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Nunavut Tunngavik meets in Apex

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 23, 2009

IQALUIT - Shipping routes, polar bear quotas and a new corporation were included in presentations of three regional Inuit organizations during Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.'s annual general meeting in Iqaluit on Nov. 17.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jose Kusugak, president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, gives a presentation to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in Apex on Nov. 17. - photo courtesy of Andre Fecteau

During his presentation for the Kivalliq Inuit Association, president Jose Kusugak said Nunavut has never held a meeting to adequately address increasing ship traffic in the territory.

"After we got Nunavut and after we got the Government of Nunavut established, we've never had any big conference or symposium in Nunavut for shipping routes to be discussed," Kusugak said.

Kusugak said escalating ship traffic in windy places like Baker Lake and barges being left behind, such as the one left in Rankin Inlet a few years ago, exemplified the need to discuss possible impacts on the environment.

"There are boats full of fuel and it's dangerous when there are high winds," he said

"There is the possibility of spills."

Kusugak suggested holding a conference with NTI and regional Inuit organizations next year to prepare plans for small ports and small craft harbours as well as shipping routes in the territory.

George Eckalook, vice president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, said residents of High Arctic communities want more input when discussing shipping routes through the Northwest Passage.

"The people of the High Arctic would like to be involved in things concerning the shipping area of Northwest Passage," he said. "The Cumberland area, Lancaster Sound, the ships want to go through that route and this has been a concern to the people in that area."

The polar bear quota in the Kivalliq region was also included in Kusugak's presentation. The quota was cut down to eight bears from 38 for the 2008-2009 hunting season.

He said KIA will push for NTI's help in having this changed.

"We will be requesting support to get a resolution because we know that the polar bears are not depleting," he said. "The researchers are working with closed eyes and they're ignoring the findings of the Inuit."

"We wanted people to push the government to change the idea out there that the polar bear is depleting," he said.

Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Charlie Evalik said NTI and Inuit organizations need guidelines to establish how profits from mining and other projects are distributed.

"I think NTI and RIAs (Regional Inuit Associations) need a clear policy to assist us in terms of Inuit resource revenue policy," he said. "That should give us direction in terms of revenue sharing and how that's going to be handled in the future."

Evalik said the establishment of KIA's proposed Nunavut Resources Corp., which would give Inuit more control over mining in the territory, is in its initial stages.

"This development has been in the works," he said.

Evalik said the corporation is expected to begin operating by the end of March.

"We are going to be operating and staff the NRC hopefully by March of 2010," he said.

Evalik said the corporation will again be discussed with NTI in Feb., 2010.