(April 20, 2004 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Paul Kaludjak today appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to outline the elements of an innovative ten-year housing strategy to tackle Nunavut’s housing crisis. The strategy is being jointly developed between NTI and the Government of Nunavut.
Kaludjak’s presentation followed his participation yesterday in the first Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable, convened by Prime Minister Paul Martin. Kaludjak lost no time in taking up the Prime Minister’s offer to increase recognition of the unique needs of Inuit in the North.
Noting the urgent need for action, Kaludjak laid out four points to turn around the housing crisis in Nunavut and make it a springboard for both social improvement and economic growth. MPs demonstrated their interest by extending the hearing by a full hour to give everyone a chance to take part. Nunavut’s Member of Parliament, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, took an active role in the proceedings.
The strategy being developed looks toward:
Immediate Federal funding to renovate and add rooms to existing social housing units and to make them healthier to live in;
Creation through training and technology transfer of an efficient, Inuit-run new home construction industry in Nunavut to build the 300-400 homes needed every year;
Capacity building for communities and individual households to take an active role in creating their own housing solutions, including support for home ownership;
Reporting on results to all concerned to enable lessons to be learned, and to get the best bang for the buck in Nunavut housing programs.
Kaludjak said he was representing the thousands of Inuit in Nunavut who do not have adequate accommodation and who are forced to live in crowded and unhealthy conditions. According to the 2001 Census of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit in Nunavut live in conditions eight times more crowded than those of Southern Canadians.
Picking up on remarks a day earlier by ITK President Jose Kusugak, Kaludjak said that on the housing front Inuit felt they had been put out on an ice flow. He was happy to see this approach ending, observing that from their positive remarks it appeared he had support from all political parties represented at the Committee hearing. It is simply not acceptable to have such living conditions in today’s Canada. said Kaludjak. We want to be active partners in designing and implementing solutions for the future.