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Nunavut Land Claims Body Links Auditor-General’s Report and Throne Speech Promises

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(February 10, 2004 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) today applauded the report Auditor-General Sheila Fraser tabled in Parliament, linking it to the promises confirmed in last week’s Speech from the Throne.

Chapter Eight of Ms. Fraser’s report examines the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development’s mismanagement of the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Her report also highlights how poorly DIAND has kept Parliament and the Canadian public informed on the implementation of land claim agreements.

It should come as no surprise to Inuit, or to Canadian taxpayers, that DIAND received a failing grade in Ms. Fraser’s assessment. The Department has not done what any well-run government or business would have done in managing a complex process like implementing Canada’s largest land claims agreement, said NTI President James Eetoolook.

The new Martin Government has an opportunity to move away from the self-defeating, short-sighted approach to land claims implementation taken by its predecessor. Ottawa should recognize the potential the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement has as an economic instrument that boosts the economy in Nunavut and reduces our dependency on the federal government, said Eetoolook.

Despite the highly critical report, Eetoolook said NTI remained optimistic about their relationship with the federal government in light of the commitments made to Aboriginal Canadians in last week’s Throne Speech. The Martin Government has already taken a number of concrete steps to improve communications with Aboriginal peoples.

For NTI and the Inuit we represent, this is a promising start toward opening a new chapter in the implementation of our land claims agreement. Those officials charged with turning the government’s good intentions into reality should pay close attention to today’s Auditor-General’s report. We hope DIAND will be given new marching orders to begin applying modern economic and social planning to the land claims process — or that the job will at last be given to an agency that can, said Eetoolook.

NTI represents Inuit under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and as such, holds Inuit rights and obligations under the Agreement. NTI is also the largest landowner in Nunavut apart from the federal government. The federal government, the Government of Nunavut and NTI are obligated legally to co-operate to make Nunavut work.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey, Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated