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NTI Calls on Department of Fisheries and Oceans to End Discrimination Against Inuit

NR 05-17 DFO ENG Fisheries Discrimination.doc

(April 27, 2005 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik President Paul Kaludjak today said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans discriminates against Inuit in the way it currently allocates quotas for turbot and shrimp. Kaludjak made the statement after meeting with Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Geoff Regan in Iqaluit yesterday.

Other jurisdictions in Canada enjoy 85 to 100 per cent of the total allowable catch in their adjacent waters. Inuit receive just half of that. When we met with Minister Regan yesterday, I again explained to him that this is discriminatory and violates our equality rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal government is condemning us to poverty and continued unemployment by giving away our resources to Southern fishers, said Kaludjak.

NTI has attempted to remedy this inequality on a number of occasions. Most recently, in October 2004, NTI sent Minister Regan a detailed proposal with a multi-year solution and process to increase Nunavut’s turbot and shrimp allocations. NTI still has not received a response to the proposal to negotiate that long-term solution with us.

We are not interested in participating in endless, non-productive talks with DFO. We want Minister Regan to commit in writing to begin negotiations to provide Nunavut with allocations equal to what other Canadian jurisdictions enjoy. Such a commitment would convey the seriousness of the Minister’s intent to find a solution, said Kaludjak. In the meantime, we are actively exploring our various political and legal options, he said.

Kaludjak added that the federal government’s current state of political uncertainty should not prevent Minister Regan from making this commitment to Inuit. Further, Kaludjak called upon Minister Regan and Nunavut MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell to use the period leading up to the next federal election to clearly state their positions on guarantees for Nunavut’s long-term fisheries allocations.

NTI welcomes the announcement DFO made today about money being provided to train Inuit to work in Nunavut’s emerging fisheries, but Kaludjak said such initiatives needed to be made more meaningful by having the Department commit to providing the resources to develop a fisheries sector in which Inuit can seek employment.

Without increasing our allocations, our turbot and shrimp fisheries cannot develop properly. It’s that simple. What is the purpose of having trained Inuit to work in our fisheries if we cannot provide fisheries in which they can work? Having access to our resources is key to developing this important sector of Nunavut’s economy, said Kaludjak.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated