Kimmirut, QIA will look at Katannalik boundary change
ANNETTE BOURGEOIS Nunatsiaq News
IQALUIT – Kimmirut residents will have to decide if they want to invoke a clause in the Nunavut land claim agreement that would remove lands from the proposed Katannilik territorial park.
Article 8.3.11 of the Nunavut Land Claim states that if Katannilik Territorial Park wasn’t legally established before the ratification of the claim in 1993, a “designated Inuit organization” has the right to exchange Inuit-owned lands inside the park with an equal amount of Inuit-owned lands outside the park.
In this case, the “designated Inuit organization” is the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
“Before anyone makes a decision on whether or not Inuit want to obtain any of the lands that were originally selected, there will be a public meeting on it in Kimmirut,” says Terry Audla, the QIA’s lands manager.
The QIA is following up on a number of unimplemented articles in the Nunavut Land Claim, including Article 8.3.11. Audla met with Kimmirut’s community land and resources committee earlier this month to talk about it.
“The most I can say was they were intrigued,” he said. “Everyone went on the assumption that the park was established.”
That committee voted to defer any decisions until after an April 9 meeting with QIA and the NWT’s department of resources, wildlife and economic development.
The Inuit-owned land under discussion runs north of Kimmirut’s hamlet boundary as far as the first cabin on the trail to Iqaluit.
One parcel of that land, to which Inuit own surface and sub-surface rights, is completely within the proposed boundaries of the park.
“It’s a considerable amount,” Audla. “But the early indicators are that Inuit don’t want the whole lands identified.”
The proposed Katannilik territorial park stretches the width of the Meta Incognita Peninsula from Iqaluit in the north to the hamlet of Kimmirut at it’s southernmost tip.
Although they started promoting it to tourists several years ago, the NWT government has never officially made it a park.
Audla said the land was chosen years ago during negotiations for land designations because of its traditional use by Inuit in the area.
If the community decides to carry out Article 8.3.11, QIA would gain title as land manager and a community committee would then decide what would happen to the land.
Audla said no land has been identified for exchange.
Before the ratification of the land claim agreement, Kimmirut’s community lands identification negotiation team agreed to allow selected Inuit-owned land to remain within the boundaries of the proposed territorial park.
“The Inuit felt that their needs, the desires for protection and promotion of tourism, were best served by the territorial program and consequently agreed not to select those lands,” David Monteith, assistant director of parks and tourism with RWED.
The exceptions were one small parcel of land near Iqaluit, and a site containing deposits of the semi-precious gemstone lapis lazuli, which may have possible development potential.
Government red tape has tied up the process. A final proposal went to the GNWT cabinet for approval, but was pulled in the hopes that more funding could be secured from the federal government for the park’s capital and operating expenses.
Kimmirut residents are eager to see the park legally established, developed and promoted to attract visitors to their unemployment-ridden community.
Negotiations for an Inuit impact benefits agreement must be completed before the park can be legally established.
“The books are open on the IIBA process and I haven’t seen anything as yet to cause some problems,” Monteith said.
One reason the community might choose to invoke Article 8.3.11 is the potential for mineral development in South Baffin.
In recent years, the Geological Society of Canada has conducted mineral exploration research throughout the Meta Incognita Peninsula, especially the land corridor between Iqaluit and Kimmirut.
Indications are that mineral resources are high in the area and could contain lead-zinc deposits similar to those exploited by the Raglan mine in Nunavik.
Mineral development in the area, however, could still be possible after the Katannilik territorial park is formally established.
“The difference between national parks and territorial parks is there is a degree of flexibility,” Monteith said of the territorial legislation.
“If there’s some significant benefit to the community to be derived from mining, for whatever reason, there may be a source of some precious metal in the park and the community feels their objectives aren’t being met… then the Territorial Park Act certainly allows for boundary changes to take place.”
QIA’s Audla said he won’t pressure Kimmirut residents into making a decision.
“I’m not going to rush the issue,” he said. “If there are questions I will certainly have them answered.”