(December 6, 2006 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) President Paul Kaludjak today announced that the organization is filing a lawsuit against the Government of Canada for breach of contract. The lawsuit is being filed in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Kaludjak said the Government of Canada is not living up to it implementation responsibilities and is therefore violating the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA).
The Government of Canada keeps Inuit dependent and in a state of financial and emotional despair despite promises made when the NLCA was signed in 1993. The Government of Canada is not holding up its end of the bargain. Canada got everything it wanted immediately upon signing the NLCA. Inuit are still waiting for full implementation of the Agreement, said Kaludjak.
Because the NLCA is between two parties, Inuit in Nunavut and the Crown in right of Canada, the federal government is the sole defendant named in the lawsuit. NTI is asking for $1 billion in damages.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers produced a report that estimated the total salaries and benefits lost to Inuit amounts to $123 million annually because the government has not implemented the land claim and continues to import a Southern workforce, said Kaludjak. This means that since NTI signed the land claim, Inuit could have earned more than an additional $1 billion in salaries alone.
Kaludjak said that because every attempt to negotiate a satisfactory Implementation Contract was derailed by the federal government, NTI had no other option but to sue the Government of Canada.
We have reason to pursue this through litigation. NTI only chooses to go to court when we have a solid case, said Kaludjak.
NTI, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada first started negotiations to update the Implementation Contract in 2001. After the federal government walked away from the table in 2004, former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Berger was recruited as Conciliator to try to re-start negotiations.
After reviewing the situation, Mr. Berger said Nunavut is in a state of crisis, and that Inuit will only get their fair share of jobs in government and elsewhere when the educational and training systems are transformed. While NTI endorsed Mr. Berger’s report in early March, it is still unclear whether the federal government will also endorse the report and act upon it.
What is at stake here is whether the NLCA will continue to be a central factor in shaping the future of Nunavut and improving the lives of Inuit. We will do everything in our power to ensure that the NLCA benefits Inuit in the ways it was intended to, said Kaludjak.
The Government of Canada cannot defend sovereignty and develop the Arctic while ignoring Inuit rights and interests, said Kaludjak.
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