Western Nunavut Inuit condemn “environmental” draft land use plan
KIA says NPC’s draft plan deprives Kitikmeot Inuit of potential benefits from Inuit-owned lands
CAMBRIDGE BAY—Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak made a few points clear in his president’s report for the KIA annual general meeting that got underway Oct. 4 in Cambridge Bay.
The KIA is development-friendly, “very open to the mining sector,” he said, and the KIA doesn’t see the current version of the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan as a good thing.
The plan, he said, would prevent Inuit in western Nunavut from pursuing mining on their own Inuit-owned lands, which cover about 100,000 square kilometres.
In June, the final Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan was completed and, counter to the Government of Nunavut’s wishes announced last spring, it offered blanket protection for caribou calving grounds.
The draft land use plan sets out three categories: Protected Areas, Special Management Areas and Mixed Use.
And the plan, intended to guide resource use and development within the Nunavut Settlement Area, calls for the protection of caribou calving and post-calving grounds, along with access corridors, assigning those areas a “Protected Area” land use designation.
But the KIA has some big issues with the plan, which it expects to table with the Nunavut Planning Commission by Nov. 28.
The KIA’s mandate is to manage Kitikmeot Inuit lands and resources, and to protect and promote the social, cultural, political, environmental, and economic well-being of Kitikmeot Inuit, said Geoff Clark, the KIA’s director of Lands and Environment, in his Oct. 4 report to the AGM.
So the KIA’s mandate must be followed when responding to the Nunavut Planning Commission—but the NPC appears to have an “environmental focus to land use planning,” he said.
The KIA plans to table many comments on the land use plan to the NPC, but the four major areas of concern cited by the KIA include:
• the increasing scope and geography of caribou protected areas and bird protected areas—”These areas are designated as protected usually without evidence that valuable wildlife is significantly affected by properly designed uses of the land. These protected areas prevent many other valuable uses and opportunities from the land in the Kitikmeot region,” said Clark, noting these protected areas include “significant amounts” of Inuit-owned lands;
• these protected areas are similar to “Conservation Areas” as defined in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement—”A key difference is no IIBA [Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement] is required for NPC protected areas to offset Inuit losses and Inuit loss of rights and opportunities as a landowner. Thus there is no cost to parties wishing to affect Inuit rights by establishing protected areas in the Kitikmeot as part of the NLUP [Nunavut Land Use Plan];”
• the planning commission’s proposed amendment and revision process for the plan are flawed—”There is no certainty,” and,
• some projects are not “grandfathered” to be excluded from the plan, even though the previous rules suggested that “projects with historical NIRB [Nunavut Impact Review Board] engagement will be excluded” from the land use plan.
Meanwhile, exploration—which Anablak sees as key to the Kitikmeot region’s prosperous future—is slack, and there’s little exploration taking place on Inuit-owned lands or Crown lands.
That’s something the KIA hopes will change as TMAC Resources Inc., now in the last stages of its permitting process, looks poised to pour its first gold bar early in 2017—-and the KIA has asked Ottawa to reconsider the Nunavut Impact Board’s rejection of the Sabina Gold and Silver Corp.’s Back River mine project.
Last June, the KIA also signed a memorandum of understanding with the GN to be a co-proponent for developing the Grays Bay port and road project, east of the community of Kugluktuk.
That was before the federal government said it was not yet ready to support the 227-kilometre Grays Bay road-port project.
Grays Bay is also on the agenda at the KIA meeting, which continues until Oct. 6.