National Inuit org wants nation-building effort for Inuit Nunangat

ITK’s election priorities include reducing inequity, building infrastructure, Inuit self-determination

Canada’s national Inuit representative organization wants a major nation-building exercise for Inuit Nunangat “comparable in scale to the development of the trans-Canadian highway or the trans-national railway [that] connected Western and Eastern Canada.”

By Jim Bell

Canada’s national Inuit organization has issued a clarion call to whomever forms the country’s next federal government: launch a major nation-building exercise for Inuit Nunangat “comparable in scale to the development of the trans-Canadian highway or the trans-national railway [that] connected Western and Eastern Canada.”

In support of that, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has issued a nine-point statement setting out the priorities it wants all political parties to consider during the current federal election campaign. (See document embedded below.)

“Inuit Nunangat remains the least developed geographic region in Canada. Inuit experience extreme inequality compared to other Canadians, and to other Canadians in Inuit Nunangat,” ITK said in a news release.

In addition, ITK has also released a submission for what it wants the next federal government to include in the 2020 federal budget, which would normally be unveiled next February or March.

That budget submission urges the next federal government to continue implementing an Inuit Nunangat fiscal policy for the allocation of Inuit-specific funding.

“ITK calls on all parties to commit to implementing an Inuit Nunangat policy throughout government, to ensure that Inuit are able to access and benefit from policies, programs and initiatives that are intended to benefit our people,” ITK President Natan Obed said in the news release.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Both documents contain ambitious demands that include:

• Connecting all 51 Inuit Nunangat communities to fibre optic telecommunications by 2031.

• Eliminating the infrastructure defect in Inuit Nunangat by 2030.

• Ending the social housing backlog in all four Inuit Nunangat regions within two years.

• Creating more addictions treatment centres.

• Creating more family violence shelters and transitional housing units.

Invitation for Applications – Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut

• Spending more on Inuit mental health and suicide prevention.

The nine points in ITK’s statement of priorities are as follows:

1. Action on social infrastructure and suicide prevention.

2. Action on housing to completely fill the social housing backlog across Inuit Nunangat within the first two years after the election.

3. Action on renewable energy and climate action, so that Canada achieves net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

4. Action on strengthening the Inuit-Crown partnership.

5. Action on infrastructure and economic self-reliance, starting with the creation of an Arctic infrastructure fund, accessible to all four regions of Inuit Nunangat, with an initial contribution of $1 billion.

6. Action on education to close the gap in educational outcomes between Inuit and non-Inuit.

7. Full implementation of the calls for justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, including the 46 Inuit-specific calls for justice.

8. Action on poverty reduction and food insecurity.

9. Action on advancing Inuit self-determination in research.

ITK continues its traditional non-partisan position, and does not endorse any political party.

In the most recent CBC Canada Poll Tracker report, as of Sept. 20, the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada find themselves in a statistical tie.

The poll tracker, which aggregates all publicly available polling data, has the Conservatives at 34.7 per cent of popular support, the Liberals at 34.1 per cent, the New Democratic Party at 13.5 per cent, the Green party at 9.6 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 4.4 per cent and the Peoples Party of Canada at 2.8 per cent.

The poll aggregator also suggests the Liberals still have a slightly greater chance of winning the most seats.

The federal election will be held on Monday, Oct. 21.

ITK Priorities for Election... by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Observer on

    “Ending the social housing backlog in all four Inuit Nunangat regions within two years.”

    Okay, dreams are good, but c’mon. In many (most?) communities in Nunavut, at least, this would also require expansion of basic infrastructure such as roads and power lines, and would need a massive sealift to bring in the construction supplies. It would also be impossible to get a local workforce to do all that work, meaning bringing in a huge number of construction workers and pretty much occupying all available hotel space for what, nearly a year?

    • Posted by Navel Gazer on

      The luxury to sit in an office and dream up grand ideas free from the constraints of all that is practical is one of the great accomplishments of modern civilization. Inspiring and infectious!

  2. Posted by Putuguk on

    I wonder if ITK is missing a few steps in politicking. A common practice for organizations that represent identifiable voting blocks is to evaluate the political platforms of the parties seeking election and determine which one appeals most to their specific interests. Then they go to this party and negotiate and lobby for specific promises, similar to those enumerated above. In exchange for their endorsement, the political party agrees to enact the desired measures.

    Then, in this case, ITK would come out and tell Inuit that a particular political party is going to do what Inuit want, and therefore Inuit should vote for them. ITK would have to get its Inuit Org members out there convincing and working with Inuit voters to appreciate that voting in this fashion is going to get us somewhere. That would result in Inuit exercising collective political power across the 3 ridings where Inuit will sway the vote. It is a tight race right now. Votes in the Inuit homeland matter.

    ITK does not seem to be thinking in these terms. If, as they say, every political party ought to address the priorities, then what is also true is that it makes no difference who is elected. Clearly the opposite is correct and different political parties would govern differently. Inuit can help a political party get into power and our support should come at a price. These priorities are election issues for us but there is no upside for a political party to sign on to any of them. They gain (or lose) no votes either way. They certainly will not do it out of the goodness of their hearts which seems to be the suggestion. There are dozens of other priorities across the nation, and millions of other voters to cater to. As it stands, they might easily make better use of the priority paper as a snot rag.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      With all respect due to you, Putuguk, I can only think of one riding where the ethnic Inuit vote truly commands the outcome. But that’s only one seat. But even if we grant that it was three. That still represents less than 1% of the seats in the House of Commons. My point; it’s really not that much power.

      I also want to question the notion that Inuit can be said to perceive their interests in a uniform way, or might rally around a collective perception of the best ways to address those interests, which is where the ideological prescriptions of the different parties diverge. So, do you think Inuit will perceive any one particular party platform or ideological expression as being more clearly in favour of their collective will? Does this collective mindset truly exist? I’m not certain it does, to the extent that seems implied here at least. As I see it Inuit are like many Canadians who share similar interests but don’t always agree on the ways to address those. Also, as economic disparity between classes within Inuit society continue to grow, and diverge, the interests and the prescriptions to address them will also diverge, as they have do elsewhere.

      • Posted by Putuguk on

        Inuvialuit are 11% of the population of the NWT. Inuit are 13% of the population of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik. That is enough people to determine the results of an election if we suppose people in Inuit Nunangat are as evenly divided politically as the rest of the nation.

        60% of all Canadians think that indigenous matters have been too often ignored and disregarded. Inuit support would play well in almost any Canadian riding, especially urban ones. A good chunk of Canadians support the liberals for example, because their leader habitually apologizes to indigenous people. If it were not so, Trudeau would not have abased himself as regularly.

        I do not think that there is any particular uniformity within Inuit society on political beliefs any more than there is within PSAC, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Mothers against Drunk Driving, the Dairy Farmers of Canada or any other political advocacy group in Canada that focus on a set of issues. In our case, our issue is the quality of life in northern Canada.

        What is known is that political parties tend to listen to these groups, to some extent pander to them, value their support while avoiding their wrath. There are no advantages to us if we steer clear of using the political process the same as others.

        I think most Inuit vote for the person they like and know the most regardless of political belief. Maybe this is true for most voters. If we had Mr. Obed out there rubbing shoulders with and kissing babies along with one of the political candidates, I am sure many more Inuit would tend to vote for that person.

        • Posted by Naniq on

          As a non-profit organization ITK is supposed to be non-partisan.

          • Posted by Bingo on

            Good point. Also, if the party ITK threw its support behind lost, one might not be surprised if they exacted a subtle snubbing of the organization and its interests.

  3. Posted by Igunaq on

    ITC (ITK) was established with federal money to get the land claims on track. I recommend that ITK be dismantled and that the 4 land claim organizations have a secretariat with rotating chair like ICC. use the Ottawa money paying for the Albert Street office to be directed to Pauktitiit and ICC Canada, money would be useful there. The AFN can keep its national reach for their indigenous because its massive and more appropriate there, plus their land claims are done yet.

    • Posted by Where have you been? on

      I’m not sure where you’ve been the past few years, but ITK has achieved incredible gains for Inuit, recognition of Inuit nunangat as a distinct policy space, Inuit-specific funding under many federal programs, a solid working relationship with government, several long-deserved apologies for past injustices, and the list goes on. While it’s true that no one organization or individiual is without fault, but it’s rather foolish to suggest that ITK isn’t working hard for Inuit and that breaking it up is the answer.

  4. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I have heard the “nation-building ” rehtoric being bandied about for decades as well as the unfavourable comparisons to the invesyments made to complete the transcontinental highway and railway. What I fail to see is the ROI for Canada? The highway and rail systems were developed to open vast stretches of Canada to immigration, settlement and resource development all of which would ultimately benefit millions and.millions of people. Developing Inuit Nunangat benefits fewer people than reside in Belleville Ontario. Why would any government in Canada commit to the billions needed to developing a region the size of Inuit Nunangat for the sole benefit of a few hundred thousand people? The short answer is that they wouldn’t and they won’t.

    • Posted by Igunaq on

      Inuit Nunangat is an ICC descriptor, ITK is going over its bounds by acting like a governance entity, it ought not to. That’s the role of Inuit birthright corporation and assemblies like Nunavut Assembly, Nunatsiavut Assembly.. to me ITK is redundant

  5. Posted by Tony on

    A big ask missing on this platform is how to mitigate impacts of climate change.

    By example a good chunk of Iqaluit shoreline will be underwater in a decade or 2 exposing larger parts of the city to damage from storms and ice.

    The question then is: When will the federal and territorial governments, working with Inuit organisations, develop a funded plan and schedule to relocate the cities, towns and villages most at risk to more sustainable locations?

    Seawalls and dikes might provide temporary solutions but are not sustainable for 25, 50 or 100 years.

    An exercise for students (and adults at ITK if they wish) across the Arctic:

    The Arctic waters can be expected to rise by a metre or more within 10 – 20 years. Put a stick at the edge of the high tide mark and mark off a metre above water on the stick. Run a string from that mark using a line level to the point where the string touches land.

    What will be permanently underwater when your future children graduate high school? What will be at risk from storms and ice at high tides?
    Will wharves and docks have to be moved?
    Are there critical buildings that have to either be raised, bermed or moved?

    • Posted by On the rebound on

      Um, no, this is not going to happen. The Iqaluit shoreline is not going to be underwater in a decade or two.

      The reason is post-glacial rebound, or isostatic uplift. After the enormous weight of the glaciers was removed from Baffin Island, the land literally began to spring back, slowly, a little bit every year. This means that the shoreline in southwest Baffin actually gets a little higher every year and has been for about 6,000 years since the last glaciers melted.


      Climate change is real and sea levels are rising but in the Baffin region it is mitigated by post-glacial uplift. It varies from community to community and some places are threatened by sea level rise and some are not.

  6. Posted by Tommy on

    I would have liked to vote for a president of ITK, but I can’t because I don’t have a voice. Only a select few get to select a president. In a democratic country like Canada, Inuit don’t have a voice.

    • Posted by Ox on

      You can’t vote directly for the PM of canada either, or the nunavut premier, so this argument doesn’t really make sense. So next time tell your regional leaders who you them to support for ITK president.

      • Posted by Phenotype on

        But you can vote for your representatives in the Legislature. Which is to say that comparing the electoral system at the federal level, which is also imperfect i would agree, is not a tidy analogy to the mass disenfranchisement of Inuit when it comes to ITK, which is wholly constrained to a small elite – very 18th century by the way.

        • Posted by Observer on

          The ITK president is chosen by people who are voted into office, so it’s a perfect analogy.

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