Hunters need one-stop funding shop

Report says GN, NTI programs inconsistent and underfunded


Nunavut’s harvester support programs need a complete overall, says a report tabled during the last sitting of the Nunavut legislature.

The report, based on a review of harvester support programs under the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., makes 35 recommendations, calling for sweeping improvements, more efficient delivery and new programs to get and keep Nunavummiut out on the land.

The report says that, above all, programs for harvesters should be delivered by one group — “a single window.” This unified, centralized approach would save money, time and trouble.

The report says the GN and NTI also need to:

* find a way to support equipment purchases for harvesters — “the highest priority need”;
* review funding for outpost camps and women’s roles in harvesting;
* offer more training to youth and inexperienced harvesters;
* and improve disaster compensation programs.

At the same time, the GN and NTI must promote programs better, by providing information in Inuktitut and Innuinaqtun, in print, and through “verbal, personal presentations and community radio,” to reach harvesters with low literacy.

Nunavut’s harvester support programs are divided between the GN and NTI, and these often duplicate each other, creating a patchwork quilt of services.

This situation came about because Nunavut’s land claim does not include any specific harvester support program for its beneficiaries, as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement does for its beneficiaries.

In 2003-04, the JBNQA’s hunter support clause gave $5 million to Nunavik programs, several times more per capita than the total dollar amount delivered by the GN and NTI.

A hunter support program was a major point of disagreement between the federal government and the Tungavik Federation of Nunavik during negotiations leading up to the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. In 1991, the TFN opted to create a support program outside of the land claim with the Government of the Northwest Territories. From 1993 to 1997, the NTI and the GNWT then each contributed $15 million to a fund for broader harvester support.

But more money needs to be found. The continuing lack of money for Nunavut’s harvester programs needs to be addressed, says the report. It says the GN and NTI should “collaborate to negotiate” with Ottawa to lever more funding.

Some of shortfalls in Nunavut’s existing harvester programs, noted by the report, include:

* the community harvesters assistance program, which is underfunded and not consistently applied in the three Nunavut regions, particularly with respect to funding for outpost camps where the GN’s policy has a “lack of clarity”;
* • the hunters and trappers’ disaster compensation program, which reimburses harvesters for equipment lost through unavoidable disasters, but receives claims mainly due to loss caused by human error.

The report also points out some gaps in Nunavut’s harvester support, including the absence of programs for youth to acquire the land skills they need and the lack of capacity in some hunter and trappers organizations.

Environment Minister Olayuk Akesuk, who has since lost the environment portfolio, tabled the report, so far only available in its English version.

Akesuk said new harvester support programs and “delivery mechanisms” will be in place for next fall.

Meanwhile, NTI announced on March 7 it will spend $2.8 million on harvester support this year, and launch a new program called Atugaksait. That program combines the former women’s program and the traditional knowledge enhancement program into one.

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