Payout hit by plummeting commodity; price

Makivik nickel share dwindles to $6.8 million


Xstrata Nickel recently presented a cheque for $6.8 million to Makivik Corporation, representing its share of the profits generated by the Raglan nickel mine in 2008.

That's about one-fifth of the $32.4 million handed over last year to Makivik before the global demand for nickel nosedived, substantially reducing Xstrata's revenues.

"Once again, this year's profit sharing will benefit Nunavimmiut with much needed assistance. These payments are appreciated considering that Nunavik has one of the highest costs of living in Canada," said Pita Ataami, Makivik Corp. president in a June 4 Xstrata news release on the profit-sharing.

But people in Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq say they are nervous about the social impact that this year's profit-sharing money could have on their communities.

These two communities nearest the mine receive the lion's share of the annual profit-sharing.

Last year, after $14 million was divvied up among Salluit's 1,100 beneficiaries, each adult got $15,000 and every child received $3,500.

In Kangiqsujuaq, beneficiaries, about 520 in all, received checks for $4,700, with $4,000 coming from Xstrata and $700 from the profit-sharing pot split among all beneficiaries in Nunavik.

Some said Raglan profit-sharing money was a good thing because it paid to buy equipment for traditional activities or to pay off debts like rent arrears.

But the bonanza also encouraged many to head to Montreal for shopping sprees. In Salluit, many took the summer off, causing labour shortages in the community.

There was more drug trafficking and bootlegging, and the number of injuries and medevacs also rose.

For at least one man, Charlie Mark Savidjuk of Salluit, the profit-sharing money proved lethal.

Saviadjuk, 35, disappeared into Montreal, where he is said to have started using crack cocaine. His body was later fished out of the St. Lawrence River.

Inuit and non-Inuit thieves in Montreal targeted visitors from Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq. They reportedly hung out at bars, such as Dorval's Satellite Bar, which draws a sizeable northern clientele.

"People from Montreal are stripping people naked from the North and frisking them for money. Four or five men go into a bar and ask all the patrons where they are from. And they go back out and wait for the people to start going out and if they stay in the bar or establishment too long, then they go back in," said a summer 2008 posting on the Nunatsiaq News talk-back.

This year, the amount of money that beneficiaries stand to receive will be minimal compared to 2008, so many are expected to spend their profit-sharing cheques, due to arrive in late June or early July, within Nunavik.

Yearly profit-sharing is part of the Raglan Agreement, signed in 1995 by the Raglan operation (then owned by Falconbridge Ltd., Makivik and the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq).

To date, Raglan has delivered more than $65.4 million back to Nunavik.

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