City wants to fund new training programs for Inuit

Money set aside for rewriting employment strategy would instead go to training



The City of Iqaluit’s human resources department wants to spend $50,000 on training courses for municipal employees in an effort to help Inuit staff move into middle-management positions.

The money was initially earmarked by council for updating the 1997 Inuit employment strategy.

But at this week’s city council meeting, the human resources department presented a different option. Ten thousand dollars would go toward workshops for staff who want to learn the ins and outs of middle-management jobs. The city also wants to spend $16,000 to hire a trainee in the lands and planning department.

In addition, the department would like to create an opportunity for current staff to “job shadow” staff in other city departments, allowing them to gain new skills. Using $7,000, the city would hire casual employees to fill the spots the staff members vacate while on their job shadowing.

“As you may know, the City of Iqaluit has a strategy in place to promote current staff for training and development,” Nikki Eegeesiak, the city’s human resource officer, said at the Oct. 22 city council meeting.

According to the municipality’s statistics, there is only one Inuk in a director’s position and only three Inuit in coordinators’ positions. In comparison, there are eight qallunaat directors and 11 qallunaat coordinators.

However, city councillors were not all pleased with the plan. In June, council voted to use the $50,000 to update the city’s Inuit employment strategy, a policy report that was put together in 1997.

Deputy mayor Kirt Ejesiak pointed out the money had been specifically earmarked to update the strategy.

Councillor Lynda Gunn also voiced her frustrations. “I want it updated to reflect the needs of Inuit employees,” said Gunn, who has been pushing the administration since the summer to start using the five-year-old policy.

The employment strategy doesn’t set out any Inuit staffing targets. Rather, it recommends the municipality develop training programs for Inuit interested in climbing the corporate ladder.

“We don’t use that plan and we haven’t used that plan since day one,” Gunn said. “The idea that this plan has been sitting on the shelf collecting dust is not a good one.”

The councillor put a motion on the floor asking the administration to draft a new policy, one that would require the municipality to have a certain number of Inuit staff.

But the other councillors didn’t want to vote to re-do an existing report until they have a chance to review it to see what needs to be changed.

They will discuss the employment strategy again at the Nov. 12 council session.

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