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WWF helps Nunavut hunters participate in land use plan process

With technical help, the Spence Bay Hunters and Trappers Association increased the depth of their participation in the draft Nunavut-wide land-use plan process.

Qikiqtani hunters and trappers organizations at consultations with the Nunavut Planning Commission. Seen here: Grise Fiord's Iviq Hunters and Trappers Organization representatives Charlie Noah, left and Liza Ningiuk and Mayor Meeka Kiguktak at the Qikiqtani public hearing for the draft land-use plan in March 2017. Photo courtesy Nunavut Planning Commission

That's thanks to the World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada), which provided financial support so the HTA could hire consultant Amanda Hanson Main.

"They've been very, very helpful," said HTA manager Jimmy Oleekatalik about the conservation organization.

"The board is really pleased overall. We're really happy with the results."

Oleekatalik says the HTA is not able to afford a technical consultant to help navigate the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) process. As a result of  the WWF-Canada funding, in November 2018 it submitted a detailed 18-page report outlining its objections to the change in process and cancellation of the Kitikmeot's public hearing, as well as extensive details related to expanding current protected area designations on the Boothia Peninsula. In contrast, the HTA contributed a one-map, one-page submission with point-form notes in 2016.

"The HTA understands that to date, despite consultations carried out with our community in 2014 and our submission made in 2016, neither of the subsequently released 2014 or 2016 versions of the NLUP have accurately captured the wishes of our community in terms of either conservation or the protection of our resources," the HTA states in its recent submission.

"The HTA is deeply concerned that the commission has not incorporated our input, and we are increasingly concerned that with no in-person hearing, our voice will again be lost or forgotten as the NPC endeavours to review and revise this NLUP (Nunavut Land Use Plan)."

The Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board (QWB) also availed itself of WWF-Canada funding to carry out work with the Baffin region's 13 HTOs.  As a result, the QWB submitted an additional 43 documents in November ranging from community-specific submissions to broader submissions related to Inuit routes, wildlife and wildlife habitat, among other points of concern.

"It was pretty critical," said QWB senior wildlife advisor Michael Ferguson of the WWF-Canada funding.

"We had some supporting funding from the QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association) and Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, but we wouldn't have been able to afford all the travel to all the communities without the WWF funding."

There was also the considerable cost of multiple translations, multiple times, of submissions as they were hammered out in various drafts.

Those 13 HTO boards had a similar frustration to Taloyoak's: the boards orally expressed their area-specific information at NPC consultations but felt the 2016 draft land-use plan, as presented at the Qikiqtani public hearing in March 2017, didn't capture that information.

"They wanted to know how they could get the areas that they were trying to describe included in the plan. Inuit normally transmit their knowledge orally. That's the way it's done," said Ferguson.

"It came out in the responses from the planning commissioners and staff that they seemed to put more weight on written documentation. One thing that struck me was in some of the communities there was inclusion of on-ice transportation routes, basically snowmobile trails on the ice and routes that Inuit use. But they were only for a few communities."

When Ferguson asked why that was, and the reply was that the information was taken from a Department of Fisheries and Oceans report, based on Inuit knowledge. The communities and QWB felt the commission only wanted to include Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) if it was in a written format.

"That did not seem to please the communities. So QWB decided to try to have a project to try to put as much as possible in the formats that the planning commission may understand, to put IQ in that format. Hopefully it will be used to protect areas the HTOs are concerned with," said Ferguson.


Two ways of looking at the land

The HTOs' areas of concern are quite extensive, said Ferguson.

"But at the same time, they made choices. Not all areas of value are included. It has a lot to do with food security. These are the places that provide resources for them to feed their families. And food is so expensive. They need these resources. To have them put at risk by development … " said Ferguson.

"It's two ways of looking at the land."

Brandon Laforest is the Iqaluit-based senior specialist for Arctic species and ecosystems with WWF-Canada, which has been participating in the NPC land-use plan process for years. Laforest has been involved for the past four years, contributing WWF-Canada-specific submissions.

"But we also support communities through our Community Voices Fund to help them ensure that their voices are heard in the process, which can be pretty technical and pretty intensive," said Laforest.

He says his organization responds when communities ask for support.

"We either offer money for them to hire a consultant or hire a lawyer, or pay their own staff time. Whatever is necessary for them to have the capacity to work on a submission and be able to submit that on their own."

WWF does not review or approve that community-based work.

"It's really owned by the communities themselves. We make submissions of our own where we have the explicit WWF position on things," said Laforest.