Employers have a responsibility under the Nunavut Agreement to hire more Inuit and support them at work, says Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
Kotierk shared her call to action during her lunchtime keynote address Wednesday at the Nunavut Trade Show in Iqaluit.
With a theme of resiliency being a major part of this year’s events, Kotierk said the many organizations and businesses that operate in Nunavut must contribute to resilience through sustainable employment.
“In the creation of Nunavut, there was an expectation that Inuit would be fully engaged in contributing to a prosperous economy,” she said.
Kotierk pointed to articles 23 and 24 of the Nunavut Agreement, which pertain to Inuit employment and assistance to Inuit employees, respectively.
She said there are more than 2,000 unemployed Inuit in Nunavut looking for work, according to recent figures she pulled from a Nunavut Inuit labour force analysis report.
“As many of you are employers, I encourage you to spend some time looking through this and think about how do we provide the supports needed so that Inuit thrive in the economy,” she said.
“Today and every day, I encourage you to use your energy to enable Inuit.”
In addition to encouraging employers to develop Inuit-specific training plans, Kotierk called on them to design their work environments in ways that support Inuit.
Specifically, she said she wants to see workplaces empower Inuit to speak their language, and also provide employee assistance as well as culturally relevant counselling programs.
As the Nunavut Agreement and the Nunavut Trade Show both celebrate 30th anniversaries this year, Kotierk provided an optimistic view of the future.
“Imagine how much better off Inuit and our economy would be if all of our 42 articles were fully and effectively implemented,” she said,
“Let’s get busy so that in 30 years, we can celebrate a thriving economy rather than our resilience.”