A pair of Kivalliq MLAs are calling on Inuit land claim organizations to be more open with their beneficiaries and to do more to build infrastructure.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the regional Inuit associations, as the Government of Nunavut’s partners, “need to also make substantive and tangible contributions,” Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak said in the legislative assembly on Monday while discussing the territory’s infrastructure deficit.
“In reading Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated’s recently released report on Nunavut’s infrastructure gap, I noted a lot of detailed information about the gaps that continue to exist. However, I was disappointed that the organization seems to see its role as being limited to ‘…advocating for meaningful solutions to our infrastructure challenges,’” said Simailak. “I do recognize that our regional Inuit organizations are not the government and they are not responsible for delivering public services and programs. However, as we have recently witnessed in relation to the Baffinland project, there is clear public dissatisfaction amongst many ordinary Inuit with how the significant financial benefits and royalties from natural resource extraction projects are being used.
“I do not advocate for dividends or direct cash payments to individuals. That is a short-sighted approach. However, I do support a fresh look at how the wealth that has flowed from mining and other projects can be more effectively used to address the serious infrastructure needs that exist in all of our communities,” he said.
Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser later commended the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) for the help it provided to impacted communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but he called for greater transparency and accountability from the organization.
“We need to see more openness, in respect to the agreements that it enters into with such entities as airlines and the natural resource sector extraction companies,” said Netser. “We have not heard much reporting in terms of the Inuit impact benefit agreement from our organization and it is time to open the books to the people.”
He asked the KIA to make its salaries and benefits known to the public, as the legislative assembly does, and he advocated for greater support for Arctic College students.