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Inuit Ask Federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion to Act on Bowhead Whale Sanctuary

NR 05-24 ISA ENG Whale Sanctuary.doc

(July 5, 2005 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Paul Kaludjak, Qikiqtani Inuit Association President Thomasie Alikatuktuk, and Joelie Sanguya, Chair of the Igaliqtuuq Steering Committee in Clyde River, are calling on Federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion to give urgent political direction to conclude the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. Political muscle is needed to complete the IIBA to establish protected areas such as the Igaliqtuuq National Wildlife Area, the bowhead whale sanctuary at Isabella Bay near Clyde River.

Inuit in Clyde River have worked for two decades to have the bowhead whale sanctuary recognized and protected, said Joelie Sanguya.

We are asking Minister Dion for an adequate inflation adjustment mechanism. This is standard practice in government contracts to protect the value of funds to be paid in the future. This issue was first tabled by Inuit in 2003, and we are still awaiting an acceptable response from the Department of Environment and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, said Paul Kaludjak.

Inuit Organizations have waited for a response to the proposal they submitted in February 2005, and are concerned that bureaucratic red tape will continue to delay the conclusion of the IIBA, and the establishment of the bowhead whale sanctuary at Clyde River.

Given the intense international concern for the protection and conservation of large whale species, Inuit are astonished that the Department of Environment seems unwilling to move forward, said Thomasie Alikatuktuk.

Although the Government of Canada has the Species at Risk Act in place, as well as a global responsibility to protect these whales, they seem unable to prioritize the IIBA for Igaliqtuuq. said Kaludjak.

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