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Quassa, Netser engage in testy exchange over failure to meet with Inuit organizations regarding housing

Aggu MLA Paul Quassa put Housing Minister Patterk Netser on the spot Friday, goading him to make contact with Inuit organizations to have a dialogue about their role in providing housing for Nunavummiut.

“We have to work together in order alleviate some of the problems and concerns, and you can’t do it alone,” Aggu MLA Paul Quassa told Housing Minister Patterk Netser on Friday.

Although Netser has made public appeals over the past year to Inuit organizations, particularly Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, to assist with building new homes, Quassa was incredulous to learn that Netser has not actually sat down with any of the Inuit leaders to discuss the matter.

“That is unbelievable!” Quassa said. “I am sure that the regional Inuit organizations are waiting for the minister to take the approach. The regional Inuit organizations did not even get a phone call or an invitation. They are just waiting for the minister to take the approach. He has legs and he can probably walk there as their offices are close by.”

Netser, who had not answered Quassa’s previous questions as to when exactly he would  meet with the Inuit organizations, took umbrage at Quassa’s language.

“This House is no place for personal insults. I got legs, I can walk, and I will reach out to the Inuit organizations and ask to request a meeting with them,” Netser said.

Last November, Netser said: “We have this Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which belongs to the beneficiaries. Our people are in severe need, the beneficiaries, of whom we are responsible for. I would like to call out to NTI: help us. We need your help.”

Prior to that, during the summer sitting of the of the legislative assembly, Netser pointed out that the Inuit organization has a “healthy surplus” — almost $2 billion in a trust fund — that could be used to address the territory’s housing shortfall.

While signing the Katujjiqatigiinniq Protocol with the GN in late January, NTI President Aluki Kotierk told Nunavut News:  “In terms of our role, we sit on the Inuit-Crown partnership committee. And so when money is allocated specifically for Inuit issues such as housing, we are part of the decision-making in terms of how that's allocated. So, when the federal government provides allocations for housing that's one way in which we're actively involved," she said.

"But we're also involved in terms of the housing strategy that is developed and we proactively take part in those discussions in terms of getting to us housing strategy, a blueprint for housing here in Nunavut. And I think we know that housing is an extremely daunting issue in Nunavut. So we will continue to advocate strongly because we know what's currently allocated in terms of finances. It doesn't meet the needs that Nunavut Inuit have,” said Kotierk.