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Self government

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Board of Directors Considering Self-Government Options

“We have to try,” says QIA chairman PJ Akeeagok

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. board members say they want to take a closer look at achieving greater self-government for the Inuit of Nunavut.

How to do this was discussed at NTI’s board meeting in Baker Lake on Wednesday, with several board members expressing disillusionment with the Government of Nunavut and the low number of Inuit among its leadership.

Kunuk Inutiq, director of self-determination of NTI, presented a report on the subject. She said that self-government for the Inuit of Nunavut would not fundamentally change its public government and that territorial leaders could still represent Nunavummiut.

“Inuit self-government would build on the elements of Inuit governance that already exist, quite logically through land claims organizations,” its report said.

But Inuit self-government would require these regional Inuit organizations to include institutions “that can better serve the interests of the Inuit and the Inuit.”

Options moving forward include negotiating with the GN to create an “intergovernmental services agreement,” she said.

Under such an agreement, NTI could take over the delivery of social programs such as education for Inuit in Nunavut.

Another option would be to develop Inuit-focused programs and services independent of the GN.

Or NTI could ask the federal government to enter into a formal self-government agreement, which could take up to 20 years.

PJ Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, said it was worth exploring the possibilities.

“We have to try,” he said after listening to the report.

Inutiq mentioned how Makivik Corp. set a precedent for Inuit seeking a form of self-government that would operate alongside regional public government.

“While Canada’s preference is for public government, federal policy and law do not exclude the possibility of Inuit self-government in Nunavut,” said Inutiq.

The GN would be unable to prevent the Inuit of Nunavut from pursuing a self-government process based on section 35, she said.

Section 35 is the part of the Constitution Act that recognizes and affirms Aboriginal rights and the inherent right of self-government.

But GN involvement would likely be required in all discussions with the federal government, she said.

And if self-government were sought under the Nunavut Accord, the GN would almost certainly be involved.

Either way, NTI said the GN couldn’t stop it from pursuing self-government.

The president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Kono Tattuinee, declared that he was “totally behind this quest which is ours”.

In a resolution, the board said NTI would reconsider self-government at its next annual general meeting.

Tags : federal government
Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera