(SEPTEMBER 17, 2003 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated today asked the Canadian Senate to ensure the Government of Canada keeps the promises it made in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement with respect to off-shore fisheries.
The NLCA was signed by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Canada, which includes the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, NTI President Cathy Towtongie told the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Yet DFO consistently ignores the provisions of Article 15 which call for fair access by Nunavummiut to our off-shore fishery.
Towtongie’s presentation was one of several made to the Standing Committee to assist its review of “matters relating to quota allocations and benefits to Nunavut and Nunavik fishermen.’ It comes just months after DFO announced that Nunavut fishers would get only 51 per cent of the new quota assigned to the northern shrimp (pandalus borealis) fishery, instead of the 100 per cent recommended earlier by the department’s own officials.
The NLCA brought certainty to Canada’s title to one-fifth the land mass of the country. For Canada to now ignore the promises it made to Inuit in exchange for extinguishing their Aboriginal title brings dishonour to the Crown, Towtongie noted.
Inuit want to believe that Canada is a country that honours its most solemn promises to its Aboriginal peoples, Towtongie said. Inuit are a maritime culture, yet have minimal access to the fisheries in our oceans. Until we have our fair share of the available quota, our efforts to improve our economy are severely limited.
NTI noted that First Nations are eligible to receiving funding and other assistance through the Aboriginal Fishery Strategy and other programs. At a minimum, Inuit should be able to access these programs too so community capacity can grow.
NTI is not here to ask for special favours or additional rights, Towtongie said. We simply ask that Canada honour its obligations under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Until that happens, DFO will continue to unilaterally devastate our new and struggling economy.
A COPY OF THE NTI PRESENTATION IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
For further information:
Director of Communications
Tel: (867) 975-4900
Fax: (867) 975-4943 Gabriel Nirlungayuk
Director of Wildlife