(August 29, 2008 – Inuvik, Northwest Territories) Nunavut Tunngavik Vice-President of Finance Raymond Ningeocheak met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, alongside other northern Aboriginal leaders, this past week in Inuvik.
Prime Minister Harper has been North before, but this is the first opportunity we have had to talk to him, Ningeocheak said. Hopefully we will be able to agree on common objectives, and work together to attain them.
Ningeocheak told the Prime Minister that the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is not being properly implemented and government is not delivering on promises made to Inuit when it was signed.
For example, the principle of adjacency on the allocation of fish quota in waters adjacent to Nunavut is affirmed in the NLCA, but is ignored by the Government of Canada. Nunavummiut are entitled to just 40 per cent of the fish taken from adjacent waters, while British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces enjoy more than 90 per cent. Federal fisheries ministers continue to allocate Nunavut fish to southern interests, in spite of Article 15 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Ningeocheak cited federal failure to develop a government contracting policy, as required by NLCA Article 24, and he noted that sweeping changes are needed in education and training programs to meet the needs of Inuit. In particular, a bilingual education system is required, and training opportunities are needed to take advantage of opportunities in mining and other employment areas.
Ningeocheak spoke positively of the federal Strategic Investment in Northern Economic Development (SINED) funds and the federal housing money announced for Nunavut in 2006. These initiatives are scheduled to end in 2009 and 2010 respectively. He said it is important for these initiatives to be continued.
Adequate housing is needed for good health, school achievement and participation in the labour force, he said. As well, the SINED funding is an important component of Nunavut’s economic development.
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