Kivalliq MLA pushes for jobs in all Nunavut communities

“Decentralization is an idea that has been forgotten like a five-gallon can that fell off the back of a qamutik”

By Beth Brown

Moments after Nunavut’s finance minister, George Hickes, heralded in his budget speech how the territory’s 2019-20 budget will champion Inuit employment, Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main challenged the government for losing sight of decentralized employment efforts that were hard fought for by early Nunavut politicians.

Main said on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the legislative assembly that decentralization was omitted from the budget, and that the current government treats the 20-year-old model like a “checked box.”

“Unfortunately it seems that decentralization is an idea that has been forgotten like a five-gallon can that fell off the back of a qamutik. It has been left on the trail back in 1999,” said Main, who is known to question government support for Nunavut’s smallest communities.

“I would like to see decentralization as an evolving thing, something that is continually being invested into in terms of increasing the number of jobs, [and] opening new government offices in communities that don’t have government offices,” he said. “Inuit are a majority in these decentralized offices.… Why isn’t there anything said about decentralization?”

HR department will launch Inuit employment plan up to 2023

Hickes defended the budget, saying it fully addresses a need to increase jobs for Inuit and fill vacant government positions across the territory.

“Out of those positions that we’re looking at training and developing for, they’re not all here in Iqaluit,” he said.

On April 1, to mark Nunavut’s 20th birthday, the GN will resurrect its Human Resources Department, and the department’s first priority will be to finalize a Master Inuit Employment Plan that will be used until 2023.

Inuit employment in government has doubled since the creation of Nunavut, Hickes said in his budget speech. But, for the past seven years the GN’s Inuit employment rate of 50 per cent has been largely static because staff positions within the GN have also doubled in that time.

“In broad terms, for every three jobs in our government, one job is held by an Inuk, the second job is not, and the third job is vacant,” Hickes said in his speech. “As we fill vacancies, we take seriously our obligation to provide a government that represents the people it serves.”

Main asked whether the new Inuit employment plan would take the goals of decentralization into consideration. Hickes said he would follow up with Main about this question.

Under Nunavut’s decentralization model, 60 per cent of all government jobs are supposed to be filled outside Nunavut’s capital. Hickes said the GN is close to meeting that threshold.

But filling vacant staff positions will mean placing more focus on education support and workplace training, Hickes said when delivering the budget, adding that the territory will need to see an increase in high school graduation rates, as well as Inuit enrollment in post-secondary education. In 2017, Nunavut had a high school graduation rate of 48 per cent.

“When we talk about the Inuit employment plan, it’s to create employment all across the territory from all departments and agencies that the government is in charge of,” Hickes said, in response to Main. “As a government, we want to see positions in the communities.… The more self-reliance we can build within our communities, the stronger Nunavut is.”

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by David Lightfood on

    John Main looking to set himself up to be the next Premier! If he wants the job he’ll need to keep running election adds online like Lightstone has been doing for the last year!

    • Posted by qallunaq on

      no lightsone

      • Posted by Oh Ima on

        Good I hope he becomes Premiere so that we can have jobs in the smaller communities, as they are connected to the communities more than transient that comes up to Nunavut!
        Very few Inuit have benefitted from the creation of Nunavut.


  2. Posted by Good Analogy on

    Good points Main. I couldn’t help but chuckle at gas can analogy — who says legislating can’t be fun?

    I would like to see more coordination with education aligning the curriculum with jobs available and/or university/college/trades programs. I think we got to call out communities and families to support their learners and take their place in the factors that help young people succeed. We can only move forward if we all work together. In 20 years we should more than reach these goals and have more Inuit who are prepared for the the labour market.

  3. Posted by Shutter the doors on

    The real conversation we should be having is around the viability of the outlying communities. Sprinkling GN jobs around like pixie dust isn’t going to change the fact that most are unsustainable and economically unviable.

  4. Posted by on

    The Yukon population is 35,000. 75% of the entire Yukon population lives in Whitehorse.

    The population of the NWT is 44,000. 45% of the entire NWT lives in Yellowknife.

    These trends has been in play for decades. Smaller communities in the western Arctic have dwindled without a commitment to decentralization.

    The viability of these cities, including Iqaluit, rests solely on the continued massive (albeit more efficient) expenditure of public funds. Therefore, the growth of these cities is a matter of public policy.

    The massive growth in Iqaluit is a clear sign that Nunavut is on the same path as the other 2 territories.

    Not everyone wants to live and work in Iqaluit. Most of other residents of Nunavut would much prefer to stay where we are.

    People move to Iqaluit if forced to out of lack of local opportunity.

    We just had an apology for relocating Inuit as they were deemed “too dependent” where they were, so Inuit can “be more productive”.

    Is 20 years of centralizing government in Iqaluit really that much different in core thinking?

  5. Posted by Irked with GN on

    “Under Nunavut’s decentralization model, 60 per cent of all government jobs are supposed to be filled outside Nunavut’s capital. Hickes said the GN is close to meeting that threshold.”

    What’s the percentage of this 60% that senior management positions will be filled outside of Nunavut’s capital? I’m from a smaller community that can’t advance up within my own community because the Sr. Mgmt positions are all based in Iqaluit. I don’t want to leave my home, I have a mortgage and a life I have built in my hometown, with no room to advance in my career because most sr. mgmt. are based in Iqaluit.
    New HR coming around, I noticed the positions being advertised to fill the roles in the new HR, are all based in Iqaluit! None whatsoever in the other regions and/or smaller communities.
    I would love to see more Sr. Mgmt’s positions based in smaller communities. Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, but Iqaluit is NOT SOLELY Nunavut as so many think/believe it is (or so it seems).

  6. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    What I’ve been noticing is it is mostly women who are signing up for the courses, going and succeeding in secondary education, which is a good thing.

    Becoming a hunter is a good thing too, but it is expensive, I am an Inuk man but not a hunter, hunting I can learn in my own time, it is no shame to take office work, earn money buy your own gear to go out hunting, it’ll be appreciated more, and you’re still providing for your family just in a different way.

  7. Posted by Kitikmeot Gal on

    Thank you Mr. Main for keeping in mind all Of Nunavutmiut in regards to jobs.
    while on this subject, I want to convey a message to all Men/Women in Nunavut who try not to work because they do not want their pay Child support-grow up, man up and look for jobs, there are so many job advertisements in Nunavut – in each community, if you think you’re not qualified there are Training opportunities. So what if your pay is smaller than you would like, at least you will be taking money home for your family.

  8. Posted by Nunavut beneficiary on

    The Gov’t of Nunavut needs to over haul the policy when It comes to Regions Qikiqtaluk, Kivaliq and Kitikmeot Jobs should be open to all Nunavut beneficiaries no matter where you live this rule is some what dumb It’s like If You’re a Kitikmeot beneficiary that wants to apply for a job With a mine in the Kivaliq region they get denied thats just down right dumbest rule ever.

  9. Posted by Tommy on

    GN still has no faith in Nunavummiut. George Hickes is talking about the Territory of Iqaluit.

  10. Posted by Decentralize This! on

    Decentralization is responsible for much of the dysfunction in the GN. Name ten chronic, serious GN failures at random and I’ll point to five decentralized GN offices dragging their organizations down.

    Not all decentralized offices, and even the worst of them have a few bright lights and employees who have potential if it could be properly nurtured. But you can’t train and develop people with marginal education in organizations that are knee-capped like this. What workplace ethos and organizational culture are they going to imbibe? (you can be a self-sacrificing workaholic, or you can be an unfirable window gazer… your choice)

    Ultimately Nunavut has to decide what’s more important, quality government services or a couple of hundred jobs spread over ten communities?

    It’s utopian craziness, but I guess as Mr. Main is demonstrating it’s politically unstoppable.

  11. Posted by Cooloola on

    Try working on hiring through IgloolikHR and in tandem with CapeDorset Housing. You will face the deepest darkest most silent abyss ever known. Just try it. When that is who you depend on to hire Inuit, fill positions, support Inuit employment you will understand for once and for all that the enemy is within.

  12. Posted by “Has been Hunter” on

    In reality look at decentralization: in one mushroom building in Nunavut, decentralized staff are mostly transients with very little local employment. GN for all the bark has no bite if they will not change the Nunavut education system of social promotion. Push for young Nunavummiut to have proper education and encourage secondary education. Maybe then, decentralization could become a success.

  13. Posted by JP Says on

    “If you’re stuck, so to speak, in a small isolated community and there’s very little to do and no economic future and a fragmented community because so many people have left, high rates of poverty and single families and multi-generational histories of alcoholism and so forth, you set the stage for nihilism and suicide…”

    Dr Jordan Peterson

  14. Posted by Imagine on

    Imagine if 100 people in Whale Cove signed a petition asking to be relocated (with housing) to Arviat or Rankin.

    What would John Main do? What would the GN do?

    • Posted by Apropos on

      In the long run, Whale Cove is not sustainable, economically or socially. It shouldn’t be there.

      • Posted by Ours not yours on

        Whale cove will do more for Nunavut’s economy than Iqaluit ever could.Look at a kivalliq wide map of high mineral potential areas. Whale cove was relocated there for a reason. Same as all other kivalliq communities.

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