QIA stages community meetings ahead of talks with Baffinland
Sagging Inuit employment a subject of concern
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association wants to hear from its beneficiaries as it gears up to renegotiate its benefits agreement with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.
Starting on Wednesday, April 4 and continuing until Thursday, April 12, the QIA will hold public meetings and information sessions in Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Hall Beach and Clyde River. These five communities are most directly impacted by the company’s Mary River mine.
These meetings will be hosted by the QIA’s negotiation team. That includes former-premier Eva Aariak, who is serving as chief negotiator, and former MLA George Qulaut, who is co-negotiator.
The negotiatiors plan to hold special meetings with hamlet councils, hunters and trappers organizations, community land and resource committees, as well as public gatherings for community members.
The Inuit impact and benefit agreement between the QIA and Baffinland calls for reviews to take place every three years. These reviews could prompt the renegotiation of certain articles of the agreement.
Inuit employment is bound to come up. The proportion of Inuit employed at Mary River slumped to 12.5 per cent in early 2017. That was a big drop from the rate of 20 per cent seen one year earlier, and just half of the agreed-upon target of 25 per cent.
The QIA said during its annual meeting this past October that the current employment gap represents about $9 million in lost wages for Inuit. The association has said it wants to see the 25 per cent target reached by 2020.
The QIA and Baffinland have made recent efforts to turn these employment numbers around. Earlier this month, the QIA touted how 14 more Inuit were employed at Mary River working as apprentice trades assistants, thanks to a new program launched last fall by QIA and the company.
The QIA aims to train 360 Inuit through the program by March 2021.
QIA’s community meetings will take place in Igloolik on April 5, Pond Inlet on April 9 and April 10, Hall Beach on April 11 and Clyde River on April 12.
You can find schedule details here.