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Proposed Nunavut heritage centre gets $5 million more, this time from NTI

“This is tremendous momentum”


Here is an artist's rendition of what the proposed Nunavut Heritage Centre would look like. (FILE PHOTO)

Here is an artist’s rendition of what the proposed Nunavut Heritage Centre would look like. (FILE PHOTO)

When Eva Aariak, the territory’s second premier and the current president of the Inuit Heritage Trust, visited Cambridge Bay last month for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s annual general meeting, she made a big pitch for construction of a Nunavut heritage centre.

During her Oct. 25 presentation, Aariak said, among other things, that a territorial heritage centre would instil a sense of pride among Nunavummiut.

On Nov. 6, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced that NTI’s board has decided to put $5 million towards the new centre. That matches the amount that QIA pledged in October to contribute towards a heritage centre, which is estimated to cost between $70 million and $90 million.

“I am very excited about NTI’s support, in addition to QIA’s pledge,” said Aariak in a joint QIA-IHT release. “This is tremendous momentum that the Nunavut Heritage Centre project has never seen before. Next, we will start to focus on getting support from the incoming Government of Nunavut.”

“Inuit stand united when it comes to our desire to bring home Inuit artifacts and ethnographic material collected, at times without consent, by explorers and researchers,” QIA President P.J. Akeeagok said in the Nov. 6 release.

At the NTI meeting, Aariak said she hoped to see a similar commitment from NTI, the Kivalliq Inuit Association and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association. The other two regional Inuit associations have not yet committed money to the project.

In Cambridge Bay, Aariak brought up Article 33.2.4 of the Nunavut Agreement, on the establishment of heritage facilities in Nunavut, which states “there is an urgent need to establish facilities in the Nunavut Settlement Area for the conservation and management of a representative portion of the archaeological record.”

Until recently, Nunavut artwork and artifacts were stored at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife.

But last year, the GN worked out partnership arrangements to transfer 8,000 artifacts to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and sent others to the Canadian Museum of Nature’s collections facility near Ottawa.

The IHT, which has worked with Qikiqtaaluk Corp. since 2014 on the heritage centre project, wants to bring those collections home and see them housed in a centre built on Inuit-owned land in Iqaluit.

The heritage centre has been in the works since 2001—and in 2009, when Aariak was premier, the GN committed to the project.

But in 2011, the GN decided to shelve plans to build it due to other government infrastructure priorities, such as housing, health centres, airports and schools, community halls and fuel tank farms.

Of the $10 million, which had been budgeted to advance with the centre, $3 million had gone to planning and design and a consultant who received $200,000 to source out funds for a heritage centre.

So, the $7 million left was redirected to other GN projects.

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