Survey finds support for Nunavut draft land-use plan
Friends of Land Use Planning surveyed 400 Nunavummiut in the summer and fall
While Nunavummiut value a long-term land-use plan for Nunavut, nearly 70 per cent of residents who responded to a recent survey said they are not familiar of the current draft of what’s being considered right now.
Friends of Land Use Planning, which describes itself as an advocacy group for Indigenous-led land planning, released survey results this week for how people in Nunavut feel about the current draft Nunavut Land Use Plan.
The group says it’s funded by the PEW Charitable Trust and the Wyss Foundation, as well as Duck Unlimited. Hilu Tagoona, a consultant with the group, said it’s run by Paul Crowley and Jakob Gearheard in Iqaluit, and includes a three-member advisory panel.
The draft plan proposes to protect 22 per cent of Nunavut from development. Compared to an earlier draft plan, owners of existing mineral claims are also offered more certainty they will be able to continue development. Around 65 per cent of the territory would be “mixed use,” which is the most relaxed designation.
The survey polled 400 Nunavummiut over telephone. Regardless of whether respondents were familiar with it or not, most agreed on the importance of conserving and developing Nunavut’s land.
The majority of respondents said a plan is important and helps preserve Inuit culture, and that Inuit know how to best preserve their own land. Almost all respondents also said it was possible to protect the environment and create jobs at the same time.
Opinions on mining were the most contested, with 63 per cent of respondents saying mining has done more harm than good. There was a near 50-50 split on whether there should be more or less mining in the territory, according to the survey.
“Inuit want mining but not at the cost of the environment and wildlife, especially as they consider what the future will bring for their children and grandchildren,” Tagoona said.
Respondents identified as priorities protecting wildlife and preserving transportation routes over sea ice.
The survey was conducted between Aug. 18 to Sept. 30 and done mostly in Inuktitut.
The current draft of the land use plan is scheduled to have another round of public hearings in March.
At 2.1 million square kilometres, it would become the largest land agreement in the world if approved, according to the Nunavut Planning Commission. For the plan to be approved, the federal and territorial governments, as well as Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., will have to agree.