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Makigiaqta funding decisions delayed

A delay in funding decisions from the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation means the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium must delay some training plans, but on the upside it received $12.6 million over three years from the federal government for infrastructure projects.

photo coutesy Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium
There's good news and bad news for the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium, whose Kisarvik program students are seen here in March during fire-fighting training in Iqaluit. On the plus side, NFMTC received $12.6 million over three years from the federal government for infrastructure projects. Meanwhile it faces delays in funding consideration by the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation that would help further round out its training opportunities.

The Makigiaqta funding matters to the consortium because it will round out a lot of the existing programs, said consortium executive director Liz Cayen.

Currently the consortium receives skills and partnership funding that takes care of basic training. It also receives funding from Transport Canada for small vessel operator proficiency and emergency response training.

"What we're hoping to focus on with that (Makigiaqta) money is to round that out with the in-shore, like processing plants," said Cayen.

"Also, more support structure for following up. We do that, but make it more structured because that follow-up is super-important. That's one of the reasons we think we're successful."

Since 2004, when the consortium was formed, they've had roughly 2000 course participants.

"And I would say, as a rule of thumb, 60 to 70 per cent go to work. Some go on to further education, some start a different job, completely out of the marine. Which is fine, too. I'm all about work."

Just this year, at least 25 participants went offshore who'd never been offshore, says Cayen.

"I would say this is good."

But Makigiaqta received 37 proposals for funding under its four themes laid out in its call-out – and not all of these organizations have access to the federal funding the marine consortium has worked years to acquire through the building of partnerships.

Makigiaqta was formed with $175 million from a settlement agreement between Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the federal and territorial governments. In early 2017, a variety of Inuit training endeavours shared $3 million in training funds from Makigiaqta, after which the board approved another $1.5 million in funding for four Inuit-specific training initiatives.

Last fall, Makigiaqta put out a call for projects related to four main strategic priorities: early-learning systems; wrap-around supports for success in K-12; foundational skills development opportunities for adults; and advanced training and post-secondary linked with employment. No cap was set on individual proposals and projects were to begin in April of this year

In January, Makigiaqta's board of directors deferred the project review process until the summer.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk chairs that board. NTI's new Inuit Employment and Training Division handles Makigiaqta.

"At the January meeting, the board was provided with a chart with all the projects, with recommendations from the advisory council to approve X number of projects. In January, there was one employee, the director Inuit employment and training. It's a lot of money and there are no administrative templates, like contribution agreements, or monitoring and evaluation, or financial statements. Any kind of reporting forms had to be created," said Kotierk.

The director informed the board of the challenges they were facing, and it's at that point the board put a hold on the process.

"We want to do this well," said Kotierk.

More staff is being hired, office space assessed, and Makigiaqta-specific policies developed.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we're distributing money with no mechanisms to follow-up, and we want to make sure funds are being expended in a proper way and that we're addressing the needs we're hoping to achieve," Kotierk said.

Cayen agrees that's important, but it's no less aggravating.

The Makigiaqta board will make its decisions at its June board meeting.

Kotierk acknowledged the frustration.

"But I think people would expect that we would want to do the best job we can, to make sure we can smoothly distribute money and keep the pulse of the projects. We want Makigiaqta to be positioned to be able to work with organizations or groups to see their projects be successful."

Meanwhile, the marine consortium will be forging ahead with its plans related to the federal funds via the Oceans Protection Plan. It's planning a second satellite school in Hay River, NWT, and beefing up its stock of marine simulators at its Iqaluit school.