Reviewing the review
Governments and NTI strive to meet recommendations in assessment

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (May 08/00) - Despite a critical five-year review on the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, the three parties responsible for fulfilling the complex claim say they are, for the most part, satisfied with their progress.

Representatives from the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. cite the redrafting of the map of Canada to include Nunavut on April 1, 1999 and the creation of the territorial government as their greatest achievements.

Terry Henderson, the director general of implementation for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the person responsible for overseeing the implementation of land claims across the country, says creating Nunavut was a major undertaking that will have numerous benefits for the Inuit and other residents.

"We can say we've fallen behind in some cases, but for the most part there has been considerable progress made," said Henderson from his Ottawa office.

"The Avery Cooper review cites a number of provisions where the parties have had some difficulty and we now have a preliminary view of the steps we think might be needed to address the findings and recommendations."

Avery Cooper, the Yellowknife-based consulting firm hired to conduct the lengthy and extensive review on implementation, names several shortcomings in the overall process between 1993 and 1998.

After conducting an exhaustive list of interviews and document research, Avery Cooper lists missed deadlines on Inuit Employment plans and a weak Implementation Panel as major flaws within the process.

The report says "the implementation process and the results achieved on Inuit employment are not satisfactory ... territorial data indicates that Inuit employment remained static at 42 per cent from 1996 to 1998, roughly half the target level."

In response to the report's finding, Henderson says that in fact, Inuit Employment plans were dated by deadline and posted on time.

"Perhaps the plans weren't as complete as they should have been and we will probably want to work towards improving them and putting in place a pre-employment training program," said Henderson.

"I think all of the parties need to work jointly on this and to restart efforts, it's a major area that we need to focus our attention on."

Aside from Inuit Employment, NTI president Paul Quassa says the weakness of the Implementation Panel is a serious concern and in a recent meeting with DIAND Minister Robert Nault, possible solutions were discussed.

"The Implementation Panel hasn't been working as effectively as it should to ensure that obligations are being met by all parties," said Quassa.

"According to the Avery Cooper review the main problem is the need to reform the panel and I do know that the minister understands our concerns."

The Implementation Panel is made up of one representative each from the federal government and the Nunavut government and two from NTI. They are responsible for overseeing and providing direction with implementation and solving disputes between parties.

The review was tabled in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly last week and Premier Paul Okalik said since the government's creation they have worked to create a new business incentive policy that implements Article 24 which deals with Inuit participation in government contracts.

As well, they are reviewing and amending laws in accordance with the claim.

He also notes that discussions are under way with the federal government and NTI to enhance the role of the Nunavut Implementation Panel and its ability to track each party's obligations.

All three parties are meeting on a continual basis to look at ways of meeting the recommendations in the review.