Akeeagok touts devolution, repatriating elders as cabinet descends upon Ottawa
Nunavut ministers meeting with Trudeau, federal counterparts throughout week
Premier P.J. Akeeagok wants to see Nunavut and the federal government make progress on an agreement to transfer more powers to the territory.
That’s one of several issues he and his ministers are planning to tackle as they descend upon Ottawa for a week of meetings.
In an interview Monday, Akeeagok said the transfer, or devolution, of some powers from Ottawa to Nunavut has long been a priority for the territory, and he plans to bring it up again when he meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“That’s something I’ve mentioned every bilateral meeting I’ve had with the prime minister, and I will continue to advocate for,” he said.
“There’s mineral riches that are on Crown land and they would allow us to be able to build the economies that we see as a territory, and really, that’s the next chapter in our territory’s history that I’m very much looking forward to seeing concluded.”
Akeeagok’s statement reflects a comment Sen. Dennis Patterson made last week in Iqaluit during the Nunavut Mining Symposium.
“Devolution and continued support of the mining industry that is the largest contributor to Nunavut’s GDP as well as one of the territory’s largest employers — second only to government — is the key to unlocking the territory’s potential,” Patterson said in his April 26 keynote address.
“We now stand on the cusp of a new and exciting opportunity to position the territory globally as a world leader in mineral development.”
This week has been dubbed “Nunavut on the Hill.”
Akeeagok and all of his ministers are in Ottawa for meetings on Parliament Hill and around the city.
After meeting with Nunavut MP Lori Idlout on Monday, other items on Akeeagok’s agenda include sitting in on Question Period.
There are also meetings scheduled with Patterson, Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
Housing, the recent federal budget, health care and reconciliation are on the discussion table with those ministers, among other topics.
A meeting with National Defence Minister Anita Anand to discuss Arctic security is also on the agenda.
“We know Arctic security and sovereignty has been at the forefront of not only northerners’ [attention], but Canadians’, so I very much look forward to that bilateral meeting with her,” Akeeagok said.
Elder care is another key component of this week’s cabinet trip.
Health Minister John Main plans to visit elders and staff at Embassy West Senior Living in Ottawa this week.
Both Main and Akeeagok said Nunavut is working to “repatriate” elders who are living at Embassy West due to the lack of long-term-care services in the territory.
Construction of a new elder home will be completed this year in Rankin Inlet, according to Main. Construction is also set to begin on facilities in Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay.
“The plan is to build that capacity in-territory and have it available for Nunavummiut so that they’ll be closer to home,” Main said.
“I think we have to stay in a mindset of continuous improvement, because I recognize that even having three homes in the regional centres … there will still be hardship associated with that as well.”
Families of Embassy West residents get two free trips per year for visits, all expenses paid by the Government of Nunavut.
Main said the Health Department is looking at providing more free trips per year for those families, but the longer-term goal is to be self-sufficient and not have to rely on out-of-territory service.
“For the time being, Embassy West, we really appreciate the services that are provided there,” Main said, “and we’re always looking for ways to improve supports, not just for the elders but also for their families in terms of their visits here and spending time with their relatives.”
You have to be kidding. Many of these meetings took place during Northern Lights and many federal ministers have been visiting the territory. This is a big waste of tax payers money. Thousands of dollars spent for a 1 day trip. What happened to virtually effective meetings?
I am so disappointed in the Premiers results for the people of the territory. Some of the decisions he has made must have left the opposition speechless. Where is the accountability? Where are the folks that should be keeping this guy in check?
Time for the opposition to stand up, Adam, George, and Joe, and now David S who was with no doubt told to step down or be removed.
How can you steal a quote from the Senator when you don’t support mining development. Time to stand up for something PJ before you become nothing.
Someone remind me why Mr. Quassa was ousted please.
I’m surprised this comment made it through the editor
Why are you surprised? The concerns are legitimate.
Inuit organizations used to get slammed if they met in the south, viewed as shopping trips.
I hope something good for residents of Nunavut comes from this.
can you tell me who David S is?
This whole thing is rather out to lunch. The GN has an aprrox staff of 3600. Nunavut has 36,000. So if every position at the GN was filled with an Inuit hire that leaves a lot of people out in the cold. All funded by Federal transfer payments.
Mining? Whats the staff capacity of Inuit at Baffinland? I mean look at Diavik in GNWT. Sort of the gold standard model. Think these operations go on forever. Face the reality….there in no economic viability to NU.
Yet everybody wants a new snow machine, a house and on and on. Half the population is on social assistance. See anything dramatically changing in the next 20-30 years. Nope!
Broken promise after broken promise. When will we see results? Enough with photo opps time to start working on getting the other 2850 homes we need. 150 on its way and 2850 to go.
I challenge the Premier and Cabinet to ask some in depth questions to their officials about Devolution. The federal government is dumping these lands and responsibilities for a reason and the reason is cost. The GN cannot staff anything and now they are going to staff a Department of Lands? They’re going to pass 10s of pieces of legislation and spend two decades upgrading from the federal laws (processes in Yukon and NWT ongoing with 20 and 10 years since they had the same things devolved)? The only people who benefit from devolution is the Devolution Secretariat who will be set up for 25 more years running a budget akin to some Departments and of course they want it to go ahead PJ.
The GN has 1000 vacancies. Devolution will add several hundred more. It will not encourage our high school graduates to become nurses to help the sick in Nunavut. It will not encourage our high school graduates to become teachers, to teach in Inuktitut. It will not encourage our high school graduates to become engineers, to operate the water treatment plants in Nunavut. Devolution will draw several hundred Nunavut high school graduates to become paper pushers, all working for the mining companies.
Some call it “working for the man”.
PJ is right about one thing. There are mineral riches on Crown land. But we don’t know where and we won’t be able to get to them for a long time. That’s because those riches are still under the glaciers. The known mineral riches are all on Inuit owned land. That was part of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement.
Enjoy your Spring shopping trip.
I find this ongoing focus on devolution baffling. The GN doesn’t come close to carrying out its existing responsibilities. And it wants to take on more? WTF.
The kind of pride that precedes a fall
The only argument used to justify “devolution” is all the revenue Nunavut stands to make through royalties paid by mining companies that would now be going to the Feds. The difficulty I have with that argument is that nothing is stopping the Feds from simply agreeing right now to transfer all of the mining royalties to the GN without also transferring the costly administrative responsibilities regarding lands and resources. Nunavut just wants the money and let the Feds keep the onerous administrative responsibilities!! I’m sure Justin Trudeau would have no problem with that given how much he loves Nunavut evidenced by all those selfies he’s taken with Elders LOL.
Bottom line is that the GN has never taken the time to make the case why devolution would result in a net economic benefit to Nunavut. But I suppose they don’t have to because citizens don’t get to have a say on this issue given that we have no political parties and our elections are high school popularity contests. So, why make the case for devolution if you don’t need to? You just press ahead anyway.
When I look around our territory, I see less and less Inuit faces, and more and more faces of southerners. It is all ready hard for Inuit to get jobs in upper management because of nepotism. We are forced to take whatever jobs we can get and all ready get a lower income compared to our southern counterparts. You want to add more jobs to the GN for who? It sure isn’t for the Inuit, like someone said these jobs are just going to make the Inuit pencil pusher for the man, not making any real money to sustain their families. Even in the GN we are constantly looked down on and time and time again I hear oh the Inuit don’t work, they can’t do this type of work.
I am so sick of seeing my Inuit people living off of income support and seeing my people living on top of one another in over crowded housing and some never getting the chance to move out of their parents home. Focus on building more housing and focus on getting our people healthy so that we are not living on income support.
Yes, get our Inuuqatiiit – fellow Inuit off of income support by helping families learn skills, helping their children stay in school, finish school, work towards and thinking about post-secondary education, find consistent and regular work to get regular pay, learn to manage money, budget, pay off bills, contribute to their fellow inuit (programming and step up programming, wellness and healing sessions, learning hobbies, crafts, creating, home work skills, learning skills). Help kids learn recreation (a big programming need for income support families). Living off of income support once a month, relying on GST tax time, selling crafts are not enough to sustain a healthy and supportive family environment. Redesign programming in recreation, wellness workshops, training, school curriculum, education step up, etc. So much more…
Also need to stop passing students and graduating students just for the sake of increasing graduation rates. Too many are graduating with their grade 12 but are barely equivalent to a grade 8. How can this person be ready for work? Yet they still get jobs
Only in NU is a high school certificate considered a credential. No way a high school is enough to be competent at a gov job, yet here we go paying people 6 figures jobs with Gn
You seem to think that fewer and fewer Inuit faces is a bad thing. (I assume that you are in Iqaluit) I disagree. Iqaluit is becoming more cosmopolitan, more representative, and more ethnically diverse. It short, it is maturing.
The GN needs devolution because the Inuit Orgs are the only ones making money off the mines because they are on IOL, and they are hoarding it. So, basically the NLCA has hamstringed our public government. It has no choice but to beg for money from the feds but it would rather make royalties off mining which it can maximize off mining that is in the settlement area but not on IOL’s.
Interesting bit of info. Makes a lot of sense.
The talk about mining still baffles me as Nunavut hasn’t been exactly mining-friendly the past few years.
If you think there is anything close to enough mining royalties out there to make the GN independent from the Federal Government, you are dreaming in technicolour! Even with the Royalties, we will still be going hat in hand begging the Feds for money. Perhaps begging for a tiny bit less but begging nonetheless. Also, think about how much of that Royalty money will be needed for the extra costs that will be offloaded to us with devolution.
I agree that mining royalties aren’t going to be a big fiscal windfall for the GN. Arguably, locating the decision making processes in Nunavut could help with the social license issue. But it could end up being even less hospitable to mining investment than the status quo. It is a little piece of incremental sovereignty, at minimal cost (and potentially some revenue), that’s a temptation that politicians aren’t able to resist.
Is anyone arguing that mining royalties are going to make the GN independent of Ottawa?