Nunavut Tunngavik Acting President James Eetoolook today announced that NTI and the Regional Inuit Associations invoked the Inuit right under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to bring in a conciliator to resolve a 16-year delay in concluding an Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement for Canadian Heritage Rivers in Nunavut. In accordance with Article 9 of the NLCA, the Government of Canada is obligated to negotiate an IIBA for Heritage Rivers in Nunavut with Inuit. The NLCA required IIBAs for all Canadian Heritage Rivers to conclude by 1998.
Eetoolook’s announcement followed comments made last week in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly by Environment Minister Johnny Mike, who said NTI was responsible for the delay in concluding the IIBA. ”Our negotiators have tried for many, many years to conclude an agreement with the federal and territorial governments in order to provide tourism, water monitoring and other river-related benefits for Inuit. Our negotiators have pushed for benefits for Inuit as laid out in the NLCA. The federal government’s offer was presented to Inuit as non-negotiable, with a totally arbitrary funding proposal that was not based on provisions in the NLCA,” said Eetoolook.
The Government of Canada must now table an adequate financial mandate by June 30, or agree on a conciliator. IIBAs are negotiated in Nunavut when there is a major development, major land use activity, or Parks and Conservation Areas are created because these activities impact Inuit rights and require compensation be made available to Inuit.