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Air Inuit History
The 1970's marked a period of dramatic change for the people of Northern Quebec. With the Quebec government's announcement of the massive James Bay development, the region's Inuit leaders were confronted with the task of negotiating their people's territorial rights.
The Northern Quebec Inuit Association was established and a DeHavilland Beaver aircraft was purchased to transport negotiators and field workers to the region's communities so that the issues surrounding negotiations could be effectively communicated.
Many meetings later, on November 11, 1975, Canada's first modern land claims agreement - The James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement - was realized. Makivik Corporation was created to administer its benefits on behalf of the region's Inuit. In 1978, Air Inuit was founded; that first Beaver airplane thus became the flagship of development in the territory now known as Nunavik.
Just as the people and the region have witnessed much change over the last few decades, so too have Air Inuit's operations.
When we first began flying to remote communities along our coasts, we faced many unique challenges. In the beginning, winter ice strips were built with community participation.
In summer, improvised tundra strips had to be marked out. Dispatchers or pilots often radioed ahead, alerting the people to illuminate the community's landing strip with the headlights of their ATV's or snowmobiles.
Everyone helped with the loading and unloading of the planes. Ticket sales often took place over the kitchen table of the agent's home. When caught by bad weather or a flat tire, flight crews were put up in private homes. These northern traditions of adaptability, resourcefulness and first name familiarity mark the character of the airline to this day.
Air Inuit is wholly owned by the people of Nunavik. Self-sustaining without subsidies of any kind, our airline is committed to being responsive to the needs of Nunavik's residents. Appropriately, decisions affecting air services and operations are not solely those of the executive committee. Our Board of Directors, composed of individuals from Nunavik communities, ensures that we remain sensitive and receptive to the needs and concerns of the people we serve.
In addition to the Hydro-Quebec division that operates Dash 8 300 and 400 series, Air Inuit's Nunavik operations have grown from that sole flagship Beaver aircraft to include one Boeing 737, ten Dash 8s, three HS748s, seven Twin Otters, three King Airs, one Turbo Otter, one Beaver and two helicopters.
Over the last thirty years, Air Inuit has grown into a company which now employs over 500 people.