Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Around the Arctic May 22, 2018 - 9:45 am

Nunavut premier responds to Nunatsiaq News editorial

“I can assure you that these processes are well underway”

Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa said his government's first operations and maintenance budget, to be unveiled May 28, will set
Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa said his government's first operations and maintenance budget, to be unveiled May 28, will set "projects and-or programs" aimed at carrying out its Turaaqtavut vision. (FILE PHOTO)

I was disappointed to read your criticism of our government’s new mandate, Turaaqtavut, and your assessment that the government has been silent on key issues. [Editorial published May 5, 2018.]

Turaaqtavut—our destination—outlines the vision our government has for our territory and the pillars, principles, values and actions that will direct our work over the next four years.

There are specific actions described in Turaaqtavut, such as “Investing with partners in infrastructure that enhances our well-being as individuals and communities, including facilities for elder care and addictions in the territory,” found under the Pivaallirutivut pillar of Turaaqtavut.

At the Qikiqtani Inuit Association board of directors on May 8, 2018 in Qikiqtarjuaq, I spoke about the need to partner with Inuit organizations to deal with issues within Nunavut—including the housing shortage, the creation of elders’ facilities, the need for mental health resources, among others.

These issues were also discussed at the cabinet and full caucus retreats that were held in order to set the direction of this government. This government is committed to building partnerships with all regional Inuit organizations, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the private sector.

Partnerships will also include further supporting hunters within our communities, as this is an important cultural component of Inuit that supports mental health.

Since the start of this government, it should be noted that I made changes to the top-level positions, so that more Inuit have decision-making roles. Inuktitut language within government is one of our priorities. It is also the very first time since the creation of our territorial government that all ministers speak and understand Inuktitut.

Our working language within government should be Inuktitut, so I have made steps to start working towards making Inuktitut mandatory for everyone employed to learn, if, of course, they don’t already speak Inuktitut. This was the vision when the Nunavut Agreement was being negotiated, that our language and Inuit societal values were going to be the guiding principles.

The Government of Nunavut has obligations under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. As premier, I am making sure that this government is focusing on implementing our obligations and specifically focusing on Article 23 of the NLCA through the implementation of the Inuit employment plan.

As a government we have to follow transparent and responsible decision-making processes such as business planning, capital and main estimates and in-year submissions to cabinet in order to institute new programs or build infrastructure.

I can assure you that these processes are well underway. Later this month, our government will table its first budget, which will outline our spending priorities for the next year and the projects and programs that will be developed or enhanced to help us achieve the vision we set out in Turaaqtavut.

Likewise, we have developed a mandate implementation plan and tasked an interdepartmental oversight committee to ensure that actions are being taken to fulfill each and every priority of Turaaqtavut.

With respect to our government’s position on certain issues, it is important to note that several topics you raised in your editorial—cannabis, climate change, carbon pricing—were in fact initiated by the federal government.

The territorial government is not the lead on these files; rather we were tasked with implementing measures to ensure that these federal programs, or pieces of legislation, work for Nunavut and in the best interests of Nunavummiut.

Ensuring Nunavut’s position and unique needs are considered takes negotiation and collaboration with our federal counterparts. That’s why, as political leaders, we regularly meet our federal counterparts to state our position.

Just last week, I joined—with my fellow northern premiers from the Northwest Territories and Yukon—to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and four federal cabinet ministers (Finance, Environment, Infrastructure and Northern Affairs).

I outlined special considerations that should be made for Nunavut with respect to the federal government implementing a carbon pricing regime so that it doesn’t impact the already high cost-of-living and doing business in the North (such as exemptions on home heating and aviation fuels, and consideration of QEC’s power plants for a lower taxable rate.)

We requested an update on the federal government’s commitment to develop a northern adaptation strategy on climate change to ensure our unique circumstances and environmental concerns are reflected in this plan.

Finally, I discussed how flexible funding arrangements and increased investments are necessary for our territorial government to plan and build much-needed infrastructure in Nunavut communities.

We outlined the nature of these discussions issued on May 5 to inform the public and also to pique the media’s interest in the work we’re doing. Sadly, I did not receive a single question from Nunatsiaq News about the meetings or the topic discussed.

Paul Quassa
Premier of Nunavut

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(50) Comments:

#1. Posted by Bbf on May 22, 2018

Our children are dying and all you talk about is business and language! Wake up and put more effort into our youth it’s the only way the future of Nunavut will improve!

#2. Posted by Hot Air on May 22, 2018

Still a bunch of hot air. We don’t see any of your talk come to fruition. Your last stint in the government did not produce anything concrete and I expect that the same will ensue over the next 4 years. Now where are your grubby little fingers? I want to see a fully functionally Inuktut speaking government within 4 years or you are nothing but hot air. Meanwhile cries are heard from the people you have let down.

#3. Posted by Joe Shaver on May 22, 2018

There’s no fool like an old fool.

#4. Posted by To #1 and #2, on May 22, 2018

Your comments are coming from your jealous thoughts and prejudice remarks and your dislikes of the Inuit. It just shows what kind of people you two are. Paul Quassa, I am proud of you. Keep up the good work. I know, you stand for the Inuit and other people as well.

#5. Posted by Ours not yours on May 22, 2018

“Partnerships will also include further supporting hunters within our communities, as this is an important cultural component of Inuit that supports mental health.”
“As a government we have to follow transparent and responsible decision-making processes”

“It was not a consultative decision,” Pinksen said of today’s announcement. “It was an internal government decision.”

Yea, “transparency”.

#6. Posted by Mandatory Inuktitut in Government on May 22, 2018

Protecting and promoting Inuktitut is very important, I think we can all agree on that. However, as it stands right now we cannot even fill the positions we have with qualified English speakers who make up a much larger section of the world population than Inuktitut speakers.

We have 25 decentralized communities that each require their own health centers, RCMP offices, schools, power plants, hamlet offices, grocery stores, airports and housing offices. So our issues are greatly compounded, if we were one city of 30ish thousand people it would be hard enough filling all the positions with qualified people but we are that x25! And to now burden professionals that come in with mandatory Inuktitut training is only going to erode services further unless of course you plan on SOMEHOW providing EACH community with the facilities/learning material/educators to be able to provide this? Not to mention the TIME for each employee to attend said training.

#7. Posted by Not a fan on May 22, 2018

I am not a Fan of PQ. But for the first time this government has put Inuit first. There has been alot of hot air in the past about making Language a priority and the statistics show the decline in language.
#1 yes there are children dieing. Its easy to blame government, Yes we need more mental health, healing and addictions treatment.But where is the blame towards the parents. The GN cant magically fix broken homes

#8. Posted by Still from #4. on May 22, 2018

Yes, why not blame and write a note to Northern Store or other stores up here or tell the airline workers and pressure them to lower food costs and so on. Quassa will work on them. He needs to have more room to do his job if, he is not pressured by the people who do not like the Inuit. Paul Quassa, hang in there. We stand by you.

#9. Posted by Andy on May 22, 2018

I’m looking forward to ready all the comments yet to come, it will be entertaining.

It will be interesting to follow the development of the mandatory language training for GN employees. Obviously a two week course will not be sufficient to reach a level of language knowledge that enables employees to use it as the working language. Who will cover the responsibilities while GN employees attend language training? I can see many employees leaving their positions and this will only increase the number of vacant positions within the GN, especially if these vacant positions require a certain skill set, that you cannot obtain with a Grade 12 or lower education

#10. Posted by wondering on May 22, 2018

Does anyone feel this government is in some dreamland and completely out of touch with the real miserable situation of the territory?

#11. Posted by Resident on May 22, 2018

@#10 no….and Paul Quassa is trying to his darnest. Put yourself in his shoes.

#12. Posted by Stoner on May 22, 2018

Hate to say it but:

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

#13. Posted by IceClass on May 22, 2018

The kids are not blowing their brains out because not enough people are speaking to them in Ikuktitukt.

#14. Posted by Aatamaati on May 22, 2018

Haaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha haaaaaaaahahahahaha

#15. Posted by Niquaqtik on May 22, 2018

Content if all expenditure breakdowns are noted for transparency such as for the Northern Lights Trade Show, other Southern shows/meetings, etcetera.

The GV of NU has a website for posting and sharing. 

We are voters and prefer not the time and hassle of ATTIP. 

Once exposed there are no repercussions and the questioning of MLAs is to no avail. Where is the correction to these matters if there is abuse?

#16. Posted by Frank on May 22, 2018

There’s an old song called ‘there’s a riot going on’. Apparently Paul has one on his hands.

#17. Posted by editor needs to learn more on May 22, 2018

Winning awards each year, one would expect an editor to know factual information when writing an opinion.  The old driftwood Government of Nunavut no longer exists.  Time to learn about the vision of Nunavut.  Yes, the new Leaders of Nunavut are for the people.

#18. Posted by Nervous on May 22, 2018

This is the first Premier who actually springs from the people.  He has a much better understanding of what Inuit wanted for their new territory and why.
Why are non-Inuit so nervous about learning Inuktitut?
If someone was going to train me, I would grab the opportunity with both hands and enjoy doing it.Think of it as another skill you are gaining - not as some terrible thing that has to be endured.
Let’s happy up here.
He knows exactly what he is doing and Inuit and long-term northerners agree with him; it is long overdue.

#19. Posted by But Charter of Rights on May 22, 2018

Teaching Inuktitut to the public service is one thing, making it “mandatory” (or trying to) will go down in history as one of Nunavut’s greatest follies.

Quassa will be forever remembered as the cartoonish figure groping for his ass in the dark.

Just watch.

#20. Posted by Jeff on May 22, 2018

Seems PQ wants people to believe that change is happening simply because it has been stated. But change requires physical action not just empty talk. This premier & cabinet are uninspiring.

#21. Posted by Okuk, Cambridge Bay on May 22, 2018

Mr. Quassa,
Ever since Inuit people took charge of Inuktitut, it has been vanishing
like shxt off a shovel
Please ensure proper Inuktitut teachers are in every community, the
people we have now are useless.
So many young people in Western Nunavut have given up because
of drunkenness and laziness among Inuktitut teachers.
It would be good if Mr. John Main could help.

#22. Posted by Fascism Alert on May 22, 2018

Quote from #18: “This is the first Premier who actually springs from the people.”

WTF is that supposed to mean anyway? Paul Okalik, Eva Aariak and Peter Taptuna were all born in small Inuit communities. In what way did they not “spring from the people?”

Paul Quassa is just a burned out land claim guy with a highly dubious past who has managed to stay out of trouble for a while. He doesn’t really know anything, but he has a nice deep voice and he looks good in a suit. WTF makes him the “the first Premier who actually springs from the people?”

What you just expressed is the basis of all fascist political theory. Blind obedience to a mystical leader who somehow embodies the will of the people and rules by decree.

#23. Posted by Ya Missed The Struggle Buddy on May 22, 2018

Too bad you didn’t arrive here during the long 23 year struggle to get a Land Claims Agreement, Buddy.
Maybe then you could have appreciated all that was on the table to be negotiated.
You seem to de-value age and experience which is always a bad thing to get trapped in.
Many of these same people like PQ who you probably like to diss, know alot more than you do.
He springs from that experience and since the people voted for the Agreement, they are with him.

#24. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on May 23, 2018

#22 The idea that the leader is a spiritual manifestation of “the people” is fascist, but I’m not sure I’d take comment #18 that seriously though.

#18 If Inuit want a public service populated with Inuktitut speakers, then Inuktitut speakers need to get into those positions. So far the government has done a creative job in lowering educational standards, and judging by the Premier’s comments, will likely keep doing so. 

The momentum is in your favour. Bravo!

On the other hand, that the entire public service will be required to speak Inuktitut in the next 4 years is not realistic (the GN is incapable of implementing this even in high school), and probably not legal. For that it will be a waste of the government’s time and focus.

So why suggest it?

It riles up the tribe and plays to the nativist mind set. Issues like this help maintain popularity for leaders with little understanding of, or capacity to tackle, the most serious and complex problems.

That’s where we are.

#25. Posted by wondering on May 23, 2018

@11 he is trying? If this why he was elected? To try? The guy could barely run a lemonade stand!

#26. Posted by Tusaaji on May 23, 2018

Pauls recently NF trip.  # days, “meetings” , # people for public funds. 
NN should ATTIP and reprint break down of line items for MLAs trips online.  thank Q.

#27. Posted by Fascism Alert on May 23, 2018

#24 I intended that comment as a provocation and I’m not trying to suggest that Paul Quassa and his admirers are consciously attempting to launch a fascist movement right now.

However, the comment of #18 does help to reveal the crude right-wing populism that Quassa represents. It’s quite similar in spirit to the populism of Donald Trump, Viktor Orban and all the others.The strategy is pretty simple, you pick a small, vulnerable minority, in this case non-Inuit, and blame all your problems on them. Then, as you say, you appeal to the emotions of the uninformed population by declaring that all GN employees must speak Inuktitut.

It won’t work, of course. There are not enough teachers capable of teaching Inuktitut and there are also many Inuit who can’t speak or write Inuktitut and they will be hurt too.

Government works through written laws, regulations, policies. Since very few people know how to write and read Inuktitut at a high level, this means English will always be the working language of government in Nunavut.

#28. Posted by wondering on May 23, 2018

@27 comparing Quassa to Trump is ludicrous and an insult to every leader out there regardless of his or her leadership style. How about comparing him to Kermit, Gonzo, or Fozzie Bear?

#29. Posted by iThink on May 23, 2018


Trying to connect Quassa to Trump is an odious comparison that only detracts from the good points you’ve made.

#30. Posted by Wonder on May 23, 2018

CBC just posted an article on what was spent at the Northern Lights.  2 out of 3 of the top spenders reported what they spent.
73 ppl attended = $$572000

spender # 2 - ED&T $78000 15 ppl
spender # 3 - CGS $61000 15 ppl

I would like to know how much PQ spent out of that $572000 on himself and all of his cabinet to attend??  Who was the top spender?  After #2 and #3 is removed it leaves 43 ppl and $433000 that was spent with an average of over $10,000 on each person.

#31. Posted by Putuguk on May 23, 2018

If Nunavut’s future was only more government, and if our problems could only be solved by government, then the GN Vision would be of vital importance.

This version of Nunavut’s future is wrong on both counts.

Nunavut’s future is being built on resource development, as has every other hinterland area of Canada. To deny this is to rob the private sector of the local talent needed to capitalize on these opportunities.

As well, the social values that exist today that cause dysfunction will not be changed by the GN. It will be changed by the people, by themselves when they become mad as hell and cannot take it anymore. 

So GN, say as many highfalutin things that you must, but mostly just stay out of the way of the developers and true community empowerment.

Please keep the lights on in the schools, the Tylenol stocked in the health centers and the public housing units allocated.

If GN can accomplish these, then they will get a passing grade from me.

#32. Posted by Knockout Ned on May 23, 2018

#31 Nope.

Our economy will not be founded on resource development. Resource development can play a part in the economy, but it must never form the foundation for it.

Look at Alberta - a jurisdiction so hopelessly dependent on oil that it throws a national tantrum when it doesn’t get it’s way. That’s not my Nunavut.

I’ve watched you shill for resource development for years on here. To hell with that.

I’m proud of this Government. The usual suspects are howling from the political wilderness, but that’s to be expected. They are predictably bitter.

#33. Posted by All Talk on Article 23 on May 24, 2018

no action just silence now on dealing with HR, same old associate and employee relations. Article 23 needs PQ’s HR magic

#34. Posted by Accountability means good government on May 24, 2018

I’m not sure why this letter was written. Governments need critique, accountability and ‘an official’ opposition to ask the important questions. I think with this new mandate, there are so many language politics that the non-cabinet MLAs cannot ask the practical questions of how this government plans to reach its goal without facing a backlash.

Changing a working language in 4 years is a momentous task in a government that has clear capacity issues. If the goal is to have more Inuktitut-speaking beneficiaries in the roles then how will training be addressed? If the goal is to have present non-Inuktitut speaking staff learn the language to a level to work in it, how will that look?

I’m not always a big fan of Nunatsiaq, but I think they asked a very important question and I don’t think the premier answered it in this reactionary letter.

#35. Posted by Soothsayer on May 24, 2018

#32 You can deny reality for how you would like things to be, but to what end?

#33 There’s no magic, except education. Such things take time.

#36. Posted by on May 24, 2018

The truth reveals itself in very harsh ways. Many Inuks will suffer while this selfish and abusive ‘leader’ sacrifices his people for a dream that has gone unfulfilled. It is so sad to see after being here so long and routing for the people that won my heart. Oh the shame! Than

#37. Posted by Knockout Ned on May 24, 2018

#35 I don’t think so. I think you underestimate the number of Inuit who opt to resist a Corporate takeover of Nunavut.

#38. Posted by Monica Connolly on May 24, 2018

There is an old joke that goes like this: a person who is multilingual speaks several languages; a person who is bilingual speaks two languages; a person who is monolingual speaks English.
It is not that difficult to learn the language of the place you live and work, as long as two factors are present: formal classes, be they in person or on-line, and willingness on the part of co-workers and other residents to help the newcomers learn. Look at the number of immigrants to Canada who are successfully learning English and French!
Yes, there are a few issues that will have to be worked out. For example, a tradesman needs less Inuktitut to do his job in the language than a doctor or department head does. And there are probably a few GN workers with learning disabilities in language acquisition, people quite smart, but with a specific problem with some language skill. These can be accommodated.
If the Québecois can do it, so can the Nunavummiut.

#39. Posted by Billy on May 24, 2018

# 38, A wonderful statement Monica, if only Nunavut leadership would
apply it especially in Western Nunavut!
Good Luck.

#40. Posted by Pangloss on May 25, 2018

Monica, having reduced the problems with this proposal to “a few issues that will have to be worked out” you are in good standing for either the most understated comment of the year, or the most out of touch one.

I know where my vote is going.

#41. Posted by M. James on May 25, 2018

It amazes me how many of us from the so called south are so bias when it comes to Inuit.  The comments I have heard over the years have been outright “racist”, yet here we are with the best of housing, jobs and other luxuries that most could not afford if living and working in the south. We arrive here with a superior attitude and that continues to expand as we move up the ladder in powerful positions that one could never attain in the South.  Most have not worked at any other job before coming to Nunavut and have moved quickly into positions of authority.  Too many of us have a “academic superiority” complex” even those who are not academics think they are better than the Inuit. Unfortunately, some Inuit still believe they need us to show them the way and those they are not bowing down to colonial ways are criticized,frowned upon and deemed to be unqualified no matter how hard they have struggled to be heard and rise above for what they know to be their journey, their “Truth”.

#42. Posted by Virtue Signal Alert on May 25, 2018

#41 What amazes me is how loaded with cliches, thoughtless assumptions and self righteous posturing your comment is.

Who are you trying to impress?

Please let us know.

#43. Posted by Monica Connolly on May 25, 2018

Pangloss, when I met my husband in Iqaluit, he was painter foreman for DPW and he spoke no Inuktitut. He had at least 5 painters working with him, not one of whom was fluent in English. But the language of work was English, and the Inuit workers spoke it enough that the group worked. Surely Anglophones could learn enough Inuktitut to get by as well.
It is up to the GN to provide the formal lessons, and to encourage the Inuktitut-speaking population to support the learners. It is up to the union to make sure that the expectations for learning are fair. This is not by any means an impossible dream, as long as people are willing to think outside the box.

#44. Posted by Pangloss on May 25, 2018

#43 At first glance I thought you were making an analogy (albeit, a very weak one) that your husband was able to learn Inuktitut; therefore everyone could.

But you didn’t even say that.

So, I’m a little unclear what your point is? You say we should think outside the box. Do you have any examples of how that might be applied, or are you just reciting a mantra of sorts?

Here’s my point; the GN lacks the capacity to implement this and is effectively wasting its time on this file.

End of story.

#45. Posted by Monica Connolly on May 25, 2018

My point is that if Inuit with no formal education could learn enough English in 1970 to use it as their working language, surely anglophones, who have probably had to study a second language (French) at school, should be able to pick up enough Inuktitut with the aid of formal instruction to use at work. Yes, it will take longer for employees in jobs requiring a lot of technical language. But Europeans with a reasonable education usually speak at least two languages - why is this such a daunting task for anglophone Canadians?
Thinking outside the box? For a start, use computers, video conferencing, etc. Check with other organizations in Canada and other countries as to how best to teach a second language; this includes some of the language lesson developers like Rosetta Stone or Babbel. Do radio and tv ads encouraging Inuit to initiate everyday conversations with learners in Inuktitut. Teach in Roman, not syllabics, but make transliteration programs available. And more.

#46. Posted by Amphora (Cambridge Bay ) on May 25, 2018

When I went to school in 1985 I could speak some Inuktitut.
  Because of the terrible standard of Inuktitut, taught at my school, I
no longer speak it, or care about it.
It is the same throughout a lot of Nunavut.
I do not blame the GN, who are funding over 3 million a year in this
community for Inuktitut. Each community has responsibility.
If the GN got a good Inuktitut programme going , I would be very
grateful indeed.

#47. Posted by Demise Of Inuit-White Relations on May 25, 2018

I’ve been around for years and mourn the lack of contact that newcomers have with Inuit.  They tend to hang out with their own small group that thinks like itself. They do not venture out to genuinely care about the gaping hole in the net, the desparity between themselves and the poor.  They do not volunteer and most do not care.
They chat amongst themselves and pronounce the local people as backward, lazy, unreliable and re-inforce each others beliefs that this is the case.
How sad!
Not that long ago Inuit and Qadlunaq were friends - real friends.  They invited each other over, went out on the land and camped together, visited southerner’s homes in the summer, helped raise each other’s kids, named their children after some Inuit, worked side by side with much laughter and chatter between themselves.
What happened?
Did the number of southerners suddenly expand to fast?
Did people become nervous at home and in the workplace that they felt frightened of their sheer numbers and power?

#48. Posted by Some do, Some dont on May 25, 2018

Interesting comment # 47,
But we are a free country in Canada, we make our choices!

#49. Posted by Negativity Bias on May 26, 2018

I agree, #47 is an interesting comment.

It makes me wonder what Inuit are quietly saying about southerners, while southerners are commenting on the backwardness of Inuit? I am sure they are much more charitable, of course.

Who agrees?

These kinds of social analyses can be problematic though. it could also be true that there are as many, even more, close relationships between Inuit and White people today as there were in the past, but that there are also more outliers too. 

Perhaps the outliers stand out more and become evidence for a more catastrophic narrative. This is what the human mind is predisposed to see after all.

#50. Posted by Adaktoo on May 26, 2018

So true, we blame GN but it is not their fault, our own teachers and
advisors should be doing their jobs better for the community.
Are our councils even listening to the people?
# 47,
I remember that also , but as time goes on we all change for all types
of reasons.

I believe our councils and committees, if done properly, are our
strongest way for community improvement

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