Land claims organization Nunuvut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) called on the Government of Nunavut to raise the total allowable harvest of the Kitikmeot’s Dolphin and Union caribou herd during NTI’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay last week.
It was one of the organization’s eight resolutions, all of which passed unanimously.
The request to increase the quota for the Kitikmeot caribou herd comes a month after the government restricted this year’s hunt to just one per cent of the estimated population, which equates to just 42 animals.
Delegates said the limit was based on a flawed survey from 2018. There were also complaints that the communities in the region were not consulted before the GN’s decision was made.
NTI’s resolution called on the allowable harvest to doubled to two per cent based on the population survey.
“The affected Inuit communities were not consulted and believe the survey was flawed and incomplete,” said Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak, who moved the motion.
The motion also requested that Inuit communities and hunters be consulted on any potential surveys in the future.
Review of medical services
NTI also called on the federal and territorial governments to review the standard of medical services provided to Nunavummiut.
The lack of proper medical care was raised repeatedly throughout the AGM.
The resolution noted that only 14 per cent of Nunavummiut have a regular health care provider compared to 85 per cent in the rest of Canada.
Nunavut also has the fewest hospital beds per capita in the country, with 1,095 residents per bed compared with a national average of 409 per bed.
There was also specific reference to the fact that there are no ambulances or medical aircraft stationed in the Kitikmeot.
“This results in longer response times, which threatens the lives, health and safety of Nunavummiut needing services,” said Qikiqtani Inuit Association President P.J. Akeeagok, who moved the motion.
The third resolution called on the GN to take actionable steps to addressing Nunavut’s high suicide rate. It requested more specialized mental health services and tangible steps for establishing social equity to reduce suicide.
“Access to Inuktitut services is fundamental to addressing the trauma caused by colonialism,” said Malachai Angulalik, the youth delegate from Cambridge Bay, who moved the motion.
In addition to Inuit-based, community-led wellness programs, the motion called for greater social equity.
“There is an urgent need to create social equity by adjusting poverty, education, health care, housing and food security,” said Angulalik.
Removing interest on Grays Bay loan
NTI also decided to convert the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s loan for the Grays Bay road and port project to make it interest-free.
NTI had previously approved a 10-year loan with a 2.5 per cent annual interest rate. However, NTI made changes to its Inuit development policy in 2019, which granted the right for it to provide interest-free loans for projects that have “exceptional merit.”
Covid-19 and CERB
Delegates passed several motions related to Covid-19. One resolution called on the GN and the federal government to look at how some people receiving social assistance had their funds cut because they received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Another resolution asked the federal government to look into the increased risk Nunavummiut face due to the pandemic, especially due to the lack of housing.
“The housing crisis in Nunavut prevents Inuit from safeguarding themselves against some of the public health risks related to Covid-19,” said Angulalik, who moved the motion. “This motion calls on the GN and Canada to ensure that basic human rights are met.”
Assistance for Inuit outside of Nunavut
NTI passed a resolution to provide more support to Nunavut Inuit living outside of the territory.
“There are many reasons that Nunavut Inuit leave,” said Levi Barnabas, QIA vice-president. “They have to be supported because they are from Nunavut, even if they are living down south.”
The motion calls on the federal government to adequately fund an assessment for Inuit living outside of Nunavut. According to the motion, there are currently 5,000 Inuit who are covered under the Nunavut Agreement living outside the territory.
Hiring of Inuit firms for government contracts
The final resolution passed at the Oct. 20-22 AGM called on the GN to ensure more Inuit contractors are hired for work. Under Article 24 of the Nunavut Agreement, government needs to provide assistance to Inuit firms looking for government contracts.
“The reason for the resolution is the GN has been taking advantage of the loophole,” said Tagak Curley, vice-president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association. “It’s silent and messy.”
The government is able to use three methods to issue contracts: invitation, public tender, or sole-sourced.
Curley said they tend to use sole-sourced contracting as a way to get around adhering to Article 24.
“Nunavut government is good with that,” he said. “Some people call it under-the-table deal.”