Nunatsiaq News
COMMENTARY: Nunavut November 08, 2017 - 8:00 am

Open letter pitches new idea for Nunavut: local Inuit associations

"I can see so many good ways this would benefit well-being and improved quality of life"

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Freshly caught ring seals lie on the dock at Qikiqtarjuaq. Would the creation and funding of local Inuit associations help produce a viable community service delivery model, using Nunavut Trust funds that now go to the regional Inuit associations? (FILE PHOTO)
Freshly caught ring seals lie on the dock at Qikiqtarjuaq. Would the creation and funding of local Inuit associations help produce a viable community service delivery model, using Nunavut Trust funds that now go to the regional Inuit associations? (FILE PHOTO)

ABRAHAM TAGALIK

Dear comrades and Inuit:

I am writing to introduce what I think the next step should be on our journey as Inuit of Nunavut.

I want to introduce the idea of developing a well-funded community delivery model (CDM) for our land claims organizations’ brotherhood and sisterhood and for the Inuit in the communities.

The empowerment of Inuit can begin by starting a local Inuit association (LIA) in each community to look after the affairs of Inuit in that community.

The LIA would be chaired by the local regional Inuit association (RIA) representative for that community on the regional association. The RIA rep would be crucial to keep this functioning and would provide the necessary feedback to beneficiaries and RIA board members.

The LIA boards can be structured to be inclusive of the different parts of Inuit society—elders, youth, women, men—and to include ex-officio community members sitting on any institutions or boards or agencies created under the land claim for the sharing of information and knowledge to that community.

The funding would come in two parts, an initial capital investment for an Inuit community center with a proper kitchen and space for gatherings and activities, much in line with the francophone center in Iqaluit, and annual operational funding to carry out the affairs of the community organization (LIA.)

For argument’s sake, let’s say $500,000 each to the larger communities and less for the smaller ones based on a formula on the number of beneficiaries.

Nunavut has 25 communities with 13 in the Baffin for $6.5 million, seven in the Kivalliq for $3.5 million and five in the Kitikmeot for $2.5 million, and 25 times $500,000 equals $12.5 million annually.

Most of this can come from the current annual RIA allocation from the Nunavut Trust, with other sources such as royalties and other payments to Inuit in the region.

It might be time to tighten ship and cut the vacation travel allowances for all staff and cancel free leave at Christmas for those funded under the land claims beneficiary money.

The LIA can set priorities and targets for community initiatives with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the RIAs.

Much emphasis would centre on the general caring for Inuit needs, such as the acquisition and sharing of food and the hunting process, the proper use and care of skins for sewing, caring for each other, and the passing on and learning of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.

NTI and the RIAs can search for synergies to complement and adjust themselves to help the communities become more functional and vibrant.

The community liaison officer position, for example, could be adjusted to help run the organization and to be the manager and servant of the organization and Inuit of the community.

The hunters and trappers organization and the hunter support programs could be adjusted for supporting LIA community needs. The Inuit in the communities can grow and take back much of which we had lost.

I can see so many good ways this would benefit well-being and improved quality of life. The governments could be asked to pitch in and support initial organizational development and perhaps funding for the purchasing of basic bulk food such as flour, sugar, tea, coffee, soup and lard etc., to combat food security. Healthy communities can be the focus.

A good reporting structure and controls on spending and empowerment of locals would make sure all goes well and best practices can be shared between communities.

Most Inuit want to contribute and be involved and under this setup as much sharing of the different workloads can happen. Hunters can hunt, sewers can sew and elders can guide the Inuit in fixing our society in the directions Inuit choose to go.

Everybody wants to be part of the wheel. It would be good to start by accepting the idea in principle through a motion, and for NTI and the RIAs to plan for some options and discussions and acceptance at AGM time.

Taima.

Abraham Tagalik
Nunavut

Copies of this open letter have been sent to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Kivalliq Inuit Association, and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.



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