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Legislative Assembly briefs
Babies get newly minted certificates

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 11, 2012

Newborn Nunavummiut registered June 6 will be the first to receive a newly-designed birth certificate, with state-of-the-art security features carried by Canada's newest polymer-based currencies.

Except for Ontario and Quebec, every other province and territory uses the same design and materials for its birth certificates.

Nunavut's certificate has Nunavut-specific features, including the coat of arms, Inuit language, and the territorial seal, Health Minister Keith Peterson announced June 5.

Each certificate costs $10 and takes about two weeks to process. The previous short- and long-form certificate will no longer be issued, but people do not need to replace the ones they have.

In the legislature, Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk expressed concerns about Nunavummiut born outside of the territory due to medical reasons and limited access to birthing centres.

Peterson confirmed those children must register with the province where they were born, not where they live. The Department of Health was not able to say what proportion of Nunavummiut children were born out of territory.

Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley said applying for birth certificates is a challenge for people, especially those who only speak Inuktitut, and encouraged the government to "make this easier."

Peterson said government liaison officers can help those parents navigate the application process for the province or territory where their child is born.

Docks instead of drones

Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley wants the premier to "tell the prime minister to fly the kite somewhere else" on news that the federal government plans to invest up to $1 billion in six drone aircraft for Arctic surveillance.

"Can the premier announce to the prime minister that we do not want to see any type of militarization of our airspace?" Curley asked June 4.

It's early in the process, Premier Eva Aariak said, but she continues to reiterate Nunavut's position on sovereignty.

"Inuit have been inhabiting the Arctic for many years and we've never left the Arctic homelands," Aariak said. "We keep trying to focus their priorities on housing and other infrastructure that's important to Nunavut such as small craft harbours, docks and air strips. These would promote the idea of sovereignty and if the federal government is serious about sovereignty they should be investing in infrastructure that allows the residents to practise their sovereignty."

Members critique chief justice on court security

Legislators introduced measures June 8 to give Nunavut Court of Justice sheriffs enhanced security powers.

Sheriffs will not carry guns, but will be trained in verbal judo, as well as pepper spray, baton and handcuff use. RCMP officers will continue to accompany defendants who are in custody.

The law was passed days after Chief Justice Robert Kilpatrick was criticized in the legislature for his decision to shut down proceedings March 26 and 28 due to concerns about court security in the case of Rankin Inlet's Colin Muckpah, who is accused of manslaughter.

"I was flabbergasted, amazed that, in my view, the politically-charged issue that could have been dealt with in a closed hearing was exposed to the public," Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley said June 6. "I don't think it was appropriate for Justice Robert Kilpatrick to actually use the victims and the whole court participant as a pawn to settle a dispute with the Department of Justice officials." Justice Minister Daniel Shewchuk agreed.

"The incident is very disconcerting to the Department of Justice," he said. "There were options of holding in-camera sessions with the victims and the witnesses and the accused. There was also the option of closing the court and just having the victim's family and the accused family there for the proceedings. This concern has been voiced to the chief justice."

CLEY becomes Culture and Heritage

The Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth will be called the Department of Culture and Heritage as of July 1. The name was too long, minister James Arreak said in the legislature June 1.

The Inuit language versions of the department's name will not be changed. The new name drops the language component because "there is another portfolio for that," Arreak said. He will continue to also be the minister of languages.

Plans to implement the Official Languages Act, originally set for Nunavut Day on July 9, have now been pushed until after the fall session, Arreak said.

Legislature celebrates 500th day

The Nunavut legislative assembly hit a milestone June 6, hosting its 500th sitting day.

"Being the only member of the current House who served in the first legislative assembly, this milestone brings back numerous memories, some fond and some not so fond," Speaker Hunter Tootoo said. "For those of you who aspire to being in this House on the occasion of the next milestone, it's 1,000 sitting days, you have my best wishes."

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