A new acronym strides boldly forth

From “ITC” to “ITK,” the great makeover begins.


MONTREAL – For its 30th birthday, Canada’s national Inuit organization – the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada – is giving itself a new name: the Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami.

The new acronym, ITK, better reflects the Inuktitut way of saying “ITC,” which has always been “Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami.”

Jose Kusugak, the organization’s president, says the new acronym is easier to understand and will eliminate confusion with the Inuit Circumpolar Conference’s acronym, ICC.

Kusugak plans to officially launch “ITK” at a big birthday bash planned for Dec. 2 in Ottawa.

The Inuit Tapirisat Kanatami was created in 1971 to give Inuit in Canada a national voice. Representatives of Canada’s regional Inuit organizations, as well as Pauktuutit and the National Inuit Youth Council, sit on its board of directors.

At their recent annual general meeting in Nain, Labrador, Kusugak asked member organizations to spend $10,000 each on the birthday party and to sponsor 10 regional representatives to attend the event.

The list of invitees is also expected to include politicians, business leaders, past ITK presidents and land-claim negotiators over the past 30 years.

“This occasion will be used as a means to raise awareness, locally, regionally and nationally, not only of the organization itself, but of Inuit in general, where they’ve been, where they are now, and more importantly, where they are going in the future,” reads ITK’s annual report.

In 2001, Kusugak wants to put ITK on a more secure path, by convincing the Department of Indian Affairs to provide core funding to ITK – that is, enough money to cover its basic operating expenses.

Kusugak said ITK’s core funding should be equal to that of relatively well-funded First Nations groups.

“I’m negotiating with Robert Nault [federal minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development],” Kusugak said. “The First Nations organizations get a lot of money.”

As it stands now, more than 40 different special projects contribute varying amounts to ITK’s $4.5 million annual budget.

Kusugak said uncertainty over funding still makes it difficult for the organization to plan ahead – although salaries for ITK employees were raised 10 per cent last year.

Kusugak said core funding would let the organization concentrate on lobbying for Inuit concerns instead of surviving on specific program grants from various government departments.

In 2000-2001, some of the concerns ITK worked on included housing, health, Inuktitut language and gun control.
Over the past year ITK received nearly $600,000 from projects under Human Resources Development Canada.

The ITK board has decided not to join a court case filed by Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women’s association, against the HRDC.

Pauktuutit’s lawsuit, filed in 1998, alleges that job training agreements between the HRDC and the six regional Inuit organizations under ITK discriminate against Inuit women. It alleges HRDC denies Inuit women a say in how training and employment dollars are spent and creates a bias against Inuit women trying to find work.

Kusugak said he acknowledges that Pauktuutit is “even worse off then we are” financially, but that he doesn’t support pitting one Inuit organization against others.

He said ITK is the national organization for Inuit men and women and serves both equally.

At its recent annual general meeting in Nain, ITC handed out national awards to RCMP constable Terry Lyall and broadcaster Fran Williams McIntosh, and a posthumous award to Sid Dicker, the author of Laboradormi, Nunatsiavut’s regional anthem.

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