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Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Calls on Federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion to Reverse Recommendation

NR 05-19 SAR ENG Species At Risk.doc

(May 20, 2005 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 2nd Vice-President Raymond Ningeocheak today called on federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion to reverse his recommendation to list the Peary Caribou herd as endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Ningeocheak made the statement shortly after Minister Dion’s intention was published in the Canada Gazette.

We were surprised to learn that Minister Dion plans to list Peary Caribou as an endangered species. His actions completely disregard the process set out in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and we are demanding that he reverse his recommendation immediately and follow proper procedures, said Ningeocheak.

Ningeocheak said he knows Minister Dion is aware of the proper procedures for making SARA designations in Nunavut because the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board sent a letter to Minister Dion on April 26, 2005 outlining the necessary steps required by Article 5 of the NLCA. Article 5.3.3 of the NLCA spells out the criteria for decisions by NWMB and the Minister. NTI and NWMB were still awaiting a response to that letter when Minister Dion’s intention to list the species as endangered was published.

Our Land Claim is constitutionally protected and Government of Canada officials are required to follow it. They cannot make decisions that completely ignore the NLCA, he said.

Further, Ningeocheak said the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which advises Minister Dion on SARA designations, is currently too far removed from Nunavut to be able to accurately assess the herd and advise the minister. The Committee still has not established their Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Committee, and has based the recent decision solely on scientific information.

The herd is dispersed across the vast area of the High Arctic Islands, but the Committee and Minister Dion are basing their decision on just a small part of the population. We are in full support of the Inuit hunters in Grise Fiord and Resolute, and the considerable amount of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit they possess about the herd’s natural population fluctuations is not being considered in the assessment, said Ningeocheak. Until Minister Dion rethinks and reverses his recommendation, we will continue to examine NTI’s possible legal options.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4914
Cell: (867) 975-1337
Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006