ITK president Natan Obed says improvements are being made in the way data is shared among agencies in Inuit Nunangat. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

ITK looking to make it easier for organizations to share information across Inuit Nunangat

$4M to be directed toward plan involving social issues such as mental health, housing

By Meral Jamal

Updated on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is working on ways to improve data sharing on issues like health care, housing and education throughout Inuit Nunangat.

In Ottawa last week, directors voted to support an agreement between ITK and regional organizations to collectively manage data gathered in the Qanuippitaa? National Inuit Health Survey, which is a population health survey of Inuit in Canada.

They also voted to allocate $4 million for an Inuit Data Strategy that will allow ITK, the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada and each of the four regions to develop regional strategies.

ITK president Natan Obed said better data capacity on a regional level will help guide decision-making in dealing with systemic social issues in Inuit Nunangat.

“We recognize the need to better utilize data to make decisions about the areas that are most affected, such as health and housing, education, mental health and suicide prevention,” Obed said.

“Better data protocols and processes lead to better decision-making in [these] areas because we have a better understanding.

“The national component of the data strategy seeks to bring together Inuit data, best utilize it and best protect it through ownership, control and access.”

Obed said ITK’s next steps in developing the data strategy include providing funding to regional organizations across Inuit Nunangat, and planning a national data conference.

Clarification: This article was updated from a previous version to reflect ITK president Natan Obed’s view that better data capacity will help with decision-making on social issues in Inuit Nunangat.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    I don’t want to come here to poo poo on this idea because it is sounds good and positive and so on. Yet there are serious questions around human capital that need to be addressed here, and if we don’t do that now I suspect we will be doing it years from now when someone has the nerve to audit what became an expensive, idealistic boondoggle that suffered from its fatal detachment from the world around it (mostly, in obvious ways).

    If you don’t know what I am getting at consider the case of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay. So much about the 250-million-dollar investment felt so good. The meeting place of science and traditional knowledge, a looming renaissance was underway!

    But was it?

    In a way it is easier to conceive of abstract, complex systems, than it is to see the most basic flaws in their foundation, especially when an imagined legacy is at stake.

    Anyone paying attention knows how underdeveloped and hobbled by incompetence our bureaucratic systems are, especially around communication and information sharing, not to mention implementation of even our most wonderfully conceived, written and expressed policy plans. Consider the endless statements of direction by successive governments on the preservation and use of Inuktitut in eduction, Premier Taptuna’s ‘Sivumut Abluqta” among them.

    Granted, a government expressing its ideals is a little different. Government’s, at least in principle, are accountable for where they divert their resources. They occupy a space where there is room for questions and scrutiny.

    ITK, by contrast, occupies no such space. It is free to conceive and implement nearly any strategy or plan it can imagine if it has the ear of the person holding the purse string, which at this moment it clearly does.

    • Posted by Silas on

      I believe you are correct to some degree. The majority of the problems that governments face is continuity. In jurisdictions such as the provinces’ legacy plans tend to be carried out more often than do those that change governments more often. Such are the problems of democracy.

      In the case of Inuit Nunangat it becomes even more complex being of four very different jurisdictions and varying levels of education. ITK and the various Arctic councils are the only ways by which Inuit are unified. As a people they have similar problems but very diverse governing bodies.

      I believe any attempt at unifying them, be it through health care, housing and education as mentioned by the president will at least be able to help those who mean to aide Inuit in these major issues. The “white elephants”, as you mention, tend to be made by those who, instead of dealing with the peoples’ issues, want to have a legacy so they have them built with no real study or plan to carry them out.

      • Posted by Jay Arnakak on


        your assumptions are , sorry, wrong.

        The notions of ‘Inuit Nunangat’ is like a super lobby group of the various Inuit land claims agreements put together as one interest. Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavit, Nunatsiavut become one in this new regime.

        • Posted by Paradigm Shift on

          Which assumptions are you referring to, Jay? I’m not following.

          As for the challenges by courts etc… I don’t see where that fits into this either. I can see where there might be relevance when working out a land claim, but questions around a policy like this have more to do with the wise use of resources and less about legal details, at least as far as my comment and understanding goes. Perhaps you have some different insights on that?

          My question, put simply, is what are the mechanisms within the ITK universe to create needed friction and debate against a poorly hatched idea?

          • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

            I think there is a certain weight added to a unified front

          • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

            ITK does not have a voice other than moral authority it can call upon in Inuit Nunangat, but it just gave us a voice (and other aboriginal groups) in all of CANADA

            • Posted by Paradigm Shift on

              Are you talking about the recent story where Trudeau through some unfortunately vague policy reorientation recognized Inuit Nunangat as a distinct region?

              If I recall your comments were quite gushing there. Like quite a few readers (the editor included) I didn’t quite grasp significance of that, but you seemed to. Can you give us a clue as to what makes this important? I would sincerely like to know.

      • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

        well, for such a small aboriginal group in Canada this is a major achievement. It certain puts the courts to task!

    • Posted by Jay Arnakak on

      remember also, these types of policy developments are always challenged in all forms at all levels of courts-of-justice and appellate tribunals and/or commissions…

    • Posted by Just my opinion on

      I respect you Paradigm Shift. But are you are overthinking this?

      • Posted by Paradigm Shift on

        Oh probably… the discussion is fun at least. Silas made some good observations.

    • Posted by anonymous on

      Reading this about CHARS in Cambridge Bay seems like there is some animosity from the Keewatin or Baffin regions. Between Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, people chose Cambridge Bay. As for ITK wanting to share information regarding housing issues, mental health etc. The on-going issues with housing needs, mental health, alcohol/drug abuse, suicide -seems there is a never an answer. Young kids/adults alike need help, especially the homeless. Just my thought.

      • Posted by Upon Reflection on

        CHARS has become the perfect example of what happens when idealism and magical thinking run completely unchecked. It is not the only example, but it is an outstanding one.

        It is hard to see why anyone would be jealous of hosting such a monument to absurdity as this?

  2. Posted by North guy on

    Well all the regions in the north are saying same thing,we need houses,health care,schooling,for many years now and ITK wants to spend millions to better understand the needs of inuit,the blind leading the blind


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