The five communities closest to the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Protected Area, announced last August, received presentations that will help them contribute to an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement (IIBA).
Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) chief negotiator Sandra Inutiq kicked off what will be a series of visits that should see an agreement signed by March 2019. The IIBA and the management plan are being developed simultaneously.
“It’s a very tight timeline,” said Inutiq.
The first January trip saw Inutiq presenting in Resolute Bay, Grise Fiord and Arctic Bay, while on a second trip she presented in Clyde River and Pond Inlet.
“There will be different visits, a bit more focused, in the future. For example. we’ll have management plan visits and we’ll have visits with the federal government, as well,” said Inutiq, adding there was the option to include the federal government for this round.
“There are so many considerations that QIA felt it important that we go in first so that information is presented from the Inuit organization perspective, present it on our terms first.”
This is Inutiq’s first IIBA negotiation and, for the lawyer, there’s an added dimension to the negotiation – she’s originally from Clyde River, and has relatives in Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.
“The sense of responsibility is pretty heavy,” she said.
IIBAs are not new, but this one will be a bit different, because it includes international, as well as domestic, relations. As well, it will set a precedent for larger marine protected areas.
“And the economic, social, cultural considerations are much more. Right from the beginning the QIA leadership have said that they want this as an economic development initiative,” said Inutiq. “That the communities should benefit economically from the creation of the conservation area.”
Back in August, QIA director of major projects Stephen Williamson Bathory was already emphasizing this aspect of the agreement.
“We’re thinking about things such as small craft harbours, other kinds of transportation infrastructure, and marine equipment and supplies that promote a permanent Inuit presence in the monitoring and management of this region,” he said at the time.
Inutiq heard those same sentiments echoed in the communities, at meetings with leadership and at public meeting for the community at large.
Inutiq said Inuit have indicated they want some kind guardian program set up as soon as possible.
The area has been under discussion for decades and dates back to the early days of Inuit forming organizations to speak for themselves, she said. There was also much information gathered between 2011 and 2016 during community consultations to determine the Tallurutiup Imanga boundaries.
There is also some precedent set with the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area in British Columbia, established as a partnership between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.
Funding for the consultations comes from the federal government.
Formal negotiations start in February. There are also monthly meeting between QIA president P.J. Akeeagok and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna.