Before they adopted a sedentary lifestyle, the Inuit relied on hunting and fishing for subsistence. In 1980, though they had lived in villages for many years already, hunting and fishing remained important economic activities for the Inuit. Nevertheless, many Inuit people worked for corporations in northern villages, cooperatives, and enterprises related to the construction industry, mining, and air transportation services.

Cooperatives

At the end of the 1950s, the Inuit had developed cooperatives that they managed themselves. These cooperative stores allowed the Inuit to control the sale of goods from outside their region, as well as the sale of the goods they created, such as soapstone sculptures. It was at this time that Inuit sculptors became recognized internationally. Arts and crafts became a source of revenue for some Inuit people.

Economic Development

From the time they were created, cooperatives played an important role in the economic development of Nunavik. They also helped develop the autonomy of the Inuit people. However, the Inuit population remains poor. Many people rely on welfare for assistance since there are few jobs in the far North and the Inuit are not very educated. Those jobs that are available require specialized training (such as trade certificates or CEGEP or university degrees) and are often held by people coming from outside of Nunavik.

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Based on texts from the Récit de l’univers social.  Adapted and updated by LEARN.