Media Centre

NTI Makes Important Advances in Social and Cultural Development Department

NR 03-24 SCD ENG Social Advances.doc

(November 5, 2003 — Sanikiluaq, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) today updated delegates at their Annual General Meeting in Sanikiluaq on the work being done to tackle Nunavut’s social problems.

In September 2002, the NTI Board made the decision to assume responsibility for Inuit rights and obligations under Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. These responsibilities were previously held by the Nunavut Social Development Council. To carry out these obligations, NTI took over direction of NSDC and set up a new Social and Cultural Development Department to carry out its work.

The department was given ten priority areas to concentrate on at that time, including housing, education, language, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Elders’ issues, community wellness, culture, health, Article 2 sign-off and the Annual Status Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society.

This was a very good step for Inuit. There has been a dramatic turn around in productivity on the social issues that affect our people. More is being accomplished on these issues now than in the past several years. Forming the Social and Cultural Development Department was a strong step forward under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, she said. NTI will be working closely with the Regional Inuit Associations on all of these issues, she said.

Significant initiatives during the last year include forming a joint Social Housing Advocacy Working Group with the Government of Nunavut to address the territory’s housing crisis, suicide prevention work, promoting the interests of Inuit with disabilities and fostering community wellness.

In addition, since forming the department, NTI was able to launch the community-based healing initiative, the Qauma Mobile Treatment Program. For many years, beneficiaries had difficulty accessing federal dollars set aside to help Aboriginal people deal with the long-term, intergenerational impacts of the residential school system. But, over the past year, NTI’s Social & Cultural Development Department was able to secure $2 million from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation to develop the Qauma program. The program will be based on traditional Inuit healing methods and will be offered in at least 16 Nunavut communities by 2007.

The Department was also able to complete an Annual Report on the State of Inuit Culture & Society this past year. Inuit are obligated to prepare this report annually and table it in the federal Parliament and the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. However, this is just the second time in ten years the document was completed. It is scheduled to be printed and publicly distributed later this month and a regular annual schedule will now be followed.

A lot more work is being done on these issues than was done over the last decade. This is all about Inuit rights and Inuit well-being. We must use the rights contained in Article 32 effectively if we are to gain more rights for beneficiaries. The issue is about our effectiveness as a land claims organization, said President Towtongie.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867)266-8243