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NTI report: government dragging heels on implementation

A report done by Nunavut Tunngavik says governments aren’t doing everything they can to properly implement the land claims agreement.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

MICHAELA RODRIGUE

IQALUIT — More than five years after their land claim agreement was signed, Nunavut Inuit still face some of Canada’s worst socio-economic conditions, aren’t landing enough jobs with government, and aren’t enjoying their harvesting rights to the fullest.

This is according to a new report released by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. this week. The report reviews the implementation of the land claim agreement during its first five years.

The report, entitled Taking Stock, was written by NTI and points out failures and successes by both the federal and territorial governments in living up to the 1993 agreement.

The report criticizes federal gun control legislation for violating the Inuit right to harvest without licences, permits or fees. And it says Nunavut’s federally-regulated share of the turbot quota in and around Davis Strait further takes away from Inuit harvesting rights.

As well, the report points to governments’ failures in planning for how it will increase the number of Inuit it hires. It also criticizes the federal government for not passing legislation in respect to public government bodies

The report does laud the creation of the Nunavut government. It also points to the creation of the Nunavut Construction Corp., and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board as positive steps towards implementation of the agreement.

Released just one week after Paul Quassa took over the reigns as president of NTI, the report, Quassa said, backs up the points he raised in his campaign.

“It fits into what I’ve been saying all along,” Quassa said. “Socio-economic conditions in Nunavut are fairly bad. We can do a lot more in that area,” Quassa said.

In the run-up to NTI’s recent election, Quassa said the Inuit organization should spend money combating Nunavut’s social problems. He also said beneficiaries should be given a cash dividend from NTI investments.

And NTI needs to change in order to become more effective in guarding Inuit rights protected in the agreement, Quassa said.

“I’m not surprised. There’s a need to restructure NTI to make sure it’s effective in delivering programs that benefit and protect the rights of Inuit,” he said.

NTI is now working to make sure it does its job implementing the agreement. That means having the right staff in place and making sure the land claim agreement is the priority, said John Lamb, director of implementation for NTI.

The Nunavut Implementation Panel is scheduled to release its own five-year review, conducted by Avery Cooper, in the new year. “Taking Stock” was written and released to influence that report, Lamb said.

“It’s NTI’s job to report to Inuit on how implementation is going. And NTI wanted to make sure an Inuit perspective was clearly brought to bear on Avery Cooper,” Lamb said.

The report calls on the federal government, the Nunavut government and NTI to renew their commitment to the land claim agreement. It also says the Nunavut Implementation Panel’s mandate should be reviewed. The panel, made up of representatives from the federal and territorial governments and NTI, isn’t objective enough, the report states.

“The requirement that the members represent the parties on the panel, effectively prevents the panel from being able to function as an independent, cohesive, objective forum,” the report states.

“In reality there is a tendency for panel members to adopt negotiating positions and conduct themselves as adversaries. More often than not, this leads to stalemate, rather than creative solutions.”

NTI wants the panel’s make up and mandate reviewed and it says the panel should receive its own staff and funding. NTI argues this should be done before the Implementation Contract comes up for renegotiation.

Quassa said the next step will be for NTI to make sure the federal and territorial government know what the Inuit organization expects.

Copies of “Taking Stock” have been sent to the Nunavut government and the federal government.

Other recommendations within “Taking Stock” include:

NTI is also calling for a survey of demographic trends, the state of official languages, and socio-economic circumstances in Nunavut completed by 2001.
A funding study for implementation. A negotiating timetable for the second phase of implementation planning.
An independent facilitator should be appointed to help develop legislation outlining the powers and objectives of various institutions of public government.
The Canadian government, Nunavut government, and NTI should fund a minimum of two full-time positions to monitor the implementation of Article 23, which requires that Inuit hiring levels in government eventually reflect the proportion of Inuit in Nunavut’s population. The Canadian government should also commission a Nunavut labour force analysis.
NTI and the federal government should form a working group to develop new contracting policies.
The federal government should give $806,727 to the implementation fund to pay for negotiations for Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements.
The federal government should not diminish the Inuit share of the turbot allotment.
The Nunavut Implementation Training Committee, the Nunavut government and the Canadian government should co-ordinate their training efforts.

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