NTI’s push for Inuit self-government ‘the right thing,’ says Idlout
Nunavut MP says she and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are ‘supportive’ of recently passed resolution
Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said she supports the resolution passed this week by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to pursue talks with Ottawa to bring about Inuit self-government.
“I believe that NTI is doing the right thing,” Idlout said when asked Thursday about the resolution NTI passed this week at its annual general meeting in Rankin Inlet.
“It’s sad for me to say this, but I do agree that the Government of Nunavut, to date, has been failing Inuit,” said Idlout, who is also the NDP’s critic for Crown-Indigenous relations.
NTI members passed a resolution on Tuesday to pursue a negotiation mandate with the federal government for Inuit self-government.
NTI president Aluki Kotierk said the Government of Nunavut has failed to meet the needs of the territory’s Inuit majority.
“There are so many dire statistics, so many dire experiences of Inuit currently,” Kotierk told Nunatsiaq News after the annual general meeting concluded.
Idlout said that she agrees with Kotierk’s assertion that the GN hasn’t done enough to support Inuit in the territory.
“We need to see with the new premier and the cabinet that we have a sense of hope, that they will listen to constituents, they will listen to Inuit and make sure that they work really hard to improve their relationship with NTI so that we could see improvements for the Inuit community in Nunavut.”
Newly elected Premier P.J. Akeeagok told reporters Wednesday he looked forward to meeting with NTI officials “to really listen in terms of where we could collaborate.”
Idlout said she has discussed the motion with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and he’s “fully supportive” of the motion.
“[He] is willing to support me and support my work with NTI because these failures have been going on for too long,” she said. “We saw it with the passing of Bill 25 in the Education Act and we saw it with too many other initiatives where Inuit are being disenfranchised [and] are being put in a different tier than French language rights.”
Kotierk said she appreciates the support from the federal NDP.
“We look forward to working with the federal government, and we suspect that we’ll bring this up to our in a Crown partnership process,” she said. She added that she’s already had a conversation with newly elected Nunavut premier P.J. Akeeagok and has “no doubts” the two will have a “positive and constructive working relationship.”
As for what Inuit self-government would like, Kotierk said it’s still a work in progress to determine.
“At this point, everything is up in the air in terms of deciding on what areas we want to focus on,” she said. “The presentation we received from the [NTI] director of self-determination talked about … different models that we could look into in terms of seeking self-government. There was discussion about how there are models that already exist across Canada, but we could do a hybrid,” she said.
“The next step will be to get the negotiation mandate and then build up some capacity within [NTI] to be able to conduct consultation with Nunavut Inuit and work with our board to determine what the constitution of the self-governing body would look like,” Kotierk said.