Ottawa should set aside Nunavut mining royalties to build housing

“This is not about devolution, this is simply the honour of the Crown”


I was driving to work this morning and saw Leona Aglukkaq on the road. I must say that she looked well. It was clear to me that her career as a federal minster is agreeing with her.

Leona’s presence also signalled to me that something important was going on this week in Iqaluit. I felt certain that I would eventually find out what that was.

It turns out that she was making a CANNOR announcement for an interesting initiative to transform garbage into energy in Iqaluit. I was impressed.

By lunchtime, I also figured out that another important event was going on in Iqaluit at the Frobisher Inn as I went to get my lunch to go.

The parking lot was full of vehicles. I asked an old friend ” What’s going on?” She responded “the Nunavut Mining Symposium, my friend.”

As I was navigating my way through the lunch hour maze of taxis and congestion at the Frobisher Inn, I actually started thinking about mining in Nunavut. Mining must be profitable in this territory, otherwise so many mines would not be starting up.

I also started thinking that many of these mines must be setting up on land owned by Inuit or the federal government. I also imagined that these were probably open pit mines that will necessarily deface our land.

I also remembered my travels across Nunavut, and the overcrowded housing and dilapidated infrastructure that I had the misfortune of witnessing first hand.

With all of these ideas and images filling my head (a small head to be sure,) I started wondering about what Nunavut will gain from this flurry of profitable mining activity going on in our territory.

I’ve been told that some Inuit are gainfully employed in these mines, but I have no idea what their numbers are or what percentage of the workforce they represent. I thought that the Government of Canada must be making sizeable royalties from the mining activity, but I had no idea how much that would be.

As usual, I had so many questions and little or no answers. And then it occurred to me: Forget about the questions and focus on what you believe.

I believe that Inuit should share in the wealth generated from mining in this territory. I believe that Inuit will accept the open face mines that will pockmark our land if we can share in the wealth that will come from this activity.

I believe that the federal government owes Nunavut its fair share of the royalty revenues which are no doubt flowing day after day after day.

In closing, I really hope that our MP Leona Aglukkaq arranges a meeting with the Prime Minister on this issue. The message should be simple: Nunavutmiut are prepared to accept open pit mining on our land.

All that we ask for in return is that any of the federal royalties that are generated will be deposited into a trust account that will be devoted to the construction of new housing in our territory.

This is not about devolution, this is simply the honour of the Crown.

And then my lunch hour ended. No more daydreaming I thought. I had to get back to work.

(Name withheld by request)

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