Federal training scheme marginalizes southern Inuit, TI says

StatCan estimates about 40 per cent of Inuit now live outside Inuit Nunangat

A feast organized in Ottawa by Tungasuvvingat Inuit. Statistics Canada now estimates that about 40 per cent of the Inuit population in Canada lives outside Inuit Nunangat. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

A federal Indigenous training program that Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, promoted in Iqaluit earlier this month “further marginalizes” the Inuit of Ontario, the head of Tungasuvvingat Inuit said yesterday.

Bennett “announced” the program this past July 8 at a pre-election photo-op in Iqaluit.

The program is called ISET, short for Indigenous Skills and Employment Training, and replaces an earlier scheme called “ASET.” The Inuit-specific component is worth $161.2 million over five years and $32.6 million a year thereafter.

Bennett’s “announcement” in Iqaluit was actually an 18-month-old piece of news that re-hashed a commitment made in her Liberal government’s February 2018 budget.

The federal government has named Tungasuvvingat Inuit as a delivery agent for Inuit training money in Ontario, along with six other agencies located in the various regions of Inuit Nunangat, such as the Iqaluit-based Kakivak Association.

But TI says that although it’s a positive development, they’re receiving no new money in addition to what they’ve already been getting.

And the federal government has not taken into account the explosive growth in the southern Inuit population, and the increased training needs that this creates, TI said.

“Tungasuvvingat Inuit will not receive a single dollar of new money from this additional funding. As the population continues to leave Inuit Nunangat and relocate into the Ottawa and Ontario region, it is very clear that our current base funding is completely inadequate to support the current population of Ontario Inuit,” Jason LeBlanc, the executive director of TI, said in a release.

To support this, TI cites the latest Inuit population estimates from Statistics Canada.

StatCan’s latest data tables estimate 79,103 people in Canada report Inuit ancestry.

Of those, 31,860—roughly 40 per cent of the total—live outside Inuit Nunangat, StatCan estimates.

“The fact that no additional monies will be allocated to TI means we cannot serve the community in Ottawa and Ontario that requires this much needed funding,” LeBlanc said

After the program’s first five years are completed, Ottawa will contribute $32.6 million per year for Inuit-specific training.

But TI said that’s not helpful to them, because the money is “locked in” for 10 years and as the Inuit population outside the Inuit homeland increases, there will be no new money to meet their job training needs.

“Inuit living away from communities are already vulnerable and TI provides many of the services and programs they use in Ontario. The lack of direct funding will further marginalize the Inuit of Ontario,” the TI release said.

At the same time, LeBlanc said his organization is grateful for the partnerships that they’ve been able to establish with northern organizations like the Kakivak Association and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

“Some of our partners in the North do see the value and need for continued investment in their beneficiaries living away from home,” LeBlanc said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Captain Obvious on

    “As the population continues to leave Inuit Nunangat and relocate into the Ottawa and Ontario region, it is very clear that our current base funding is completely inadequate to support the current population of Ontario Inuit”.

    Of course the population is leaving. Kids grow up and need homes. But homes are not being built fast enough. They are falling further and further behind. That’s why people are leaving.

    • Posted by Also obvious on

      You could add to that that there are few good opportunities for people in the north to make a good living, and while this varies between communities, in most there is not much. Overall, not much of a future, unless you are among those enamored with the past.

      • Posted by Putuguk on

        There are huge opportunities for Inuit to make a good living in the north. There are more jobs than workers in Nunavut. A very bright future in their home territory IF Inuit commit to addressing social issues, support education, and participation in the wage economy.

        And let us not kid ourselves. Inuit moving south seek a better life and have acted on this desire. This is an incredibly brave and proactive thing. They are saying I am better and deserve better than my current surroundings. Some achieve this, many do not. However they fare, they have taken back some measure of control over their lives by renouncing their status quo.

        Those that are definitely marginalized (believing they are insignificant and peripheral in society) are those left back home, where the best they can look forward to is for their representatives to beg and guilt others to solve their problems. This is rock bottom of social disadvantage.

  2. Posted by Victor on

    Too bad there isn’t an organization out there to lobby for Inuit living outside the Ottawa area, or for that matter outside Ontario.

    I am sure the Montreal Inuit community continues to grow, as well as Inuit populations in other major Canadian Urban centers, as was mentioned as a factor to give Ottawa Inuit more funding.

  3. Posted by North Baffiner on

    Unfortunately, it seems that Inuit who leave their home community are being treated by the federal government much like Indians who are off-reservation, or who have chosen to move where “reservation” benefits no longer apply.
    I think it is time to make organizations named “Ottawa Inuit Association” or “Montreal Inuit Association” because the RIAs for Nunavut stop at their regional boundaries, thereby creating a limbo/grey area where Inuit still are eligible for health care, but not for the training/education funds allocated to the “northern” Inuit. There are many avenues open to southern citizenry who wish to receive training or education opportunities.
    They should be designated Urban Inuit-000 instead of E5-000…since that seems to be the way the federal bureaucracy is treating our southern Inuit brethren. I think once you move south, Ottawa sees you like just another southern aboriginal person living outside of their reservations and thus, only partially eligible for such funds. Time for TI to become its’ own representative organization, perhaps?

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