Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement (COPE)
Organization profile published 1983

Year Published:  1983  
Resource Type:  Organization
Cx Number:  CX2830
Inactive/Defunct Organization
Abstract:  COPE represents the 2,500 Inuvialuit (Inuit) of the Western Artic. It was founded in 1970 in response to intensive mineral and petroleum exploration in the MacKenzie Delta/Beaufort area. Native leaders realized that the potential impact of development in the region would require organization if traditional lands and ways of life were to be protected.

COPE was an active participant in the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and National Energy Board Hearings. It has bee COPE's position from the beginning that priority must be given to land rights claims and the achievement of a Final Agreement with the Government's of Canada. COPE has not been strongly opposed to development in prinicple. However, it did strongly oppose the construction of the pipeline and some other potentially hazardous forms of development until a final settlement of Western Arctic land claims is signed and working. COPE has worked hard to promote equality among all people in the North regardless of race.

The four basic goals of the Inuvialuit land rights settlement are:

- to preserve Inuvialuit culture, identity, and values within a changing northern society;
- to enable Inuvialuit to be equal and meaningful participants in the northern society;
- to provide specific rights, benefits and compensation to the Inuvialuit in exchange for any Inuvialuit land
rights that now exist; and
- to protect and preserve the Arctic wildlife, environment, and biological productivity.

In 1978, COPE and the Government of Canada signed an Agreement in Principle. After signing, negotiations between the Crown and COPE were sporadic, until the appointment of a new chief federal negotiator in October 1982.

Meanwhile, COPE actively safeguards and promotes the interests of the Inuvialuit through the establishment of such regional organizations as the Inuvialuit Games Council, empowered to manage wildlife resources in the Western Arctic; and the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, a business corporation with wide-ranging activities in the region.

COPE Communications published AKANA, bi-weekly newsletter, and Inuvialuit, a quarterly magazine. It also manages a high frequency radio system, a P.A. system, a video pilot project and an oral history project, and is providing support to a new Inuvialuit Communications Society which is working to expand communicaitons in the artic. It also has a training program for four Inuvialuit.

COPE helps community craftspeople sell their products, assists communities and individuals to expediate the flow of goods, and fights for better social and living conditions in all the communities. COPE has also hired a consultant to carry out research aimed at designing a new health policy for Western Arctic.

COPE formed an Inuvialuktan language Commission in 1981, and directed its members to initiate a long-term language project to preserve and maintain and three Inuvilluktan dialects as a spoken and written language in the Western Arctic. Working with a linguist, the language project has developed dictionaries and grammars in each dialect for publicaiton in 1983/84. This summer, languages camps from the six Inuit communities of the Western Arctic will provide Inuvialuit children with an opporunity to learn traditional summer camp skills. A training course in language teaching is also being offered to two people from each of the six communties. At the end of the training, these language teachers will become employees of the GNWT Department of Educaiton and will teach in the schools of their home communities in 1984.

COPE works in co-opertion with the Inuit Circumpolar Conference which represents the world's 100,000 Inuit. This is made up of representatives from Canada, Alaska and Greenland. It also meets iwth the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, a political organizaiton which represents all Canada's Inuit.

This organziation no longer exists.
This abstract was published in the Connexions Digest in 1983.
See also cx568.

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