Jack’s marching orders for the road to Nunavut

Ottawa’s instructions to interim commissioner Jack Anawak are contained in a seven-page letter from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.



Lines of communication between interim commissioner Jack Anawak and the people of Nunavut must be wide open at all times.

That’s one of the key commandments contained in the letter of instruction that the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) issued to Anawak, shortly after his appointment in April.

“You will need to keep the Nunavut public regularly informed of measures taken towards the establishment of Nunavut,” the instructions read. “You will be expected to establish an effective communications system that will facilitate the regular flow of information to the public.”

By the time a copy of the seven-page letter of instruction was finally released to Nunatsiaq News last week, the interim commissioner’s office was still without a communications director.

As reported last week, the interim commissioner’s office has begun work on a comprehensive recruitment and employment plan, however.

This is a crucial part of the instructions from Ottawa.

Funding for Nunavut

So is a reference to the $10 million that the federal government has budgeted for the purpose of maintaining the interim commissioner’s office until division.

“Access to these funds will require you to bring forward appropriate budgetary and financing arrangements,” the letter reads. “Such arrangements must be acceptable to the Treasury Board and the use of these funds will be subject to audit.”

In a section devoted to Nunavut’s finances, the interim commissioner is instructed to begin negotiating “as soon as practicable” toward an agreement on the division of assets and liablilities between Nunavut and the new western territory.

Federal policy tool

For more than 30 years, letters of instruction have been a common means by which Indian affairs ministers have exercised federal authority and carried out federal policy ­ especially policy changes ­ in northern Canada.

New DIAND minister Jane Stewart must now exercise this authority, vested in her by Section 71(2) of the Nunavut Act.

The letter of instruction details what Anawak must accomplish as interim commissioner in the remaining 22 months before the NWT divides.

The letter points out that the other two parties to the Nunavut political accord ­ the GNWT and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. ­ agree with the contents of the letter.

Anawak has been given a relatively free hand in his job of implementing the Footprints 2 model of decentralized government.

The instructions do not contain a timetable for attaining the specific goals outlined in the letter, but state that before any “significant” deviation from the Footprints model, “you are to secure the agreement of the Parties.”

Employment plan

One of Anawak’s first tasks is to develop a comprehensive recruitment plan for the hiring of Nunavut government employees.

“It is essential that a functioning administration for the government of Nunavut be in place on April 1, 1999,” the instructions read. “The employment and recruitment plan must be developed in sufficient time to allow the commencement of recruitment of headquarters employees at the beginning of 1998.”

Consistent with Inuit employment objectives in Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement, qualified Inuit candidates are to be given preference for headquarters positions, as well as any positions at the regional level, which are vacant on April 1, 1999.

The letter instructs Anawak to develop an Inuit employment plan in order to fulfill the objective of recruiting at least 50 per cent Inuit to all Nunavut government headquarters positions and to all positions at the regional level, by April 1, 1999.

It instructs the interim commissioner’s office to develop this employment plan in consultation with NTI, the GNWT and the federal government.

“You will need to work closely with the parties to ensure that such training efforts, including training provided under the Unified Human Resources Strategy and under Article 23 Inuit employment plans, are developing the skills necessary for Inuit to qualify for employment and promotion in the Nunavut government.”

Inuit come first

Subject to Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement, headquarters employees currently working with the GNWT outside Nunavut should be given priority consideration in the filling of headquarters positions in the Nunavut government.

Anawak has been granted the power to hire office staff “on terms and conditions consistent with those established by the GNWT for its employees.”

Although Anawak has already hired some senior staff, he has yet to advertise any jobs within his office.

Finally, the instructions urge the interim commissioner to “be guided by the best interests of the government of Nunavut and the residents of Nunavut.”

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