Is self-government the answer for Inuit to see progress?

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Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) has resolved to study Inuit self-government.

The 25th anniversary of the Nunavut Agreement is a reminder to NTI president Aluki Kotierk, as well as regional Inuit leaders, that many important aspects of the Nunavut Agreement remain to be implemented.

photo courtesy Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk, seen here speaking at United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April, says the NTI board is disappointed in the territorial government’s resistance to implementing key articles of the Nunavut Agreement. The board passed a resolution to study Inuit self-government options.

“Over a number of years there’s been some disappointment, for instance, in whether Article 32 is being used by the territorial government when it’s designing policies that relate to social and cultural programs,” said Kotierk, referring to the territorial governments attempts to revise the Education Act and develop Inuit employment plans, for example.

“Inuit organizations have felt there’s been resistance to work together on things to make things better for Inuit.”

The NTI board passed a resolution Oct. 22: “Inuit self-government may provide an alternative path for Nunavut Inuit to achieve their political aspirations, to promote Inuit rights and self-determination, and to enhance Inuit participation in decision-making on important matters such as language and education.”

At this point, NTI will discuss the way forward internally, and bring information back to the board.

“Because we have just marked 25 years since the Nunavut Agreement was signed, it’s a time Inuit organizations are reflecting on what was envisioned, where are we, what do we envision for the future, is this what we thought it would be,” said Kotierk.

“I think that’s why there was a desire to embark on a study to assess what options there are. Is there something that might work better for Inuit?”

Nunavut News asked Premier Joe Savikataaq for his reaction to NTI’s move, and he responded by email.

“Before I can respond fully, I will have to discuss with NTI about what they have in mind, to see what their reasons are to explore options for a self-government agreement for Nunavut Inuit. I also need to see the results of whatever studies they undertake about self-government, and have meaningful discussion with my cabinet colleagues about potential outcomes. I imagine this may take some time,” stated Savikataaq.

“In the Nunavut Agreement, the federal and territorial governments and Inuit agreed to establish the Government of Nunavut. While this is a public government and represents all people in this territory, it was intended to give meaning to Inuit’s inherent right to self-government. Our government represents a population that is 85 per cent Inuit.  This government is an expression of Indigenous self-government that is unique in the world.”

Savikataaq added that ultimately it’s up to Nunavut Inuit.

“I am willing to discuss this with NTI at their convenience,” he stated.

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Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following a very short stint as a communications officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Michele spent a decade at a community-based environmental monitoring board in the mining industry, where she worked with Inuit, Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and Metis elders to help develop traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit contributions for monitoring and management plans. She rejoined NNSL and moved to Iqaluit in May 2014 to write for Nunavut News. Michele has received a dozen awards for her work with NNSL.

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