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- About Us
- Air Inuit History
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.
Nunavik, that area of Quebec north of the 55th parallel, is home to approximately 10,000 citizens living in fourteen communities located along the eastern Hudson Bay coast, the southern shore of the Hudson Strait, and the Ungava coasts. As the region is without means of ground transportation, Air Inuit provides essential scheduled, charter, cargo and emergency transportation for the region, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
Collectively owned by the Inuit of Nunavik through their participation in Makivik Corporation, the airline has successfully operated for more than twenty-five years in this charming and challenging operational environment. During this period, Air Inuit has accumulated more than 275,000 hours of airtime and carried more than 1,300,000 passengers through Nunavik skies. More recently, we've linked Nunavik and Schefferville with Montreal and Quebec City utilizing a Dash-8 commuter turboprop service that gets you there directly and comfortably.
The Board of Directors and the employees of the company wish to express our appreciation to our passengers for their support over the last quarter century. We look forward to continuing our history of providing you with safe, courteous and timely service, whatever your air transport needs might be.
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, eight Dash 8s, four HS748s, eight Twin Otters, three King Airs, three Single Otters, two Beavers and a helicopter.
Over the last thirty, Air Inuit has grown into a company which now employs over 500 people.