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NTI Responds on Missile Defence Agreement

NR 04-20 MIS ENG Missile Defence Agreement.doc

(April 29, 2004 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Reacting to reports that Canada has agreed to sign onto U.S. plans for a missile defence shield for North America, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) today released correspondence indicating that the federal government has contravened its obligations to consult with Inuit.

NTI wrote to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham in March 2002 calling on Canada to consult with Inuit. His reply in May 2002 stated that the use of northern Canada for missile defences was hypothetical and premature, and he promised close consultation with Inuit leaders as discussions proceeded with the Americans. As reports began to appear that Canadian-American discussions were moving ahead, NTI wrote to Mr. Graham again in May, 2003, and in March, 2004, NTI wrote to both Graham and Defence Minister David Pratt, renewing the call for consultation. No responses were received to any of these letters.

It is unacceptable for the federal government to ignore its responsibilities to consult with Inuit on matters that could affect Nunavut, said NTI President Paul Kaludjak. We took the Minister at his word when he said our concerns were premature, and trusted that he would fulfill his personal promise to consult with us as the process moved forward. The agreement that is now being concluded in Washington strongly suggests that that trust was misplaced.

NTI’s call for consultations was based on four points:

We need to understand what kind of system is being considered, since Nunavut could be disproportionately impacted by a missile defence system, depending on its design;
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) acknowledges the contribution of Inuit to Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic;