A new Inuit development association officially launched Nov. 28 in Ottawa.
The Inuit Development Corporation Association (IDCA) aims to ensure Inuit companies across Canada’s North can take full advantage of development opportunities in Inuit Nunangat.
The association is comprised of the six Inuit development corporations, including the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, Makivik Corporation, Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, Kitikmeot Corporation, Sakku Investments Corporation and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.
IDCA chair Patrick Gruben said the new association has three main purposes: to identify national issues with policy and procedures that impact IDCA members, to inform and influence policy, programs and partnerships between members and to advocate for business opportunities for Inuit within Inuit Nunangat.
Gruben said the six groups have an annual combined revenue of $500 million, as well as the capacity to take on more business opportunities in the North.
“We’re past the point of being a silent partner. We still want a partnership with the government, but I think we have the experience now, and we’ve built up the capacity, so we can start to take the lead and control these projects happening in our region,” said Gruben. “It would be pretty hard for our government to say that we don’t have the capabilities. We have the capacity, we have the economics and we have the expertise to take on big contracts in the region.”
Some of the first projects IDCA is looking at include maintenance contracts for DEW Line sites and shipping infrastructure in the Northwest Passage.
Gruben said IDCA is also looking at the issue of broadband access in small Northern communities, as poor Internet connectivity removes many opportunities for youth.
“What we’re seeing is that the CTRC has the funding available but they’re breaking it up,” he said. “We have to get them to put something big together to address the whole Arctic.”
IDCA’s formation is two years in the making, Gruben said, and is crucial to ensuring Inuit have more control over the development happening in the Arctic.
“Unity brings power. Especially in our case, the Inuit, when you bring all the development corporations together, when you look at the revenue that we have and the services that we offer, it only makes sense to form an association,” said Gruben. “It’s a big national thing,” said Gruben. “We’re blazing the trails for other Indigenous groups across Canada.”