance to this assembly and is an indication of the remarkable accomplishments by ICC over the past three years. John Amagoalik recalled a meeting with the Soviet Ambassador to Canada in 1983 in which he requested that Russian Inuit be allowed to attend the assembly in Iqaluit that summer. His request was met with fear and mistrust, but time and persistence have changed that attitude. His statement that "the circle is now complete" was a sincere recognition of years of hard work by ICC, and the presence of the Russian delegation at this assembly was a truly satisfying reward.
The work of the assembly during the day was complemented by the superb cultural performances by each country during the evening. On the final night, the Canadian delegation demonstrated the true nature of Inuit spirit. The delegates and staff had practiced a traditional Greenlandic "thank you" song and sang it for their gracious hosts. The conference ended with all singing "We Are the World".