Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik May 26, 2017 - 8:00 am

Nunavik’s co-op movement celebrates its 50th anniversary

More than 400 gather at Montreal-area gala

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
FCNQ president Aliva Tulugak, in black, addresses the 400 guests to a May 19 gala to celebrate the co-op's 50th anniversary. (PHOTO COURTESY OF FCNQ)
FCNQ president Aliva Tulugak, in black, addresses the 400 guests to a May 19 gala to celebrate the co-op's 50th anniversary. (PHOTO COURTESY OF FCNQ)

Nunavimmiut are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the region’s co-operative movement, which culminated in a high-end gala outside of Montreal May 19.

More than 400 people gathered at the Chateau Vaudreuil to mark the occasion and take home prizes, from handmade carvings to pick-up trucks.

The Fédération des co-operatives du Nouveau-Québec, or Ilagiisaq, was first incorporated a half-century ago, on May 20,1967, as the co-operative movement took hold in many parts of the eastern Arctic.

But its roots in Nunavik stretch back further; in 1959, the first “Eskimo” co-op in George River (Kangiqsualujjuaq) received a $12,500 grant from the federal government to buy fishing equipment. The community would open the region’s first co-op store in a log building.

In 1960, Father André Steinmann and Peter Murdoch spearheaded a sculptors’ association in Povungnituk (Puvirnituq) in 1958, which led to the creation of that community’s own co-op, the association of Puvirnitumiut Katujjuiyut Immiguutut (the people of Puvirnituq working for themselves).

By 1961, co-operatives were operating in Fort Chimo (Kuujjuaq), Payne Bay (Kangirsuk), Povungnituk (Puvirnituq), and Great Whale River (Kuujjuaraapik).

Today, the FCNQ operates stores—which showed overall revenues of $121 million in 2016—in each of Nunavik’s 14 communities.

The co-op’s subsidiaries, which include gas and oil distribution as well as transportation, construction and travel services, made a consolidated revenue of double that: $242 million.

During board meetings last week, co-op directors approved a return of $11 million to Nunavik’s 14 members co-operatives—up from $6.1 million returned the previous year.

On May 18, board members also re-elected the FCNQ’s long-time president, Aliva Tukugak, by acclamation, along with its vice-president for Ungava, Charlie Tukkiapik and vice-president for Hudson Bay, Saroillie Weetaluktuk.

Ilagiisaq’s board of directors also handed out the Peter Murdoch trophy for Best Performance Co-op for 2016, named for Murdoch, a veteran employee of the FCNQ and a pioneer of the co-operative movement who died in 2015.

The Inukjuak Co-operative Association won the Best Performance Co-op, while the Tasiujaq Co-operative Association picked up the Most Improved Co-op for 2016.

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