Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 1st Vice-President James Eetoolook today expressed his support for the recommendations of the Standing Committee on National Defence’s report, Canada’s Arctic Sovereignty. The report, issued by the committee last week, contains 17 recommendations to the Government of Canada. Eetoolook stated that all the recommendations are important, but noted the following as particularly important for Inuit:
· That a Cabinet Committee be established on Arctic Affairs;
· That the Cabinet Committee engage Indigenous peoples in developing future Arctic policies;
· That Indigenous peoples be included in scientific research programs relating to the Northern environment;
· That the federal government do more to recognize the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples o Canadian Arctic sovereignty;
· That the federal government ensure, on a priority basis, the development of viable Indigenous communities in the Arctic.
“When NTI appeared before the committee, we explained that the federal government has not fully implemented the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which we signed in 1993. The recommendation that the federal government move at once to ensure viable communities in the Arctic shows that our comments were understood.” said Eetoolook.
Eetoolook added that recommendations of the committee, together with those of the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in its 2008 report Honouring the Spirit of Modern Treaties: Closing the Loopholes, show that there is understanding at the political level of the need for government to accept its obligations and work in partnership with Inuit.
“Now, we have to move from understanding to acting,” Eetoolook said. “Our lawsuit is all about implementation. We have to move from talk to action.”