Canada's Relationship with Inuit: A History of Policy and Program Development

Author: (Sarah Bonesteel)
Date: (June 2006) 
ISBN: (978-1-100-11121-6)

PDF Version (15,270 Kb, 259 Pages)

Table of Contents


The history of Inuit relations with the Government of Canada has been a story of negotiation, accommodation and resistance. The relationship has developed around a long conversation of rights recognition and struggle for voice within the Canadian political system. Inuit have made tremendous progress in this, and speak from a position of authority and strength on many issues of concern to them. The conversation and negotiation continues, however, as the story is played out around such issues as control over land and resources, the environment, social programs and the extent and pace of change in the face of maintenance of language, culture and traditional lifestyle. These complex issues and negotiations occur on many different levels, both in the domestic and international spheres.

A significant advance in the struggle for an Inuit political voice was the creation by the Government of Canada of the Inuit Relations Secretariat in 2005. This group, which is housed in Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), was established in response to the request of Inuit representatives for a focal point to address Inuit-specific issues within the federal government. The Inuit Relations Secretariat helps advocate for Inuit concerns within the federal system, supports the development of federal Inuit policy, and works to improve the relevance and effectiveness of existing federal programs and policies that affect Inuit. The Inuit Relations Secretariat also gathers and dispenses resources, information, advice and expertise on Inuit matters broadly within the federal system.

One of the first items discussed in getting the secretariat up and running was the need for greater understanding and appreciation of the historic relationship between Inuit and the Government of Canada. While there is a great deal of information about the history of relations with First Nations, much less is well known about the history of the Government of Canada's relationship with Inuit. Just as an understanding of the evolution of treaties, Indian Act and general Indian policy is key to understanding and improving the current First Nations-Government of Canada relationship, so is an understanding of the historical Inuit-Government of Canada relationship necessary for current Inuit policy development. The logic is simple: we can't possibly create meaningful policies for the future, without first addressing the past and understanding how it is we got to where we are today.

As a result of these initial discussions within INAC, a project was begun that has culminated with the publication of this book. The project was managed by the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate within INAC, and started with a small contract with a local firm specializing in the history of Aboriginal-government relations, Public History Inc. The primary audience was initially intended to be internal to INAC, and later other federal departments with a northern or Aboriginal interest. The project was conceived to be a high-level thematic and descriptive analysis of specific events and government rational for historic policy development. As such, the bulk of research was directed towards secondary published and unpublished sources. Initial positive feedback from within government and discussion of the project with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization, convinced us to expand the project to encompass a broader historical scope. It also became apparent that there was potentially a much wider audience of interest for this research, including Inuit organizations, governments and communities as well as the general public.

An important element in expanding the scope of research was an attempt to insert an Inuit perspective that is not often evident from the secondary sources. As a result, there was an interview component initially added to the project. The interviews were undertaken in English with Inuit who had first-hand experience or knowledge in dealings with the federal government. The author and editor would like to thank all of those who generously donated their time and expertise. To be clear, this is not finally an Inuit history from an Inuit perspective, but is rather meant to be a history of the federal government's Inuit policy development. There are countless other important stories to be told by Inuit that are critical to a well-balanced understanding of the Inuit-Government of Canada relationship. We believe, however, that this overview will be an indispensable resource and reference for those who may be working in the area of Inuit or northern policy development, or who may simply have an interest in better understanding the evolution of federal Inuit policy.

Most of the research and all of the interviews were expertly conducted by Sarah Bonesteel of Public History Inc., with assistance and support of Public History owners and staff. Ms. Bonesteel has an anthropological, archaeological and ethno-historical background, as well as extensive research experience and first-hand knowledge of the Canadian North. The work could also not have been completed without the generous help of Sylvain Ouellet and Claudia Fournier of INAC, and Tim Albert of Focus Corporation who was responsible for creating the map. The research follows a thematic pattern for ease of reference by including chapters on subjects such as education, health care, land claims and so on. Finally, as an overview and introduction to the subject, the text is meticulously sourced and detailed endnotes and appendices have been added to assist those who may wish to research a particular subject further.

Each year there are more northern studies disparaging the socio-economic well-being of Inuit in Canada's North. Many political commentators, Inuit and non-Inuit alike, have strongly spoken out against the unacceptable living conditions of many of Canada's Inuit. Certainly, there is general recognition and an often stated national interest in the importance of maintaining a strong Inuit population in the Canadian North. To help achieve this objective, there is a need to continue to report on and monitor socio-economic circumstances of Canada's first northern residents, and respond with well-conceived policies in consultation with those whose lives they are designed to improve. To help find the best way forward, we need to understand what has come before. We offer this book as an historical overview of the Inuit-Government of Canada relationship and of federal Inuit policy, in hopes of adding to the level of knowledge and understanding towards improving the lives of Inuit in Canada.

Erik Anderson
Senior Research Manager
Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate

Executive Summary

Inuit and their ancestors have inhabited the Canadian Arctic since time immemorial. Archaeological evidence indicates human habitation of the Arctic dating to approximately 12,000 years ago in the Bering Strait region. Modern Inuit (meaning "people") migrated east to populate the western and eastern Arctic, northern Quebec, and Labrador about 1,000 years ago. [Note 1] Inuit in the western Arctic are called Inuvialuit, meaning "real human beings." [Note 2] Inuit first encountered European peoples through Erik the Red's tenth century Icelandic voyages to Newfoundland and Labrador. [Note 3] In the late fifteenth century, European explorers began to arrive on the northeast coast of North America, searching for gold and a Northwest Passage to Asia. Moravian missionaries established the first permanent settlements among Labrador Inuit in 1765, ministering to health and welfare needs, and encouraging commercial fishing operations. [Note 4]

Despite interaction with European peoples, Inuit maintained patterns of regional, seasonal migration that were based on the availability of natural resources and supported their traditional subsistence practices well into the twentieth century. Commercial whaling began in the eastern and western Arctic during the late eighteenth century and by 1840, the Americans, English and Scottish had established their whaling operations west into Pond Inlet and Cumberland Sound. [Note 5] Inuit often bartered items obtained through their traditional subsistence procurement strategies in exchange for European goods, such as metal knives and needles, rifles, tobacco, cloth and food. Items bartered by Inuit included caribou skins and meat, whalebone, walrus ivory, dogs and fish. The whaling industry peaked in the 1860s. Afterwards, whaling crews supplemented their incomes with caribou, seal and walrus hunting, as well as fishing and fox trapping, which over-exploited many traditional Inuit subsistence resources. In time, populations of bowhead whale, musk ox and caribou became severely depleted, leading to increased exploitation of the more profitable fox fur. [Note 6] By the late nineteenth century, fur traders had begun to move further north into former whaling territory. They established posts and encouraging Inuit to trap foxes. [Note 7]

The entrance of whalers and Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) traders in each region of the Arctic was followed closely by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) and missionaries, who established churches, and limited school and hospital facilities. Although nineteenth and early twentieth century Arctic exploration mapped much of the Arctic, it demonstrated to the Canadian Government that a Northwest Passage was a non-viable economic route to Asia. Inuit subsistence, however, became increasingly and irrevocably tied to European economic forces and foreign consumer goods, contributing to widespread starvation after the collapse of fur prices in the 1930s. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Canadian Government initiated relief programs for Inuit, yet until 1950, official federal policy advocated a traditional, selfsufficient way of life for Inuit, insofar as that was possible. [Note 8]

By the early twentieth century, many within the Canadian Government were questioning Inuit status—unsure if they should be considered Canadian citizens or wards of the state, like First Nations. [Note 9] In 1924, a bill was passed to amend the Indian Act, assigning responsibility for Inuit to the Department of Indian Affairs, but ensuring that Inuit would remain Canadian citizens. [Note 10]

This bill was repealed in 1930, however, making the Northwest Territories (NWT) Council in Ottawa responsible for Inuit. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), by default of their presence, was delegated to administer relief (food and ammunition) in the North. [Note 11] In 1939, the Supreme Court pronounced their judgement in the Re Eskimo case, stating that, constitutionally, Inuit were classified as Indians in Canada. This distinction made Inuit the legal responsibility of the Canadian Government. [Note 12] The government, however, sought to ensure that Inuit remained distinct from First Nations in legislation and governance, and the Indian Act was specifically amended to exclude Inuit in 1951. The amendment stated that, "a reference in this Act to an Indian does not include any person of the race of aborigines commonly referred to as Eskimos." [Note 13] Although, historically, there has been no legislation or policy corresponding to the Indian Act for Inuit, Inuit affairs continued to be administered federally. [Note 14]

During the 1940s and then the 1950s, Inuit continued their traditional way of life, while becoming increasingly acculturated to southern Canadian culture through contact with people from southern Canada and the American military personnel stationed in the North. During the Second World War, and then the Cold War, American military personnel stationed in the North were critical of the Canadian Government's perceived neglect of Inuit, including their inadequate living conditions, health care and education. [Note 15] According to Hugh Keenleyside, former Deputy Minister of the Department of Mines and Resources and Commissioner of the NWT Council, "The awakening of general interest in the Arctic was in part the result of political and defence considerations that marked the period of the Cold War. But additional recognition of its importance came also from a new appreciation of the economic possibilities of that region." [Note 16] The potential for natural resource exploitation, particularly mineral and oil extraction, was an important catalyst for the development of sedentary Arctic communities and generated much revenue for Canadian companies. Beginning in the 1950s, the Government of Canada encouraged Inuit to settle permanently in communities and established social welfare programs for housing, education, healthcare and economic development to improve the Inuit standard of living. [Note 17]

In 1955, Jean Lesage, the Minister of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, announced a new policy for Inuit administration, to remedy the "almost continuing state of absence of mind" in which Inuit had previously been administered, [Note 18] and to ensure that Inuit had the same rights, privileges, opportunities and responsibilities enjoyed by other Canadians. [Note 19] Large-scale government housing construction projects during the 1960s further encouraged Inuit settlement. In communities, traditional methods of subsistence were difficult for Inuit to maintain because of the lengthy travel distances required to find animal resources, and the need to maintain a steady family income through wage employment. [Note 20] Federal government programs for Inuit hoped to improve living standards in several ways. Housing developments and diversification of the northern economy created some long-term employment in sedentary communities. These communities could then be effectively administered and children's school attendance encouraged. It was felt that better housing would enhance sanitary conditions of homes, lower incidence of disease and infant mortality, and that sustainable communities would encourage Inuit to obtain wage labour in industries like mining and work for the federal and territorial government civil service. [Note 21]

In the development of many programs and services, such as education, housing and the location of DEW Line sites, the federal government failed to consult with Inuit before implementing programs, thereby creating Inuit dissatisfaction. E-number disks, for example, were introduced in 1941 to assist government officials, the HBC, the RCMP and members of the medical community in keeping track of Inuit. These personnel felt that they needed to record census information, trade accounts, medical records and police records accurately in the absence of standardized name spellings and surnames. Inuit disliked the identification system, which was discontinued beginning in 1968 when surnames were selected by all Inuit.

A 1962 statement by the Canadian Government expressed concern about Inuit circumstances, which resulted from rapid lifestyle changes and the influx of southern Canadian cultural influences in the North:

An Eskimo population growing at the rate of 3.8% a year is in transition between the old world of the snow house, the seal-oil lamp and primus stove for heat and light, clothing of skins, and a diet almost entirely of meat, and the new world of the snow-banked tent or wooden shack, fixed in one place (usually without sanitary facilities), clothing of cotton, nylon and wool, high carbohydrate foods purchased at the local store and the white man's rules about coming to work on time. [Note 22]

Finding employment in communities, particularly stable, year-round jobs was difficult for many adult Inuit who spoke little English and lacked formal education and skills training. [Note 23]

In 1967, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) moved from Ottawa to Yellowknife, the new capital of the Northwest Territories. Moving the GNWT to the North meant an expansion of the territorial civil service, and the creation of many jobs. The increased presence of government administrators in the Arctic—who were sometimes Inuit— enlarged the territorial and federal governments' awareness of social concerns and the need to improve welfare programming, particularly in the areas of education and health. [Note 24]

With the creation of permanent communities throughout the North during the 1960s, the federal and territorial governments sought to establish structures of community governance similar to those in southern Canada. [Note 25] Inuit were encouraged to participate in local government and administrative organizations, such as the GNWT regional councils, town and hamlet councils, and housing authorities. [Note 26] The federal government also assisted with the development of cooperative businesses to help Inuit learn economic management skills. Inuit became eligible to vote in the 1950 federal election, and the first Inuk was elected to the NWT Council in 1966. [Note 27] Inuit political involvement during the 1960s and 1970s was often motivated by concerns about federal government-sponsored development of northern oil, gas and mineral resources. Inuit had viewed themselves as stewards of the North since time immemorial, and sought to preserve the sustainability of their natural environment and access to the resources that had long supported their livelihood. [Note 28]

Federal reports and policies, such as the 1967 Hawthorn Report and the 1969 White Paper; and literature by Farley Mowat, including The Desperate People (Boston: Little, Brown, 1960) and Canada North (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1967), drew attention to the social, economic and legal concerns of Aboriginal people in the Canadian North. [Note 29] A 1972 edition of Inutitut magazine, which was published by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, outlined the federal government's seven objectives for resource development programs until 1980. [Note 30] The objectives are listed in the table below, next to the goals and objectives stated in the Government of Canada's 2004 "Framework for a Northern Strategy." [Note 31] This chart demonstrates some continuity in the government's policy objectives for the North from 1972 to 2004.

1972 Objectives for Resource Development 2004 Framework for a Northern Strategy
  • To provide for a higher standard of living, quality of life and equality of opportunity for northern residents by methods which are compatable with their own preference and aspirations.
  • To maintain and enhance the northern environment with due consideration to economic and social development.
  • To encourage viable economic development within regions of the Territories so as to realize their potential contribution to the national economy and the material well being of Canadians.
  • To realize the potential contribution of the Territories to the social and cultural development of Canada.
  • To further the evolution of government in the Territories.
  • To maintain Canadian sovereignty and security in the North.
  • To develop fully the leisure and recreation opportunities in the Territories.
  • To ensure healthy, safe and sustainable northern communities that serve and support the needs of northern residents and promote self-reliance.
  • To engage all partners in the North in the protection and stewardship of the environment.
  • Build strong, sustainable, diversified economies where northerners share in the benefits of northern development.
  • To ensure that Canada plays a leading role and promotes concerted international action on circumpolar issues, and that northern concerns are taken into consideration in national efforts to reinforce sovereignty, security and circumpolar cooperation.
  • To ensure that the importance of language, traditional knowledge and way-of-life is recognized and encouraged.
  • To strengthen governments and institutions, and support evolving relationships among them, in order to provide northerners with effective governance and greater control over decisions central to their future.
  • To ensure that Canada is a leader in northern science and technology, and to develop expertise in areas of particular importance and relevance to the North.

Aboriginal response to the White Paper, which was withdrawn the same year that it was released, encouraged the federal government to fund organizations representing the interests of Aboriginal peoples, and to create policies for negotiating comprehensive and specific land claims. [Note 32] In 1971, Inuit formed the national organization Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)) to lobby the Government of Canada for mechanisms to increase their autonomy, including self-government and a land claim covering parts of the Northwest Territories and northern Quebec. [Note 33] A contemporary of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement (COPE), was founded in 1970 in the western Arctic to explore Aboriginal peoples' land rights. [Note 34] Rather than being selected for their superiority in traditional Inuit pursuits, the founders of ITK and COPE were mainly young people, who were educated at secondary and vocational schools in Churchill, Yellowknife and Ottawa. According to ITK, these schools "provided an opportunity for young Inuit men and women from different regions to start discussing the types of problems all Inuit were facing. From these gatherings and discussion sprang a commitment to the politics of change." [Note 35]

Following the creation of COPE and ITK, regional associations were established to provide local representation for Inuit. These organizations included the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA), which was founded in 1971; the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA), which was founded in 1973; and three organizations in the eastern Arctic, which were established in the mid-1970s: the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, the Keewatin (now Kivalliq) Inuit Association, and the Baffin Regional (now Qikiqtani) Inuit Association. Members of the Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, and Qikiqtani Inuit Associations established the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) in 1982 to negotiate the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. [Note 36] General objectives shared by Inuit political organizations across the North included respect for the natural environment and maintenance of its sustainability; ensuring that Inuit received infrastructural benefits from economic development in their communities, such as roads and improvements to housing; and local control over resource development projects, including local job creation. The comprehensive claims negotiated by each of the four Inuit organizations, however, demonstrate some regional priorities. An example of this is the different structures of regional and territorial governance established through the four claims. [Note 37]

Since 1970, Inuit have negotiated four comprehensive land claim agreements with the federal government. These agreements are: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Complementary Agreements (JBNQA), which were reached in 1975 in northern Quebec; the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, which was reached in 1984 in the western Arctic; the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which was settled in 1993 in the eastern Arctic; and the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, which was settled in 2003 in northern Labrador. [Note 38] With the settlement of these land claims, the Inuit organizations created during the 1970s and 1980s have re-focused their objectives and are now responsible for administering the terms of the comprehensive claim agreements on behalf of Inuit beneficiaries. They are also forums for Inuit to raise awareness of issues like healthcare, housing, education, the environment and economic development. Ensuring the implementation of land claim settlement terms, devolving governing authority to Inuit and regional governments, and maintaining stewardship of their lands and resources are issues of continuing regional significance for Inuit. [Note 39]

Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes Aboriginal peoples' inherent right to self-government, which was reaffirmed in the federal government's 1995 Inherent Right Policy. [Note 40] The structures of self-government created in each of the four Inuit land claim regions are different, and include both Inuit (ethnically-based) and public governments. The increased involvement of Inuit in political organizations since the 1970s has led to significant levels of Inuit participation in public structures of governance, such as the Government of Nunavut. [Note 41] The governments created through the JBNQA and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement are regional Inuit governments and are limited in scope and authority. Inuit in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have initiated processes for negotiating more comprehensive, public government structures with the Government of Canada, since their claims were negotiated before 1995 and the federal government will not re-negotiate existing claim agreements to address the inherent right to self-government. In Labrador, the Nunatsiavut Government will be comprised of elected Inuit representatives and the municipal governments within the settlement region will be public governments. [Note 42] In each of the four predominantly Inuit regions of Canada, Inuit have sought to establish institutes of government that reflect their status as taxpayers within the federal system, and facilitate the representation of non-Inuit within their structure of governance. [Note 43]

Inuit are concerned about the federal government's commitment to implementing the terms of their comprehensive claim agreements, and the negative social and economic effects on their communities if the land claims are not fully implemented. [Note 44] As a unique Aboriginal culture facing challenges specific to the geography of their traditional land, Inuit seek policies that address their specific circumstances. The recent Aboriginal Roundtable sectoral policy sessions convened by the Privy Council Office that dealt with Aboriginal housing, health, land claim negotiations, accountability, economic development and life-long learning provided Inuit with an opportunity to raise their concerns with the federal government. Still, Inuit are concerned that environmental issues, particularly climate change, which is an issue of global concern, were not included in these sessions. [Note 45]

The Prime Minister's Northern Strategy Framework announcement in December 2004 provides funding to address some areas of Inuit concern. ITK expressed satisfaction that the Northern Strategy Framework recognizes Inuit and the North for their vital role in creating Canadian identity, and for its promise to help northerners deal with environmental issues, including climate change, environmental contaminants and sustainable development. The Northern Strategy also includes initiatives for economic development, devolution of governance and northern sovereignty. Inuit organizations are concerned, however, that Nunatsiavut and Nunavik, and consequently one-third of Canada's Inuit population, are excluded from the Northern Strategy. [Note 46]

Inuit governments are important mechanisms for ensuring the preservation of traditional language and culture. Use of technology among Inuit, such as the Internet, has changed, or "westernized" aspects of contemporary Inuit culture. Technology and modern communication medium in particular, have made knowledge of traditional culture widely available to young audiences. Integration of traditional languages with modern technology is important for the survival of languages and helps to ensure their continued use, such as the emphasis on Inuktitut as the primary language of communication in the Government of Nunavut. [Note 47]

According to data from the 2001 Canadian Census, the current population of Canadian Inuit is approximately 45,070, with about 85% of the population living in communities throughout the North. [Note 48] Inuit account for approximately one in twenty Aboriginal Canadians, and are a remarkably young population. [Note 49] In Nunavik, for example, half of the population is under the age of twenty-five and 75% of the population is under the age of thirty-five. [Note 50] The Inuit population's growth rate affects the availability of housing and healthcare, and the number of jobs required in northern communities. Efforts to provide Inuit with training opportunities in the North have resulted in increased education completion rates for secondary and post-secondary studies, meaning that Inuit are becoming more qualified for professional employment in areas such as teaching, nursing and law, where their professional skills, as well as their knowledge of Inuktitut (language of Inuit) and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional Inuit culture) are truly needed. [Note 51] Inuit involved in northern politics and governance have emphasized the need to make government, and how it operates, relevant to the people that it serves. Incorporating traditions, such as methods of learning, into governing structures is important to Inuit. [Note 52]

A report released recently by Thomas Berger, conciliator of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Implementation Contract Negotiations, notes that ensuring northern governments, such as the territorial government in Nunavut, operate in ways relevant to their constituents is difficult when many executive and management positions remain unfilled after all available and qualified Inuit have been employed. To improve the number of Inuit qualified for senior positions in the Government of Nunavut and elsewhere throughout the territory, Berger advocates increased funding to all levels of Nunavut's education system and specific measures to increase the number of graduates from elementary school, high school and post-secondary studies. [Note 53]

The movement from snow houses and skin tents to permanent dwellings and access to healthcare lowered the rate of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, in the North. Similarly, economic initiatives, like non-renewable resource development projects, and access to education have improved the rate of English literacy and Inuit employment in skilled labour. In spite of the gains seen in health, education and employment, Inuit continue to face challenges that impede increases to their standard of living. These challenges include overcrowded housing and housing shortages, slow economic growth, and a shortage of healthcare providers in small communities. While community development, implementation of social services, and construction of housing was initially directed by the federal, and provincial or territorial governments, the creation of Inuit political organizations and the settlement of four Inuit comprehensive land claim settlements has increased Inuit autonomy in the governance of their land claim settlement regions. Inuit have also become effective advocates for issues that affect them locally, nationally and internationally. [Note 54]

As well as creating structures of Inuit-oriented governance that will make government relevant to Inuit culture and will increase Inuit autonomy within the federal system, Inuit seek the creation of federal policies that reflect their distinctness as an Aboriginal people and the unique geographic challenges that they face. Priority issues for improving the standards of living in many northern communities include housing; sustained economic growth, particularly in the private sector; and improved access to healthcare. Disparities between the life expectancy, education, income, housing, and labour force participation of Inuit compared to other Canadians were recently evaluated by INAC in their Community Well-Being and Human Development Index studies. These studies demonstrate that the Human Development Index rate for Inuit has continued to increase since 1991, but Inuit communities, like First Nation communities, tend to experience lower levels of well being than Canadian communities that are inhabited primarily by non-Aboriginal people. The well being of Inuit communities is particularly impacted by their isolation and climate, which increases the cost of living while lowering opportunities for employment. [Note 55] Inuit, through organizations like ITK and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, seek to form partnerships with the Government of Canada to address issues of national and international significance, such as northern sovereignty and climate change. These two facets of Inuit organizations' policy, to preserve cultural heritage and to create a network of relationships with other Canadians, is reflected by Jose Kusugak, President of ITK, when he recently stated that Inuit are "more than First Canadians, but also Canadians First." [Note 56]


This historical review was prepared for the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), as well as Donat Savoie, Interim Executive Director, Inuit Relations Secretariat; and Alan Braidek, Special Advisor, Inuit Relations Secretariat at INAC. Erik Anderson, Senior Research Manager for the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate of INAC, was the departmental representative co-ordinating the project. The project was completed in four phases: September to December 2004, January to March 2005, April to November 2005, and January to March 2006.

During the initial phase of the project, Public History conducted an historical review of issues relevant to Canada's relationship with Inuit from European contact to 1970. The purpose of the research was to deliver a "high-level" synthesis of policy changes and development over time related to the research issues provided by the client. These issues included:

  • Inuit contact with European explorers, whalers and fur traders;
  • 1939 Re Eskimo decision;
  • Post World War II acculturation and assimilation of Inuit;
  • NORAD and DEW Line defence concerns;
  • Canadian law in the North;
  • Arctic sovereignty and Inuit relocation projects;
  • The E-number identification system;
  • Housing issues and programming;
  • Healthcare issues and programming;
  • Education issues and programming; and
  • Northern economic development.

During the next two research phases, Public History conducted an historical review of issues relevant to Canada's relationship with Inuit from the 1970s to the present through an examination of Inuit organizations', and the federal government's programs and policies. The purpose of the research was to deliver an historical review providing a synthesis of policy changes and developments over time related to research issues provided by the client. These issues included:

  • The rise of Inuit political awareness and political organizations;
  • Comprehensive land claims negotiations and agreements with Inuit;
  • Inuit self-government and devolution of federal powers;
  • Sovereignty issues;
  • Housing issues and programming;
  • Healthcare issues and programming;
  • Education issues and programming;
  • Northern economic development issues and programming;
  • Justice and policing issues and programming;
  • Environmental issues; and
  • Urban Inuit issues and programming.

Research was performed using mainly secondary and oral history resources. Secondary sources were obtained from the INAC Departmental Library, Library and Archives of Canada, the Carleton University Library, and the Public History Library. On a five-day research trip to Iqaluit, Nunavut in April 2005, Public History collected secondary sources at the Iqaluit Public Library, the Nunatta Campus Library of Nunavut Arctic College, the Nunavut Legislative Library, and the Nunavut Department of Justice Library.

The initial historical review was intended as a background document that described the federal government's relationship with Inuit. Although Public History conducted two oral history interviews, Inuit perspectives on the research issues were not presented in depth. In the second and third project phases, to supplement the secondary sources and to ensure the inclusion of Inuit perspectives in the research, Public History conducted twenty-five interviews with current and former federal and territorial civil servants, and members of Inuit organizations (listed in the bibliography). Notes taken during the interview and a draft of the historical review were provided to each of the interviewees. Interviewees were encouraged to verify the interview notes and the use of interview information in the historical review for accuracy. Interviewees were invited to submit clarification of the interview notes and comments on the draft historical review to Public History.

The interviews and secondary sources were analyzed, and then used to write the 22 report sections, which were submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada as two historical reviews in December 2004 and in November 2005. Memos describing the research progress were sent to Erik Anderson of the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate, and in the second and third project phases, were also sent to members of the Inuit Relations Secretariat, weekly.

As per the terms of the contracts, the history of early Inuit contact with Europeans formed the background to the initial historical review and was six pages in length, while the remaining ten sections of the initial review were each three to four pages in length and covered the period from 1930 to the early 1970s. These sections included a short discussion of the pre-contact historical context for the research issue, and provided highlights of the major events and dates relevant to each issue. In the second historical review, each section was between ten and twelve pages in length, and covered the period from the 1970s to the present. These sections included an historical overview of the research issue, a description of the relevant federal programs and policies, and an overview of ongoing concerns related to the issue. Each section of the reports included endnotes, and a complete bibliography of sources consulted was available at the conclusion of each report.

In the current phase of the project, Public History conducted five additional oral history interviews that added to the range of perspectives presented in the earlier interviews. The current interviews included members of Inuit organizations and current employees of the federal government. During this phase of the project, Public History combined into one document the two historical reviews completed in December 2004 and November 2005. Chapters from the two reviews that dealt with the same theme were amalgamated, and information collected through interviews was added—where relevant—to chapters from the initial review. Where possible, chapters from the initial review were re-formatted for consistency with the organization of chapters in the second historical review. A peer analyst read the amalgamated draft historical review and provided comments to Public History, which were incorporated into the document. Relevant historical photographs were researched and ordered from Library and Archives Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and relevant maps were researched and obtained from Natural Resources Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

Appendix A is a list of acronyms used in this report; Appendix B describes the history of federal administrative responsibility for Inuit from European contact to the present; Appendix C provides a visual description of the relationships between major Canadian Inuit organizations; and Appendix D summarizes terms of the four Inuit comprehensive land claim agreements. As this report is a background document that was limited in length, the secondary source historical review and the perspectives represented by the interviewers do not provide exhaustive discussions of the research issues.


Inuit and First Nations were commonly referred to as Eskimos and Indians before the 1970s. For consistency, and to comply with the INAC's guide to appropriate word usage, the terms Inuit and First Nations will be used throughout the report, excepting titles and quotations where another term is used. For guidance on terminology, please refer to, "Words First: An Evolving Terminology Relating to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada" (Ottawa: Communications Branch, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2002).

Map of Modern and Historical Inuit Settlements, Canada

This map shows modern and historical Inuit settlements in Canada. It identifies Inuit communities of the four Inuit regions: Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut. Modern names are given, with some historic names shown in parenthesis. The map also traces the D.E.W. line and shows other locations around Inuit communities.

Inuit Contact With Explorers, Whalers and Fur Traders to the 1930s

Initial Contact: European Exploration of Northern Canada

For thousands of years, people lived throughout Arctic Canada using resources procured from the land. Early evidence for inhabitation of northern Canada dates to approximately 12,000 years ago in the Bering Strait region. By about 1,000 years ago, modern Inuit populated the western and eastern Arctic, northern Quebec and Labrador. [Note 57] They first encountered European peoples through Erik the Red's tenth century Icelandic voyages to Newfoundland and Labrador. [Note 58]

Although the Norse established settlements in the tenth century, those were soon abandoned, and the northeastern coast of Canada remained relatively undisturbed for several hundred years until John Cabot's Newfoundland voyage in 1498. In 1576, Martin Frobisher sailed into the eastern Arctic, searching for a Northwest Passage to Asia. He encountered a group of Inuit and brought one back to England, along with rocks that he thought were gold. In 1580, John Davis discovered the strait of water located between Greenland and Baffin Island, later named the Davis Strait, which became a significant location for commercial whale hunting in the late seventeenth century. In 1610, Henry Hudson discovered Hudson Bay and made contact with the James Bay Cree. This was the first instance of European contact with Aboriginal people in northern Quebec, the eastern Arctic coastal mainland and the southern Arctic islands. Subsequent voyages include those by Button (1612), Baffin (1615, 1622), Foxe (1631) and James (1631), who each attempted to map a Northwest Passage through the Arctic without success. [Note 59]

Inuit Relations with Whalers and Missionaries

In 1765, Labrador Inuit negotiated a peace treaty with the English Governor of Newfoundland on the advice of Moravian Missionary, Jens Haven, ending years of animosity between Inuit, and European whalers and fishers. As the Moravians were central to the conclusion of this agreement, they were given government sanction to establish and administer communities, and were granted land for this purpose in 1769. Their settlements were based around trading posts and mission houses throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, where they ministered to the health and welfare needs of Inuit, and encouraged their commercial fishing operations. [Note 60] The first settlements included those at Nain (1770), Okkak (1775), Hopedale (1781), and Hebron (1829). [Note 61] The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) did not establish posts in this region until the early nineteenth century, long after the Moravians established their influence. In some Moravian communities, the governing influence of the missionaries continued into the twentieth century. [Note 62]

During the eighteenth century, contact between Europeans and Inuit increased. Basque and English whaling ships had seasonally hunted bowhead whales off the coast of Labrador since the late sixteenth century, but the exploitation of whales increased throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the arrival of Dutch, Scottish, French and American whaling ships in the eastern Arctic. [Note 63] The HBC established trading posts at Marble Island and along the east coast of Hudson Bay but were not extensively involved in whaling and had limited contact with Inuit. By 1840, the Americans, English, and Scottish had taken their whaling operations as far westward as Pond Inlet and Cumberland Sound. [Note 64]

In exchange for European goods, such as metal knives and needles, rifles, tobacco, cloth and food, Inuit often bartered items obtained through their traditional subsistence procurement strategies. These items included caribou skins and meat, whalebone, walrus ivory, dogs and fish. Additionally, Inuit families were hired as guides and hunters to keep the whaling ships' crews supplied with meat. Whaling ships often hired Inuit as family units to assist with activities such as sewing, laundry and tanning. Inuit also made use of objects discarded by whaling crews. Scrap metal, for example, was turned into household implements and broken oars became tent poles. Ready access to such materials made it increasingly difficult and less desirable for Inuit to exist without access to foreign resources. [Note 65] Whalers often gave old boats to Inuit employees as a form of payment, enabling them to establish their own whaling operations, and to sell the oil and baleen that they collected back to their employer or to another ship. [Note 66]

The English and the Americans continued to expand their whaling operations westward, introducing more Inuit to commercial whaling and European goods. By 1888, the HBC had established a post at Fort McPherson in the Mackenzie Delta, and whalers sailed through the Bering and Chuckchi seas, as well as near Point Barrow in the Beaufort Sea. Many whaling ships wintered at Herschel Island, located off the north Yukon coast, creating employment opportunities on ships for Inuit families. The whaling industry peaked in the 1860s and 1870s. In subsequent seasons, crews supplemented their incomes with caribou, seal and walrus hunting, as well as fishing and fox trapping. These activities over-exploited many traditional Inuit subsistence resources, severely depleting populations of bowhead whale, musk ox, and caribou. [Note 67]

The presence of whalers, and later fur traders, throughout the Arctic presented economic opportunities for Inuit. Whalers were brought into the Inuit system of sharing to facilitate reciprocal trade relations, where European tools and food resources were sought in return for traditional knowledge and survival technology, as well as labour. [Note 68] As Philip Goldring notes, "such partnerships, whether equal or not, allowed aboriginal societies in contact with Euro-Americans to retain essential elements of their ideology, social structure and way of life even when superficially subordinated to a nonindigenous system of production." [Note 69] Still, during this period Inuit experienced profound shifts in aspects of their traditional way of life. [Note 70] The whalers introduced alcohol and diseases, including measles, influenza, syphilis and tuberculosis, to Inuit. Particularly in Labrador and the Mackenzie Delta, Inuit populations were severely affected by exposure to diseases against which they had no immunity. [Note 71]

Similar to Labrador, the entrance of whalers and traders in each region of the Arctic was followed closely by the arrival of the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) and missionaries, who established schools, hospitals and churches. Like the Moravian missionaries, who used religious education to encourage literacy and cultural assimilation among the Labrador Inuit, [Note 72] Anglican and Catholic missionaries in the eastern and western Arctic used a system of syllabic writing to translate the New Testament into Inuit dialects, thereby assisting Inuit in becoming literate. The presence of the missionaries and the NWMP was particularly important to Inuit at the end of the nineteenth century, when fewer whaling ships arrived in the Arctic each summer. The abandonment of whaling operations meant unemployment and reduced access to consumer goods. Inuit, therefore, relied on their remaining links to European culture, the missionaries, and the NWMP, to supply cloth, rifles and ammunition, and food including flour, sugar and tea. [Note 73]

Inuit Involvement in the Fur Trade

By the end of the nineteenth century, over-hunting had severely depleted bowhead whale resources, and the declining demand for baleen in women's fashion meant an economic shift toward exploitation of the more profitable fox fur. [Note 74] Fur traders began to move further north, into former whaling territory, establishing posts and encouraging Inuit to trap foxes. Many Inuit engaged in trapping because they needed furs to exchange for the consumer goods they were accustomed to accessing, in some cases for more than one hundred years. [Note 75]

Although the whaling industry had provided Inuit with ready access to consumer goods, Inuit had continued to hunt both for their families and the whalers, keeping their diet oriented toward country foods. Inuit participation in the fur trade was time consuming, however, and diverted attention from subsistence-oriented to fur-producing activities, thereby increasing Inuit reliance on foods obtained from the HBC to supplement their diet. According to a statement by explorer Knud Rasmussen, "in more than one instance, it [was] reported [that], a lonely Eskimo trapper had died of starvation while his tent overflowed with furs." [Note 76] By reducing the scope of their hunting activities, Inuit decreased the range of resources that their traditional subsistence procurement strategies had exploited. [Note 77] According to Kenneth Jensen, this dependence on the HBC meant that, "the difficult task of converting the Eskimos into arduous fur trappers was accomplished in a remarkably few years." [Note 78] As an inducement, the HBC gave Inuit firearms and ammunition on credit, in return for an exclusive trade relationship. The high price paid for fox pelts further encouraged Inuit economic activity to focus on the exploitation of fox resources. [Note 79]

The HBC expanded their trade monopoly by establishing posts across the Arctic at Cape Wolstenholme (1909), Lake Harbour (1911), Chesterfield (1912), Cape Dorset (1913) and Frobisher Bay (1914). The fur trade peaked in the 1920s, and then declined sharply after 1930 because of overtrapping, the development of legislation to protect Arctic wildlife, and falling prices for furs based on market surplus. [Note 80]

Nineteenth and early twentieth century Arctic exploration, including the Franklin (1819-1827), Rae (1848-1854), Sverdrup (1898-1902), Amundsen (1903-1905), Stefansson (1906-1913) and Peary (1909) expeditions, demonstrated to the federal government that a Northwest Passage through the Arctic was a non-viable economic route to Asia. Through these explorations, and others, such as Knud Rasmussen's Thule expeditions and Franz Boas' anthropological studies, much of the Arctic was mapped and Inuit became more familiar with the presence of foreigners. Inuit subsistence, however, became increasingly and irrevocably tied to European economic forces and foreign consumer goods, contributing to widespread starvation after the collapse of fur prices in the 1930s. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Canadian government initiated relief programs to alleviate the destitution of many Inuit, yet until 1950, official government policy advocated a traditional, self-sufficient way of life for Inuit, insofar as that was possible. [Note 81]

The 1939 Re Eskimo Decision and its Impact on Crown/Inuit Relations

Historical Discussion

In the early 1930s, the collapse of fox pelt prices and scarcity of caribou resources created wide-spread starvation for Inuit in Labrador, northern Quebec and across the Arctic. The federal government issued relief to Inuit, as it did for First Nations throughout Canada, even though Inuit status and federal responsibility for the administration of their affairs was not clearly defined. According to Richard Diubaldo, for example, "the Northwest Territories Act of 1905 did not make any provisions for the administration of Eskimo affairs, nor did the Territories Council pass any ordinances between 1905 and 1930 which discriminated between the Eskimo and other inhabitants of the territories." [Note 82] Various levels of government were uncertain if Inuit were Canadian citizens or if they were wards of the state, like First Nations. [Note 83]

Program and Policy Development

In 1924, the Minister of the Interior proposed a bill to amend the 1876 Indian Act, specifically recognizing Inuit in Canadian legislation for the first time, and assigning responsibility for Inuit to the Department of Indian Affairs. [Note 84] Despite dissent from opposition members of Parliament, the bill passed with the caveat that Inuit were Canadian citizens and would not become wards of the state under the bill. In 1928, however, an order in council transferred authority for Inuit from Indian Affairs to the Northwest Territories (NWT) Council, which operated within the Department of the Interior. [Note 85] In 1930, the Canadian Government repealed the 1924 amendment to the Indian Act. Inuit administration, however, continued under the NWT Council in Ottawa and by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in northern Canada. [Note 86]

Between 1930 and 1932, the Department of the Interior provided relief to Inuit across Canada, but expected the Quebec Government to refund Canada for their portion of these projects. At this time, Quebec was the only region inhabited by Inuit with a provincial government. A council responsible to the federal government administered the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory from Ottawa, and Newfoundland was not yet part of Confederation. [Note 87] By 1932, however, the annual costs of Inuit relief were such that Quebec declined to continue making payments, stating that Inuit, like First Nations in Canada, should be a federal responsibility. [Note 88] As the Indian Act no longer applied to Inuit, and it was unclear if Inuit were classified as Indians in the 1763 Royal Proclamation and the Constitution Act, 1867, Quebec brought the question of responsibility for Inuit to the Supreme Court in 1935. [Note 89] Here, Quebec argued that Inuit were Indians under Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. On 5 April 1939, the Supreme Court pronounced their judgement on Re Eskimo in agreement with Quebec. The Supreme Court stated that, constitutionally, Inuit were classified as Indians in Canada. The decision was based on the historic description of "Esquimaux" [Inuit] as an "Indian tribe" in numerous documents dating from 1760 to Confederation. [Note 90]

Through this decision, the Canadian Government became legally responsible for Inuit. [Note 91] As the government had not expected Re Eskimo to be decided for Quebec, they initiated a reversal appeal to the Privy Council in England. [Note 92] The objections were dropped, however, with the commencement of the Second World War. [Note 93] To ensure the welfare of Inuit, the Canadian Government debated whether their administration should be, once again, subsumed within the Indian Act or whether an act should be created specifically to manage Inuit affairs. Ultimately, however, no comprehensive Inuit policy was developed and the departments responsible for northern affairs also managed Inuit affairs. [Note 94]

The Re Eskimo decision did little to alter the delivery of government services or programs for Inuit, as committees within the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Mines and Resources after 1936, continued to administer Inuit affairs. [Note 95] Between 1939 and 1945, the government was preoccupied with the Second World War and most attention focused on the North was for sovereignty related concerns rather than Inuit welfare. In 1945, however, responsibility for the health of First Nations and Inuit were given to the Department of National Health and Welfare, and according to R. Quinn Duffy, "officialdom for the first time publicly recognized the Eskimos as citizens of the Dominion by distributing among them family allowances to which a bill enacted a few months before had entitled all Canadian citizens." [Note 96] The family allowance is representative of Canadian legislation during this period, as the government had begun to develop nationally comprehensive social welfare programs for a variety of issues, like healthcare, rather than funding charities established by religious organizations. [Note 97]

Ongoing Concerns

Re Eskimo continued to remind Canada of its obligation to Inuit, yet Canada sought to ensure that Inuit remained distinct from First Nations in legislation and governance. In 1950, for example, Inuit gained the right to vote in federal elections, yet First Nations were not extended this same right until 1960. [Note 98] A 1951 amendment to the Indian Act states that, "a reference in this Act to an Indian does not include any person of the race of aborigines commonly referred to as Eskimos." [Note 99] Although this amendment specifically excluded Inuit from sharing the status of First Nations, Inuit affairs continued to be administered federally. [Note 100] In 1966, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was created. [Note 101] Despite their administration within one department, the differential status of First Nations and Inuit continued. Although the Indian Act continues to outline federal responsibility for First Nations in Canada, there is no corresponding legislation or policy for Inuit. [Note 102] According to Inuit, however, the Re Eskimo decision entitles them to specific federal programming for relevant issues, such as healthcare. [Note 103]

Post World War II Acculturation and Assimilation of Inuit

Traditionally, Inuit maintained a seasonally nomadic subsistence-oriented way of life, reliant on a variety of naturally occurring animal and mineral resources, and organized around communities of small kin groups. Until the early 1950s, the Canadian Government encouraged Inuit to live self-sufficiently from the land, as they had for centuries. In many regions, however, long-term contacts with European explorers, whalers and fur traders had affected Inuit economic and survival practices, shifting the focus from subsistence hunting to commercial trapping by the late nineteenth century. This change caused some Inuit to spend long periods of the year living in one place, such as near Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) posts, where they could exchange their furs for trade goods. Many Inuit continued to live at least semi-nomadically, however, until 1945. The construction of defence project sites, like the DEW Line after the Second World War created centres where Inuit could obtain employment, medical services and often trade goods, thereby encouraging the development of sedentary communities. [Note 104]

Although Inuit had considerable contact with Europeans by 1945, they retained much of their traditional way of living throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The acculturative process was slow because programs to incorporate Inuit into formal systems of education, healthcare, wage labour and permanent housing were not established until the late 1940s or 1950s. During the Second World War, and the Cold War that followed, the Canadian Arctic was host to many American military personnel assigned, according to R. Quinn Duffy, "to build and operate a chain of strategic northern air bases en route to Europe." [Note 105] These visitors were critical of the Canadian Government for their perceived neglect of Inuit, including their inadequate living conditions, healthcare and education. [Note 106] To address concerns of Inuit welfare, the federal government sent Canadian geographer J.L. Robinson to observe Inuit in the eastern Arctic, and to make recommendations for improving major areas of concern. The issues of concern identified by Robinson included inadequate education and healthcare; the collapse of the fur trade in the 1930s and consequent lack of employment for Inuit; the low numbers of available caribou, and difficulties experienced in obtaining sufficient food and winter clothing; as well as the lack of government administration in the Arctic and the lack of long-term policy planning for Inuit. Overhunting by European whalers and traders in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, combined with the Inuit orientation to commercial trading, resulted in much starvation in Inuit camps when fur prices collapsed in the 1930s, and hunting and trapping failed to provide sufficient resource yields. There were not enough caribou to eat or furs to trade for food at the HBC posts, and what furs Inuit could trap were not worth as much as they had been ten years earlier. [Note 107]

Through the Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War, the Canadian Government realized the necessity of providing nationwide social welfare. Resulting programs included old age pensions and family allowance payments for all Canadians, including Inuit, during the late 1940s and 1950s. Until 1953, however, the federal government advocated the maintenance of a traditional way of life for Inuit and occasionally relocated families to areas with supposed abundance of natural resources. Most of these projects failed because resources in the new location were not sufficient and Inuit continued to go hungry. Many relocated Inuit became quickly disillusioned. [Note 108]

Adoption of programs that acculturated and assimilated Inuit to southern Canadian culture with the goal of creating wage-earning Canadian citizens is evidence of federal perception that Inuit could not continue to live self-sufficiently from the land. [Note 109] There were several issues motivating the development of such programs, including the need to provide employment alternatives to the fur trade, which had largely collapsed; ensuring that Inuit had a reliable food supply and access to healthcare; and defence and sovereignty concerns related to the Cold War for which Inuit habitation in remote regions of the North was encouraged. Additionally, the federal government wanted to expand programs for exploiting mineral resources in the North, which required educated employees with sedentary housing. [Note 110]

In 1950, administration of Inuit was the responsibility of the Northern Affairs Program, which was managed by the Department of Resources and Development, and then the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources from 1953 to 1966. According to Mark Dickerson, through this department's programming, "northerners began to benefit from the universality of federal social programs: family allowances, old age pensions, health care, and special northern policies in education, housing, and economic development." [Note 111] In 1955, Jean Lesage, the Minister of the newly created Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, announced a new policy for Inuit administration. The objective was to remedy the, "almost continuing state of absence of mind" in which Inuit had previously been administered. [Note 112] The federal government also sought to give the same rights, privileges, opportunities and responsibilities enjoyed by other Canadians to Inuit, ensuring that their immediate needs, namely health, education and a sound economy, were met. [Note 113]

Consequently, federal government programs in the following years focused on the development of housing, education for children and adults, and the expansion of medical facilities. Improvements to housing created sedentary communities which could be more easily administered, facilitated children's school attendance, and enhanced sanitary conditions in homes, thereby lowering incidences of disease and infant mortality. The diversification of the northern economy to ensure long-term employment and sustainable communities was a particular concern for the federal government, who encouraged Inuit to obtain wage labour in industries, like mining, and to work for the federal, and later territorial, government civil service. It was apparent to employers that many Inuit had inadequate literacy and skills training for such employment, and adult education and vocational training were encouraged as a means of learning practical skills that could be applied in employment situations. [Note 114]

In 1955, the federal government took control of education from Anglican and Catholic missionary organizations, which had historically provided education for Inuit in the North. The goal of the missionaries was to "Christianize as well as civilize" Inuit; and the Catholic Church was explicit about its desire to acculturate and assimilate Aboriginal people across Canada through "the cultural transformation, usually referred to as ‘education'." [Note 115] The development of a federal education system for children as well as adults, and the expansion of healthcare facilities and government housing during the 1950s, were intended to improve Inuit standards of living and acculturate Inuit to southern Canadian culture. [Note 116] The rapid change in lifestyle, including wage labour and sedentary community life, however, caused circumstances that were far from ideal, as exemplified in a 1962 statement by the Canadian Government: [Note 117]

An Eskimo population growing at the rate of 3.8% a year is in transition between the old world of the snow house, the seal-oil lamp and primus stove for heat and light, clothing of skins, and a diet almost entirely of meat, and the new world of the snow-banked tent or wooden shack, fixed in one place (usually without sanitary facilities), clothing of cotton, nylon and wool, high carbohydrate foods purchased at the local store and the white man's rules about coming to work on time. [Note 118]

Finding employment in communities, particularly stable, year-round jobs was difficult for many adults who spoke little English, and lacked formal education and skills training. [Note 119]

In 1967, Yellowknife became the capital of the Northwest Territories, and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) moved its members and administrative centre from Ottawa to its new capital, distancing itself physically and theoretically from the federal administration of Inuit affairs through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The creation of an independent territorial government required an expansion of the territorial civil service, and created many jobs. The presence of more government administrators in the Arctic, sometimes Inuit, enlarged social welfare and community development programming, particularly in the areas of education and healthcare. [Note 120]

Government programs for Inuit housing, education and healthcare were designed to improve the quality of life for Inuit since the end of the Second World War. Acculturation of Inuit to southern Canadian wage labour culture was intended to improve standards of living toward the Canadian Government's goal of Inuit participation at a middle class level in the socioeconomic system, "thereby reliev[ing] the nation of a major welfare burden." [Note 121] Through improved literacy and participation in wage labour, as well as the expansion of television, radio and telephone communication throughout the North during the 1960s, Inuit have become increasingly assimilated into Canadian culture. The northern, and hence isolated, existence of many Inuit, however, has been a major factor in the retention of their traditional languages and the incorporation of traditional skills and knowledge in the daily systems of education, government and business in Inuit communities. [Note 122]

NORAD and DEW Line Defence

Historical Discussion

Prior to 1939, the Canadian Government was not concerned about its lack of defence infrastructure in the Arctic, as attacks from that direction would have to be made by boat or overland, and would be virtually impossible given the distance and weather involved. Northern defence became an issue during the Second World War, however, with the technological development of intercontinental bombers and long-range missiles, and with the threat of Japanese attack. Later, with the Cold War threat of attack by the Soviet Union, the Canadian and American governments were anxious to ensure adequate defence mechanisms in the Arctic, and hence developed common defence organizations.

Program and Policy Development

Since purchasing Alaska in 1867, the Americans were an active presence in the North and, in most joint defence agreements with Canada, provided the majority of funding and personnel. [Note 123] Although the United States was likely to have been the main target of attack during the Cold War, incoming bombers or missiles had to cross Canadian airspace before entering the northern United States, requiring the construction and administration of defence projects in Canadian territory. The first agreement was the Permanent Joint Board of Defence, established through the 1940 Ogdensburg Agreement, which included the creation of the Alaska Highway, the Northwest Staging Route, and the Canadian Oil (Canol) pipeline. [Note 124]

Between 1940 and 1943, 30,000 American service people were stationed across the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland, to construct and carry out northern defence projects. [Note 125] Although these projects received approval from the Canadian and American governments, they were largely carried out by Americans and under American authority. Inuit in the Northwest Territories and northern Quebec were not consulted about the construction of defence infrastructure in the territories that they traditionally inhabited. In 1943, the British High Commissioner to Canada toured the Arctic to review project construction. He expressed concern regarding American intent to construct roads and airport infrastructure that would serve commercial interests after the Second World War. Concern for Arctic sovereignty prompted the Canadian government to initiate a greater presence in the North. This was accomplished by increasing the number of civil servants stationed in the North, and by developing programs to improve Inuit welfare and create sedentary communities. [Note 126]

Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union required that Canada maintain an interest in its Arctic defence infrastructure. In 1946, Canada and the United States agreed to construct a series of weather stations across the eastern Arctic to assist pilots crossing the Atlantic Ocean. By actively negotiating this agreement, Canada attempted to demonstrate its sovereignty over the terrestrial Arctic, providing context and precedent for future agreements of northern defence with the United States. [Note 127] In 1955, Canada and the United States agreed to construct a chain of 63 radar stations—the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line—with 42 stations located along the Canadian Arctic coast, and designed to give at least four-hour warning to protect North America against airborne attacks from the Soviet Union. The stations were American built and operated, but on sites requiring Canadian Government approval, subject to Canadian law, and operated from the outset with provisions for eventual Canadian control. By the late 1950s, intercontinental missiles with thermonuclear warheads, rather than the bombers, which the DEW Line was designed to protect against, had become the major threat to North America, rendering the DEW Line technology obsolete. Although these sites were no longer particularly useful for defence, they continued to operate as training and technology-testing facilities until quite recently. [Note 128]

In 1957, another agreement, the North American Air Defence Agreement (NORAD), was struck between Canada and the United States to develop a system of continental air defence. [Note 129] This agreement provided infrastructure to alert the Strategic Air Command of impending attack, and hence according to a House of Commons Special Committee report on defence, opportunity for "the United States to use its maximum power to destroy the enemy territory should he decide to attack by air the North American continent." [Note 130] An example of NORAD's defence strategy is the 1959 Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) agreement. This agreement utilized missile detection radar technology that was able to provide immediate warning of long-range attacks. "The detection role of NORAD [was] of very great importance in enabling Air Defence Command and Strategic Air Command to secure early warning of any possible air attack on North America," and Canada's membership in NORAD created a continental system for defence of the North. [Note 131] By 1963, NORAD provided employment for 14,700 Canadians (including Inuit) at stations in the North and throughout Canada. [Note 132] Security of the North remained a priority for Canada and the United States throughout the 1960s, and defence project sites were maintained.

Defence project sites, including Iqaluit, Broughton Island, Kivitoo and Ekalugad Fiord, attracted Inuit to congregate nearby for access to employment opportunities and medical services, creating sedentary communities over time. Although defence project sites were initially expected to provide temporary employment for Inuit, various cultural differences, such as concepts of work time and levels of training, created difficulties. The long-term effects of the sites on the development of housing, transport, communications, infrastructure, education and healthcare have been much more significant to community development. For example, American criticism of Inuit housing conditions was a factor in prompting the development of a large-scale construction and home rental program in many northern communities during the 1960s. [Note 133] The construction of defence project sites created some employment for Inuit through the development of programs like the Canadian Rangers, which has continued to the present. This program uses traditional Inuit survival skills and knowledge to assist Canadian and American defence personnel in Arctic operations. [Note 134]

Ongoing Concerns

In 1980, aging DEW Line technology was replaced with the North Warning System (NWS) and thirteen minimally attended radars (MARs). The cost of upgrading defence technology was again shared by Canada and the United States who continue, through agreements such as NORAD, to co-operate on common defence initiatives in the North. [Note 135] Although such programs have not provided sustained or large-scale employment for Inuit, they have brought Canadian and American service people into northern communities, thereby contributing to the economy. Inuit were not consulted about the construction of defence projects in the Arctic or the selection of site locations. These projects have created much environmental damage and attempts to clean up the sites have been recent. Such projects, however, have also contributed to community infrastructure, including airports and runways, roads, buildings, and hydro and sewage disposal systems. [Note 136] Based on the initial American construction and operation of the DEW Line sites, the United States Government has contributed $100 million over the past ten years under the Canada-United States Military Installations Clean-Up Agreement to Canada's clean-up projects. The total cost of cleaning up the 42 Canadian DEW Line sites is estimated between $320 and $500 million. [Note 137]

Canadian Law, Justice and Policing

Historical Discussion

Before contact with Europeans, Inuit culture had its own system of leadership, cultural norms for behaviour, and social consequences for inappropriate conduct by members of the community. Rather than selecting community leaders, Inuit often sought consensus in decision making among those who were respected for their skills and abilities. As the Inuit population was small and dispersed, and survival required constant attention to the availability and procurement of resources, maintenance of emotional and practical support among extended kin was important to family survival,particularly for the elderly and those who lost their partners. Children were socialized to prize controlled tempers, avoidance of direct conflict or confrontation, social conformity, and personal humility, which promoted and ensured group cohesion, and hence were considered virtues in Inuit culture. Methods of coercing appropriate behaviour from adults included avoidance and social ostracism to show disapproval. In extreme cases, to protect the community, Inuit sometimes took the life of community members that they had reason to believe posed a mortal and uncontrollable threat. [Note 138]

Moravian, Anglican and Catholic missionaries often followed European explorers and whalers into Arctic regions, beginning in Labrador during the eighteenth century, and during the nineteenth century in the eastern and western Arctic. [Note 139] Misunderstandings between Inuit and Europeans, caused by cultural differences in language, behavioural expectations and modes of expression, were common. Religious conversion involved attempted acculturation of Inuit morals, such as understanding the Christian concept of sin. Missionaries were critical of others, including explorers, whalers and traders, for introducing alcohol and diseases, like syphilis, to Inuit communities, which the churches believed led to the moral and physical disintegration of Inuit families and communities. [Note 140]

In 1880, Canada passed an Order in Council declaring its sovereignty over the Arctic mainland and islands. Although the government could do little to ensure its dominion of the vast Arctic region, the establishment of Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) posts across the Canadian Arctic beginning in the 1890s symbolized the presence of the Canadian Government, including its sovereignty and law, to whalers, explorers, missionaries and others familiar with police authority. [Note 141] The NWMP had to work, however, at establishing rules for conduct comprehensible to Inuit, who had their own concepts of law and justice. Until 1920, the NWMP were the only Canadian Government representatives with whom Inuit had contact. Through the establishment of police posts, "Canada for the first time openly served notice on the world that she was accepting the responsibilities of sovereignty over the Arctic mainland and the islands beyond it, was integrating that region with the rest of the country, and would enforce there her laws." [Note 142]

In 1903, the NWMP established posts at Fullerton Harbour, a winter whaling station on the west coast of Hudson Bay; at Fort McPherson (then the northern point of termination for navigation on the Mackenzie River); and at Herschel Island where American whaling ships wintered. In 1904, the NWMP set up a post at Port Burwell on Hudson Strait, and deposited documents proclaiming Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic on headlands around the archipelago, including Cape Herschel on Ellesmere Island. The NWMP were given the authority to inspect cargo carried by ships that they encountered, to collect taxes, and to confiscate liquor. [Note 143]

Initially, the NWMP were not strict about the application of Canadian law for Inuit, and used alternatives for arrest and prosecution to acculturate Inuit to the legal system. For example, in dealing with lesser crimes, such as stealing and drunkenness, and in dealing with more serious crimes, including infanticide and homicide, members of the NWMP lectured Inuit about their behaviour. By making it illegal to sell intoxicants to Inuit and by distributing relief, the NWMP hoped to curb Inuit behaviour considered criminal by southern Canadian standards. In 1913, however, two Inuit were criminally prosecuted for the murder of two missionaries, making, according to Richard Diubaldo, "the government's position crystal clear for all Inuit." [Note 144]

This position was further reinforced when two Inuit were tried, convicted and hanged in 1923 for the murder of four Inuit and two Europeans, including a member of the NWMP. [Note 145]

In 1903, a member of the NWMP was appointed Acting Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (NWT), and in 1905, the Government of Canada passed the Northwest Territories Amendment Act, establishing a council government. [Note 146] Throughout the twentieth century, the number of RCMP posts in the Arctic and northern Quebec increased to keep pace with the expansion of HBC and missionary activity, the construction of weather stations and airfields during the Second World War, and the establishment of DEW Line sites across the Arctic by the Canadian and American governments in the late 1940s. While this activity helped to ensure Canadian sovereignty of the Arctic, it also required police presence to ensure compliance with Canadian law. [Note 147] In 1920, the Department of the Interior established its first northern administrative offices, located at Fort Smith, Fort Norman and at Resolution. The Fort Smith office included the first court of justice in the North. [Note 148] Since Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949, the RCMP has established posts to police their Inuit communities. [Note 149]

Beginning in the 1950s, RCMP members stationed in the North were encouraged to hire knowledgeable and skilled Inuit to act as special constables at each detachment. Special constables were paid by the RCMP and were sometimes provided with housing. Often, special constables' families assisted RCMP members by preparing skins and sewing clothing for them, and by maintaining their dog teams. By sharing their knowledge of Arctic survival skills, special constables were essential to the success of the RCMP in the North. Inuit participation in the policing system through the Special Constable program demonstrated the potential for positive relationships between Inuit and the RCMP. With more Inuit settling permanently in communities throughout the 1960s, the special constables' role increasingly became oriented to translating for the regular RCMP members and to ensuring smooth relations between Inuit and the RCMP in communities. The Special Constable program was discontinued in the 1990s, and contemporary members of the program were given the option to become regular members of the RCMP. [Note 150]

In 1967, the NWT Council was moved to Yellowknife, the new capital of the NWT, thereby creating the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). The territorial civil service was expanded accordingly, and services were gradually devolved from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Ottawa to the GNWT in Yellowknife. In 1970, the territorial government incorporated a Department of Legal Affairs, which eventually included Branches for Public Safety, Court Services and Legal Services. [Note 151] The application of criminal and civil law in the North, however, continued under the jurisdiction of the RCMP. [Note 152] By this time, most Inuit had settled in permanent communities, and young Inuit were attending school and becoming fluent in English. Through increasing familiarity with the structure of permanent communities, including local government, healthcare practices, education, and housing policies, Inuit were able to gain a better understanding of the RCMP's role in policing and the justice system. [Note 153]

Since 1970, the rate of crime in the North has been higher than that of most other regions in Canada. [Note 154] Inuit comprise a significant portion of the Northern territories' populations, and are also highly represented in crime statistics. Several factors characteristic of isolated, northern communities have been identified as negatively affecting Inuit crime rates. In addition to high levels of unemployment among Inuit, the dominance of non-Inuit in the policing and justice system has contributed to disintegration of traditional community leadership and social control of behaviour. Decreased dependency of families on one another for subsistence; increased cultural heterogeneity within the community; overcrowded housing; boredom resulting from a lack of meaningful employment (particularly for youth); and the rise in overall community populations has led to decreased parental control and family solidarity, and consequently, less community solidarity. Failure to gain employment representing adequate participation in the community's socio-economic system has led to low self-esteem, especially among young adults, thereby contributing to the high crime rate in Northern communities. [Note 155]

Program and Policy Development

With establishment of the GNWT in Yellowknife, a branch was created to administer Public Safety, Court Services, and Legal Services. Similarly, the governments of Nunavut, and Newfoundland and Labrador administer their own justice services. Policing in these three regions, however, continues under the RCMP's jurisdiction. [Note 156] In the NWT and Nunavut, most communities have permanently staffed RCMP posts. Of the six Inuit communities in Labrador, three have a permanent police presence and the other three are serviced by visiting officers for several days each month. In Quebec, the RCMP policed Nunavik from 1870 until provincial services were implemented in the region during the late 1960s. After the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) was signed in 1975, Inuit established police services in each of their communities, which were monitored by Quebec's provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec. In 1995, Nunavik's Kativik Regional Government created their own police force, with detachments in all communities staffed primarily by Inuit officers. [Note 157]

Interactions between Inuit and the RCMP were frequent during the 1970s, particularly in larger communities, like Iqaluit. A 1975 study by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) identified several issues relevant to conflict between Inuit and the justice system, including inadequate communication with Inuit regarding Canadian justice system procedures, lack of Inuit participation in legal enforcement activities, a short period for Inuit adaptation to living in permanent communities, and limited success of the existing programs for re-socialization of criminal offenders in the North. As many of the programs developed for the treatment and rehabilitation of northern offenders were based on southern Canadian models of culture and socialization, the report recommended developing programs that considered traditional Inuit culture and the unique elements of northern communities, such as the dominance of Inuktitut rather than English, the high incidence of unemployment, the lack of available housing, and the short length of time that many Inuit had lived in permanent communities. [Note 158]

The Canadian Criminal Justice Association has identified traditional Inuit culture as characteristically incompatible with the Canadian justice system in several ways, thereby creating difficulty for Inuit attempting to successfully navigate the system's intricacies. Inuit culture, for example, emphasizes non-confrontation, inclusiveness, honesty, the well-being of the community over individuals, and does not recognize western concepts of guilt and non-guilt. In practice, this means that Inuit have often pleaded guilty in court proceedings because it would be dishonest, and consequently culturally inappropriate, to do otherwise; have experienced difficulty testifying against community members or serving on juries (confrontational activities); and have often shown little emotion during court proceedings. In traditional culture, punishing the offender is necessary to heal the community. As such, punishment is considered inevitable for the offender, it is culturally appropriate for the offender to show little emotion when sentences from the justice system are handed down. Similarly, since Inuit consider punishment sufficient reparation for any crimes committed, they may not consider it necessary or appropriate to demonstrate emotional remorse during court proceedings. [Note 159]

In 1967, the first correctional facility opened in Yellowknife. This was a medium/maximum security building designed to house male and female offenders with sentences of two years or less. As had been the practice, offenders with longer sentences were sent to federal penitentiaries in southern Canada. As well as providing housing for offenders serving sentences, the facility staff administered treatment programs. These efforts at rehabilitation, however, were based on models appropriate to southern Canadian culture and lacked relevance to Inuit circumstances. A review of facility programs was conducted in 1970, and recommended increasing the cultural relevance of treatment to Aboriginal offenders, and returning all inhabitants of the NWT serving sentences at penitentiaries in southern Canada to the Yellowknife Correctional Facility for culturally relevant treatment. [Note 160]

In 1974, two further northern correctional facilities were opened: the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre in Hay River and the Baffin Correction Centre in Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit). [Note 161] Studies conducted at the Yellowknife facility between 1967 and 1971 had determined that offenders from the central and eastern Arctic suffered trauma related to geographical dislocation and cultural disorientation when they served sentences in Yellowknife. The studies also determined that there were significant numbers of Inuit offenders from the eastern and central Arctic, indicating the need for increased correctional services in those regions. The benefits of constructing correctional facilities at Hay River and Iqaluit included maintenance of social contact between offenders and their family members, reduced crowding at the Yellowknife facility, decreased costs associated with escorting offenders by airplane to and from Yellowknife, decreased language barriers for Inuit serving sentences, and greater opportunities for Inuit to gain employment through correctional extension programs and day passes. As the facilities at Hay River and Iqaluit were small and included fewer security mechanisms, the Yellowknife facility continued to house long-term offenders requiring maximum security and specialized treatment. [Note 162]

Programs at the Baffin facility were delivered mainly by Inuit staff, and focused on improving offenders' self esteem and cultural pride, teaching community and life skills, and creating awareness of criminal and justice issues. The facilities used community services to provide preventative and aftercare services for offenders, and established correctional programs that were culturally relevant to Inuit. The programs sought to promote self-esteem among offenders by providing positive Inuit role models, such as Inuit correctional workers who maintained steady employment in wage labour, but who were also skilled hunters and routinely participated in traditional pursuits. By focusing positive attention on the performance of traditional Inuit subsistence skills, the correctional programs attempted to foster individual confidence through maintenance of traditional culture. As well as learning traditional skills, Inuit were given work placements in the community to learn vocational skills and to gain employment experience. Graduates of the Baffin Correctional Facility rehabilitation program were encouraged to maintain contact with the facility, and the first Inuk superintendent of the facility was appointed in 1976. By 1980, the rate of recidivism for offenders treated at the Baffin facility had decreased compared to those from the Baffin region treated at the Yellowknife facility before 1974. [Note 163]

Similar to recommendations for program and policy development in the NWT criminal justice system, Quebec also conducted a review of Inuit in the justice system, culminating in the 1972 Choquette Report entitled, "Administration of Justice Beyond the 50th Parallel". This report advocated creating itinerant courts, and increasing the justice system's cultural relevancy to facilitate Inuit understanding of the criminal justice process and the rehabilitation of criminal offenders. Although itinerant courts were established in 1974 in Nunavik, by the 1990s, it was evident that many Quebec Inuit still did not speak English or French, and Canadian law and concepts of the justice system could not be adequately translated to Inuktitut. [Note 164]

In 1984, Inuit in Povungnituk, Nunavik put forward a proposal to create a local judiciary, which would reside permanently in the community, increasing the efficiency of criminal justice proceedings and the consistency with which the law was applied within the community. Inuit requested that defence attorneys reside in their communities, to become familiar with Inuit culture and the communities' social concerns, and sought to increase their participation and influence in sentencing criminal offenders. In particular, the community of Povungnituk was concerned that itinerant courts did not adequately consider their requests to have some offenders removed from the community to southern correctional facilities (usually for safety reasons), and for other offenders to serve community sentences. The local judiciary committee was comprised of seven community representatives with two substitutes. As well as conducting research on justice issues, the community invested the committee with authority for judicial and social control. The committee sought to make justice increasingly relevant to Inuit culture by combining Canadian law with traditional Inuit values. The committee, however, was not invested with judicial authority by the provincial judicial system and was unable to operate effectively. [Note 165] A study of Nunavik's itinerant courts conducted in the early 1990s demonstrated that language barriers and lack of cultural understanding from Inuit and members of the court continued to negatively affect community perceptions of itinerant courts and their efforts to administer criminal justice in northern Quebec. [Note 166]

Labrador communities have experienced similar concerns with their itinerant court system, as offender contact with defence attorneys and judges is limited and inconsistent. A 1985 report by the federal Department of Justice on implementation of the Young Offender Act in Labrador stated that some communities did not have a full-time RCMP presence, meaning that knowledge of crimes existed among community members but went unreported. Like adult offenders elsewhere in the North, many Labrador Inuit youth lacked appropriate correctional facilities and rehabilitation programs in their home communities that were culturally relevant. The study recommended expanding the Native Courtworker Program to provide positive role models for Inuit youth and to facilitate their rehabilitation through improved understanding of the justice system. The study identified abuse of alcohol and non-medical drugs as contributing factors in most criminal offences committed by youth. Common offences committed by youth included theft and assault. Causes for youth offences were cited as boredom, crowded housing conditions, parental neglect, and community disintegration, which led to decreased influence of community elders over youth. [Note 167] These conditions have also been cited as cause for feelings of despair among young Inuit, negatively contributing to the high rate of Inuit suicide. [Note 168]

A 1984 INAC report on Inuit and the northern criminal justice system recommended that attempts to amend criminal justice policy and procedures in the North recognize the effects of macro-level socio-economic circumstances of Inuit as factors in their involvement with the criminal justice system. The report recommended addressing issues such as unemployment, low levels of education, and over crowded housing while concurrently amending the justice system. In addition, increasing Inuit participation in the justice system and in programs directed at preventing criminal behaviour—by providing culturally positive role models and incorporating guidance roles for elders—was predicted to improve rates of criminal behaviour among Inuit. [Note 169]

Like housing in northern communities, overcrowding has become a problem in northern correctional facilities. Between 1991 and 1997, facilities in the NWT were consistently operating above capacity, resulting in situations where many offenders inappropriately served sentences at more minimal risk facilities. The overcrowding reduced the ratio of staff to offenders, and consequently, the amount of time available for delivering programs and meeting with offenders individually. During the 1990s, the NWT had the highest crime rate of territories and provinces in Canada (based on the rate of reported crimes), the highest rate of incarceration, and the highest rates for assault and sexual assault. Although the number of violent crimes remained quite consistent between 1991 and 1997, the rate of non-violent crimes decreased. [Note 170]

With the creation of the Nunavut Territory in 1999, the Government of Nunavut maintained some aspects of the NWT criminal justice system but also created new policies and programs specific to Inuit needs. Major elements of the policing and justice system in Nunavut are the RCMP, the court system, justices of the peace, and community-based justices. While each of these elements has worked to incorporate Inuit into the policing and justice system, according to several studies, the court system requires revisions to ensure that it successfully serves the needs of Inuit women. [Note 171] Community-based justice initiatives are particularly valuable in creating opportunities for Inuit to direct and participate in the justice system. These initiatives can take a number of forms, including sentencing circles and justice committees. Community-based justice usually seeks to apply principles associated with traditional Inuit mechanisms of social control. These initiatives address anti-social behaviour, and also assist victims in their healing. Restitution, community service, and reintegration are methods commonly used by community justice initiatives to punish offenders and effect healing in victims. Several elements have been identified as necessary for successful community-based justice programs, including a holistic approach to victim healing and crime prevention within the program; clear definitions of community members eligible to participate in the program; comprehension of community power dynamics; defined community goals for the program; and links between the community program and the mainstream justice system. [Note 172]

According to a 1999 study for the Department of Justice Canada, reforms recommended for the Nunavut justice system fall within five broad categories: including accountability of the system to Nunavut communities, number of Inuit represented in the system, sensitivity to traditional Inuit values, sensitivity to gender bias in the delivery of justice, and the need for community initiatives to provide alternatives to the justice system. In 1999, none of the judges employed in Nunavut were Inuit and few lived in the territory. Although measures had been taken to involve Inuit in the justice system and to make the system increasingly culturally relevant, elements of traditional Inuit culture were not always appropriate for incorporation in the mainstream justice system. The Inuit value system, for example, refrained from judgement of other people, and as a result, jury trials involving Inuit often had low conviction rates. This was particularly harmful to women and children acting as plaintiffs in sexual assault trials. Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women's organization, expressed concern about the low conviction rate of accused sexual offenders and suggested that no sexual assault cases be tried with juries. Similarly, attempts to involve elders in community sentencing of criminal offenders, in approximation of their traditional cultural roles, often delivered lenient sentences, which favoured the offender and did little to protect their victims. This is a particular concern in spousal abuse cases. [Note 173]

Another 1999 Department of Justice Canada study reviewed issues relevant to the justice system in Nunavut and concluded that levels of violent crimes and non-violent crimes were higher in Nunavut than for most other places in Canada. The study determined that crimes against the court, such as "failure to comply," and crimes related to public disorder were also disproportionately high, indicating "a considerable breakdown in community and family social controls and an extreme dependence on the formal criminal justice system." [Note 174] Issues contributing to family and community breakdown were identified as including rapid social and economic change associated with settlement in permanent communities during the 1960s; and cultural conflict created by the tension between traditional values and the influences provided by southern Canadian institutions, such as schools and the media. In particular, high unemployment rates (particularly among young men), substance abuse, low levels of educational achievement, and inadequate housing have significantly contributed to perceptions of inadequacy; low self-esteem; and feelings of anger, frustration, and hopelessness among Inuit. These factors are associated with both the high rate of crimes and the high suicide rate among young Inuit. [Note 175]

Ongoing Concerns

Many of the proposals made during the 1970s to improve relations between Inuit and the justice system, and to make the system increasingly relevant to Inuit have been implemented. These recommendations include regional correctional facilities staffed by Inuit with culturally sensitive rehabilitation programs and increasing community participation in the justice system. Northern communities, however, continue to experience disproportionately high crime rates, which have largely been attributed to the effects of rapid social and economic change that took place between 1950 and the 1970s, including the transition to living in permanent communities, the loss of many families' sled dogs, and residential schooling. The legacies of these changes in lifestyle and culture are still being accommodated by the first and second generations of Inuit living the majority of their lives in permanent communities. [Note 176]

In addition, the socio-economic conditions of many northern communities have had significant and negative impacts on the incidence of crime among Inuit, particularly various forms of abuse within the family. This is especially true for young Inuit men, whose level of education is often lower than that of similar-aged Inuit women. Among Inuit, far more men than women commit criminal offences. Several studies, including those by Pauktuutit, have partially attributed high crime rates to the shift in traditional Inuit gender roles, which may be difficult for men to successfully adopt. As the traditional model of the Inumarit ("Inuit hunter and competent man of the land") is not necessarily possible for modern town-bound Inuit to emulate, other forms of employment for men are required but are not always readily available. [Note 177]

The Government of Nunavut's Department of Justice's focus on incorporating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional Inuit knowledge, which includes but is not limited to language, culture and the environment) into program and policy development demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the justice system's relevancy to Inuit, and encourages community participation in the justice process. The Department of Justice, for example, hired a unilingual Inuktitut speaker as an elder advisor. According to staff at the Policy and Planning Division of Nunavut's Department of Justice, "the Department of Justice is working to bridge the gap between Inuit and non-Inuit in the justice system, and to develop a better working relationship between them." Further, "devolving some responsibilities for the administration of justice to communities empowers the communities and helps to ensure that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is being implemented." [Note 178] Similarly, the twelve recent graduates from Nunavut's Akitsiraq Law School are in a unique position to provide culturally sensitive legal counsel to Inuit in their own language, which improves Inuit understanding of the legal system. [Note 179]

Like the justice system, the RCMP are working to improve communication between police and northern communities by recruiting Inuit as RCMP members; making training for Inuit members more relevant to their way of life and responsive to their needs; increasing community involvement in determining local RCMP priorities; and by offering the highly successful "Inuit Perceptions Training" program to all RCMP recruits (members and their spouses) employed in the North. This program presents historical events involving Inuit and the Government of Canada, such as the intergenerational legacies of residential schooling, from an Inuit perspective. [Note 180]

Recent allegations by Inuit—such as in the Makivik Corporation-produced film "Echo of the Last Howl"—that RCMP culled approximately 20,000 Inuit sled dogs in the eastern Arctic and northern Quebec between 1950 and 1970 have been subject to an RCMP investigation. The investigation's interim report was released in September 2005. It included a review of scholarly literature and archival documents from the RCMP and federal departments working in the North, as well as 40 interviews with current and former members of the RCMP, including Inuit special constables, who worked in northern communities during the relevant time period. The investigation concluded that although the RCMP did destroy Inuit sled dogs between 1950 and 1970, it was for public health and safety reasons, which were often caused by illnesses, such as canine distemper, hepatitis, rabies and malnourishment. The RCMP investigation found no evidence for a mass Inuit sled dog cull. [Note 181]

The Kativik Regional Police Force in Nunavik, and program and policy development by the RCMP and Government of Nunavut, demonstrate that when Inuit become involved in their local and regional justice and policing systems, there is a positive impact on the cultural relevancy of community services. Recent studies by the Correctional Service of Canada and the Department of Justice Canada have identified the need to create more culturally relevant treatment and rehabilitation programs, particularly for Inuit youth, and for victims and perpetrators of family violence. [Note 182] Crime prevention programs are needed within northern communities to prevent youth crime and to stop youth criminal behaviour before it escalates. Such programs, it is hoped, will successfully reduce the crime rate in the North, which continues to be higher in the NWT and Nunavut than in other regions of Canada. [Note 183]

Arctic Sovereignty and Inuit Relocations

Historical Discussion

Sovereignty of the Arctic and the associated Archipelago did not become a concern for Canada until late in the nineteenth century, when political issues and international conflicts caused the Canadian Government to assert a presence in the region. Regions of Canada inhabited largely by Inuit joined Confederation at various times. Quebec joined Canadian Confederation in 1867 and the Northwest Territories joined Canada in 1870, yet Newfoundland and Labrador did not join Canada until 1949. [Note 184] Although the Arctic Archipelago was not initially specified within the boundaries of the Northwest Territories, until the late nineteenth century there were no direct threats to Canadian sovereignty of the Arctic islands that required a formal declaration of jurisdiction. Indeed, Arctic sovereignty was not considered an issue worthy of inclusion in Canada's 1867 Confederation agreement. [Note 185]

In 1880, however, an Order in Council was passed to confirm Dominion title and ownership of the Arctic Archipelago. Through this declaration, Canada took responsibility from Britain for the surveillance of the islands. [Note 186] Inuit habitation of the North since time immemorial and the Order in Council, as a deed of title, have formed the basis for Canada's historic claim to sovereignty of the North. Canada's jurisdiction of the Arctic mainland and Archipelago are uncontested—with the exception of Hans Island off Ellesmere Island—yet Canada's further claims to the internal archipelago waterways, including the Northwest Passage, have been questioned internationally. The recent effects of climate change in the North have meant longer ice-free seasons and increased opportunities for international traffic in Arctic waters, making Canadian sovereignty of northern waterways a focus of concern for the Canadian Government. [Note 187]

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Canadian Government became increasingly concerned about the unregulated presence of foreign nationals sailing through passageways between the Arctic Islands, some of which were still largely unexplored. In 1901, the government funded a North Pole expedition by Captain J.E. Bernier and his Canadian ship, Arctic. Bernier intended to sail north as far as he could through the Arctic pack ice and then continue overland by sled to reach the North Pole but was unsuccessful in reaching his goal. Following this, the Canadian Government appointed Bernier to make annual tours of the Arctic coast and islands on the Canadian ship, Neptune. He was given authority to inspect any ships that he encountered, and to carry out navigational and scientific studies. He also left documents declaring Canadian sovereignty on many Arctic islands. These tours were discontinued in 1914 because of the First World War, but were reactivated in 1922, when conflicts over fishing rights in the Sverdrup Islands caused the Canadian Government to send Bernier, with an official from the Department of the Interior and nine members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), to tour the region and to establish two posts—at Pond Inlet and at Craig Harbour on the southeast corner of Ellesmere Island. [Note 188] Through these posts, Canada symbolically controlled two of the main entrances to the eastern Arctic. Over the next few years, police posts were opened at Dundas Harbour on Devon Island, as well as at Pangnirtung, Lake Harbour, and at Port Burwell in northern Newfoundland. [Note 189]

By the beginning of the twentieth century, there were Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and RCMP posts throughout the North. [Note 190] The Imperial Oil Company's discovery of oil at Fort Norman in 1920 acted as a catalyst to create a civil service in the North, and initial offices were located at forts Smith and Norman, and at Resolution. [Note 191] During the 1920s, the Canadian Government established a game preserve over the Arctic Archipelago, further establishing their jurisdictional authority and sovereignty claim to the region. The second northern influx of government employees from southern Canada came during the Second World War, and afterwards with the onset of the Cold War, when Canada entered a series of joint defence agreements with the United States. American service people were stationed at sites across the Canadian Arctic to construct and monitor defence projects. [Note 192] In many cases, these sites were located in remote areas and were administered by Americans. The operation of defence project sites without Canadian presence, as well as Greenlanders' unauthorized hunting in the Arctic Archipelago, created sovereignty concerns and motivated the federal government to ensure that as many Arctic regions as possible were inhabited by Canadians. [Note 193]

Beginning in 1920, the Canadian Government facilitated Inuit relocations. These relocations were primarily motivated by subsistence needs, and moved Inuit to regions, sometimes successfully, with reported better natural resource yields to prevent starvation within Inuit communities. [Note 194] On several occasions, however, Inuit relocations were motivated by sovereignty concerns. The HBC also proposed relocation projects to the federal government that would assist them in opening posts across the Arctic. To ensure success of the HBC's business venture, Inuit trappers were needed. In 1934 for example, Inuit from Cape Dorset were relocated to Devon Island when the HBC re-opened a post that had closed several years earlier. [Note 195] Some Inuit were relocated seasonally, such as those in the western Arctic who were encouraged to winter at Banks Island and Herschel Island during the 1950s, with both the assertion of sovereignty and the fear of starvation as motivating concerns. According to the Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Peoples, in most cases with early relocations, Inuit were satisfied with their new surroundings or were assisted in returning to their original territory if they were unhappy. [Note 196] Although relocations of Inuit families were supposedly conducted to areas of resource abundance where Inuit could live self-sufficiently, the federal government also had a de facto concern for sovereignty of the Canadian Arctic. [Note 197]

The 1953 relocations of Inuit families from Port Harrison (Inukjuak) and Pond Inlet to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord (Craig Harbour), however, were controversial. Government motivations for the relocation were not clearly conveyed to the Inuit involved or to the Canadian public, and Inuit were moved from northern Quebec to the High Arctic, which involved adaptations to a colder climate and longer periods of total light or darkness. Additionally, it is unclear if the government made or honoured promises to return Inuit to northern Quebec if and when requests to return were made. In 1993, the Royal Commission investigated claims against the government made by Inuit who participated in the relocation and their descendants. [Note 198] A presentation to the Commission by then-President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Rosemarie Kuptana, focused on the cultural and historical context of relations between Inuit and non-Inuit in northern Quebec during the 1950s, and in particular the concept of "ilira." According to Kuptana, "Inuit use ilira to refer to a great fear or awe, such as the awe a strong father inspires in his children." [Note 199] The growth of the fur trade and disease epidemics combined to increase Inuit dependency on non-Inuit, including Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Hudson Bay Company staff and missionaries, producing a feeling of ilira among Inuit in their relations with non-Inuit. As Kuptana stated to the Commission, real consultation of potential relocations was not possible with Inuit, as "a challenge to the authority of the Qallunaat [white people] or defiance of their requests was almost unthinkable." [Note 200] The Commission published their report in 1994, concluding that the relocation "plan was inherently unsound, it was misrepresented to Inuit to gain their concurrence, and the means adopted to carry out the plan were equally unsound." The report went on to state that, however inappropriate the project, "the Government did what it believed to be best for the Inukjuak Inuit in the institutional context of the time." [Note 201]

Although Inuit had requested recognition for their contribution to Canadian sovereignty, the Commission concluded that economics, or their belief in the presence of animal resources at Resolute and Grise Fiord, were the primary motivators for the relocation, with sovereignty, to an unknown degree, acting as a material consideration in the sites chosen to relocate Inuit. [Note 202]

The history of Inuit residence in permanent communities is only forty years in many parts of the Arctic. Although Inuit maintained a pattern of life based on seasonal migrations and resource availability until the mid-twentieth century, since 1960 most Inuit have lived in permanent settlements with access to healthcare, schools and other government services. While Inuit settlement in communities was often motivated by employment, such as at DEW Line sites, by children attending school, or to be near medical treatment, the federal government also encouraged community settlement through large scale housing construction projects during the 1960s. Once settled in communities, Inuit reliance on traditional ways of life became difficult because of the lengthy travel distances required to find animal resources, which were not available near communities, and the need to maintain a steady family income through wage employment. [Note 203]

Canada has maintained an assertion of Arctic sovereignty through its investment in the North, including its continued expansion of communities, as well as federal government services and infrastructure. In 1967, for example, the establishment of the Northwest Territories Council as the resident territorial government at Yellowknife demonstrated Canadian sovereignty of the North. Communities developed through Inuit relocations, such as Resolute and Grise Fiord, continue to exist.

By the 1970s, the Canadian Government was not sponsoring many new relocation projects, as the original reasons for relocating Inuit had decreased in significance. Although sovereignty of the Arctic Archipelago and defence of the northern coastal mainland were still concerns to the Canadian Government, increases in defence technology and American defence partnerships meant that Inuit residency in remote areas was no longer so pressing as a means to monitor the North. Increased residency of federal and territorial civil servants in the North, and increased availability of consumer goods in permanent communities meant that sole reliance on animal resources for all elements of livelihood was no longer necessary. [Note 204] Hence, Inuit relocations to regions where the government thought there was better hunting and access to natural resources were no longer considered necessary. Beyond these practical reasons for the decline of relocation projects, the evolving federal-Inuit political relationship meant relocation initiatives were less politically appropriate and desirable.

Controversy over unsuccessful relocations during the 1950s and 1960s, and studies conducted by the federal government in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which determined that government sponsored relocations did not result in predicted levels of Inuit employment, also made Canada less likely to initiate Inuit relocation projects. [Note 205] In 1972, the Royal Commission on Labrador set out nine principles for future resettlements based on earlier relocation experiences in southern Labrador. These principles recommended that resettlements only occur after extensive consultation with departing and receiving community members, and after planning and preparation to ensure long-term socio-economic viability of relocated individuals in their new community. [Note 206]

Program and Policy Development

The threat of Soviet attack across the North diminished during the late 1960s and Canada subsequently reached an agreement with the United States to take control of the largely defunct DEW Line sites. [Note 207] During this time, concerns for Canadian sovereignty, which had been primarily land based, shifted to focus on northern waterways. The federal government's interest in monitoring use of northern waterways, such as the Northwest Passage, has increased significantly in recent years as climate change causes longer ice-free seasons and more opportunities for ship traffic.

Early in 1968, oil deposits were discovered at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, and by December 1968, the United States was proposing to ship oil through the Northwest Passage to the American east coast. The Canadian Government, including newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau, objected to the commercial transportation of environmentally-hazardous materials through the sensitive northern eco-system but possessed little data on northern ice conditions and navigation to back their concerns. [Note 208]

In 1969, the American Government proposed to send an oil tanker, the S.S. Manhattan, on a trial voyage through the Northwest Passage, accompanied by icebreakers. As military vessels, these icebreakers were legally required to seek Canadian permission before entering internal territorial waters. Canada was indirectly notified of the Manhattan's intentions but no official requests for permission were made before it entered the Northwest Passage. Despite Canadian claims to sovereignty of the northern archipelago waters, according to international law, the Northwest Passage could potentially be a "high seas," as it is outside the 1969-designated three-mile territorial sea region required for Canadian waters. In May 1969, Prime Minister Trudeau made a parliamentary statement to clarify the Canadian Government's position on Arctic sovereignty. According to Trudeau, Canadian sovereignty of the northern mainland and Archipelago was not in question, and Canada had, "exclusive sovereign rights to explore and exploit the resources of the Arctic continental shelf." [Note 209] Additionally, according to Trudeau, that foreign companies exploring natural resources in the North did so under permit from the Canadian Government was further evidence of Canada's Arctic sovereignty. [Note 210]

The following year, the Trudeau government passed the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act and made amendments to the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act to extend Canada's territorial sea limits in the North to twelve miles, rather than three. This legislation served to extend, "limited jurisdiction for specific, defensive, and non-acquisitive purposes" without claiming Canadian sovereignty over the region. [Note 211] Nonetheless, the United States has continued to maintain the right of international travel in the Northwest Passage. [Note 212] As Canada perceived that international law did not sufficiently protect marine environments, particularly the unique circumstances of the Arctic, from the potential adverse affects of international travel, the Pollution Prevention Act was designed to ensure the integrity of the Arctic environment. Within the Act, ships are free to pass through northern straits, provided they meet requirements for minimizing and mitigating pollution. Although this Act extended Canadian jurisdiction beyond the territorial sea limits, it was consistent with Canada's perception of its role as custodian of the North, with legislation created by other coastal states to ensure protection of their national environments, and with the spirit of international laws for maritime navigation safety and pollution control. [Note 213]

In 1985, Canada attempted to establish its sovereignty over the Arctic Archipelago and surrounding waters using the straight baselines system as a legal argument and the twelve-mile territorial sea rule. The straight baselines system was created at the United Nations' Territorial Sea Convention of 1958 and clarified at the Law of the Sea Convention in 1982 as a means for incorporating land-masses within adjacent and associated territorial boundaries. Under this argument, a coastline must be deeply indented or bordered by an archipelago, which constitutes, "a fringe of islands along the coast in its immediate vicinity." [Note 214] In addition, baselines must enclose land only within internal-water proximity of the coast, and must coincide with the general shape of the coast. [Note 215] The straight baselines system was the primary legal argument for Canadian sovereignty of the archipelago waters, but several other legal arguments have been identified as potentially supportive to the case. These arguments are the sector theory and the doctrine of historic waters. [Note 216] Although the sector theory, which uses latitudinal and longitudinal lines to demarcate territorial boundaries, has been used historically in Canada to identify the North as sovereign territory, it is not sufficient alone to define sovereignty. [Note 217] The doctrine of historic waters considers the long-term and exclusive use of the region, and the collusion of surrounding nations in determining sovereignty. That Canada considers the archipelago's internal waters sovereign territory was implicit in Prime Minister Trudeau's 1969 statements during the Manhattan situation regarding Canada's historic and exclusive use of the Arctic Archipelago. The containment of archipelago water within Canada is not explicit in legislation, yet it could be accommodated within the definition of internal waters in the 1964 Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act. [Note 218]

In 1985, the European community made diplomatic protest against Canadian attempts to enclose the Northwest Passage as internal waters using the straight baselines system. Similarly, an American ice breaking ship, Polar Sea, was sent through the Northwest Passage without Canadian Government consent in 1985. This incident led to the 1988 Canadian-American Agreement on Arctic Co-operation, whereby the American Government conceded to seek permission from the Canadian Government for any future transits of the Northwest Passage. This agreement was used in 2000, when the American Government sought Canadian permission for one of its icebreakers to traverse the Northwest Passage. [Note 219]

Although the Arctic Archipelago waters are not referred to specifically in the Canadian Government's 1970 White Paper on Defence, the document states that, "the Government's objective is to continue effective occupation of Canadian territory, and to have a surveillance and control capability to the extent necessary to safeguard national interests in all Canadian territory, and all airspace and waters over which Canada exercises sovereignty or jurisdiction." [Note 220] To this end, the White Paper supported the development of northern training exercises for defence troops, and encouraged Inuit to participate in northern defence through employment with the Department of National Defence, particularly in the Northern Rangers program. [Note 221] Recruiting programs targeting Inuit were developed in the 1970s to facilitate Canadian defensive organizations that were knowledgeable about the land and resources in the area where they served, to ensure representation of the Canadian population within National Defence, and to create regional employment opportunities. Training Inuit for the Ranger program meant that fewer Armed Forces members would need to be accommodated with housing and services for their families, such as healthcare and schools, in the North. [Note 222]

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Canada explored several initiatives to monitor and provide jurisdiction over the internal waterways of the Arctic Archipelago. In 1982, Canada introduced Article 234 at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III). This article, commonly called the "Canada clause," requires that ice covered water, such as that in the Arctic, be declared unique. Further, Canada requested that nations bordering such waters be allowed to create protectionist legislation exceeding international standards for navigational safety and environmental stewardship within their Exclusive Economic Zones (commonly extending 200 miles from the coast) to ensure these sensitive ecological regions are safeguarded. Although such clauses may assist Canada in protecting the ecological integrity of the Northwest Passage, they will not permit Canada to forbid passage to any ships meeting the enhanced standards. [Note 223]

In 1994 the Canadian Government released another White Paper on Defence, which is still its most recent comprehensive statement on the issue. The 1994 White Paper states that, "Canada seeks to maintain political sovereignty and economic jurisdiction over 10 million square kilometres of ocean in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic." [Note 224] According to the White Paper, "for Canada, sovereignty means ensuring that, within our area of jurisdiction, Canadian law is respected and enforced." [Note 225] In the White Paper, the Canadian Government stated its commitment to stewardship and protection of Arctic ecology through "greening" practices, pollution prevention, environmental surveillance, and clean-up of contaminated areas, such as DEW Line sites. Through agreements between National Defence and Inuit organizations, including Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Inuit across the North have been integral participants in DEW Line clean-up projects. [Note 226]

Canada has also committed to partnership with the United States in a variety of defence agreements, including the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) Agreement, which was renewed in 1991; the Standing Committee on National Defence on Maritime Sovereignty; and the Canadian Forces Integrated Undersea Surveillance System. A primary objective of Canadian defence policy is to maintain effective air, sea and land operations that ensure the defence of North America in partnership with the United States. Since 1994, Canadian Air Force and Navy surveillance in the North have been curtailed through funding cuts. The Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, however, has increased and is projected to include 4,800 members by 2008. The Ranger Patrol makes effective use of Inuit traditional knowledge of northern lands and resources. Through the Junior Canadian Ranger programme, Inuit youth are provided with practical opportunities to acquire and make use of traditional skills and knowledge. Since 1942, the Canadian Ranger Patrol Group has played a significant role in maintaining Canada's presence and sovereignty in remote regions of the North. [Note 227]

Ranger knowledge of northern resources has become particularly significant to initiatives tracking the effects of global warming in the North. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) has called the Canadian Arctic, "the globe's barometer of climate change" and stated that, "Inuit are the mercury in that barometer." [Note 228] As gauges for human adaptation to global climate change, Inuit are anxious to participate in studies and discussions leading to the development of global policies that will mitigate the changes to their environment. Climate change and consequent global warming, which is affecting the migration routes of caribou and causing pack ice to melt throughout the North, are a side-effect of global pollution that is negatively affecting the traditional Inuit way of life. Melting sea-ice means reduced environmental capacity for animals such as polar bears, seals, walrus, and some birds, and consequently reduced opportunity for Inuit to practice traditional hunting. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference recently suggested creating a Distant Environmental Warning System that would use satellite technology to monitor climate change in the North. According to the ICC, recognizing the Arctic as an indicator of global climate change, and finding methods of protecting it now, will prevent the rest of the world from experiencing more extreme effects of global warming in the future. [Note 229]

Melting sea-ice, which reduces the ice cover of northern waterways, is also making it potentially easier for ships to travel through the Northwest Passage. According to a 2001 article in the Canadian Journal of Policy Research, increased ship traffic in the Northwest Passage will make it more difficult for Canada to ensure sovereignty of this region, and will require an increased financial commitment to establish surveillance and interception infrastructure in the Passage. [Note 230] A 1986 statement on Canadian sovereignty of the Northwest Passage made by Joe Clark, as Secretary of State, is considered definitive as Canada's most recent position on the issue. Clark stated that Inuit inhabited the ice as they did the land joined by the ice, implying that international law governing innocent passage in international straits is not applicable to the Northwest Passage. Although the United States and the European Union have both indicated that they do not accept Canada's claim to sovereignty of the Northwest Passage, neither has pushed for a legal ruling on the issue because icy conditions in the Passage have not been historically conducive to commercial shipping. With melting of the pack ice, however, shipping through the Passage will become an increasingly viable economic opportunity, and Canada will likely be forced to defend its legal claim to sovereignty of the Northwest Passage. [Note 231]

International efforts to open the Northwest Passage to commercial traffic will increase the number of ships passing through the North annually, negatively affecting Canada's northern security and increasing rates of pollution. The Northwest Passage is 8,000 kilometres shorter than routes through the Panama Canal or around Cape Horn, at the tip of South America, for trips between Asia and the eastern United States. Use of the Passage for international commercial traffic will mean that goods can be shipped more quickly and cheaply worldwide, which is a significant incentive for the United States and Europe to contest Canada's claim to sovereignty over the waterway. Recently, Japan has expressed interest in using the Northwest Passage for commercial shipping, and it is likely that other countries will do the same as the Passage becomes increasingly ice-free. [Note 232]

Ongoing Concerns

Issues of concern associated with increased shipping in the Northwest Passage include the introduction of foreign diseases, to which Inuit may have little or no tolerance; further displacement of animal populations, resulting in fewer opportunities for Inuit to pursue traditional ways of life; increases in illegal activities, such as human and drug smuggling, in the large uninhabited regions of the North; and navigational tanker accidents, like the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 off the south coast of Alaska, which are likely to occur despite stringent Canadian environmental protection laws. Increased shipping traffic in the Arctic Archipelago, however, is likely to create skilled employment opportunities for Inuit, and increased economic development potential for coastal ports, like Iqaluit. [Note 233]

Canada currently maintains a system of voluntary registration for ships entering the archipelago waters, but there are concerns that voluntary rather than requisite registration sends an international message of Canadian uncertainty regarding their claim to sovereignty of the Archipelago waters. Although the North, and hence, Arctic sovereignty, is often expressed by Canadians as significant to national identity, "a gap exists between Canadian policy regarding the importance of the waters of the Northwest Passage to Canada and actual domestic actions to preserve and protect the Arctic." [Note 234]

In a statement at the Assistant Deputy Minister Forum on Globalization, Identity and Citizenship in October 2004, the Chair of the ICC called on the federal government's promised Inuit Secretariat to address the legal, policy, and political issues associated with climate change and Arctic sovereignty in co-operation with Inuit. [Note 235] According to the ICC Chair, Inuit support measures to ensure Canadian sovereignty of the North and seek to work with the federal government to ensure the environmental sustainability of those measures. [Note 236] The Canadian Government's 2000 publication, The Northern Dimension of Canada's Foreign Policy, states that, "the politics of globalization and power diffusion highlight the importance of the circumpolar world as an area for inclusion and co-operation." [Note 237] This statement emphasizes the need for security, sovereignty, and prosperity in the Canadian North, while maintaining sustainable levels of development. To facilitate these efforts, Canada supports the Arctic Council, which was created in 1996 as a high level political forum for Arctic nations and Arctic Aboriginal peoples to work together on issues of common interest. To protect its sovereignty, Canada also seeks to maintain a military presence and its military capability in the North, which continues to be supported by the Northern Rangers program. As ice in the Northwest Passage melts, Canada requires a comprehensive strategy that balances the management of potential increases in international water traffic and expansion of Arctic ports, with the maintenance of Canadian sovereignty and environmental stewardship of the North. [Note 238]

The E-Number Identification System

Traditionally, Inuit naming was genderless and children were often named after significant or recently deceased family members, regardless of the sex of the name holder or namesake. [Note 239] The small size of Inuit communities, system of naming, and oral culture meant that surnames and consistent spellings of names were not required in daily life. Rather, "suffixes were attached to names to differentiate between persons having the same one." [Note 240] In the eighteenth century, Catholic missionaries in northern Quebec and the eastern Arctic converted and baptized Inuit, and assigned them biblical names. Since certain English language sounds were not familiar to Inuit, they adapted biblical names to facilitate pronunciation. [Note 241] Although Inuit were often known by these names within their communities, they also retained their Inuit names. Variants in names and use of multiple names by individuals did not seem to cause confusion among Inuit, yet whalers and traders, and later members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), found it difficult to pronounce and spell Inuit names. [Note 242]

Particularly for government officials, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the RCMP and members of the medical community, the absences of standardized name spellings and surnames made it difficult to keep track of Inuit, and hence to record census information, trade accounts, medical records and police records accurately. During the 1930s, there were several proposals by RCMP, medical personnel, and civil servants to address the situation, including suggestions to standardize name spellings, the creation of RCMP files and finger printing, the institution of a binomial naming system with a family name, and the registration of unique numeric identifiers stamped on disks or printed on cards and assigned to each Inuk. [Note 243] In 1933, the RCMP began fingerprinting Inuit who obtained medical assistance in the eastern Arctic. Although the police considered the campaign a success, medical personnel expressed doubts. Fingerprinting was time consuming, and consequently few Inuit were printed. Doctors were also concerned about the obvious discomfort of Inuit throughout the procedure, as many perceived that finger printing was a consequence of criminal activity. [Note 244]

In 1941, the federal government adopted an identification system that had been proposed in 1935 by a medical officer stationed at Pangnirtung, to uniquely identify Inuit without having to standardize name spellings. This system was similar to the numeric registration used by the Canadian army and navy for their members, and involved issuing disks stamped with unique numbers to Inuit. The adoption of the disks coincided with the date of the federal census, which was completed by missionaries, doctors and nurses, the RCMP and HBC personnel in Arctic communities. Baptismal and Inuit names were recorded, along with the disk number, or E [Eskimo]-number, assigned to each Inuk. The disks were approximately the size of quarters, and were made from pressed fibre with a hole punched in the top, allowing them to be worn on string around a neck or wrist. With the approval of the Secretary for the Department of State, they were stamped with the Canadian Coat of Arms as well as their unique four-digit number. [Note 245]

Difficulties encountered in the distribution and use of disks included: the destruction of disks by Inuit who opposed the registration system; disk shortages in areas such as the Mackenzie Delta, which resulted in non-registration of many Inuit; and misuse and non-use of E-numbers. In 1944, federal government officials realized that Inuit births registered before 1941 had not been updated with E-numbers, and that many births occurring after 1941 were registered without E-numbers because no disks were available in the region at the time. This oversight meant that many E-numbers could not be matched to the government's vital statistics records. [Note 246]

In 1945, with the institution of the family allowance program, E-numbers became increasingly significant for federal administrators because accurate family records were necessary to issue monthly payments. [Note 247] To correct registration issues, all disks were recalled and new ones were issued. The Canadian Arctic and Northern Quebec were divided into twelve districts, with three districts in the west (W1, W2 and W3) and nine districts in the east (E1 to E9). The new disks incorporated an alphanumeric identifier, reflecting the geographic region Inuit inhabited, as well as their unique four-digit number. [Note 248]

Between 1945 and 1970, all Inuit interaction with the federal, and provincial or territorial governments required use of E-numbers. Commonly, these interactions included the registration of birth, marriage and death certificates. By the early 1960s, some Inuit in northern Quebec were adopting the binomial naming system common throughout the rest of Canada. Usually, the surname adopted by a family was the patriarch's given name. [Note 249] The frequency with which some given names were used, however, meant that multiple families within communities shared surnames, and people within those families often shared given names as well. Without the distinction of other identifiers like addresses, administrators claimed to experience difficulty in accurately tracking Inuit without the use of E-numbers. [Note 250]

In the early 1960s, some Inuit and administrators throughout the Arctic, including the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (NWT), raised concerns about alphanumeric registration of Inuit as a primary means of identification, when this practice was uncommon for other cultural groups in Canada. In 1968, the NWT Council proposed "Project Surname," requesting that all Inuit select and register family names, which, along with their given names, would receive standardized spellings. By 1972, registrations were completed and Inuit within the NWT were no longer required to use E-numbers as identification. As northern Quebec is not within the jurisdiction of the NWT Government, however, their use of E-numbers persisted for several years longer. Currently, Inuit are known by given names and surnames, and are registered through vital statistics records, as are people throughout the rest of Canada. [Note 251]

Historical Development of Inuit Political Organizations

Historical Discussion

Before contact with Europeans, Inuit selected community leaders for their superior survival skills and made decisions based on group consensus. European explorers, whalers and fur traders often respected Inuit community leaders for their knowledge of the land and ability to survive. Throughout the twentieth century, however, communication and transport technology steadily improved the quality and quantity of imported goods available in the North. Growth in the federal and territorial civil service,and in resource development industries meant more employment that required knowledge of English and western education-based skill sets, such as engineering. As many Inuit were not trained to compete for these jobs, the population of southern Canadians in the North increased, creating an even larger demand for consumer goods. The availability of consumer goods made traditional Inuit skills and knowledge less necessary for non-Inuit survival. The ability of non-Inuit to communicate, to transport people over long distances quickly, to construct large buildings and community infrastructure, and to implement resource development projects for the extraction of natural gas, oil and minerals, all contributed to create circumstances of social and economic inequality between Inuit and non-Inuit in northern communities. [Note 252]

Throughout the 1960s, the federal and territorial governments encouraged Inuit to participate in local government and administrative organizations, such as Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) regional councils, town and hamlet councils, and housing authorities. The Baffin Regional Council (BRC), for example, was a successful organization that was largely Inuit administered. It was established in 1977 as the first regional council in the Northwest Territories but was soon followed by the creation of six other similar bodies. These councils included the Keewatin, Kitikmeot, South Slave, Beau-Del, Deh Cho, Sahtu, and Dogrib regional councils. Regional councils are not regional governments, as they have no law-making abilities. Rather, they are bodies comprised of local government representatives and members of the GNWT Legislative Assembly who meet to advise the territorial government on local issues. [Note 253]

The federal government also assisted the development of co-operative businesses to help Inuit learn economic management skills. Inuit became eligible to vote in the 1950 federal election, and for territorial and provincial elections in the following years. In 1966, the first Inuk was elected to the Northwest Territories (NWT) Council. [Note 254] During the 1960s, Inuit became increasingly concerned about government-sponsored development of Northern oil, gas and mineral resources. They had viewed themselves as stewards of the North for at least four thousand years, and consequently sought to preserve the sustainability of their natural environment and access to the resources that had long supported their livelihood. [Note 255]

Program and Policy Development

Inuit concerns about their lack of autonomy were supported by the Indian-Eskimo Association (IEA), an organization established in 1955 by educators, church leaders, and public servants from southern Canada who were concerned about the circumstances of Inuit and First Nations. The IEA promoted issues including cultural expression and political organization among Aboriginal groups, sponsored conferences, worked with government agencies, researched treaty and Aboriginal rights, and provided educational and consultative services to Aboriginal peoples. Rather than acting on behalf of Aboriginal peoples, the IEA was committed to enabling First Nations and Inuit to work publicly towards their own goals. [Note 256] In 1969, the federal government released "A Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy," also known as the White Paper. This proposal recommended assimilating Aboriginal peoples in Canada by terminating their status under the Indian Act. Under the White Paper, Aboriginal peoples would take the status of other Canadian citizens with any special administration coming from their provincial or territorial government, rather than through the federal government. Risks to the welfare of their natural environment and access to their traditional lands, the threat to their national group identity as Aboriginal people, and the prior establishment of a political organization (the National Indian Brotherhood) among First Nations people motivated the development of Inuit political organizations. [Note 257]

The IEA had national public support and funding, which it used to facilitate communication and assist Inuit in launching their own national political organization, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC), in 1971. [Note 258] Inuit established ITC primarily to lobby the federal government for claims to northern land from the western Arctic to Labrador. At the October 1969 Tundra Conference in Edmonton, which was attended by delegates from western Arctic communities, the IEA was asked to assist the delegates in planning a conference of Arctic Aboriginal peoples. As a result, in July 1970, the IEA sponsored a conference at Coppermine, which was attended by 33 delegates from 22 communities in the eastern and western Arctic and in Nunavik. The conference was intended as a forum for Inuit from across the Arctic to discuss issues of mutual concern, including oil and gas exploration, hunting and trapping quotas, and education policies. Coppermine Conference delegates also created and submitted a telegram to Prime Minister Trudeau, requesting the recognition of Aboriginal peoples' land rights in the North. This was the first time Inuit had addressed the Government of Canada through a collective message. [Note 259]

While the Coppermine Conference was being planned in January 1970, Aboriginal people in the western Arctic formed the Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement (COPE) to explore Aboriginal peoples' land rights in the western Arctic. [Note 260] Rather than being selected for their superiority in traditional Inuit pursuits, the founders of ITC and COPE were mainly young people, who were educated at secondary and vocational schools in Ottawa, Churchill and Yellowknife. These schools "provided an opportunity for young Inuit men and women from different regions to start discussing the types of problems all Inuit were facing. From these gatherings and discussions sprang a commitment to the politics of change." [Note 261]

Subsequent to the development of ITC, regional associations were established to provide local representation for Inuit. These organizations included the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA), which was founded in 1971; the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA), which was founded in 1973; and three organizations in the eastern Arctic, which were established in the mid-1970s: the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, the Keewatin (now Kivalliq) Inuit Association, and the Baffin Regional (now Qikiqtani) Inuit Association. [Note 262] ITC changed its name to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) in 2001. [Note 263] Inuit political organizations across the North have shared some general objectives including respect for the natural environment and maintaining its sustainability; ensuring that Inuit received infrastructural benefits from economic development occurring in their communities, such as roads, improvements to housing, and pipeline links; and creating local control over resource development projects, including job creation for Inuit. [Note 264]

The same year that it was released, the Canadian Government officially withdrew its White Paper. In 1971, the government established the Aboriginal Representative Organizational Program (AROP) to grant funding for Aboriginal political organizations across Canada. This program was developed within the government's new multicultural policy framework, which was designed to facilitate cultural plurality and support the participation of ethnic groups in Canadian Government. [Note 265] The negative vocal response to the White Paper demonstrated the importance of government consultation with Aboriginal groups, yet the Canadian Government realized that such groups, like many other ethnic groups in Canada, required funding assistance to operate effectively. Further, Aboriginal response to the White Paper encouraged the federal government to create policies for negotiating comprehensive and specific claims. [Note 266]

Table 1: Inuit Political Organizations and Their Comprehensive Land Claims

  Inuvialuit Settlement Region Nunavut Nunavik Nunatsiavut
Political Organization Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement (1970-1984) Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (1982-1993) Northern Quebec Inuit Association (1971-1978) Labrador Inuit Association (1973-?)
Land Claim Agreement and Year Claim was Submitted Inuvialuit Final Agreement (1974)* Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (1977) James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1973) Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement (1977)
Agreement-in-Principle Settled October 1978 April 1990 November 1974 June 2001
Beneficiary Corporation Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) (1984) Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) (1993) Makivik Corporation (1978) Labrador Inuit Development Corporation (LIDC) (1982)
Final Agreement Settled June 1984 April 1993 November 1975 January 2005
Regional Government Beaufort/Delta Government (TBA) ** Government of Nunavut (1999) Kativik Regional Government (1976); Nunavik Government (TBA) Nunatsiavut Government (Fall 2006)

*This agreement is also called the COPE agreement.
**Provisions for an Inuit regional government, the Western Arctic Regional Municipality (WARM), were initially part of the land claim but were not included in the final settlement. with the Gwich'in, Inuvialuit are currently negotiating for a form of aboriginal self-government in the western arctic.

Since the early 1970s, the objectives of Inuit political organizations have evolved substantially. Initially, ITK sought to create a single Inuit territory stretching from the western Arctic to northern Quebec. Difficulties experienced in negotiating such a claim with the federal government, and the four provincial and territorial governments, as well as the need to settle claims quickly in the western Arctic and northern Quebec because of proposed resource development projects, required amendments to this plan. Consequently, four Inuit land claims were negotiated by regional political organizations, rather than ITK. Inuit comprehensive land claim settlements are: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Complementary Agreements (JBNQA), which were reached in 1975 in northern Quebec; the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, which was reached in 1984 in the western Arctic; the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which was settled in 1993 in the eastern Arctic; and the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, which was settled in 2003 and ratified in 2005 in northern Labrador. [Note 267] As each of the four comprehensive land claims have been settled with the Government of Canada, the Inuit association negotiating the settlement has dissolved and then reconstituted itself as the corporation responsible for administering the funds and the terms generated by the claim settlement. Table 1 explains the four regions with comprehensive land claim settlements negotiated between Inuit and the Canadian Government. [Note 268]

Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement

In 1968, North American oil companies, with the support of the federal government, proposed to build the Mackenzie Valley pipeline from the mouth of the Mackenzie River to Alberta. This project and the discovery of oil in the Northwest Territories motivated the development of Aboriginal political organizations in the western Arctic, including the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories and the Federation of Natives North of Sixty. [Note 269] One of the first organizations was the Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement. Aboriginal peoples in the Northwest Territories, including Inuvialuit (Inuit of the western Arctic), were concerned about the difference in power that they identified between themselves and the federal government. Consequently, COPE's objectives were to determine the potential and scope of Aboriginal land rights in the North and to negotiate, as a united Aboriginal voice, for a land claim settlement with the federal government. [Note 270] By pursuing a land claim with Canada, COPE sought to ensure that land proposed for oil extraction and pipeline construction would be developed in accordance with Aboriginal peoples' objectives for land stewardship. [Note 271] According to COPE, "real power is economic power, and that is based on ownership and control of land and resources." [Note 272]

Since COPE's membership initially included members of several Aboriginal communities, the Canadian Government would not fund it as a representative Inuit political organization and COPE relied on private funding, from associations like the Canadian Donner Foundation, for its operations. [Note 273] Although land stewardship was a priority for COPE, they also sought to develop Aboriginalpeoples'potentialinleadershipopportunitiesandbusinessventures,therebyensuring that people had the skills and training needed to manage future resource development projects in the North. During the early 1970s, COPE supported several communities in land disputes with the federal government, including Sachs Harbour and Cape Bathurst, and organized a housing co-operative at Inuvik to ensure homes and associated services were available for low-income families. [Note 274] Pressure from resource development companies, however, required COPE to increasingly focus on obtaining a land claim agreement with the Canadian Government. Negotiations for this claim took place between 1974 and 1978 when an Agreement-in-Principle was signed. The settlement, entitled, "The Inuvialuit Final Agreement," was signed in 1984. To implement the terms of the claim and manage the funds derived from it, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation was created to replace COPE.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

In 1971, ITK was established, similarly to COPE, in reaction to the economic development of Arctic resources without levels of government negotiation acceptable to Inuit. [Note 275] Although ITK's primary focus was obtaining a land claim settlement, it also sought to preserve Inuit language and culture; to improve communication to and among Inuit settlements; to ensure that Inuit achieved full participation in Canadian society; to monitor the development of mineral, oil, and gas exploration in the North; and to represent Inuit interests to the federal government in all aspects of northern development. [Note 276] At one of its first conferences, which was held at Pangnirtung on Baffin Island in August in 1972, the main topics of discussion were the high cost of living and flying between communities in the North, and the lack of Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) programming on the North or for Inuit. Sixty delegates from across the North attended this conference. [Note 277]

ITK initially established headquarters in Edmonton but moved to Ottawa in 1972, facilitating their access to the federal government. In 1973, ITK created the Inuit Cultural Institute, and later the Inuit Development Corporation to support its heritage, cultural and environmental concerns. Although ITK left the negotiation of land claims to the regional Inuit organizations, it worked to ensure the progress of these settlements and provided support to the regional associations throughout the 1970s and 1980s. [Note 278]

ITK represents all Canadian Inuit, and is assisted by its member organizations: the National Inuit Women's Association (Pauktuutit) and the National Inuit Youth Council. Internationally, ITK is a member of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) Canada Executive. Within Canada, the four land claim beneficiary corporations are affiliated with ITK and administer local issues. The regional organizations are the Labrador Inuit Association, Makivik Corporation, Nunavut Tungavik Incorporated, and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. Affiliate organizations apply to ITK for assistance when they require representation at the national or international level. [Note 279]

By the early 1990s, with all four Inuit land claims settled or projected for settlement, ITK re-defined its priorities to focus on issues affecting Inuit nationally, including environmental protection and sustainability, housing and healthcare. Other ITK objectives are to promote Inuit self-government, to ensure Inuit rights within the Canadian Constitution, and to foster Inuit business and economic development. ITK continues to advocate on behalf of Inuit throughout Canada, including those living outside settlement areas; to represent Canadian Inuit internationally; and to ensure maintenance of Inuit culture and heritage. ITK's current priority is the creation of Inuit-specific programming within federal government departments. [Note 280]


Pauktuutit was established through ITK in 1984 as the national organization representing Inuit women. It has no membership fees and all Inuit women are considered members of this organization. Pauktuutit operates from Ottawa, and the executive is comprised of a president, a vice-president, and a secretary/treasurer. The Board of Directors includes representatives from eight northern regions, a non-northern director, and a youth director. Pauktuutit's mandate is to "foster a greater awareness of the needs of Inuit women, and to encourage their participation in community, regional and national concerns in relation to social, cultural and economic development." [Note 281]

Inuit health is a priority for Pauktuutit, and it partners with organizations including the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), and federal government departments like Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Correctional Services Canada, and Health Canada, to participate in research projects and activities that address issues concerning Inuit women. Pauktuutit has produced reports on issues such as the abuse of women and children, fetal alcohol syndrome, tobacco use, HIV/AIDS, and women in the justice system, to lobby the federal government for policies and programs that ensure the rights and equality of Inuit women with other Canadians. As well as representing Inuit women nationally, Pauktuutit has participated in international forums, including the first UN conference on women that was held in Beijing, China in 1995. [Note 282]

National Inuit Youth Council

The National Inuit Youth Council (NIYC) was formed in 1994 at the first National Inuit Youth Summit, held at Kuujjuaq, Nunavik. The NIYC has an executive and representatives from six regions across the Arctic. These regions are Labrador, Nunavik, Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, Qikiqtani, and Inuvialuit. The Council works with ITK to represent Inuit under the age of 30 in Canada. [Note 283]

Inuit Circumpolar Conference

Inuit from Greenland, Canada and Alaska established the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) in June 1977. A preliminary meeting was held with Inuit from Canada, and Aboriginal peoples from Finland, Norway and Sweden at Copenhagen in 1973. The ICC currently represents about 150,000 Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Chukotka (Russia) who work together to represent international interests of Inuit. The ICC holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations, and seeks to promote Inuit land claims, policies to protect the Arctic environment and its resources, and Inuit rights and participation in the politics, economics, and social progress of the circumpolar countries. The ICC General Assembly is convened every four years, and a new chair is elected. The international office of the ICC is situated in the community of the Assembly Chair, who is currently Canadian. [Note 284]

Within Canada, the ICC board of directors is comprised of the four land claim implementation corporation presidents, and the presidents of Pauktuutit and the National Inuit Youth Council. The ICC Canada Executive has a president and vice-president of International Affairs, who become the Assembly vice chair and Executive Council Member at the General Assembly. The president of ITK serves on the ICC Canada Executive as the vice-president of National Affairs. ICC Canada is responsible for implementing policies and resolutions agreed upon at the ICC General Assembly for the benefit of Canadian Inuit. Objectives of the Canadian ICC include working with the regional and national Inuit organizations to effectively represent Canadian Inuit internationally; to facilitate co-operation between Inuit organizations within Canada and those in other countries; and to promote Inuit language, culture, values, health and business endeavours. [Note 285]

Northern Quebec Inuit Association

The region of northern Quebec inhabited by Inuit, called Nunavik, became part of the Province of Quebec in 1912 but was administered federally because of its mainly Aboriginal population. In 1964, Quebec began to implement provincial policies and services in Nunavik. Many of these programs overlapped with the existing federal programs, such as those for education and healthcare. In an effort to streamline the regional administration, the federal and provincial governments sent delegates to Nunavik communities in 1970, where Inuit were consulted about changes proposed to the delivery of social service programs. [Note 286]

During the 1960s, the federal and provincial governments were involved in the administration of Nunavik's co-operative businesses, and the formation of the Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau-Quebec (FCNQ) in 1967. The FCNQ was established to market the sale of Inuit art but also wanted to act as the political voice of Quebec's Inuit. [Note 287] To this end, the FCNQ sought to exclude Quebec from involvement in Nunavik co-ops, and was partially successful as an "underground government" for Nunavik between 1967 and 1970. [Note 288] In 1971, the FCNQ sponsored a coalition of community councils to lobby Quebec for regional-government status in Nunavik. At this point, the FCNQ was not seeking a land claim settlement, but wanted to work with Quebec to develop its relationship as a regional government within the province. The community consultations with federal and provincial representatives and the FCNQ's proposed plan for self-government made Inuit in Nunavik aware of the need for self-representation through an organization of their creation. To keep the FCNQ from exerting more than economic influence in Nunavik, Quebec and the federal government encouraged Inuit to form the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA) in 1971. [Note 289]

Between 1971 and 1978, the Northern Quebec Inuit Association represented Inuit of Nunavik in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) negotiations, and by facilitating a leadership role for Inuit in the management of their own lands and resources. This land claim was negotiated as an Agreement-in-Principle in 1974, and as a final settlement in 1978. Upon the claim's settlement, the NQIA became Makivik Corporation, the organization responsible for managing the implementation of the JNBQA terms as they applied to Inuit. [Note 290] Makivik Corporation is currently negotiating with the federal government and the Government of Quebec for the creation of the Government of Nunavik, an institute of public government, which would administer Nunavik in place of the more limited Kativik Regional Government. The parties signed an Agreement-in-Principle towards creating the Government of Nunavik in January 2005. [Note 291]

Labrador Inuit Association

The Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) was created in the summer of 1973 to represent the 4,500 Inuit living in northern Labrador, or Nunatsiavut. [Note 292] Through the LIA, Inuit of Nunatsiavut proposed to launch a land claim and sought assistance from ITK at their 1974 annual meeting. Several ITK staff members were seconded to the LIA to assist them in researching and submitting their land claim. [Note 293] Although the LIA has advocated for a number of issues that affect the culture, health, education, regional economic development and natural resource management of Inuit in Nunatsiavut, a land claim settlement has always been their main priority. The LIA also represented Inuit of Nunatsiavut in the 2000 negotiations to create a national park reserve in the Torngat Mountains and in the 2001 negotiations for the Voisey's Bay Interim Management Agreement. The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement-in-Principle was signed in 2001, the Final Agreement was reached in 2003, and the ratification and signing of the agreement was completed on 22 January 2005. [Note 294]

Tungavik Federation of Nunavut

Between 1971 and 1982, interests of Inuit in the eastern Arctic were represented by ITK, which submitted the Nunavut land claim proposal in 1976. With the settlement of the Inuvialuit Agreement-in-Principle negotiated by COPE in 1978, ITK determined that land claim negotiations were best facilitated using regionally representative organizations. ITK encouraged the formation of Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) by members of the Kivalliq, Qikiqtani and Kitikmeot Inuit Associations in 1982. TFN was created specifically to negotiate the Nunavut land claim agreement, and signed the Agreement-in-Principle with the federal government and the GNWT in 1990, and then the final Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993. [Note 295] Once the Nunavut land claim was settled and TFN had fulfilled its objectives, the organization reformed as Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), and continues to assume responsibility for implementing the terms and managing the funds generated through the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. [Note 296]

Ongoing Concerns

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Inuit became increasingly involved in territorial and provincial politics. By 1976, there were six constituencies for the central and eastern Arctic in the NWT Legislative Assembly, and by 1979, there were eight. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Inuit from the eastern and central Arctic served as Ministers of Social Development, Economic Development, and Government Services. [Note 297] Inuit are increasingly elected as members of the territorial legislative assemblies, and administer regional governments in Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

With the settlement of four Inuit land claims, the authority provided for land claim beneficiary corporations, and the rising participation of Inuit in territorial and provincial governments, the political organizations created during the early 1970s to represent Inuit in land claim negotiations have had to re-focus their objectives to remain relevant in the current political climate. These political organizations administer the land claims for their beneficiaries and are forums for Inuit to raise awareness of issues like the effects of alcohol availability and consumption in northern communities, environmental issues, healthcare, housing, education, hunting and fishing rights, community development, and economic development. Ensuring implementation of land claim settlement terms, and maintaining stewardship of their lands and resources are issues of continuing regional significance for Inuit. [Note 298]

The success of Inuit nationally is evident in their negotiation of four comprehensive land claim agreements and nearly three settlements for forms of regional and territorial government. Canadian Inuit are also prominent members of international organizations, like the ICC, and have used their valuable skills and experience to assist northern indigenous people internationally. In particular, Canadian members of the ICC have helped the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples (RAIPON) to develop co-management practices for land and natural resources, and to strengthen their regional governments. [Note 299]

Inuit organizations, however, are negatively affected by federal budget cuts to their core funding, which reduce their capacity to conduct research and initiate projects. Pauktuutit, for example, recently contacted the Prime Minister of Canada to express concerns about their diminished capacity, and "the independent voice of Inuit women being systematically excluded from representation at tables that develop the policies that directly affect them." [Note 300] As well as core funding to support their organizations' daily operations and basic programming, ITK and Pauktuutit seek greater federal recognition of Inuit priorities as distinct from those of other Aboriginal peoples, and have requested that the federal government develop Inuit-specific programs and policies to meet these needs.

The Prime Minister's Northern Strategy Framework announcement in December 2004 provides funding to address some areas of Inuit concern. ITK expressed satisfaction that the Northern Strategy Framework recognizes Inuit and the North for their vital role in creating Canadian identity, and for its promise to help northerners deal with environmental issues including climate change, environmental contaminants, and sustainable development. The Northern Strategy also includes initiatives for economic development, devolution of governance and northern sovereignty. Inuit organizations have expressed concern, however, that Nunatsiavut and Nunavik, and consequently one-third of Canada's Inuit population, are excluded from the Northern Strategy. [Note 301]

Comprehensive Claim Agreements

Historical Discussion

The Canadian Government has a long history of negotiating with Aboriginal peoples for the surrender of land. Treaty 8 and Treaty 11, for example, were negotiated with First Nations in the Northwest Territories in 1899 and 1921. [Note 302] These treaties were primarily land surrenders, however, and did not include Inuit, or provisions for resource management and regional self-government. [Note 303] When pressed by Aboriginal peoples to consult with northern communities before initiating large-scale resource development projects in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Canadian Government was initially hesitant. [Note 304] Inuit, however, were motivated by their stewardship concerns for the land and resources that they had traditionally used and occupied, and established political organizations to lobby the federal government for rights to land and regional government in the early 1970s. [Note 305]

A number of factors encouraged the federal government to create policies for negotiating comprehensive and specific claims with Aboriginal peoples. These factors included the outrage expressed by Aboriginal peoples towards the Canadian Government's 1969 White Paper, the formation of elected Aboriginal political organizations to represent specific constituents, and the Supreme Court of Canada's 1973 Calder decision. [Note 306] Political organizations, such as the Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement (COPE) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), were instrumental in advancing the idea that Inuit land claims had to be settled with the Canadian Government before resource development projects could commence. [Note 307] The successful negotiations in the 1971 American Inuit Alaska Native Claim Settlement Acts (ANSCA) helped to create a model for the development of a Canadian comprehensive land claims policy in 1973. [Note 308] As the policy was being developed during the James Bay and Northern Quebec claim negotiations with Cree and Inuit, only parts of the policy were used. [Note 309] In contrast to specific claims,

Comprehensive land claims are based on the assertion of continuing Aboriginal rights and claims to land that have not been dealt with by treaty or other means. Comprehensive land claims negotiations address concerns raised by Aboriginal people, governments and their parties about who has the legal right to own or use the lands and resources in the area under claim. [Note 310]

In response to concerns expressed by Aboriginal peoples, the comprehensive land claims policy was revised in 1986. Although later Supreme Court decisions, such as Sparrow and Delgamuukw, affected the settlement of comprehensive claims, many criteria used to test the validity of claims continue to follow aspects of the 1979 Federal Court Baker Lake decision. Under the Baker Lake decision, Aboriginal peoples had to demonstrate that they were an organized society, that they had inhabited specific territory since time immemorial to the exclusion of other peoples, that their use and occupancy of the land continued to the present, and that title to the land had not been otherwise extinguished. [Note 311]

For most of the twentieth century, the federal government did not consider it necessary to secure treaties surrendering Arctic land used and occupied by Inuit. The Inuit population was small compared to the large size of the territory that they inhabited and the rate of non-Inuit settlement in many parts of the North was very low. [Note 312] Starting with World War II, however, continental defence concerns, and increased settlement and resource development, required clear regulations regarding the stewardship and ownership of northern land and resources. Although there have been complaints about the lengthy process involved in settling comprehensive land claims, all four Inuit claims submitted have been settled since the first claim was initiated in 1972. [Note 313] The four Inuit comprehensive land claim settlements are: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Complementary Agreements (JBNQA), which were reached in 1975 in northern Quebec; the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, which was reached in 1984 in the western Arctic; the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which was reached in 1993 in the eastern Arctic; and the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, which was reached in 2003 in northern Labrador. [Note 314] Appendix D of this report contains a comparison summary of the four land claim agreements.

Program and Policy Development

As well as forms of compensation, such as money and land, comprehensive land claim settlements have included legal guarantees regarding resource use and protection, and administration of local social programs and services, including school boards. Inuit have consistently requested that forms of self-government be an element of comprehensive land claim settlements. Each of the four claims negotiated between Canada and Inuit organizations has involved some form of local Inuit administrative control, like the Kativik Regional Government under the JBNQA, or an institute of public government, such as the Government of Nunavut. [Note 315]

James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement

In response to growing provincial energy requirements, the Quebec Government announced the James Bay hydroelectric project in July 1971. Beginning in May 1972, Aboriginal groups pursued injunctions to stop the project based on its contravention of their perceived land rights. Although Aboriginal groups obtained an injunction to stop the development from the Quebec Superior Court on 15 November 1973, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned this decision five days later. Rather than seeking further legal arbitration, the Cree and Inuit pursued a political settlement with the federal and provincial governments. They intended this settlement to preserve their group identity as Aboriginal people and their entitlement to land that was inhabited for millennia by their people. The Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA) negotiated the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement with the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec, the Governments of Quebec and Canada, Hydro-Quebec, the James Bay Energy Corporation, and the James Bay Development Corporation. The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement-in-Principle was signed on 15 November 1974 and the Final Agreement was signed 11 November 1975. [Note 316]

To the NQIA, this agreement represented, "practical solutions to the long-standing basic problems of Aboriginal rights, self-determination, paternalism, the obsolete Indian Act, poverty, the destruction of traditional life-styles, assimilation, colonialism, Native participation in the power structures of the decision-making process, and self-government." [Note 317] Further, Inuit saw the JBNQA negotiations as an opportunity to create regional institutions supporting their self-determination; to attain effective social services, community infrastructure, and economic resource development; and to ensure the sustainability of their natural environment. [Note 318] Through the JBNQA, the federal and provincial governments sought to create circumstances for large hydroelectric development projects, to extinguish Aboriginal land rights, to facilitate replacement of federal social services for Inuit with provincial services, and to clarify Quebec's title to the northern part of the province. [Note 319] Despite the divergence of these agreement objectives, a settlement was negotiated and Inuit expressed satisfaction with the terms. According to Inuit leaders at the time, the JBNQA was successful because it recognized Aboriginal governance rights and because it, "extinguishes existing rights which were vague and unrecognized and replaces them with tangible benefits and clearly defined rights, based on the present and future needs of the Native population." [Note 320]

The JBNQA and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA), which was signed with the Naskapi First Nation in 1978, granted $230 million in compensation for the extinguishment of Inuit, Cree and Naskapi land rights. They retained ownership of 14,000 square kilometres and exclusive hunting and trapping rights to 150,000 square kilometres. [Note 321] Makivik Corporation was created through the JBNQA to administer the funds and terms of the settlement on behalf of its beneficiaries, who are Inuit living north of the 55th parallel in the Province of Quebec. [Note 322] The JBNQA also created the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik Regional Development Corporation, the Kativik Regional Health and Social Services Council, and the Kativik School Board. Together, these institutions administer community services and programs in Nunavik, including a regional police force. [Note 323]

The JBNQA is Canada's first modern comprehensive land claim settlement because it goes beyond the surrender of land rights and establishment of Aboriginal reserves, to provide a comprehensive framework for the creation of Nunavik's regional governance and economic development. The JBNQA preserves land and resource access for traditional Aboriginal pursuits including hunting, fishing and trapping, as well as providing regulations, primarily under provincial authority, for regional program delivery in the areas of education, healthcare, justice and policing, environmental sustainability and the economy. [Note 324] As negotiations for the JBNQA and the early development of Canada's comprehensive land claims policy were nearly simultaneous, much of the land claim policy found in the JBNQA was written during the negotiation process. The success of the JBNQA had significant influence on subsequent land claim negotiations and settlements, including the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

The comprehensive land claims process was revised in 1986, based on the federal government commissioned Coolican Report. The report recommended that claims settlement be viewed, "as negotiation of a social contract balancing the needs and rights of aboriginal societies with those of governments so as to ensure certainty of land ownership and development of land and resources." [Note 325] Rather than blanket extinguishment of Aboriginal rights and titles through land claims, amendments to the process created opportunities for Aboriginal participation in resource development decision-making, protection of wildlife and the environment, and selfgovernment. [Note 326] Revisions to the comprehensive claims policy, however, have resulted in further JBNQA negotiations, based on Nunavik Inuit concerns about the agreement's implementation and requests for increased autonomy in their regional government. Since the original JBNQA was reached, for example, at least ten complementary agreements have been negotiated. Additionally, in 2002, Makivik Corporation, who represent Inuit of Northern Quebec, signed an Agreement-in-Principle with the federal government regarding the Nunavik Inuit Marine Region. This agreement involves a Nunavik Inuit claim to offshore islands, waters and ice central to Inuit wildlife harvesting practices in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay. [Note 327]

Inuvialuit Final Agreement

In 1970, several large oil deposits were discovered off the northern shore of the Northwest Territories in the Beaufort Sea. Canada was experiencing an energy crisis in the early 1970s and oil companies, supported by the Canadian Government, were anxious to begin extractions.

Canada proposed to construct a pipeline to bring oil from the mouth of the Mackenzie River south to Alberta. In response to Aboriginal peoples' vocal opposition to the pipeline and oil exploration, the Canadian Government set up an inquiry to determine the scope and potential validity of Aboriginal land rights and environmental concerns. Justice Thomas Berger was selected to conduct the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, which lasted from 1974 to 1976. During the inquiry, Berger visited many Aboriginal communities to consult with people regarding their pipeline construction concerns. [Note 328] In conclusion, Berger stated that no pipeline should be constructed for at least ten years, and that before resource development commenced Aboriginal peoples right to their land and their right to self-determination as a people must be recognized. According to Berger, "intrinsic to the settlement of native land claims is the establishment of new institutions and programs that will form the basis for native self-determination." [Note 329]

Bolstered by the Berger Inquiry's confidence in their claim, COPE submitted the "Inuvialuit Nunangat" land claim in May 1977 on behalf of the 2,500 Inuvialuit inhabiting the western Arctic. COPE sought to reach a settlement with the federal government to ensure maintenance of their rights in response to offshore oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea, which had begun a year earlier. COPE also wanted their claim settled before expiration of the ten-year moratorium on the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline construction. Inuvialuit were intent on ensuring ownership of northern land, including subsurface rights, and hence rejected parts of land claim models used successfully in Alaska and northern Quebec for their negotiations. [Note 330]

Similar to the JBNQA, however, COPE identified three categories of land within their claim, and requested specific rights of ownership, access and consultation for non-Inuit use associated with each group. [Note 331] COPE was only willing to extinguish land rights within their claim and requested a percentage of future oil and gas royalties from development projects in all regions of the western Arctic. The four main goals of the COPE land claim submission were the preservation of traditional Inuvialuit culture, to ensure a role for Inuvialuit in future economic development in the western Arctic, to maintain the sustainability of the western Arctic land and resources, and to receive adequate compensation for any extinguishment of their land rights. [Note 332]

Within a year, COPE had negotiated the basic tenets of a settlement agreement that met their objective of "fair compensation or benefits in exchange for the extinguishment of Inuvialuit land rights." [Note 333] The agreement, however, only included about half the land claimed by Inuvialuit and specifically excluded provisions for regional Inuit government. The Inuvialuit Land Rights Settlement Agreement-in-Principle was signed by COPE, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the Government of Canada in 1978, and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement was signed in 1984 following six further years of settlement negotiations. The Final Agreement includes provisions for hunting, trapping, fishing, burial grounds, settlement privileges, carving-stone rights, resource-revenue sharing, subsurface resource rights, real property interest, control of education, language, social-welfare facilities, policing and game management. This agreement was the first settlement reached between Inuit and the Canadian Government using the comprehensive land claim policy implemented in the mid-1970s. [Note 334]

Nunavut Land Claims Agreement

According to ITK, their claim to create a northern Inuit territory was motivated by several factors, including significant cultural, social and economic differences between southern and northern communities that required recognition in federal and territorial political representation; the need to ensure their stewardship of natural resources; to address the physical remoteness of their territorial government, which was centred in Yellowknife; to create political structures with the authority to achieve Inuit-defined objectives for social and economic development; and to ensure a formal understanding with the federal government regarding Inuit rights. [Note 335] In proposing a system of governance for Nunavut, ITK rejected the regional government model used in the JBNQA because it ascribed Inuit only limited administrative authority. ITK wanted to create a political system for the territory that included rights and responsibilities similar to those possessed by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and within the federal system. [Note 336]

In 1972, ITK initiated a study to determine the history of land and resource use in the North. The objective of the study was to demonstrate the potential scope of Aboriginal title to land in the western and eastern Arctic. In 1976, Milton Freeman Research completed the three volume report, which was funded by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and monitored by ITK. As well as demonstrating long-term Inuit land use across the North, the study's conclusions formed the geographic basis for the new territory's boundaries. [Note 337] In 1976, ITK submitted a comprehensive land claim proposing to divide the NWT and create a territory called Nunavut, which means "Our Land" in Inuktitut. This proposal involved a region two million square kilometres in size, with Inuit proposed to own surface rights to over 650,000 square kilometres, and collecting royalties on subsurface extractions over the whole region. Initially, the proposal included land well into the western Arctic. Development projects in the Beaufort Sea and the possibility of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline construction, however, caused the Inuvialuit to launch a separate claim in the western Arctic, which was negotiated by COPE. Consequently, ITK withdrew and then resubmitted its land claim in 1977, after further consultation with northern communities. Under the revised proposal, Nunavut would be an eastern Arctic territory. [Note 338]

Rather than negotiating the Nunavut land claim, ITK encouraged the three eastern Arctic regional Inuit organizations, the Kivalliq, Qikiqtani and Kitikmeot Inuit Associations, to create a representative organization authorized to negotiate a comprehensive land claim agreement on their behalf. Subsequently, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was created in 1982 with the specific mandate to negotiate the Nunavut land claim. The same year, Inuit in the Northwest Territories voted on the proposal to divide the territory and create Nunavut. Across the North, 56% voted in favour of the division, although the approval rate was significantly higher in the eastern Arctic where Inuit comprised 85% of the population. [Note 339] The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement-in-Principle was signed in 1990, and the Final Agreement was signed and adopted by parliament in 1993. [Note 340] To administer the terms of the settlement on behalf of 17,500 Inuit in the eastern Arctic, the TFN became Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. [Note 341] The Nunavut Territory and Government of Nunavut came into official existence on 1 April 1999. [Note 342]

Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement

The success of the Inuvialuit Land Claim Agreement and the JBNQA encouraged the LIA to submit a similar claim in 1977, which was designed to ensure their stewardship of natural resources and to provide an opportunity for their self-government. [Note 343] The LIA filed their claim, "A Statement of Claim to Certain Rights in the Land and Sea-Ice in Northern Labrador," with the Government of Canada, requesting a comprehensive land claim settlement that would include an Inuit regional government. [Note 344]

The Labrador Inuit signed a Framework Agreement in November 1990, and a land claim Agreement-in-Principle with the federal government and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in June 2001. Unlike other northern regions, where economic and resource development was managed by co-operative businesses, the LIA created the Labrador Inuit Development Corporation (LIDC) in 1982 to manage natural resource use in Nunatsiavut ("Our Beautiful Land"), including organizing commercial caribou hunting, commercial fishing, tourism, and the mining of minerals, such as labradorite. [Note 345] The LIDC also sponsored affiliate organizations, which administer programs for housing, health services, fisheries and wildlife management, communications, employment, substance abuse counselling and rehabilitation, and cultural programs. [Note 346]

Within the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area, 15,800 square kilometres is set-aside as Labrador Inuit Lands. While their land claim settlement gives Inuit some control over the lands in their settlement area, Inuit have nearly total control over the surface, and some control over the subsurface, of the Labrador Inuit Lands. The regional government created through their land claim, the Nunatsiavut Government, controls the access, use and future development of the Labrador Inuit Lands, and has management of the animal and plant resources in the region. [Note 347] Along with the LIDC, the Nunatsiavut Government administers some terms of the land claim agreement. The federal and provincial governments provide funding to the Nunatsiavut Government, and continue to operate their programs and services in the region. The agreement was initialled on 29 August 2003, ratified by Labrador Inuit in May 2004, and passed by the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly on 6 December 2004. Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the LIA signed the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement on 21 January 2005, and it was given Royal Assent in June 2005. [Note 348]

Ongoing Concerns

Aboriginal peoples have identified several concerns with the comprehensive land claims process, including the length of time involved and the belief that the federal government is in a conflict of interest position by conducting negotiations which they are themselves a party. Aboriginal peoples have requested that management of the comprehensive land claims process be transferred to a body independent from the government, if not completely, at least for monitoring purposes. Issues arising from the land claim settlements, such as the Inuvialuit and Nunavik requests for forms of regional government, and Nunavut's concerns about federal implementation funds, continue to occupy comprehensive claims negotiators. [Note 349] The recently released report by Thomas Berger (Conciliator on the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement), for example, discusses the need for increased federal funding to implement Article 23. Berger states that employment of Inuit at representative levels (85%) in the public service will not be achieved unless the education system is re-designed to increase the number of bilingual (Inuktitut and English) speaking high school and post-secondary graduates in Nunavut. [Note 350]

Resulting from concerns regarding the implementation of their land claims, Aboriginal peoples held a conference in Ottawa that led to the 2004 formation of the Land Claims Coalition. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and Makivik Corporation are members of the coalition, along with other Aboriginal peoples who have concluded comprehensive land claims with the federal government. The coalition represents a united Aboriginal voice in requesting that the federal government actively implement terms of comprehensive land claim settlements. The coalition seeks, "recognition that the Crown in right of Canada, not the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, is party to our land claims agreements and self-government agreements," and seeks involvement of the government as a whole in implementing their land claims. [Note 351] Additionally, the coalition requests that the Government of Canada commit to achieving the "broad objectives" of the land claims, such as economic development and self-government, rather than treating the claims as contracts with "narrowly defined obligations." [Note 352]

Aboriginal women have expressed concerns related to the negotiation and settlement of comprehensive land claim agreements. Notably, Aboriginal women have no specific role in the claims negotiation process, unless they are invited to participate by the Aboriginal claims negotiation body. The land claims' focus on large-scale non-renewable resource development projects precludes negotiation of support for community-based businesses. Additionally, implementation of the large-scale projects, which are more likely to suit the interests, educational focus, and family situation of men, have not sufficiently addressed the social and cultural concerns that are fundamental to the sustainable development of Aboriginal communities. These issues include the cultural disintegration and resulting social problems associated with family members working out of the community for long periods of time, as well as inadequate provisions for support of housing, healthcare, education and community development. [Note 353]

The settlement of the four Inuit comprehensive land claims has created opportunities for land claim beneficiary corporations and the regional Inuit governments established through the land claims to begin focusing their efforts on contemporary issues that negatively affect Inuit communities. Some of the issues that Inuit organizations have asked the federal government to take action on include chronic housing shortages, environmental contamination of country food resources, climate change, and creating permanent employment opportunities for Inuit. [Note 354]


Historical Discussion

Until the 1940s, most Inuit lived in dwellings made from the natural resources available to them and constructed to suit their seasonally nomadic way of life. This architecture involved small houses prized for their portability and construction ease, such as skin tents, and houses made from sod, snow and wood. The construction material and size of houses, relative to average number of inhabitants, however, meant that sanitary conditions were difficult to maintain and that post-contact diseases, like influenza, spread quickly once introduced to a home. [Note 355]

The establishment of missionary, Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) posts starting in the nineteenth century, as well as Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites in the 1940s, created opportunities for Inuit access to commercial goods, and later to medical facilities and to schools. Consequently, many Inuit made regular trips to these posts as part of their seasonal migration patterns, making post personnel increasingly aware of Inuit housing conditions. [Note 356] The government continued to advocate for the maintenance of traditional Inuit subsistence practices until 1950. Yet, by the 1940s the increasing presence of Inuit at government posts, criticism from American defence personnel stationed at DEW Line sites regarding Inuit health and housing, concerns over Canadian sovereignty of the North, and difficulties in administering health and welfare to the dispersed Inuit population, prompted the Canadian government to initiate Inuit housing programs. During the mid-twentieth century, housing was one facet of the federal government's "northern vision," which had an objective of overall northern development, including extraction of non-renewable resources and addressing sovereignty concerns. [Note 357]

What the federal government perceived as a pragmatic approach to Inuit housing involved designing and testing homes that fit the federal government's budget and included characteristics "appropriate" to a traditional Inuit way of life, such as portability, low cost and heat efficiency. [Note 358] Housing designs selected for use in the North were often restricted by transportation difficulties, including few roads and a lack of airport runway infrastructure. As well, the high cost of transport for building materials like wood, aluminium, steel and insulation fabric, and the fuel required to heat the homes, were concerns for the government. [Note 359] In 1956, for example, the government initiated a pilot program at Cape Dorset to build igloo style housing with wooden floors and six-inch thick styrofoam walls and ceilings. [Note 360]

A more popular housing structure tested by the government -the "rigid digit" -was made from plywood sheeting with a pitched roof, insulated with rock wool batting and covered with a polyethylene vapour barrier. This structure was a single 16 by 16 foot room, making it slightly larger in size than traditional Inuit skin tents and igloos. The rigid digit was field tested in Iqaluit during the winter of 1958 and 1959, before 125 units were constructed in 14 northern communities during the summer of 1959. The Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources considered the rigid digit to be transitional housing—somewhere between the size and durability of a skin tent or igloo and southern Canadian housing standards. The total cost of each rigid digit unit was $500, making construction of many units attractive for the federal government within communities across the Arctic. [Note 361]

Experiments in designing Inuit-style housing were discontinued during the 1950s as more Inuit became sedentary and the need for portable housing declined. In addition, none of the housing styles tested by the government were able to provide the necessary levels of cost efficiency and durability. As the number of civil servants expanded throughout the North during the 1950s, the government was required to provide more southern-style, pre-fabricated two bedroom houses, complete with plumbing and hydro for its employees. These homes were located in neighbourhoods separate from Inuit homes and were in sharp contrast to the size and construction quality of Inuit housing. The discrepancies in housing prompted criticism, particularly from government employees engaged to provide education and health services for Inuit. Although the homes constructed for Inuit by the federal government were modeled on traditional Inuit housing, they did not accommodate the southern standards of hygiene and spatial use expected by civil servants sent from Ottawa to administer Inuit welfare. [Note 362]

To address these concerns, in 1959 the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources initiated a large-scale Inuit housing program, called the Eskimo Housing Loan Program. Although this program provided approximately 1,200 housing units, it lacked the research and planning necessary to meet the unique housing requirements of the North. The houses, called "matchbox" structures, were designed and tested in Ottawa and, therefore, did not accommodate some aspects of Inuit culture, like providing indoor space to cut seal meat. [Note 363] The goal of the program was to provide Inuit with adequately sized homes that could be affordably heated. Some perceived the program as a, "strategic opportunity for Eskimo people to gain experience in new forms of social organization necessitated by settlement living and the influences of modernization." [Note 364] Both the cost of the houses and the cost of heating were prohibitive to many Inuit, and although some Inuit purchased homes on payment schedules, many defaulted. For most Inuit families, these homes were too small and, over time, demonstrated construction methods and materials that were inappropriate for the northern climate. Many Inuit did not have experience with money or monthly mortgage payments, and lacked the funds required to maintain utility services like heat and hydro. [Note 365]

In the early 1960s, the government developed a more comprehensive housing initiative, called the Eskimo Rental Housing Program, with rents scaled to real income. Under this program, housing stock constructed under the Eskimo Housing Loan Program was re-administered as rental housing and included fuel, electricity and furniture. Houses constructed under this program were generally larger than those constructed through previous programs and included the three-bedroom "Urquaq" model. The rental housing initiative was targeted mainly to communities in the eastern Arctic and in particular, the communities of Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit) and Baker Lake. [Note 366] As more Inuit moved to communities from the land, overcrowding in federally-constructed housing became a concern. Studies conducted in 1964 and 1965 showed correlations between high rates of infant mortality and respiratory disease caused by overcrowding and unsanitary housing. During the 1960s, the federal government's goal was for all Inuit to have housing within communities by 1971. [Note 367] Federal housing tenants were required to participate in a four-stage adult education program designed to assist Inuit in adjusting to life in their new homes. [Note 368] The program was designed to help Inuit anticipate aspects of the transition to government housing, instruct them in safety precautions and in their responsibilities as tenants, assist them in developing local tenants' associations, and provid continuing education in community governance. The long-term program objective was to develop Inuitrun housing authorities and to have families apply their monthly rent towards the purchase of their home. [Note 369]

During the 1960s, Inuit increasingly settled in permanent communities throughout the North using the federal government's housing initiatives to rent or purchase homes. Community residence allowed children to attend school while living with their parents, rather than in a residential school or hostel, and ensured that Inuit had access to medical and other social services provided in communities. A study by the Department of National Health and Welfare indicated a marked decrease in digestive, respiratory and skin diseases in the years immediately following Inuit settlement in government-constructed homes. [Note 370] The cultural changes in the transition to government housing, however, required quick acculturation by Inuit. This led to drastic changes in their lifestyle and new health problems, like diabetes. Chronic unemployment for Inuit settled in communities led to increases in other social problems, including alcoholism and drug abuse, physical abuse among family members, and depression and high suicide rates. [Note 371]

Although policies and programs, such as the 1967 Territorial Ordinance (which was renamed the Territorial Purchase Program) and the 1968 Northern Rental Purchase Program, attempted to provide sufficient amounts of affordable housing for residents of the NWT, Inuit continued to experience inadequacies of supply and design in the housing provided for them. [Note 372] In the early 1970s, Inuit objected to the obvious discrepancies in the size and design qualities of their homes compared to the federal government's staff housing, and were supported in their request for better housing by the members of Parliament from the Northwest Territories (NWT). [Note 373] Historically, the construction of homes in the North has been adversely affected by the high cost of transporting construction materials, extreme weather conditions, the short construction season, and the small number of people experienced or trained in construction available for employment on these projects. [Note 374] By the 1990s, there were still widespread issues with the size, design, quality, cost and availability of houses in northern communities. These issues largely resulted from extremely high construction costs and the difficulties of providing utilities in the North, as well as two unique housing concerns. These concerns are the shortage of government subsidized public housing and the availability of subsidized staff housing for employees of the federal and territorial civil service.

Program and Policy Development

Housing Availability

The high cost of construction in the North is prohibitive to many Inuit wishing to purchase homes or to construct their own homes. Despite home ownership initiatives by the federal government, chronic high rates of unemployment in the North mean that few Inuit are able to take advantage of such opportunities. Consequently, many Inuit rent homes that were constructed since the 1960s as federal government housing projects. Tenants leasing government-subsidized public housing units pay rent on a sliding scale, and monthly costs for utilities are included in the rent or are also subsidized. Tenants of privately leased dwellings, however, pay market value for their monthly rent and their utilities. High rates of unemployment in northern communities mean that many families cannot afford market value rents or the cost of utilities, causing long waiting lists for subsidized housing in the North. In addition, the construction of homes in the North has never kept pace with the rapid population growth, further contributing to the public housing waiting list. [Note 375]

Housing construction in Labrador Inuit communities has caused similar concerns, as houses built in the 1960s and 1970s were deficient in their design and could not adequately withstand the northern climate. Without major renovations to ensure structural integrity, many of these houses lasted only 20 years. [Note 376] In 1977, there were thirteen Inuit communities in northern Quebec. A survey of housing conducted for the federal government determined that homes in many of these communities did not have electricity, or facilities for sewage disposal, indoor plumbing, or running water. Additionally, a significant number of homes were considered overcrowded, and many homes needed to be replaced. In the community of Akulivik, all homes were perceived to require replacement. [Note 377]

Since the end of the Second World War, the federal, and later territorial, governments constructed housing for their employees. Government staff housing was required to ensure accommodation for employees upon their arrival in northern communities, and to ensure that the northern civil service could attract and maintain a highly qualified and skilled group of employees. Initially, staff housing was barrack-style or row housing but during the 1970s single-family dwellings became increasingly common. In 1972, federal and territorial staff housing amounted to nearly one third of houses in the NWT, while less than one tenth of housing was publicly subsidized. During the 1960s and early 1970s, staff houses represented the majority of homes in northern communities with electricity, running water and sewage disposal. Throughout the NWT, rent and the costs for utilities were subsidized for staff housing, causing resentment among Inuit, who were often least eligible for this housing, but were possibly also ineligible for publicly subsidized housing if they had steady employment in the civil service. [Note 378]

Housing Design

The housing designs and divisions of space in early Inuit homes were based on patterns of family activity common to southern Canada, and did not necessarily reflect Inuit spatial needs for activities such as preparing country foods, repairing hunting and transportation equipment, and entertaining. Boiling was a common method of Inuit food preparation, and it created high levels of condensation in homes, leading to iced windows, and warped walls and floors. Federal housing administrators voiced concerns about hygiene and maintenance based on Inuit use of rooms and amenities within their homes. In particular, housing authorities objected to Inuit using bathtubs for storing fresh meat, and to the use of kitchens and living rooms for butchering animals, preparing hides, and maintaining boat and skidoo motors. [Note 379]

Anthropologist Peter Dawson's 2003 study of space syntax in Inuit homes demonstrates the need to create Inuit-specific housing designs that recognize the significance of maintaining extended family cohesion through the use of large spaces for both shared and individual activities. Such ideals of spatial use encourage traditional cultural values of family solidarity, reciprocal assistance, and traditional renewable resource harvesting activities. Through his fieldwork, Dawson recorded Inuit concerns about housing design including small room size, lack of storage space, dislike of multi-story houses, and failure of houses to stand-up to extreme climatic conditions. As housing designs in northern communities are usually still modelled on southern Canadian ideals of family spatial use, Inuit often modify their homes in a number of ways to improve efficiency of heating and water use; to improve safety; and to more closely approximate families' traditional use of open, rather than divided, domestic space. [Note 380]

Housing Policy

Beginning in 1971, housing programs for Inuit in the NWT were provided under the National Housing Act, and were jointly funded by the federal government's Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the territorial government. Housing in the NWT was initially provided through a public housing program, and these units were intended for lease to low-income individuals or families. [Note 381] Early in 1974, however, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation assumed responsibility from the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) for managing the NWT Public Housing Program. Rather than just providing housing for those with low incomes, the territorial mandate of the NWT Housing Corporation was to ensure that all residents of the NWT had access to adequate housing. [Note 382]

In 1999, with the creation of Nunavut Territory, the Nunavut Housing Corporation assumed responsibility for housing administration in the eastern Arctic. The NWT and Nunavut Housing Corporations are publicly owned with main offices supported by regional and local offices in communities across the Arctic. The Corporations are accountable to the territorial governments, andareresponsiblefor maintainingexistingcommunityhousingand constructing new subsidized housing units. The majority of Housing Corporation efforts, however, are spent managing subsidized rental-housing units across the North. Between 1974 and 1984, the NWT Housing Corporation constructed 2,700 subsidized homes, and in most northern communities, the housing corporations own the majority of publicly available housing. Housing construction projects provide local employment and training opportunities for Inuit, as well as indirectly contributing to other community businesses. [Note 383]

INAC first introduced local housing associations to northern communities during the late 1960s. Housing authorities were part of INAC's 1965 Eskimo Rental Housing Program, and represented the final stage of the program's development. In many cases, housing associations were communities' first experiences with western-style local government. By 1985, housing associations existed in 46 of the 51 communities in the NWT, and fulfilled several functions, including representing tenant concerns to regional offices of the housing corporation, and implementing policies and procedures determined by the main and regional offices under management agreements. [Note 384]

In 1977, the NWT Housing Corporation created the $1.3 million Extraordinary Maintenance Program, which sought to ensure that all housing units met fire, health, and safety standards. Through the national energy crisis of the late 1970s, plans for the construction of new houses were redesigned to increase their energy efficiency. By adding porches to major home entrances, triple-glazing windows, making most windows face south, and creating unheated food storage and garage areas, less heat escaped from homes and space within homes was increasingly responsive to Inuit lifestyle. Responsibilities for sewage and water services were transferred to the NWT Housing Corporation in 1974 and were upgraded through a $12 million renovation project in the late 1970s. These programs included opportunities to train Inuit in housing construction and maintenance skills, and devolved portions of responsibility for housing construction and maintenance to local housing associations, thereby encouraging local construction initiatives. [Note 385] In 1978, these initiatives were supported by a new housing rental program, which based rent on a sliding scale and accounted for regional disparities in the basic cost of living. This was a federally sponsored program that was implemented across the Northwest Territories and northern Quebec. [Note 386]

In 1977, the NWT Housing Corporation initiated the Small Settlement Home Assistance Grant (SSHAG), which was later renamed the Home Assistance Ownership Program. This program provided funds to people willing to construct their own homes. The grants were intended to defray the costs of purchasing and shipping building materials. A program jointly funded by the CMHC and NWT Housing Corporation, the Rural and Remote Housing Program (RRHP), operated under the National Housing Act to assist families with incomes capable of managing mortgages but who experienced problems obtaining financing. The RRHP provided subsidized mortgages, low down payments, and required a commitment by the occupants that they would maintain the home. Despite the program's subsidies, by 1984, 70% of program participants were in arrears on their mortgage payments. The high default rate on mortgages was largely due to the high cost of unsubsidized utility payments. [Note 387]

Under the NWT Housing Corporation, home ownership was encouraged through the Northern Territorial Rental Purchase Program (NTRPP), which applied monthly rents to mortgages on long-term plans for Inuit home ownership. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, the NWT Housing Corporation revised its rental scales regionally, and based on income, to encourage participation in its ownership program. Many Inuit, however, were dissuaded from participating in the ownership program, as utilities were subsidized within the cost of rent under the Housing Corporation's rental program but became the responsibility of the tenant under the ownership program. Despite the Housing Corporation's attempts to make home ownership feasible for Inuit, chronic levels of high unemployment in many northern communities and the high cost of living meant that few families were willing to assume ownership for aged homes requiring major maintenance, along with the cost of heating, and providing water, electrical, and sewage disposal services. This program had largely ended by the early 1990s with about 100 of the projected 700 homes sold. [Note 388] In the mid 1980s, the Inuit Non-Profit Housing Corporation developed co-operative housing initiatives, which provided homes for low-income families in northern communities, including Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset, Lake Harbour, and Tuktoyaktuk. [Note 389]

Federally-funded studies on northern housing conducted by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation during the 1980s included field testing for various ventilation systems, construction practices, and design styles to determine their feasibility in northern homes. The feasibility studies included monitoring the effects of weather on experimental units of the Coldstream home design that were constructed in Keewatin, documenting different styles of community planning to guide the establishment of new communities or the expansion of existing communities, studying potential uses for communication technology and small hydro projects in northern communities, testing methods of waste water elimination and sewage disposal from homes, and testing methods of heating homes in northern communities. [Note 390]

Through the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, responsibility for housing in Nunavik was transferred from INAC to the Quebec Government and the Kativik Regional Government. The Société d'Habitation du Québec's (SHQ) Northern Housing Section, within the Quebec Government, and the Kativik Regional Government, with funding from the CMHC, administer housing in Nunavik. The private housing market for sale and lease is comparatively expensive throughout the North but particularly in Nunavik, where the high cost of rent for private dwellings is often unaffordable to many Inuit, given the chronically high levels of unemployment in northern communities. Hence, Inuit are frequently on waiting lists for subsidized housing, which has more manageable rents. [Note 391]

Housing availability in Labrador is similarly in short supply, as organizations responsible for administering Inuit housing have the funds to provide only one new house per community per year. The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, the Torngat Regional Housing Association, and the Melville Native Housing Association, with funding from the CMHC, administer Inuit housing in Labrador. Although the disparity in monthly rent between the private and public sector is not as great as in Nunavik, households must pay for their own utilities in the private sector, and the cost to heat homes is as high as $7,000 annually. Consequently, waiting lists for public housing are 13 to 14 years in some Labrador communities. [Note 392]

According to a 1994 report by Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women's organization, an Inuit-specific housing policy is required to provide Inuit with standards of housing common to other Canadians. Overcrowded housing, homes that lack basic amenities, and homes in poor repair have contributed to a housing crisis that, "impacts on Inuit women's health, safety, education, economic status, employment and business development opportunities, and interactions with the justice system." [Note 393] Similarly, overcrowding does not permit places for quiet study, which negatively affects school performance and is linked to high drop out rates. [Note 394] Inuit-specific housing also incorporates housing designs that reflect Inuit patterns and preferences for spatial use. These preferences include fewer spatial divisions and larger rooms with wider vision fields to increase space available for socializing and communal activities, such as preparing traditional meat, sewing and other crafts, repairing small engines and playing with children. [Note 395]

A variety of federal and territorial or provincial programs have been established to provide subsidized rental housing and to encourage home ownership among Inuit. None of the programs are available exclusively to Inuit but some programs, such as those offered by the northern regional and territorial governments, are more likely to be accessed by Inuit. These programs are listed in Table 2: [Note 396]

Table 2: Federal and Territorial Housing Programs

Program Description Program Availability
Public Housing Program; Rent Supplement Program Provides subsidized rental housing to people in need based on household income. CMHC; Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Affordable Housing Initiative This program will operate from 2001 to 2007. under cost-sharing agreements with Canada, provinces and territories receive funding for the construction and renovation of affordable housing units. Canada asked that Aboriginal people be one of three target groups. CMHC
Senior Citizen Home Repair Program Assists senior citizens in Core Housing Need to obtain forgivable loans for repairs to their home. CMHC; Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Elders on the Land Initiative Repairs or replaces units for elders in Core Housing Need who are living on the land and maintaining a traditional lifestyle. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Sale of Housing Material Packages Assists residents of the NWT who are financially approved with the transport of construction materials to their community. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Senior/Disabled Preventative Maintenance Initiative Assists qualifying people with forgivable loans to provide annual and routine maintenance for their home. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Sale of Public Housing Initiative Encourages long-term public housing tenants to purchase their rental units. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Corporate Loan Guarantee Program; Affordable Housing Quebec Kativik Component Provides two-year loan guarantees to lending institutions on behalf of developers constructing rental units. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation; Kativik Regional Government
Loan Guarantee Program; Home Ownership Program for Residents of the Kativik Region Provides loan guarantees to financial institutions on behalf of clients purchasing or repairing homes. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation; Kativik Regional Government
Expanded Down Payment Assistance Program Provides people with down payments in forgivable loans to build, to make repairs or to expand their home. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
Independent Housing Program; Provincial Home Repair Program; Home Renovation Program for Owner-Occupiers in the Kativik Region Assists low-income households with repairs to modest homes through subsidized loans. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation; Kativik Regional Government
Proposal Development Funding Provides loans to assist in the creation of proposals for affordable housing projects to the point of applying for mortgage financing. CMHC
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities Provides financial assistance to homeowners and landlords modifying dwellings to make them accessible to low-income persons with disabilities. CMHC
Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program Provides assistance to low-income individuals with the cost of improving the adequacy and suitability of their home. Also assists with the cost of converting non-residential properties to affordable self-contained rental housing units. This program is one of CMHC's "pillar programs" and has been in existence since the early 1970s. CMHC
Home Adaptations for Seniors Independence Program Helps homeowners and landlords pay for minor home adaptations to extend the time low-income seniors can live independently in their own homes. CMHC
Shelter Enhancement Program Provides financial assistance for repair and rehabilitation of existing shelters for women and their children, youth, and men who are victims of family violence. Requires that an organization, such as a municipality, be available to pay for ongoing operation costs of the building. The program evolved from the Special Purpose Housing program in 1996. The program is part of a broader initiative called "Project Safe Haven." CMHC
Housing Internship Initiative for First Nations and Inuit Youth Provides on-the-job training and work experience to assist youth in pursuing long-term employment in the housing industry, including maintenance, construction and administration. Youth must have an eligible sponsor. This program is part of HRSdC's Youth Employment Strategy. HRSDC and CMHC
Emergency Repair Program Provides financial assistance to low-income home owners with emergency repairs that are required for safe occupancy. The program is not intended to fund substantial repairs to homes. CMHC

Ongoing Concerns

Overcrowding in northern homes is a persistent problem for Inuit families. Similarly, the construction of new homes and repairs to existing homes has not kept pace with the population growth of northern communities. According to INAC's 2005 publication "The Well-Being of Inuit Communities in Canada," Inuit lack housing quantity more often than housing quality. This pattern emphasizes the high fertility rates of Inuit and the frequent instance of multifamily housing. [Note 397] The lack of housing, and in particular the lack of affordable housing, often means that Inuit families are doubling or tripling up within a single dwelling. This stress on the home is as much a concern for the physical integrity of the building as it is for the families inhabiting the home, as wear and tear on the building limits its lifespan and necessitates repairs sooner and more often. Such living arrangements also negatively impact on any social concerns that exist within a household, such as stress generated by unemployment. Overcrowding is also a factor in the spread of diseases, like tuberculosis and bacteria, including E. Coli. [Note 398]

CMHC has recently implemented several initiatives that are designed to review and improve upon its work in the North. These initiatives include the Northern Service Review Team, which was created in 2002 to assess the effectiveness of CMHC's program delivery in the North; and the Northern Research Agenda, which involved meetings between northern housing stakeholders to generate policy input, such as for the federal government's Healthy Communities objective. Through the Northern Service Review Team's efforts, a northern research group and a northern research position have been created at CMHC. The objective of these initiatives is to create stronger relationships with northern organizations, such as the housing corporations; to assess housing design and research priorities; and to provide technical advice for evaluating housing plans and proposals. [Note 399]

According to Pauktuutit and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the federal government's 1993 withdrawal from their cost sharing agreements for Inuit housing with the territorial governments, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, has had a significant and negative impact on the maintenance and availability of housing in northern communities. [Note 400] ITK perceives that the housing shortage in northern communities is a contributing factor to the high incidence of a variety of social problems, and seeks a federally sponsored Inuit-specific housing initiative that will ensure training and employment opportunities for Inuit, as well as home ownership subsidies. [Note 401] ITK, along with Makivik Corporation in Nunavik and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, have stated that there is a federal responsibility to provide housing for Inuit under Section 91(24) of the Canadian Constitution; as well as within the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Since 1993, the federal government has continued to participate in on reserve housing for Aboriginal people, yet has not funded similar programs for Inuit. [Note 402]

In 2000, Makivik reached an agreement -the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement Related to Housing in Nunavik -with the federal government, the Government of Quebec, and the relevant Inuit authorities (Makivik Corporation, the Kativik Regional Government, and the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau (KMHB)) to construct 300 social housing units in Nunavik communities. This five-year agreement was renewed in June 2005. [Note 403] Under the agreement, the federal government provides funding for housing construction to Makivik Corporation and the Government of Quebec gives funding to the KMHB to cover its operating deficit on the houses for a period of twenty years. This agreement has provided 212 new housing units in Nunavik, and an additional 56 units will be constructed in 2006. In co-operation with the Kativik School Board, carpentry-training programs have been established to provide a workforce trained in housing construction. [Note 404]

Since Nunavut was created in 1999, the Government of Nunavut, with assistance from the CMHC, has constructed 325 subsidized housing units in Nunavut communities. [Note 405] These housing initiatives do not fully address the high rate of overcrowding in the North, as 3,000 new housing units are required in Nunavut alone to make their rate of overcrowding consistent with the national average. [Note 406] Crowding is a result of the Inuit population's high growth rate and the slow rate of public housing construction during the past twelve years. [Note 407] The Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated submitted the Nunavut Ten-Year Inuit Housing Action Plan to the federal government in 2004, which requested federal intervention to provide affordable housing for Inuit. This plan reflects Nunavut's two main priorities for housing, which are to provide new housing units to address the issue of overcrowding, and to provide necessary repairs to existing housing units so that they are habitable for as long as possible. Although the federal government has yet to respond to Nunavut's housing plan, Inuit across the North, experiencing similar levels of overcrowding and housing in need of major repairs, are seeking federal assistance to improve their standard of living. [Note 408]


Historical Discussion

The Inuit way of life appeared arduous to early European observers, who reported on the periodic poor health of Inuit, including respiratory problems caused by traditional methods of heating homes, food shortages and starvation when animal resources were not plentiful, and short life expectancy with high rates of infant mortality. [Note 409] Through increasing contact with European explorers, whalers, traders and missionaries, Inuit were exposed to many new diseases for which they had not developed immunities. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and missionary societies, including the Moravian, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, provided some health care for Inuit during the nineteenth century. Beginning in 1922, the Eastern Arctic Patrol, comprised of civil servants, RCMP and medical personnel, made annual tours of the Arctic coast and islands on Canadian Government ships, outfitted with supplies and personnel to provide medical and dental care for Inuit. [Note 410]

By the 1940s, there were eleven hospitals in the Northwest Territories (NWT), nine of which were operated by missions and two that were operated by mining companies. The Department of Mines and Resources, through the Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs, distributed funding for the construction of hospitals and permanent stationing of medical personnel in Arctic communities. Yet, many communities lacked the health care professionals and the equipment needed to make diagnoses and to provide adequate responses for several serious and widespread ailments, including tuberculosis, influenza, cerebral-spinal meningitis and paratyphoid fever. [Note 411]

American medical personnel stationed at defence project sites during this period criticized the lack of healthcare that Canada provided to Inuit, particularly for infectious diseases like tuberculosis. In 1944, Canadian medical personnel in the Arctic advised the federal government that healthcare delivery required centralization under federal control, and that improvements were needed to emergency transportation. Additionally, many areas of the North, particularly northern Quebec, were suffering from a lack of hospitals. Providing medical services for Inuit was made difficult by inadequate communication and transportation infrastructure in the eastern Arctic, namely the lack of roads and airports, the lack of trained medical personnel, the cost of medical facilities and of providing transport for medical care, as well as the dispersed population. [Note 412]

Since the Department of National Health and Welfare was created in 1945, it has sought to ensure availability of medical services where no provincial healthcare is available, including isolated northern communities and on First Nations reserves. [Note 413] To this end, administrative responsibilities for First Nations and Inuit health were transferred from the Indian Health Services Division and the Northwest Territories Branch – both in the Department of Mines and Resources -to the Department of National Health and Welfare. Incidence of respiratory infection was high among Inuit throughout the early part of the twentieth century, but became increasingly prevalent during the 1940s. [Note 414] Rather than constructing treatment facilities in northern communities, the government sent large numbers of Inuit to sanatoria and hospitals in southern Canada for care. In 1956, 10% of the Inuit population was receiving medical treatment, mainly for tuberculosis, in southern Canadian hospitals. [Note 415] Between 1953 and 1964, 4,836 Inuit in the NWT were hospitalized, and 75% to 80% of them were sent to sanatoria in southern Canada. Many missionaries and civil servants in the North were critical of this action, based on the trauma that separation caused Inuit families.

Members of the RCMP and the Arctic Service Division of the federal government's Northern Administration Branch suggested that buildings in Iqaluit vacated by American Army Air Force personnel be used for a hospital. The practice of sending Inuit to southern Canada for medical treatment continued, however, because of the difficulties involved in fully staffing northern hospitals, including medical personnel who could not cope with the isolation, and the cost of transportation and salaries. Important too were statistics showing that recovery rates of tubercular Inuit were higher at facilities in southern Canada than in the North. These recoveries were attributed to the modernity of the hospitals and highly trained staff, which were more readily available in the south. Incidence of tuberculosis peaked in the early 1940s, and in 1952 it was still the leading cause of death among Inuit. By 1954, however, the incidence of tuberculosis seemed to be on the decline. [Note 416]

Another major cause of concern for medical personnel in the North during the mid twentieth century was the high incidence of infant mortality. Most deaths occurred at age two or three, just after children were weaned, and were partially caused by the inadequate nutrition of many Inuit families and inadequate housing. Beginning in the late 1940s, the government attempted to alleviate under-nourishment in children through increasing the availability of powdered milks and cereals, like pablum. Government officials in communities, and members of the annual Eastern Arctic Patrol, attempted to educate Inuit mothers in the use of these foods, including how to prepare and store them, and their nutritional benefits.

As Inuit diets were increasingly comprised of foods obtained from the HBC post, rather than primarily consisting of seal, caribou and other meat resources, general family nutrition was also a concern for medical personnel and government officials. Before contact with Europeans, Inuit subsisted on a meat-based diet. Through the shift from subsistence hunting to commercial trapping, and later wage labour, Inuit had less time and access to animals for hunting, and incorporated more carbohydrate-based foods, such as bannock, into their diets. The loss of nutrients from meat in the diet created high rates of under-nourishment, which became a leading cause of death in young children. Relocations of Inuit to regions with supposedly better resources also created nutrition problems when resources did not materialize or when Inuit were not able to adapt rapidly enough to the changed climatic conditions, and hence to the types of resources available. [Note 417]

In 1954, the Advisory Committee on Northern Development of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources developed a Northern Health Services Branch to co-ordinate health care for Inuit throughout the Yukon, NWT and northern Quebec. By the late 1950s, however, the territorial and provincial governments were taking increasing responsibility for northern health. The Department created a Permanent Advisory Committee on Northern Health to co-ordinate the delivery of health care services among levels of government, in hopes of ensuring that funds and supplies were used efficiently and economically. [Note 418]

By 1961, however, as the Inuit population continued to rise and community development at DEW Line sites and elsewhere increased, existing medical personnel were unable to cope with heavy patient loads. Northern Health Services issued funding for the construction of nursing stations and hospitals across the Arctic and in northern Quebec. In 1961 for example, a 35-bed hospital was constructed at Iqaluit. [Note 419] Provisions for Aboriginal healthcare were further centralized in 1962 with the creation of the Medical Services Branch within the Department of National Health and Welfare. In 2000, the Medical Services Branch was renamed the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB). [Note 420]

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, most Inuit lived in stationary communities. While government homes improved access to medical care, the shift to sedentary community life, as well as high levels of unemployment and nutritionally inadequate diets, led to increases in mental and other health problems, such as obesity and high rates of diabetes, depression, suicide, substance abuse and family dysfunction. [Note 421] Northern healthcare has been further hindered by inadequate infrastructure for water delivery and sewage disposal, and overcrowded housing conditions in many communities. Ensuring that elements contributing to good health, including clean water, effective waste disposal, sufficient housing and adequate amounts of nutritious food, are present in northern communities is an issue of continual concern in the North. [Note 422]

Since the 1960s, when social services became increasingly available in the North, healthcare has shifted from focusing on treatment to encouraging measures that prevent disease transmission and promote healthy lifestyles. [Note 423] By 1970, most northern communities with populations over 200 had established nursing stations staffed by at least one full time registered nurse. Systems like medivac (for emergency medical transportation) and the Non-Insured Health Benefits program have improved access to healthcare. Inuit, however, continue to experience average lower life expectancy and receive less medical attention annually than do most other Canadians. [Note 424] According to measurements calculated by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada using the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), which includes indicators of life expectancy, the HDI for Inuit increased between 1991 and 2001. The rate of increase in the Inuit HDI slowed between 1996 and 2001, however, increasing slightly the overall gap in HDI between Inuit and other Canadians for that time period. [Note 425]

In the early 1970s, personal injury and accidents were the leading causes of death among Inuit, followed by infant mortality and cardiovascular diseases. Causes of injury and accidents included firearms, drowning, motor vehicle accidents and fires. Alcohol was a factor in approximately 45% of violent or accidental deaths. The high rate of violence, accidents and injuries (including suicides) were attributed to factors including high unemployment, few educational opportunities, overcrowded housing and alcoholism in northern communities during the 1970s. The Northwest Territories Department of Social Services established an Alcohol and Drug Co-ordinating Council in 1973 to monitor and co-ordinate rehabilitation and treatment programs administered throughout the territory. Statistics from 1981 demonstrate that violence, accidents, and injuries continued to negatively affect Inuit communities, and caused 40% of Inuit deaths. [Note 426]

By 1990, the leading causes of death among Inuit were injury and poisoning, cancer, circulatory system diseases, respiratory diseases, diseases of the digestive system, infectious and parasitic diseases, and nutritional and metabolic diseases. Within the category of injury and poisoning, the major causes of mortality were motor vehicle accidents, firearms, drowning, fire, overdoses, exposure, falls and industrial accidents. [Note 427] Dangers inherent in the traditional lifestyle, as well as high incidence of alcoholism and suicide also contribute to lower life expectancy for Inuit. The 1999 NWT Health Status Report indicates that accidents, injuries, and violence are still a leading cause of death for Inuit, and often result from their outdoor lifestyle. [Note 428]

Pneumonia replaced tuberculosis as the major cause of Inuit death during the late 1960s, but was fourth by 1971. Still, contrasted with the rest of Canada, the North continues to experience higher than average incidences of infectious diseases, like tuberculosis. Between 1991 and 1999, the assessed rate of diabetes among Inuit rose from 1.9% to 4% of the population. Another study concluded that the prevalence of diabetes may be two or three times the actual rate of diagnosed cases. [Note 429] Infections of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and chlamydia also occurred at high rates in northern communities. [Note 430]

Program and Policy Development

Food and Nutrition

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the rate of newly identified tuberculosis cases declined steadily. Similarly, by 1970, the infant mortality rate had decreased substantially. Still, in 1981, Inuit infants died five times more often than non-Aboriginal infants in Canada. [Note 431] The decrease in rates of new tuberculosis cases and infant mortality was largely due to improved nutrition, access to healthcare, and better availability and conditions for housing. [Note 432]

Under-nourishment, however, continues to negatively affect northern communities where many families live below the poverty line. A 2002 study of nutrition and access to food in Nunavik determined that 55% of households exist below the low-income threshold, and that irregular economic income creates insecure access to food. Such uncertainty about food affects nutrition and health, particularly for women and children. [Note 433] For many northern communities, poverty is complicated by Inuit birth rates, which are higher than those among other Canadians. [Note 434]

Low income, the high cost of fresh store-bought food in isolated communities, and personal preference among many Inuit means that country foods continue to comprise a significant portion of northern diets. [Note 435] Foods, such as Arctic char, seal, walrus, caribou and whale, are important sources of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, yet they have also been found to contain various levels of contaminants, including mercury and poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A 1985 study of Broughton Island residents found intake levels of PCBs and mercury above the "tolerable" levels determined by Health Canada. The study also concluded that intake levels of omega-3 acids, which are believed to protect against heart disease, were consumed at ten times the rate found in the rest of the Canadian population. [Note 436] Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) has found high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), heavy metals and radionuclides throughout the air, water, land and human inhabitants of the Arctic. [Note 437] Public knowledge of country food contaminants has deterred some consumption of these resources. The shift from a traditional diet to one more comprised of store-bought food, however, has contributed to several health conditions, including increases in body weight, and heightened occurrence of diabetes, anaemia and heart disease. Poor nutrition weakens the immune system and, consequently, Inuit resistance to infection and diseases. [Note 438]

In some northern communities over the past fifty years, store-bought foods have replaced Inuit countryfoods, accordingto RusselLawrenceBarsh, "tosuch a degree thatiron-deficiency anemia, obesity, and cardio-vascular disease [have] become widespread and chronic problems." [Note 439] To compensate for the high cost of store-bought fresh foods in northern communities, the federal government has initiated services such as the Northern Air Stage Program (often called the Food Mail Program) to subsidize the cost of transporting fresh food, including milk, eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables. The subsidized cost of fresh food transportation is intended to lower the cost of nutritious food for northern consumers. In the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, however, approximately one-third of adult Inuit stated that store bought food in their communities was not adequately fresh. [Note 440]

Programs that support traditional orientations toward the land, such as the Nunavut Government's Hunters Income Support Program, provide opportunities for Inuit to reincorporate traditional food resources into their diets, thereby improving their nutritional health, and often their mental health as well. The Hunter Income Support Program subsidizes the cost of hunting equipment. A program review found that entire families often benefited from the program, as hunters took their spouses and children with them onto the land and all family members ate the country foods. [Note 441]

Healthcare Services

Similar to the Food Mail Program, which provides fresh food not grown in the North to Inuit, the medivac system compensates for the lack of healthcare facilities in the North by transporting patients from isolated communities to hospitals in emergency situations. By 1990, 10% of Aboriginal communities in Canada still lacked road connections of 90 km or less, or regularly scheduled flights, to communities with permanent physicians. Since the construction of airstrips in northern communities during the 1950s and the systematic removal of tubercular patients from the North to sanatoria in southern Canada, medivac-type systems have been integral to northern healthcare delivery. The nursing staff provide initial treatment in northern communities. They are often trained as midwives and provide many medical services (excluding surgery). Physicians in larger northern communities, such as Iqaluit, Povungnituk, Happy Valley/Goose Bay, and Yellowknife, are available by telephone to confer about patients' conditions. As nursing and clinical facilities in most communities do not provide a full range of medical services, the medivac air transportation system is routinely used in emergency situations. Medivac quickly transfers patients to appropriate medical facilities while also providing medical assistance en route. Trained paramedics staff the chartered aircraft, which are specially outfitted with medical equipment. For non-emergency medical procedures that require outside-community service, patients are flown to appropriate medical facilities on regularly scheduled aircraft.

Both medivac and non-emergency flights are funded through Health Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program for Aboriginal healthcare. [Note 442] The NIHB program is administered through Health Canada's NIHB Directorate, which is part of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada. The NIHB program provides, "medically necessary health-related goods and services, not covered by other federal, provincial, territorial or third-party health insurance plans to about 706,000 eligible registered Indians and recognized Inuit and Innu." [Note 443] Since 2002, the number of people eligible for NIHB has increased to 749,825. [Note 444] NIHB includes financial coverage for prescription drugs, medical transportation, dental and vision care, mental health counselling, and medical supplies and equipment. [Note 445] Eligibility for the NIHB program is determined through Aboriginal status. Inuit are registered by their regional Inuit organizations through the same criteria used to determine their eligibility as land claim beneficiaries under comprehensive land claim agreements. As members of regional organizations, Inuit are assigned N-numbers (or "Northern numbers"), which are recorded on cards with other personal information, such as name and date of birth, that are issued by the regional organizations. These cards are used, similar to Indian status cards, to bill medical expenses directly to the NIHB program. The NIHB program uses about 50% of FNIHB funding annually and provides a wide range of medical services to Aboriginal peoples. [Note 446]

During the 1980s, the Strategic Policy, Planning and Analysis Directorate of the Medical Services Branch developed several initiatives to facilitate the transfer of programs and services from federal administration to Inuit and First Nations community control. In particular, plans for creating Inuit programming accountability frameworks, federal/Inuit partnerships, and Non-Insured Health Benefits co-management committees were created. In 1998, a Northern Secretariat was created within the Medical Services Branch to co-ordinate program delivery for Inuit and First Nations people living in northern territories. The Secretariat assisted the Government of Nunavut in creating their Department of Health and Social Services, and worked with the territorial governments on programs for illness prevention. The Northern Secretariat is also responsible for the administration of NIHB, and for creating partnerships with the territorial governments to facilitate federal program delivery, including the Territorial Wellness Framework. [Note 447] Within Health Canada, the identification of Inuit-specific funding for healthcare, and the creation and delivery of Inuit specific programs, is an important aspect of delivering Inuit healthcare. [Note 448]

FNIHB programs available to Inuit include the Aboriginal Diabetes Strategy, the First Nations and Inuit Home and Community Care Program, the Aboriginal Head Start Program, the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, as well as national alcohol and drug abuse programs, and funding for Community Health Representatives. FNIHB funding is transferred federally to provincial and territorial governments, or to regional Inuit governments, to establish and maintain healthcare programs and services. The settlement of comprehensive land claims in four Inuit regions and the federal transfer of healthcare provision to the two territories has resulted in the decentralization of healthcare administration in Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. A result of this decentralization, and the different structures of Inuit governance under each of the four comprehensive land claim settlements, is variations in the administration of Inuit healthcare throughout the North.

In 1982, responsibility for administering the hospitals at Yellowknife and Iqaluit was transferred from Health Canada to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). The GNWT established a board with representation from across the NWT to run the hospitals. This board facilitated the transfer of management for the Iqaluit hospital to the Government of Nunavut, which was created in 1999. [Note 449] Presently, the territorial governments in the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut administer healthcare services for Inuit with contribution agreements for funding from the federal government. Responsibility for healthcare in the Northwest Territories was transferred from the federal government in the late 1980s, and is administered through regional boards within the territory. In contrast to the NWT, Nunavut has a centralized system of healthcare delivery. Healthcare in Nunavik is also provided through federal contribution agreements. In this case, the funding goes through the provincial Government of Quebec to the Nunavik Regional Health and Social Services Board. Similarly, the provincial and Nunavik governments jointly administer the NIHB program in Quebec. Federal programs for Inuit that were developed after the 1976 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement implementation are funded directly from Canada to the Nunavik government. [Note 450]

The Labrador Inuit Association receives direct federal funding to administer the Labrador Inuit Health Commission (LIHC), which was created in 1985 to administer health services for Inuit communities in Labrador. [Note 451] Labrador Inuit receive provincial health services through the Health Labrador Corporation, including hospital care and also local visits by nurses and physicians to Inuit communities every one to two months. Through creation of the Nunatsiavut Government as a result of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, administration of primary care services and medical facilities will eventually be transferred to the LIHC. [Note 452]

Ongoing Concerns

An issue of continual concern to northern healthcare is the retention of medical staff in northern communities. Many communities employ only one nurse, who handles a wide variety of administrative and practical tasks. During the 1970s, isolation, low pay and poor housing conditions often meant that the turnover rate for medical staff was as high as 86% annually in many communities. Small communities receive visits from physicians an average of nine times per year, and a 1999 First Nations and Inuit Regional Health Survey found that in 1998, only 36% of Aboriginal people in the NWT had seen a general practitioner, while 60% of non-Aboriginal people in the same territory and 77% of the population in the rest of Canada had seen doctors. [Note 453]

Since 1970, women living in communities with only nursing stations for healthcare facilities have been sent to communities with hospitals to give birth. Inuit have objected to this system, as it removes the family and the community from the experience of the birth. [Note 454] Some hospitals, such as the one in Povungnituk, Nunavik have established programs to train Inuit midwives. A successful example of such a program is Inuulitsivik Maternity, which is run from the Povungnituk hospital. This hospital was constructed during the early 1980s as part of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and has been mainly Inuit-administered, facilitating the development of culturally relevant programs. The Inuulitsivik Maternity program has been recognized by the World Health Organization, the Institute of Circumpolar Health and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Canada as an "excellent model of northern health care." In 1999, however, the Quebec Government legislated that midwives can no longer maintain sole responsibility for maternity care services in Nunavik. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services is seeking amendment to this legislation that recognizes northern circumstances, while Nunavut is creating a midwifery system based on the Nunavik system. [Note 455]

Like medical care, accessing adequate dental care is often difficult for Inuit because their communities are isolated. In the early part of the twentieth century, dental problems were rare among Inuit because their diets contained little or no refined sugars or carbohydrates. Many Inuit had few or no cavities and retained their teeth throughout their lives. With the introduction of European foods, however, oral hygiene education and care have become increasingly important issues for Inuit. According to a 1999 study, in communities where the introduction of European foods occurred in the mid-twentieth century, elderly people who maintained traditional diets had markedly slower declines in their oral health compared to younger people who had eaten store-bought foods since they were young. [Note 456] Dentists visit northern communities for several days or weeks at a time throughout the year but are often not accompanied by assistants and are not supported by the range of clinical equipment and supplies found in established dental facilities. According to an article published in Circumpolar Health, often, "whatever care is available only relieves pain, and is not capable of addressing comprehensive needs." [Note 457] This dental treatment is curative rather than preventative, and does not address the long-term dental needs of Inuit. [Note 458]

Since 1970, Inuit organizations and Inuit-run governments have taken increasing responsibility for administering their communities' healthcare, including programs for mental health and child protection. In particular, organizations such as Pauktuutit, the national association for Inuit women in Canada, have focused on educating Inuit about healthcare issues, such as HIV/ AIDS, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), family violence, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, through hands-on community based programs and educational campaigns. Pauktuutit receives federal funding for its programs and works closely with community members to ensure that their programs meet the needs of participants. [Note 459] Noted strengths of Aboriginal communities' healthcare provisions include their holistic approach; the combination of western and traditional medicine; the focus on multidisciplinary primary care to include practitioners such as nurses, doctors, community health workers and traditional healers; and the integration and collaboration of provincial/territorial, federal and local services. Continuous challenges in Inuit healthcare include shorter life expectancy, injury, addiction, family violence and illness, small community size and remote location, lack of qualified Inuit to act as healthcare practitioners, difficulties retaining qualified healthcare providers in northern communities, increase in the number of elderly people within the northern population, and a lack of healthcare funding. [Note 460]

Through its 1998 publication, Gathering Strength – Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan, Health Canada, in partnership with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, has committed to creating diabetes and tuberculosis initiatives, and to establishing an Aboriginal Healing Foundation that will develop a healing strategy to address the intergenerational health-effects of Indian residential schools. Although these issues affect most Aboriginal people to some degree, Inuit have criticized the federal government for not recognizing that their healthcare priorities are different from those of southern First Nations. [Note 461] To address their healthcare needs, Inuit have begun to focus on creating culturally-relevant preventative and promotional programs addressing Inuit health concerns, including alcoholism, suicide and family violence. Particularly valuable have been programs that address the cyclic nature of health issues in Inuit communities, such as the link between poor nutrition and infants' inability to fight infection. [Note 462]

Suicide continues to be a major cause of concern in northern communities. The incidence of suicide among Inuit is nearly six times the national average, and is particularly high among young men. [Note 463] Improving suicide rates, particularly among young people, requires preventative, educational programs, as well as programs that treat those who have attempted suicide. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is working with northern communities to create suicide prevention programs, such as the Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Katujjiqatigiit Suicide Prevention Embrace Life Council. The Council contributes to the mental, emotional and physical health and community wellness of Nunavut residents by providing education, research and statistical analysis, and by coordinating holistic approaches to suicide prevention activities. The council recruits, co-ordinates and provides ongoing training to volunteers to give them the expertise required to deliver suicide prevention and community wellness services in their communities. According to the Nunavut RCMP Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Community Policing, the Council is "generating territory wide awareness and involvement for this cause". [Note 464] The National Inuit Youth Council, in association with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, has initiated a Suicide Prevention Framework that provides recommendations for policy and program development addressing youth suicide. [Note 465] Similar northern initiatives designed to raise awareness about suicide prevention include the Makivik-sponsored Saputiit Youth Association kayak trip and speaking tour, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation's "Yellow Ribbon" campaign, and the hiring of a community healing coordinator by the Labrador Inuit Association. [Note 466]

Improving training opportunities within northern communities to increase the number of Inuit healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors and social workers, will enhance the provision of healthcare in northern communities and detract from the problem of recruiting and retaining healthcare workers in the North. [Note 467] In addition to hiring more medical practitioners, recognizing and utilizing traditional Inuit healthcare skills and knowledge will help to nurture a holistic approach to Inuit healthcare, and will make healthcare provision increasingly relevant to Inuit needs. [Note 468] Inuit are committed to the creation of a federal Inuit health policy that will address Inuit health needs specifically. Such a policy would improve tracking of Inuit-targeted healthcare funding, ensure that programs were culturally sensitive, and would improve co-ordination among federal, provincial/territorial, and regional healthcare providers. Recognizing healthcare needs specific to Inuit and the North, such as the differences in health provisions within each of the four Inuit comprehensive land claim agreements, the need to account for health concerns related to contaminants, and the need to improve broadband services throughout the North in support of a tele-health system, will make healthcare increasingly relevant to Inuit and responsive to their healthcare needs. [Note 469]


Historical Discussion

Before contact with Europeans, Inuit children were educated by adult members of their community in survival skills, such as hunting and the preparation of skins to make clothing and tents. Cultural education involved teaching traditions for food sharing, spirituality, games and oral traditions. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Moravian missionaries in Labrador, and Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries in the eastern and western Arctic, combined literacy training with their missions for Inuit. This education was usually irregular, as Inuit continued to live semi-nomadically, and was restricted in subject matter, as Inuit were often taught to read using the Bible. As with First Nations in southern Canada, missionaries built and funded residential and day schools for Inuit children. By the end of the Second World War, there were four residential schools and nine day schools in the Northwest Territories (NWT) and northern Quebec as well as several residential and day schools in Labrador. [Note 470]

The Canadian Government maintained an official policy of encouraging Inuit to retain their traditional way of life until the mid twentieth century, and was, therefore, reluctant to increase funding for missionary societies or to take a larger role in developing a federal system of education in the North for an Inuit population that continued to live semi-nomadically. The government was concerned that educated Inuit would not be satisfied to continue in their traditional way of life, and that children educated in residential schools would not learn necessary survival skills. Missionaries and American army personnel stationed in the Canadian North during the 1940s, were critical of the government's policy for Inuit education, and perceived it to be short sighted in failing to provide basic education. Missionaries used the education systems for Inuit in Alaska and Greenland as examples of what the Canadian Government should develop for Inuit. By the mid-1950s, about one in fifteen Canadian Inuit were literate. [Note 471] In 1947, the Department of Mines and Resources, through the Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs, assumed responsibility for Inuit education, intending to provide the same quality of programming in the North as in southern Canada. To this end, the Department of Resources and Development initiated a sub-committee on Eskimo Education in 1952. The dispersed nature of the Inuit population, their semi-nomadic way of life, teacher shortages, and the high cost of providing staff, supplies and facilities, created difficulties for government administrators in developing an effective system for Inuit education. [Note 472]

A further agreement for federal administration of Inuit education was made in 1955 between the Northern Administration Branch of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, the Indian Affairs Branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, the NWT Council, and the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Under this agreement, the federal government assumed responsibility for all schools but agreed to partially fund church-run hostels that housed students while they attended school. Hostels were similar in purpose to residential schools but more efficiently housed the smaller Inuit student population. Although residential schools were located in several Inuit communities, hostels required fewer staff to operate and could be dispersed through more communities, allowing children to remain closer to their parents while they attended school. Hostel and residential schooling, however, removed children from their parents' care for up to ten months of each year, creating cultural alienation among Inuit parents and children. [Note 473]

In 1949, the federal government initiated a system of elementary education in northern Quebec. Since education was largely provided in English, concerned French-Canadian nationalists began instituting their own French speaking schools in Inuit communities in 1959. [Note 474] The Newfoundland government took over the provincial school system and curriculum from the Moravian missionaries in 1949, funding textbook development and setting new criteria for teacher qualifications. Although many schools maintained some religious orientation, the provincial funding and administration meant more and better equipped facilities, increased student enrolment, and standardized expectations for student learning. [Note 475]

Initially, the federal system for northern education adopted curriculum standard in southern Canada. This meant that the subjects and topics covered, and the methods of instruction, were unfamiliar to Inuit and required Inuit to learn English through the vocabulary for foreign cultural references, such as the traffic lights and cornfields that were presented in their textbooks. [Note 476] Inuit also experienced difficulty maintaining motivation to learn in a "school system [that] attempted to introduce them to a value system that stressed individual achievement, advancement and self-discipline in return for future rewards." [Note 477] Inuit culture was present-oriented and sensitive to the maintenance of community relations, making acculturation to such individualistic and long-term concepts difficult. As well as requesting more culturally sensitive curricula, Inuit expressed interest in programming that would educate adults and would help parents to understand the government's goals for their childrens' education. [Note 478] Elementary school teachers were nearly all from southern Canada, most had no previous experience in northern communities or with Inuit, and most had little or no knowledge of Inuit languages or culture when they first arrived. This situation was partially ameliorated in 1958 when the government began to train and hire Inuit educational assistants who helped classroom teachers by translating lessons and curriculum into Inuit languages. [Note 479]

Throughout the 1960s, the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, and then the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, expanded school and hostel accommodations for Inuit children and for those from southern Canada whose parents worked in the civil service or at DEW Line sites. [Note 480] A new curriculum for northern students was developed by the Education Division of the Department Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with elements such as Inuit-language booklets and the Arctic Reading Series, both of which were more relevant to Inuit culture. The Department created training programs to sensitize southern teachers to Inuit culture, expanded their range of vocational training programs, and introduced a Kindergarten curriculum. [Note 481]

Most northern employment, such as at DEW Line sites, required skilled workers. To compete for these jobs, Inuit needed vocational training. Adult education programming was expanded and vocational training institutes were developed at Aklavik, Yellowknife and Iqaluit, with programs that emphasized hands-on training for employment in areas such as nursing, heavy machinery operation, clerical work and construction. Still, some Inuit with vocational training found it difficult to obtain skilled employment upon returning to their home communities. The main employers in most communities were the Hudson's Bay Company, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Department of Indian Affairs. These employers, however, often sent their own employees to work in northern detachments rather than hiring Inuit locally. [Note 482] By 1970, only 7% of people living in the Northwest Territories had completed high school or vocational training, and 60% had received no formal schooling at all. [Note 483] This lack of training created high unemployment among Inuit, as most positions for unskilled labourers, at defence project sites and in resource development, had not been sustained past the initial boom of these industries during the 1950s and 1960s. By 1970, most employers sought primarily literate and skilled employees, leaving many Inuit dependent on welfare. [Note 484]

Education was a highly acculturative force for assimilating Inuit to southern Canadian culture, and Inuit parents had long requested changes to make the curriculum more relevant to Inuit. These requests included involvement of Inuit parents in the classroom as storytellers and guest teachers, use of traditional languages for instruction, and the incorporation of Inuit cultural elements into the curriculum. [Note 485] Successful vocation programs, such as teacher-education, which was introduced in 1969 and graduated 11 of the 15 initial participants to jobs in northern schools, provided community role models for children, demonstrating the cultural relevancy and job possibilities available to Inuit through their education. By the 1960s, the federal system of education for Inuit had resulted in increased levels of literacy, and many Inuit were making use of their southern Canadian-style education to participate in aspects of community development, including acting as members of community councils and housing authorities, and later in the development of representative organizations, such as Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. [Note 486]

Program and Policy Development

Despite federal efforts to ensure that all Inuit children between the ages of six and fifteen were attending school during the 1960s, the government had difficulty both accommodating students in remote locations, and keeping pace with the population increase of growing northern communities as Inuit began to settle in centralized, permanent locations. The government sought to construct federal schools in northern communities and to offer a modified curriculum relevant to the North, yet systemic problems in the educational services provided to Inuit continued. [Note 487] At the same time, northern teachers reported, "a persistent failure of native peoples to achieve success within the system," and expressed concern about the "extreme alienation" schooling caused for young Inuit attempting to balance their traditional culture practiced at home and the school culture experienced at elementary day schools and secondary residential schools. Further, Inuit claimed, "immense dissatisfaction" with the policies, curriculum teachers and educational facilities in the North. [Note 488]

In 1970, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) assumed responsibility for schools within the territory, and since 1972 have had an official policy of educating children in their traditional language between Kindergarten and grade three. This policy, and others encouraging the maintenance of traditional Inuit culture, have been endorsed and supported by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). ITK has argued against education systems that assimilate Inuit to southern Canadian culture, with consequent loss of their sense of identity. [Note 489] Throughout the 1970s, Inuit in the NWT perceived that the federal government was not sufficiently consulting them about the development of educational programs and facilities. In response, Inuit established the National Inuit Council on Education (NICE) within ITK's Inuit Cultural Institute (ICI) in 1976. [Note 490] The objective of NICE was to determine the feasibility of establishing Inuit-administered education facilities throughout the North, which would provide a more culturally and geographically relevant education system for Inuit children. Rather than relying on the federal government to develop educational infrastructure and curriculum, and to hire educators for northern schools, ITK sought to develop an educational program that would encourage children to attend school and would provide them with an education that was sufficient preparation for northern employment opportunities. [Note 491]

In 1971, the Gordon Robertson Education Centre (GREC) opened in Iqaluit as a junior and senior residential secondary school. As most Inuit now lived in permanent settlements, more began to rely on sources of income other than hunting and fishing, and there was concern among community leaders that traditional cultural skills would be lost entirely if generations of Inuit were educated in schools rather than on the land. Consequently, in the 1980s, as well as providing instruction in academic curriculum, GREC course offerings began to include igloo and sled building, stone carving, sea and land hunting, snowmobiling, camping, hiking, and instruction in Inuktitut and Inuit folklore. In the late 1960s, many parents, and even non-Inuit teachers, in smaller communities objected to the federal government's lack of consultation in planning to construct the eastern Arctic's only secondary school in Iqaluit. At the time, Iqaluit was the largest community in the eastern Arctic and was developing social problems, including violence and crime. Parents and teachers in small communities had requested that their own schools be adapted to accommodate instruction in secondary grades, thereby allowing youth to remain in their parents' homes while completing their secondary education. [Note 492]

In the first two years that GREC was open, enrolment dropped from 220 to 100, and there was a high absentee rate. Many GREC students felt culturally isolated and left school before completing their secondary education. Young people who did complete their secondary education often experienced difficulty reintegrating themselves to their home communities. Student testimony suggests that violence, assault, alcohol abuse and even suicide were common within the GREC residence, and parents were often supportive of their children's choice to leave GREC. Secondary schools (some residential) across the North, including those at Fort McPherson, Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife experienced similar problems of student absenteeism, high drop out rates, and reports of poor community reintegration from students returning to smaller home communities in the summer or upon their completion of secondary school. Secondary schools in Churchill and Ottawa provided Inuit with vocational and academic training, as well as opportunities to learn about southern Canada and participate in Canadian culture, but experienced similar drop-out rates. [Note 493]

In 1973, the Man in the North Project, sponsored by the Arctic Institute of North America, released a report on education in Nunavik and the NWT which called for increased efforts to incorporate community members inthe deliveryof education programs, increased opportunities for training Inuit as teachers, and better preparation of non-Inuit teachers for the culture and way of life in northern communities. This report was based on experimental studies carried out under the project in 1971 and 1972, which included community-guided education in Nunavik, an apprentice teacher program for Inuit, and educating southern teachers to prepare them for their role in the North. The goal of the Nunavik program was to demonstrate to young schoolaged children that Inuit community members did "play a meaningful role within the school curriculum," thereby facilitating their adaptation to the school culture and system. [Note 494] The apprentice teacher program provided training opportunities for Inuit that combined academic up-grading with in-service training. The program to acculturate Canadians for northern teaching focused on the culture and history of the North and its communities, respecting the significance Inuit placed in maintaining and transferring knowledge of traditional skills to young people, and providing assistance to teachers in their process of acculturating to the North. Such experimental programs reinforced the need to train Inuit teachers within their communities, thereby retaining local teachers long-term, and minimizing the discontinuity in schools associated with replacing non-Inuit teachers who usually stayed for only one or two years. According to the project's report, training Inuit teachers would also help to ensure that culturally relevant and sensitive curricula were being delivered in northern classrooms. [Note 495]

Through the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), which was signed in 1974 by the Inuit of Nunavik, the Grand Council of the Cree in Quebec, the Province of Quebec, the federal government, and various hydro corporations, the first Inuit-controlled school board was created. The JBNQA included provisions to establish the Kativik Regional Government, the administrative body for Nunavik, which included the Kativik School Board. From the Government of Quebec, the Kativik School Board was delegated authority to administer curriculum for primary and secondary education in fourteen Nunavik communities, a training program for Inuit teachers, an acculturative program for non-Inuit teachers, and a department to pursue research into educational issues. [Note 496]

Since 1978, the Kativik School Board has improved educational facilities in Nunavik, developed special needs education, created secondary school facilities and curriculum, established adult education programs, and administered programs assisting Inuit students from Nunavik who were studying at post-secondary institutions elsewhere in Canada. [Note 497] The Kativik School Board has promoted culturally relevant curriculum from its initial establishment, and developed a mandate for the purpose and characteristics of education in Nunavik. According to the Kativik School Board, education should facilitate maintenance of traditional Inuit lifeways within the community, and develop individuals capable of participating to their fullest potential as employable members of the community. The school board's objectives for education in Nunavik are that it be relevant to Inuit culture, promote standards of educational achievement consistent with those in the rest of Canada, and prepare students for post-secondary educational opportunities. [Note 498]

Although the GNWT had established a mandate to provide culturally relevant education for Inuit, by 1982 only 46 of 741 NWT educators were Aboriginal, making it difficult to provide territory-wide instruction in traditional languages. Many communities hired Inuit classroom assistants, particularly to act as interpreters, but they were not fully accredited as teachers. Since 1969, a teacher-training program had operated at Fort Smith in the NWT, and a similar program was established in 1979 at Iqaluit, with an initial enrolment of thirteen candidates. [Note 499] In 1975, McGill University established a teacher-training course – the Native and Northern Education Program – for Inuit in Nunavik. In 1982, this program was extended to the NWT. Within the program, Inuit who were classroom assistants and spoke Inuktitut fluently could complete a four-year teacher-training program while they continued their classroom work. Graduates of the Nunavik/McGill program taught many of these courses in northern communities.

The strengths of the program were its abilities to accommodate teaching schedules, and community and family responsibilities; the focus on maintenance of traditional languages in the classroom; and the input of teacher-trainers on the course and program content. [Note 500] In Nunavut, the program is called the Northern Teacher Education Program (NTEP). It is offered at Arctic College in Iqaluit but to make the program more accessible, Arctic College has also begun to offer the program among Nunavut's communities on a rotating basis. Providing the NTEP to train educators within their communities increases the employment opportunities for Inuit and ensures that rural schools have access to local trained teachers who are fluent in Inuktitut. [Note 501]

Adult education programs in the 1970s were often sponsored by resource development companies, such as the Alberta Gas Trunk Line Company Limited of Calgary, which initiated formal course and on-the-job training for Aboriginal peoples (including seven Inuit initially) in anticipation of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project's construction. A study conducted on this training program reported a low dropout rate, high morale on the job, and good relations between employers and Aboriginal employees. Instructors and trainers noted a faster and more effective adaptation to wage labour employment among young Aboriginal peoples who had attended school than among older employees who were not used to schedules based on an eight-hour workday. The Churchill Vocational Centre also provided training for Inuit in such trades as mechanics and carpentry. [Note 502] More recent adult education includes programs through Arctic College in Nunavut, which has regional campuses in many smaller communities, and offers distance education courses to allow Inuit to upgrade their level of education and skill training without displacing themselves from their homes and communities. Many of the programs offered by Arctic College are targeted to adults who wish to upgrade their skill training but do not have secondary school diplomas; or integrate instruction in traditional skills, such as sewing, with numeracy and literacy up-grading. [Note 503]

Although Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) had introduced federal funding for Status Indian and Inuit students attending technical, vocational, college and university programs in 1968, this funding was formalized in 1977 through creation of the Post-Secondary Education Assistance Program. This program was designed to support Status Indian and Inuit students with the cost of post-secondary tuition, books, relocation and living expenses. The creation of federal funding for University and College Entrance Preparation programs followed in 1983. In 1989, the Post-Secondary Education Assistance Program was renamed the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP). Funding for the PSSSP is transferred from INAC for administration by Aboriginal organizations for their members. [Note 504]

For many families in the North, even by the late 1970s, limited and often negative experiences with "formal" education meant that there was little promotion of educational achievement, or even school attendance. Having to leave home communities to attend school in larger communities further discouraged many Inuit from secondary school attendance. The turnover rate of teachers imported for employment in northern classrooms continued to be high, as teachers tended to view their time in the North as a temporary experience, rather than as a commitment to a new way of life. The Anik-B satellite television and tele-conferencing project, funded by INAC from 1978 to 1981, provided an opportunity for ITK to successfully develop media programs in Inuktitut, supporting elements of the school curriculum for selected communities in the North. Despite increased funding and initiatives to make education more culturally relevant, the level of educational achievement for Inuit students remained low throughout the 1970s and 1980s. [Note 505]

With much support from northern teachers, in 1982 the NWT Special Committee on Education tabled a report in the legislature that called for, among other changes, a provision that education from Kindergarten to grade 10 be available in all communities, with Grades 11 and 12 incorporated into programs at Arctic College, thereby facilitating development of vocational and adult education programs. The report also recommended the decentralization of boards of education within the NWT to encourage Inuit participation in the administration of northern education. Further, the report renewed recommendations to increase the use of traditional languages in elementary schools. In 1983, the GNWT amended the Education Ordinance to allow for the creation of regional boards of education within the territory, when requested by communities. [Note 506]

A review of education in Nunavik was held in 1985 through a symposium of delegates from across the region. Through the symposium the Nunavik Educational Task Force was created in 1989. The Task Force was sponsored by Makivik Corporation, the beneficiary organization for JBNQA signatories, and included representation from Makivik and outside specialists in education. The Task Force conducted community consultations and hearings to determine priorities for the future direction of Nunavik education, based on input by Nunavik Inuit. The Task Force's work culminated in the submission of a report to the Kativik School Board in 1992. Issues addressed by the task force included many issues that were of concern to Inuit elsewhere in the North: language of instruction, post-secondary assistance, student involvement in extracurricular activities, recruitment of Inuit teachers, and methods of improving the relevancy of non-Inuit teachers to their northern classrooms. [Note 507]

Three recent studies about language instruction and its use among Nunavik children show similar results: instruction in traditional languages at lower elementary grades seems to promote traditional language retention, but it makes the transition to instruction in English difficult in later grades. In particular, one study concluded that, "the shift from heritage-language to dominant second-language instruction in Grade 3 was associated with a significant decrease in personal self-esteem." [Note 508] In many northern communities, the local Inuit language is taught as the primary language of instruction from Kindergarten to somewhere between grades three and five. Unless students have significant exposure to English or French in their home, they may experience difficulty and frustration with the transition to school instruction in one of those languages. [Note 509]

Over time, levels of education among Inuit have increased, as only one Inuk from the NWT was attending university in Canada in 1980, and another four Inuit were accepted to universities that year. Between 1990 and 1999, the number of Inuit completing secondary school in the NWT and Nunavut rose from 21 in 1990 to 115 in 1999. [Note 510] Inadequate preparation for higher education at southern post-secondary institutes, and the cultural and physical isolation of living in urban cities in southern Canada has hindered Inuit completion of post-secondary studies. [Note 511] In recent years, efforts have continued to improve educational opportunities and the relevance of education in the North. The Nunavut Sivuniksavut Training Program, which was established in 1985 by the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut and is jointly funded by INAC, is an example of a federally sponsored education initiative for Inuit. Nunavut Sivuniksavut provides urban post-secondary preparation for Inuit youth, and combines courses in Inuit history, culture and politics with knowledge, skills and practical support for coping with the transition from life in isolated northern communities to Ottawa, a large urban city. In addition, the provision of federal, and territorial/provincial financial assistance for Inuit post-secondary tuition, such as through INAC's Post-Secondary Student Support Program, has made it increasingly feasible and attractive for Inuit to pursue post-secondary education. [Note 512]

Ongoing Concerns

The educational completion rates for Inuit obtaining secondary school diplomas have increased substantially since the 1970s but based on INAC's Northern Indicators 2004 and Human Development Index measurements of Inuit well-being (created using 2001 Canadian Census data), Inuit still have a low level of educational attainment compared to other Aboriginal peoples in Canada. [Note 513] There are no universities in the Canadian Arctic but Arctic College in Nunavut and Aurora College in the NWT provide a range of post-secondary programs at centralized and satellite campuses throughout the North. The colleges make use of communication technology, including tele-conferencing and e-mail, to make post-secondary education as accessible as possible to people in northern communities. These colleges have also liaised with other Canadian post-secondary institutions to provide specialty programs, such as the Akitsiraq Law School, which is jointly administered by the Akitsiraq Law Society, Nunavut Arctic College and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law in British Columbia. Such programs are often offered for a limited time period, however, and most students wishing to obtain university degrees are required to attend campus facilities in southern Canada. [Note 514]

Many areas of northern employment lack sufficiently trained numbers of Inuit to fill available positions, highlighting the need for culturally relevant educational curricula that will ensure high retention rates of Inuit throughout primary and secondary grades. [Note 515] INAC's Cultural Education Centres Program (CECP) is desgned to assist Inuit communities in expressing, preserving, developing and promoting their cultural heritage. The CECP supports the development of culturally relevant curricula that promotes improved learning environments and increased educational outcomes for Inuit students. [Note 516] Community involvement in education demonstrates to children the importance of learning and the value placed by the community on education. Involvement of Inuit in their education systems: as principals, teachers, classroom assistants, board of education members, parent advisory council members and employees of the territorial or regional departments of education, have influenced changes to the standardized curricula, such as through student-centred classrooms and culturally-based curricula. It is hoped that making education increasingly relevant to local community needs, as well as to Inuit culture and northern life, will continue to result in higher educational completion rates among Inuit. Creating more Inuit educators, such as through the Northern Teacher Education Program, provides role models for Inuit students that demonstrate the relevance of the education system. [Note 517]

Promoting Inuit dialects, including Inuktitut, Innuinnaqtun and Inuttitut, as the primary languages of instruction in elementary schools is a focus of educational curriculum development in all northern regions. While instruction in traditional languages promotes their retention, high drop out rates for students in the early grades of secondary school have been partially linked to frustrations experienced in transitioning from a traditional language of instruction to instruction almost entirely in English or French. Providing a smoother elementary/secondary transition experience for students has become another key focus for institutions, such as the Government of Nunavut, as a way of retaining students during secondary school. [Note 518] Devolution of authority for education to Inuit governments, such as in the JBNQA or the recently signed Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, will further facilitate the development of culturally relevant curriculum for Inuit youth, thereby promoting educational achievement. [Note 519]

Federal programs providing relevant employment experience to Inuit pursuing secondary and post-secondary studies support students' educational achievement and provide exposure to a wide range of future employment potential. INAC's First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy (FNIYES), for example, funds four programs to which First Nations and Inuit organizations can submit proposals. Proposals meeting the INAC program guidelines will be funded by INAC but administered by Aboriginal organizations. These programs include: the First Nations and Inuit Student Summer Employment Opportunities Program, the First Nations and Inuit Science and Technology Program, the First Nations and Inuit Career Promotion and Awareness Program, and the First Nations and Inuit Youth Work Experience Program. These programs are designed to provide mentored employment opportunities, promote the benefits of education, offer a variety of employment opportunities and give career counselling. [Note 520]

Currently, significant barriers to further increasing educational completion rates across the North are the socio-economic issues that discourage school attendance, including the high rates of overcrowded housing and unemployment among Inuit. Overcrowded housing makes it challenging to find quiet study space, and high rates of unemployment contribute to negative attitudes about the importance of education and the economic returns generated by completing secondary school. Initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life for Inuit, such as improving housing or providing employment opportunities, are likely to have indirect positive impacts on education completion rates. [Note 521] Similarly, increasing the relevancy of elementary and secondary school curricula to Inuit culture, by incorporating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) for example, will help students to see the relevance of their education to their families' way of life, and to take pride in their educational achievements. [Note 522] Thomas Berger, Conciliator in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement implementation contract negotiations, recently released a report focusing on the need to increase funding for all levels of education in Nunavut in order for the federal government to adequately implement Article 23. In particular, Berger recommended additional funding for Nunavut Sivuniksavut. [Note 523]

Economic Development and the Inuit Economy

Historical Discussion

Through their traditional way of life Inuit utilized a variety of naturally occurring mineral resources, including copper, mica, pyrite, galena, chert, quartz and soapstone to make tools, household and decorative items. Animal resources, including caribou, seal, polar bear and whale were used for food, and their skin and fur was used for clothing, blankets and tents. Beginning in Labrador in the eighteenth century, and the eastern and western Arctic and northern Quebec during the nineteenth century, explorers and whalers, and later fur traders, harvested animal resources, such as whale and white fox. Like Inuit, Europeans in the North during the late nineteenth century discovered and mined mineral resources, including coal, graphite and mica at Lake Hazen, Lake Harbour, Pleasant Inlet, Aklavik, Paulatuk, Pond Inlet and on northern Ellesmere Island. As well, the American Navy operated a mine producing graphite and mica at Cumberland Sound on Baffin Island beginning in 1875. In the 1920s, prospectors began using airplanes to determine likely mine locations, resulting in several valuable finds, including the gold mine at Whale Cove Peninsula on Hudson Bay in 1928. [Note 524]

With the drop in fur prices during the 1930s, the Canadian Government began to explore other kinds of resource development in the Arctic, including commercial fisheries and mineral extraction projects. During the 1940s, the construction of defence projects in the North created some infrastructure, such as roads and airports, and increased awareness of the region among Canadians. Increased knowledge of the North and motivation from the discovery of oil in Alaska led to increased interest in natural resource exploitation, and hence the development of mining projects. The Canadian Government facilitated this development through commissioning geological and geophysical maps of the region, funding mineral exploration and project prospecting, and financing the construction and expansion of infrastructure necessary for industrial development. According to Hugh Keenleyside, a former Deputy Minister of the Department of Mines and Resources and a Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (NWT) Council, "the awakening of general interest in the Arctic was in part the result of political and defence considerations that marked the period of the Cold War. But additional recognition of its importance came also from a new appreciation of the economic possibilities of that region." [Note 525] During the 1957 election campaign, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker proposed a "Roads to Resources" program, which funded economic development in the North and provided administrative support for the exploitation of natural resources. [Note 526]

By the mid-1950s, mining projects were operating throughout the NWT, northern Quebec and Labrador. [Note 527] Inuit, however, were not consulted about the establishment or location of mining projects. Although Inuit were sometimes employed at these projects, most positions were seasonal or part time and nearly all were unskilled. With the social and economic changes occurring in the North during the mid-twentieth century, the federal government realized that long-term exploitation of animal resources as a primary means of economic and subsistence survival was not sustainable. Instead of promoting the traditional Inuit way of life, the federal government began to focus their efforts on assisting Inuit to become wage earners. [Note 528] Organizations such as the Eskimo Affairs Committee and the Advisory Committee on Northern Development (ACND) sought to promote adult education, vocational training, and business incentives for economic development and job creation, including developing community co-operatives, credit unions and the Eskimo Loan Fund. [Note 529] The objectives of the federal government's incentives and training programs were "to ensure that the region contributes to the total national output and to the sustained long-run growth of that output," and "to raise the average level of income of the inhabitants of the region." A third objective, which pervaded general government administration of the North during the mid part of the twentieth century, was sovereignty, and hence "the maintenance of effective occupation of the region." [Note 530]

As renewable and non-renewable resource development projects expanded throughout the North during the 1960s, Inuit increasingly demonstrated a desire to ensure sustainability of natural resources through stewardship, and expressed concern about perceived insufficient government and industry consultations regarding the pace and locations of the development. During the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government intended northern projects, such as the construction of Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites and the development of mines, to provide employment for Inuit. In reality, however, many of the jobs created were seasonal or short-term, and obliged Inuit to learn English, obtain specialized training, adapt to an employment culture with which they were not familiar, and to sometimes live in work camps away from their families and communities. [Note 531]

Although federal government vocational programs had been available to Inuit for approximately six years in 1961, 57% of Aboriginal people employed in industries in the NWT continued to hunt and trap as a primary means of subsistence, while only 7.7% of mining employees were Aboriginal. As the chart below demonstrates, "the proportion of [Inuit] employed in the mining industry [was] lower than the proportion for all other industrial divisions," indicating that few Inuit received direct benefit from government funding of mineral extraction projects. [Note 532]

Table 3: 1961 Employment Statistics for Aboriginal People in the Industrial Sector, NWT

Industry [Note 533] Total Number of Employees Number of Aboriginal Employees Aboriginal Employees as Percent of Total
Agriculture 23 15 65.2
Forestry 41 11 26.8
Fishing and Trapping 1 610 1 526 94.6
Mines, Quarries, Oil Wells 992 76 7.7
Manufacturing 146 37 25.4
Construction 280 41 14.7
Transportation and Communication 643 67 10.4
Service (trade, retail, finance, insurance, real estate) 2 347 441 18.6
Public Administration and Defence 1 899 507 26.8
Industry not Stated 190 80 42.1
Total of All Industries 7 452 2 671 35.8

Inuit co-operative businesses were established in northern communities beginning in 1959, making use of the community infrastructure developed through larger-scale projects, such as DEW Line stations. The first Inuit co-operative was created in 1959 at Povungnetuk in Nunavik, and was based on the creation and sale of soapstone sculptures. The introduction of co-operative businesses in the late 1950s provided employment and business management training opportunities for Inuit. Inuit co-operatives developed a variety of resource-based businesses, including tourism, eco-tourism and soapstone carving, as well as artistic endeavours such as carving, print making and sewing. They also took advantage of the increase in fox fur prices during the early 1970s to create employment in trapping and tanning, and to market and sell Inuit-processed furs. [Note 534]

In 1959, the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources initiated an experimental project to harvest Arctic char for exportation to urban centres in southern Canada. The Eskimo Loan Fund assisted Inuit from several communities in the eastern Arctic and northern Quebec to purchase processing and storage equipment. Many communities in Labrador and throughout the North, including Cambridge Bay, Inuvik, Frobisher Bay, George River, Payne Bay, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Fort Chimo and Port Burwell benefited from government assistance in establishing commercial operations to exploit fish species such as char, lake trout, whitefish, sea trout and salmon. [Note 535] Later co-operative businesses, such as those in Iqaluit and Cape Dorset, included the sale of food, hunting supplies, gasoline, and telephone services. Cooperative businesses in the North received financial and business management advice from the Hudson Bay Company and the federal government. [Note 536] The Canadian Arctic Producers (CAP) was established in 1963 to market co-op-produced Inuit artwork, including prints and soapstone sculptures, internationally. Similarly, the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, which was located within Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, provided marketing support for Inuit art from 1961 to 1989, by compiling annual collections of high quality prints, helping to ensure that market value for Inuit art retained its worth. [Note 537]

Radio and television broadcasting became an entrepreneurial business for some Inuit in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1958, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) developed its Northern Service, which was administered from Yellowknife and Whitehorse. In 1960, the CBC broadcast its first programs in Inuktitut, and by 1972 about 16% of northern broadcasts were in Inuktitut. During the 1970s, many northern communities established their own radio stations, which broadcast local news and music but were also important methods of organizing search and rescue parties and passing messages between communities. In 1973, the first CBC satellite television programs were broadcast in the North. In 1978, the federal government launched the Anik-B satellite project, which allowed Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) to develop and broadcast television programs and provide teleconferencing services across the North. This program was funded by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada but ended in 1981 because it lacked sufficient funds. [Note 538]

Although co-operatives in renewable resource development have been a source of small business employment and skill-development for Inuit, their employment in non-renewable resource development projects has not, historically, been as strong. [Note 539] A study by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) predicting growth in the Northwest Territories (NWT) labour force to 1981, found that in 1968, 80% of jobs in the NWT were considered skilled or semi-skilled but most Aboriginal peoples seeking employment lacked the education and skill-training needed to compete for these jobs. [Note 540]

With the improvement in Inuit education completion rates in recent years, Inuit are increasingly employed in skilled positions requiring post-secondary education, such as positions with the Government of Nunavut. The federal government's procurement policies also provide incentives for private sector companies to hire and train Inuit when they are providing products or services to the federal government in northern communities. Federal departments, such as INAC and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, have worked with Inuit organizations and northern governments to facilitate the creation and delivery of training and employment programs that improve the skills and employment rate of Inuit. [Note 541]

Program and Policy Development

In 1970, the federal government ratified the United Nations' International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. This facilitated the creation of federal policies giving special measures and protections to assist the social and economic advancement of disadvantaged minority groups. Following this, the federal government released a policy statement in 1972 entitled, "Canada's North 1970-1980: Statement of the Government of Canada on Northern Development in the ‘70s." Here, the government explicitly stated its goal of assisting Inuit to improve their standard of living and quality of life through the elimination of discrimination in its hiring practices. The federal government intended Inuit to benefit from its new employment policy but stated that employment for Inuit should be, "compatible with their own preferences and aspirations." [Note 542] A 1978 study by Employment and Immigration Canada, however, quantified barriers to Inuit employment as: cultural bias among non-Aboriginal people regarding the capabilities of Inuit; an "information gap" for Inuit between the knowledge and skills they (on average) possessed and those required for skilled employment; inexperience in the workforce; low levels of education; methods of adult training incompatible with Inuit learning style preferences; lack of skills in English or French; poor health; and cultural attitudes towards work that were incompatible with the workforce culture. [Note 543]

During the 1980s, the federal government created the Inuit Economic Development Program to support Inuit business initiatives. The program provided loans and loan guarantees through the Eskimo Loan Fund, economic development contributions, and administration for the Arctic Cooperatives Development Program. The Eskimo Loan Fund Advisory Board was established to review requests for loans, and the territorial and federal governments were assigned to assess requests for guarantees and contributions. The program also provided business management training for Inuit, and was administered by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) in the eastern and western Arctic, and by the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program of INAC in northern Quebec and Labrador. Similarly, the Special Agricultural and Rural Development Agreements (special ARDAs) were designed in the late 1970s to raise the level of income and increase employment opportunities for people living in rural and remote areas, particularly Aboriginal peoples. Special ARDAs primarily supported commercial enterprises and primary production projects. [Note 544]

Mixed Economic Development and Co-operative Businesses

In his 1974 inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project, Thomas Berger identified sectors of the northern economy in which Aboriginal peoples were primarily employed: hunting, fishing, gathering, selling renewable resource based products, and business or industrial employment. [Note 545] Although Aboriginal northerners continued to participate in the economic sectors identified by Berger, they were also increasingly employed in the public service, and continued to generate income through government-sponsored social assistance programs and traditional renewable resource harvesting pursuits. [Note 546] These activities included hunting, fishing, and artistic occupations, like soapstone carving, to form a mixed economy with wage employment. Where wage-generating opportunities were available to support traditional economic activities, the mixed economy was a stable method of creating economically viable communities. Social assistance payments, including Canadian Child Tax Benefits, Employment Insurance and Old Age Security Pensions, supported the mixed economy. [Note 547] Such an economy, however, required that resource development projects not interfere with animals through altering migration routes, creating noise pollution, or by contaminating water and food sources. This economy also required support for the development of wage labour, such as through post-secondary education and vocational training opportunities, small business development assistance, and provisions for ensuring Aboriginal employment in the northern civil service. [Note 548]

By the early 1980s, Aboriginal peoples in the North were still, on average, earning less or were under-employed compared to non-Aboriginal people in the rest of Canada. Between 1974 and 1980, Inuit employment in the oil industry peaked in the western Arctic. The oil industry provided greater benefit to Inuit in larger communities, while those in smaller and more remote communities continued to rely more heavily on income from traditional harvesting and social assistance. According to Peter Usher's study for the Beaufort Sea Alliance, wage earnings accounted for no more than 35% to 70% of personal incomes across the North in 1982, and were supplemented by activities such as harvesting renewable resources, artistic pursuits and social assistance payments. [Note 549]

Nunavik and Nunavut have developed several programs to assist Inuit hunters, including support for capital investments in equipment, like boats, and assistance with redistributing the harvested meat. The Kativik Regional Government and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, with the provincial and territorial governments, jointly fund both hunter assistance programs. Distribution of country food to Inuit who cannot hunt or who live in southern Canada is a key feature of the Kativik Northern Quebec Hunter Income Support Program, reflecting the cultural significance and traditional reciprocal distribution of country foods by Inuit. [Note 550] Cooperative and commercial harvesting projects also encourage Inuit use of traditional skills and activities for cash-generating enterprises that are environmentally sustainable. Co-operative businesses provide opportunities for ownership and control of economic initiatives that make use of local skills and resources. Turbot ice fisheries and shrimping businesses, for example, have been established at Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, in the Ungava Bay of Nunavik, and in northern Labrador. Similarly, Labrador Inuit operate a commercial caribou hunt and meat packing plant, and Inuvialuit in the western Arctic have established a commercial musk-ox hunt. The meat products generated through these enterprises are marketed internationally, particularly to countries in northern Europe. [Note 551]

Like the fishery co-ops developed in Labrador communities in the early 1960s, the Labrador Inuit Development Corporation facilitated the establishment of a commercial caribou hunt beginning in 1985, which was Inuit organized and administered. The project maintained Inuit orientation to the land, as well as traditional Inuit hunting skills and practices of animal use. As Inuit conducting the hunt were also investors in the commercial sale of the meat, their commitment to producing a high quality product was a major strength of the enterprise. Successful campaigns by animal rights activists created declining markets for seal pelts in the 1980s, and Labrador Inuit experienced difficulty finding adequate methods of sustaining economic income through renewable resource harvesting. The commercial caribou hunt proved successful both as a business venture and as a community-strengthening exercise. [Note 552] Labrador Inuit continue to participate in spring sealing hunts, which are worth approximately $16 million to Atlantic Canada annually. [Note 553]

Currently, many families in the North rely on a traditional-mixed economic base that combines hunting, trapping, and fishing for subsistence and commercial purposes, with wage labour, social assistance payments, and various forms of domestic production, such as arts and crafts. This type of economy is fluid yet stable, as it allows Inuit to make the most effective use of seasonally available renewable resources or other economic opportunities, most often in the public service, in small businesses, or in mining. In some regions, such as Labrador, where the traditional economy is threatened by declining fish stocks and an animal-rights resistance to the commercial sale of seal pelts, Inuit require comprehensive government support to develop the economic potential of the secondary, tertiary, and service sectors of their economy. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report on the North recommended that "support of the traditional-mixed economy is the most effective way to promote the economic vitality of northern communities." [Note 554] To ensure sustainability of a traditional-mixed economic base in northern communities for future generations, however, an international and holistic approach to environmental stewardship is required. [Note 555]

Non-Renewable Resource Development and Impact Benefit Agreements

According to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, in the early 1990s, the two largest employment opportunities in the North were the pubic service and non-renewable resource development projects. [Note 556] Unfortunately, resource development projects, like mining, have not hired significant numbers of Inuit in skilled or long-term positions largely because Inuit have lacked education, experience, and training for work in mechanized mine environments. Regional Inuit governments and some comprehensive land claim beneficiary corporations have negotiated terms with mining companies, such as Makivik Corporations' agreement with the Raglan Mining Company, whereby mines located near Inuit communities train and hire Inuit, and support local business development. [Note 557]

Through the four comprehensive land claim settlements, Inuit beneficiary corporations have become owners of land, or have input in the management of land, with sub-surface mineral potential. In Nunavut, for example, Inuit selected land with known sub-surface mineral potential for inclusion in their land claim with specific intentions to develop mineral extraction projects for the advantage of land claim beneficiaries. Such projects will assist Inuit in developing skills and experience associated with managing mines. As with all non-renewable resource development projects, assessments are required to determine the projects' potential environmental impacts. These assessments will benefit from the region's traditional ecological knowledge, which has been gathered by Inuit over generations and incorporates knowledge of potential social impacts based on how Inuit use the land and resources. Similarly, benefit arrangements must be negotiated with all potentially affected communities to mitigate and compensate for any potential negative affects of the project. The benefit arrangements are likely to provide opportunities for such things as training and education, which are of benefit primarily to Inuit who are the dominant population of the region. [Note 558]

Through their land claim agreements, Inuit have sought to assert stewardship of renewable and non-renewable resources. The Labrador Inuit Association, for example, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Innu Nation and the Government of Newfoundland in 1994 after the discovery of a large nickel deposit at Voisey's Bay. The agreement required an environmental assessment before any mining occurred, and that the mining company negotiate an Impact Benefit Agreement with Aboriginal peoples living in the region. The assessment incorporated analysis of potential impacts to social, economic, recreational and cultural elements of Aboriginal land use in the region, and concluded that outstanding Aboriginal land claims should be settled before mining commenced. The assessment also required that benefit agreements should be negotiated with Aboriginal peoples. The Government of Newfoundland, however, issued mining permits before negotiations for land claims or benefit agreements were concluded. Labrador Innu and Inuit took legal action and successfully delayed the construction of an airstrip in the area. [Note 559]

In Nunavik, Inuit (as represented by Makivik Corporation) established a Memorandum of Understanding with Falconbridge over their proposed Raglan Mine Project in 1993. This agreement created the Raglan Committee, comprised of Inuit and mining representatives, who monitored progress on the development of the mine, and liaised between mine executives and local communities. In 1995, the two organizations signed "The Raglan Agreement," which included provisions for environmental impact mitigation; training, employment, and business development support for Inuit; and stated a role for traditional knowledge in the environmental monitoring of the mine's impact. [Note 560]

The federal government supports a number of Inuit initiatives in the development of nonrenewable resources, including the production of natural gas from the Ikhil gas field near Inuvik by Inuvik Gas Limited, a company one-third owned by the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. [Note 561] INAC is responsible for the administration of oil and gas rights on Crown lands in the NWT and Nunavut. The National Energy Board (NEB) regulates oil and gas exploration activities on Crown and private lands (including lands owned by Inuit through comprehensive land claim agreements) in the territories. Annually, INAC provides an opportunity for industry to nominate sub-surface land areas of interest for oil and gas exploration. INAC posts these nominations for competitive bidding only after consultation with the relevant Aboriginal peoples. Under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, corporations winning exploration rights are required to develop proposed benefit plans in consultation with any communities who will potentially be affected by their activity. The benefit plan must be approved by the Minister of INAC and is required before the NEB can give permission for development. [Note 562]

A 2001 report by the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy studied aspects of non-renewable resource development in the Northwest Territories. The report concluded that there is significant potential for both gas and diamond mining, which would provide employment opportunities for Inuit and associated advantages through impact benefit agreements and benefit plans. The report also expressed concerns, however, that the resource development projects be sufficiently monitored to ensure mitigation of any negative environmental impacts, as well as impacts on the social, cultural and spiritual aspects of local communities. [Note 563]

The federal government has also developed programs to assist Inuit in obtaining employment, including the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business and the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative. HRSDC, for example, has recognized the role of Inuit organizations in preparing Inuit to find, obtain and maintain employment (including self-employment) and hence, has made a series of policy commitments since 1991 that were calculated to assist Inuit organizations in designing and delivering human resource development programs for their communities. Most notably, funding to Inuit organizations for human resource programs is through HRSDC's flagship program, the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy (AHRDS), which has recently been renewed to 2009. [Note 564] The Indian and Northern Affairs' Opportunities Fund and Resource Acquisition Initiative have provided support for the establishment of many businesses by Inuit, including a northern airline, and a company performing environmental contamination clean up at former DEW Line sites and other locations. In addition, the Canadian International Development Agency has assisted the Inuit Circumpolar Conference's delivery of programs. A number of federal support programs provide funding and opportunities specifically for First Nations and Inuit to develop their local and regional economies. Several of these programs are briefly described in Table 4. [Note 565]

Table 4: Federal Economic Development and Support Programs

Program Description
Professional Development Program Assists Inuit organizations with capacity development to create governance structures, and policy and program initiatives.
Community Economic Development Organizations Assists member businesses and organizations to obtain employment and to access business development opportunities.
Regional Opportunity Program Assists organizations to identify business opportunities, with strategic planning, and with research services in identifying and assessing regional business opportunities.
Major Business Projects Program Provides business start-up or expansion funding.
Resource Access Negotiation Program Supports negotiations for commercial resource development projects, joint ventures, and impact benefit agreements.
Resource Partnerships Program Assists with the planning and development of investments in resource-based projects.
Regional Partnership Fund Provides financial assistance for participation in major resource development initiatives.

Ongoing Concerns

Statistics compiled from 2001 Canadian Census data indicate that overall levels of employment for Inuit increased with the level of education obtained. Most employed Inuit men and women have positions requiring college diplomas, apprenticeship training, secondary school certificates or occupation-specific training. Inuit men with post-secondary education, however, tended to be employed in government services, construction or transportation industries, while Inuit women with post-secondary education are more often employed in government services or education, social, or health services. [Note 566]

A 1995 survey of employment in Nunavik indicated that more beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement held permanent full-time jobs in Nunavik than nonbeneficiaries, but that, "many positions required more education than the local labour force possessed." A trend between surveys taken in 1993 and 1995 indicated that as post-secondary education became more frequently required for employment in Nunavik, rates of employment among the local labour force, namely land claim beneficiaries, decreased and levels of unemployment increased. Consequently, people who were not local to Nunavik and were nonland claim beneficiaries, were often hired for positions paying higher salaries and requiring more specialized work, while Inuit beneficiaries were increasingly employed in sectors that were lower paying and less skilled. [Note 567]

A 1996 study of Inuit employment with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) found that many Inuit joined the public service for the high salary and benefits, but also because it was the main employer in their community. An important, although secondary, consideration was working for the benefit of Inuit people. Although many Inuit claimed satisfaction with their employment, they expressed concerns about not being promoted to positions requiring more responsibility; little encouragement from their supervisors to seek promotions; lack of orientation to their jobs and the GNWT in general; and too few Inuit in supervisory and managerial positions. [Note 568]

Inuit have identified several barriers significant to the development of small business opportunities in their communities, including the small size of many communities and their lack of business infrastructure, like banks and other financial institutions; the remoteness of communities from large urban centres and the lack of road connections between communities; the high costs and taxes associated with transporting goods to and between northern communities; the extreme northern climate and dominance of the traditional language within communities; and the lack of an available post-secondary educated or specially trained workforce. Inuit are committed to developing the business potential of their communities, and have requested that the federal government ensure the creation of Inuit-specific programs and policies to assist them in overcoming these challenges. Specifically, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is seeking federal assistance in four areas to promote the development of renewable and nonrenewable resource industries in northern Canada. The ITK priorities for federal economic development assistance are federal amendments to procurement polices, which would allow Inuit companies an advantage in competitions for government contracts providing goods, services and construction; improving the ratio of Inuit/non-Inuit public service employees; ensuring that regulatory processes allow Inuit to access renewable resources for commercial harvesting; and improving international regulations to increase Inuit access to international markets for their renewable resource goods. [Note 569]

According to the premiers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Inuit want to establish economic development initiatives in their communities to provide jobs and to improve the economic and social health of the North. They are focusing their efforts on reducing the amount of money received as transfer payments from the federal government, and wish to replace it with an increased share of profits generated by non-renewable resource development projects. These revenues would allow the territories to take more responsibility for the provision of social services and government operations in the North. [Note 570] According to Nellie Cournoyea, CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, recent renewed discussions about the potential construction of a natural gas pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley exemplifies the kind of economic development project where part Inuit project ownership would result in profits for northern communities, thereby decreasing Inuit reliance on federal transfer payments. [Note 571] The territorial leaders are also committed to providing educational and training opportunities for northerners to assist them in obtaining skilled employment, and are dedicated to efforts supporting the federal government in its protection of Arctic sovereignty. [Note 572]

The historic experience of Inuit with development projects, however, such as whaling camps, the Hudson's Bay Company trading posts, and DEW Line sites, has resulted in caution regarding development without community consultation for potential social and environmental impacts. Inuit seek to be involved in the planning and implementation of economic development initiatives to ensure that they receive maximum social and financial benefit, while also protecting their traditional harvesting grounds and the ecological habitat of animals dependent on the region's natural resources. Inuit want to ensure that all community members affected by renewable and non-renewable resource development projects, including women and elders, are consulted. They desire to have their traditional knowledge of the land and its resources respected and utilized, to provide holistic knowledge of the northern environment, and to ensure that resource development projects meet their standards for community benefit and environmental stewardship. [Note 573]

Inuit Self-Government and Governance

Historical Discussion

During the late 1960s, Inuit were motivated to organize politically, and later to assert an inherent right to self-government, as they realized that the federal government was restricting their access and management of traditionally used lands and resources. In addition, federal reports and policies, such as the 1967 Hawthorn Report and the 1969 White Paper, drew attention to the social, economic and legal concerns of Aboriginal Canadians. [Note 574] In 1971, Inuit formed the national organization Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)) to lobby the Government of Canada for mechanisms to increase their autonomy, including self-government and a land claim for the Northwest Territories (NWT) and northern Quebec. [Note 575]

The 1973 Supreme Court of Canada Calder decision established that Aboriginal rights in Canada pre-existed the 1763 Royal Proclamation, providing contexts both for the settlement of Aboriginal land claims, where land had not been ceded through treaties, and for Aboriginal self-government as an inherent right. [Note 576] During the 1980s, the federal government initiated studies on Aboriginal self-government, including the 1982 Parliamentary Task Force on Indian Self-Government (Penner Report), a series of First Ministers Conferences on Aboriginal issues that were held between 1983 and 1987, the 1986 Ministerial Task Force on Program Review (Nielson Report), and the 1986 Indian Self-Government Community Negotiations policy. Aboriginal peoples, who advocated more comprehensive governing structures that recognized their "inherent sovereignty," rejected the resulting municipal-style Aboriginal self-government proposed by the federal government. [Note 577]

Although the Government of Canada had patriated the Canadian Constitution in 1982, including the addition of section 35, which recognized and affirmed Aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada, it was unclear to Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian courts whether self-government was included among those rights. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which was formed by the federal government in 1991, sought to renew Canada's relationship with Aboriginal peoples, based on "mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility." [Note 578] According to the 1996 RCAP report, these four principles should form the future basis of partnerships between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canada, and should facilitate the creation of Aboriginal self-governments. [Note 579]

While the RCAP was compiling their report, Aboriginal organizations lobbied for the designation of self-government as an inherent Aboriginal right within section 35 of the Constitution. Rather than analyzing their right to self-government through Canadian common law, Inuit asked the RCAP to consider their sovereignty from a human rights perspective. As ITK stated, such a perspective reveals inequality inherent in the common law to which Aboriginal peoples have been subject. [Note 580] ITK considers Canadian common law deficient for failing to recognize self-determination as a principle of peoples' equality and as a fundamental human right applicable to Inuit. According to ITK, "the common law recognizes the existence of aboriginal peoples but not the equality of aboriginal peoples." [Note 581]

Since the 1993 release of its Red Book, "Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada," the federal government has supported establishing a process to negotiate regional Inuit self-government. First Nations have received funding to establish governments through the Indian Community Self-Government Negotiation Program since 1986, and Inuit have sought similar federal funding to assist ITK and the regional Inuit associations in establishing an Inuit Self-Government Political Accord, and to negotiate self-government agreements with the Government of Canada. According to ITK, Inuit negotiations for self-government are distinguished from First Nations negotiations by the cohesiveness of Inuit culture across the North and their shared goals for regional self-government, including a preference for non-ethnically based government; prior negotiations of comprehensive land claim agreements; lack of policy to administer Inuit as the Indian Act does for First Nations; and no exemption from federal taxes. [Note 582]

The federal government response to the Aboriginal self-government lobby was the 1995 Inherent Right Policy, which clearly recognized self-government as an inherent right in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. [Note 583] The Inherent Right Policy also committed the federal government to developing practical agreements with Aboriginal peoples for implementing self-government structures. Aboriginal self-government structures can be ethnic governments, which include only members of the Aboriginal group, or institutes of public government, that allow for participation from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples living within the government's jurisdiction. The federal policy guide on Aboriginal self-government states that, "Aboriginal peoples of Canada have the right to govern themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities, integral to their unique cultures, identities, traditional languages and institutions, and with respect to their special relationship to their land and their resources." [Note 584]

Canada's comprehensive land claim policy was created in 1973, and then revised in 1981. In 1986, the policy was revised in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, who supported the inclusion of new areas for negotiation. Under the revised policy, the federal government agreed to joint management of natural resources and to negotiate access to offshore areas in regions of traditional use. The 1986 revisions also provided options to negotiate resource revenue-sharing agreements where claimants could receive some federal royalties for projects occurring on Crown land within the settlement region. [Note 585]

Three of the four Inuit comprehensive land claim settlements were already in place before the federal government determined in 1995 that self-government was an inherent right – The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), the first comprehensive land claim agreement in Canada, had been concluded with the federal government in 1975; the Inuvialuit Final Agreement was concluded in 1984; and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was concluded in 1993. A public government structure was proposed for Nunavut, with the same type of jurisdictional authority as the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). The governments created through the JBNQA and the Inuvialuit Final Agreement were regional, ethnically based governments and were limited in scope and authority. Since the federal government would not re-negotiate existing land claims to address the inherent right to self-government, Inuit in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have initiated processes for negotiating self-government agreements with the federal government. Issues addressed in these negotiations include protection of language and culture, harmonization of regional regulations with existing federal and territorial/provincial regulations, administration of non-Aboriginal people living within the self-government region, the transition to self-government, fiduciary obligations of the federal government, and accountability of the Aboriginal government to its members and to other levels of government. [Note 586]

The structures of government in each of the four Inuit land claim regions are different, and include both ethnically based and public governments. In Nunavut, Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, land claim beneficiary corporations were created from the claim negotiation bodies to administer and implement the land claim, while public governments were responsible for the overall management of the region. In Nunatsiavut, the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) negotiated the land claim but the Nunatsiavut Government, which is ethnically based, will be elected to govern the region and will also manage the claim. The municipal governments within the settlement region will be public governments. Devolution of provincial-like authority to the NWT and Nunavut Governments, and devolution of provincial/territorial authority to the regional and ethnically based governments will be discussed in the following section. [Note 587]

Program and Policy Development

The JBNQA and the Nunavik Government

The Kativik Regional Government (KRG) was created within the JBNQA as an institute of public government. The large Inuit population of Nunavik has ensured significant Inuit representation within the government, which is comprised of an executive committee and an elected council. The KRG has jurisdiction over issues including community infrastructure, policing, education, and healthcare; and administrational responsibility for issues such as income support, hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations. In addition to the KRG council and executive, two other bodies govern major areas of responsibility in Nunavik: the Kativik School Board and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. As well as the KRG, the system of governance in Nunavik includes Makivik Corporation, which administers the JBNQA for Inuit, both at the regional and community levels. Success of the KRG has been attributed to high levels of autonomy devolved to individual communities, which each have a municipal government responsible to the KRG. Each community also has an Inuit Landholding Corporation, responsible to Makivik. [Note 588]

In 1983, Inuit of Nunavik and the Premier of Quebec agreed to begin negotiations to create the Nunavik Government within the Province of Quebec. Negotiations, however, did not actually commence until the late 1990s. Influenced by the impending creation of the Nunavut Government and the Home Rule Government in Greenland, Inuit in Nunavik requested a tripartite political agreement and creation of a Nunavik Commission to study and make recommendations regarding the Government of Nunavik's structure. Between 1999 and 2001, the Commission conducted community meetings and solicited input from the private and public sector on the design of Nunavik's Government. In 2003, a Framework Agreement on the process for negotiating self-government in Nunavik was signed. [Note 589]

The Nunavik Government will extend the jurisdictional areas currently administered by the three bodies of the KRG, and will include an Assembly of Nunavik with members elected from each community. The Government of Nunavik will replace the existing KRG, will encompass all three elements of the existing KRG, and will be an institute of public government. Although the Government of Nunavik will operate under authority of the Governments of Quebec and Canada, the Government of Nunavik will have substantially more power than the Kativik Regional Government, and the relationship of the three governments will be renegotiated. [Note 590] In November 2005, Makivik Corporation and DIALOG Network hosted a symposium in Montreal entitled, "Nunavik: A New Way of Governing." Taqramiut Nipingat Incorporated, a Nunavik radio station, broadcast the symposium live to Nunavik communities. Symposium participants summarized the history of Nunavik's regional administration through the Kativik Regional Government and discussed the future administration of the Nunavik Government, including its potential structure and priorities. [Note 591]

The Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the Beaufort/Delta Government

The Government of the Northwest Territories included elected members beginning in 1951, and was initially administered from Ottawa. The government, along with its bureaucracy, moved to Yellowknife in 1967, where involvement of Aboriginal peoples, as elected members and as civil servants, increased dramatically during the 1970s. The GNWT is a consensus style government without partisan representation. Through their land claim negotiations during the 1970s, Inuvialuit sought to establish an Inuit-specific self-government structure called the Western Arctic Regional Municipality (WARM). Through the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) was created to administer the terms of the land claim agreement. The agreement, however, did not include provisions for self-government or regional government, and the Inuvialuit have been governed by the GNWT since 1984. [Note 592]

In 1982, with pressure from Inuit of the eastern Arctic who had launched their Nunavut land claim in 1976, the Constitutional Alliance was created to develop a process for dividing the Northwest Territories. The Alliance was mandated to select the location of the boundary between the eastern and western Arctic territories, and to negotiate this boundary with the federal government. Through the Alliance, the Nunavut Constitutional Forum and the Western Constitutional Forum were created to manage issues affected by territorial division, including developing proposals for structures of government on each side of the boundary. In 1987, the Iqaluit Agreement was signed, providing a proposed location for the territorial boundary, constitutional goals, and a method for implementing the territorial division. The boundary line identified in the Iqaluit Agreement was amended in 1991, and then accepted by the majority of northerners through a 1992 referendum. The Territory of Nunavut and the Government of Nunavut were established in 1999. [Note 593]

To determine the structure of the new GNWT, a Commission for Constitutional Development was established with representation from Aboriginal organizations and the GNWT. The Commission recommended a flexible style of government that respected group and individual rights, as well as any established forums of Aboriginal self-government. [Note 594] Since the Inuvialuit land claim was finalized in 1984, other Aboriginal groups within the NWT have settled comprehensive land claim agreements with the federal government, including the 1992 Gwich'in Tribal Council, who settled the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. In 1993, the Inuvialuit and Gwich'in proposed the creation of a regional public government, called the Beaufort Delta Self-Government, which would have jurisdiction of both the Inuvialuit and Gwich'in settlement regions. [Note 595] This proposal was accepted and the Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) was signed in 2001 by the federal government and the GNWT. The Beaufort/Delta AIP is the first Aboriginal self-government agreement negotiated in the NWT, and will include elements of both public and ethnically based government. [Note 596]

Since the 1970s, the GNWT has negotiated aspects of devolution with the federal government, and has, consequently, gradually assumed provincial-type responsibilities. These responsibilities include the administration of healthcare, social services, education, airports and forestry services. Areas of federal jurisdiction still under negotiation for transfer to the GNWT include the management of surface and subsurface resources, water, Crown land, and the environment. The Northern Affairs Program of INAC currently manages these areas of responsibility, and their transfer to the GNWT is likely to provide significant resource revenues for the territory. [Note 597]

The Government of Nunavut

Historically, the GNWT administered the eastern Arctic from Yellowknife. Frustrated by their isolation from the territories' legislative centre, Inuit in the eastern Arctic, through the ITK, proposed to divide the NWT in 1976. A 1982 plebiscite on territorial division successfully generated majority support among northerners for the concept of Nunavut. The Nunavut Constitutional Forum (NCF) lobbied the federal government for the creation of a Nunavut Territory and the Government of Nunavut. [Note 598] Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) and the Government of Canada, through the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement-in-Principle, the Nunavut Political Accord, and the Nunavut Act, negotiated the creation of the Territory of Nunavut and the Government of Nunavut. [Note 599] Linking the creation of Nunavut as a territory and the Government of Nunavut to resolution of the eastern Arctic land claim was a significant step for the TFN, which facilitated devolution of eastern Arctic governance from the GNWT and the Government of Canada to Inuit of the eastern Arctic. [Note 600]

The Nunavut Implementation Committee established the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet, and the Territorial Government in Nunavut. The Government of Nunavut is a non-ethnically based institute of public government, meaning that it holds the same responsibilities and scope of authority as the other territorial governments in Canada. Similar to the GNWT, the Government of Nunavut is based on a consensus model, where members are elected to the legislature independent of political party affiliation. Inuit from the eastern Arctic have participated in territorial politics since 1967, thereby providing the Government of Nunavut with a group of knowledgeable and practiced politicians to govern the new territory when it was established in 1999. As the Government of Nunavut has only been in existence for six years, departments continue working towards fully staffing and determining their priorities. Although the Government of Nunavut manages some provincial-type responsibilities, like healthcare and education, they are further from concluding agreements for the devolution of provincial-type responsibilities than the GNWT. Eventually, areas of federal administration that have the potential to provide revenue, like the management of water resources and Crown lands, will be devolved to the Government of Nunavut. [Note 601]

The population of Nunavut is approximately 85% Inuit, and the Government of Nunavut seeks to reflect that proportion of Inuit in its elected members and in its civil service. As Nunavut is comprised of 28 communities in three regions, the territorial government decentralized its departments and agencies throughout Nunavut to create regional employment, and to ensure access to government services for Nunavummiut (people living in Nunavut Territory).

Protection of Inuit culture and language are also reflected prominently in the Government of Nunavut's structure and legislation. The government is striving to ensure that Inuktitut is its working language, and that each government department has an Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) representative who acts as a resource person and ensures that Inuit traditional knowledge and ways of living, including the use of Inuktitut, are integral components of government policy and procedure. [Note 602]

The Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement and the Nunatsiavut Government

Since Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1950, services for Inuit within the province have been provided though federal/provincial cost-sharing arrangements, mainly in the areas of healthcare, housing, and education. Historically, these arrangements have reflected Inuit governance by federal and provincial authorities, rather than Inuit entitlement to self-government. In 1975, the cost sharing agreements were expanded to include funding for community and economic development, fisheries, and northern development. In 1990, the agreements were renegotiated to include federal supplementary funds for education and infrastructure projects, skills training, community development, administration of provincial government stores and housing. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador primarily managed these programs and services, with some authority for management and funds devolved to the municipal governments in each of the five Inuit communities. [Note 603]

During the 1990s, the LIA sought representation in federal negotiations with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for Inuit-specific funding, and proposed to establish a bilateral agreement with the federal government to provide direct funding for Inuit programs and services in Labrador. Both proposals were rejected, leaving the LIA to pursue direct federal funding for specific programs and services, including assistance for post-secondary education and non-insured health benefits. Through their land claim, the LIA sought to increase their bilateral agreements for federal funding and autonomous management of Nunatsiavut, the region inhabited by Labrador Inuit. The Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement includes structures for both ethnically based and public government. Within Nunatsiavut, municipal governments are institutes of public government, and representation is encouraged from both Inuit and non-Inuit. The ethnically based Nunatsiavut Government manages the rights and benefits derived from the Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement. [Note 604]

The Labrador Inuit Constitution of the Nunatsiavut Government was ratified by members of the LIA in 2002, and forms the basis for the government's structure and operation, including protection for the preservation of Inuit land, culture, and language in Labrador. As an ethnically based government, the Nunatsiavut Government represents Inuit living inside and outside the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. Similar to the Kativik Regional Government, the Nunatsiavut Government has limited areas of jurisdictional authority, including cultural affairs, education, healthcare, social services, Labrador Inuit Lands and environmental assessments for development projects. Other areas of jurisdiction, such as subsurface mining development, are subject to provincial laws, and joint administration by the Newfoundland and Nunatsiavut governments. The Nunatsiavut Government, however, represents a significant step towards autonomy for Labrador Inuit. [Note 605]

Ongoing Concerns

While three of the four Inuit land claim regions in Canada have some form of self-government, negotiations for governments in Nunavik and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region require completion to provide Inuit with law making authority that will protect their language, culture, lands and resources. Inuit are concerned about their access and management of northern lands and resources. Devolution of federal land and resource administration to the territorial governments is an issue currently concerning the GNWT and the Government of Nunavut; particularly the royalties generated by land and resource development projects, which currently go mainly to the federal government. The territories claim that increasing their share of resource development revenues would reduce their financial dependence on federal transfer payments, pushing the territories closer to provincial levels of administrative authority. [Note 606]

Devolving provincial-type responsibilities to the territorial governments in the NWT and Nunavut was a priority of Prime Minister Paul Martin's Northern Strategy, which was announced in December 2004. ITK expressed concern that Nunavik and Nunatsiavut were not included in the Northern Strategy, despite the imminent creation of Inuit governments in those regions, and the Northern Strategy's stated priorities to settle and implement land claims and self-government agreements. As the GNWT has been in existence for a longer period of time than the Government of Nunavut, the federal government recognized that the "territories have unique challenges and opportunities and are at different stages in their political, social, and economic development." [Note 607] Similar to the Yukon Act, which was introduced in October 2001 and transferred responsibility for provincial-type programs and services from INAC to the Yukon Government, the NWT negotiations for a resource and revenue sharing agreement-in-principle are in progress, and a final agreement is expected for 2006. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada had planned to seek a mandate to negotiate a resource and revenue sharing agreement-in-principle with Nunavut in 2005, with the goal of reaching a final agreement by 2008. As of May 2006, however, Indian and Northern Affairs' mandate to begin devolution negotiations had not been approved by the federal cabinet. [Note 608]

In conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, ITK seeks self-determination for Inuit through structures of self-government that fit within the Canadian federal system. In each of the four predominantly Inuit regions of Canada, Inuit have sought to establish institutes of public government that reflect their status as taxpayers within the federal system, but also facilitate representation of non-Inuit within their systems of governance. [Note 609]

The Environment

Historical Discussion

Archaeological evidence from across the Arctic indicates that northerners, including modern Inuit who descended from the Thule culture during a period of climatic cooling about 800 years ago, have traditionally been highly adaptive peoples, able to flex their creativity to provide for their subsistence needs in the harsh and changing northern climate. [Note 610] Inuit traditional knowledge of the Arctic environment is based on continual observations, which have been passed down orally to subsequent generations. Through this long-term acquaintance with the environment's predictable range of variability, for such things as seasonal freezes and thaws, and animal and vegetation availability, Inuit have survived on the land for centuries. Although Inuit traditional knowledge is based on repeated observations, it lacks the long-term documentation that the scientific community prefers as evidence for interpretations of environmental phenomenon. Traditional knowledge, however, integrates isolated observations to produce dynamic and holistic interpretations of changes occurring in the Arctic environment. [Note 611]

In recent history, several interrelated environmental issues have significantly affected the North and the Inuit way of life. During the early and mid twentieth century, Inuit and non-Inuit harvesting of animal resources in the Arctic, including whale and caribou, contributed to severe animal de-population, and shortages of resources for Inuit use. Recognition of impacts from unregulated use of non-renewable and renewable resources in the North prompted the development of national and international environmental organizations, and federal resource management legislation, including environmental assessments, to ensure sustainable development in the North. Similarly, traditional Inuit subsistence pursuits are threatened by climate change, which has been identified by Inuit over the past twenty years through observations of weather patterns and in the availability of animals and other resources. Climatic changes are the result of natural and anthropogenic factors, including worldwide increased use of synthetic organic compounds, heavy metals and radionuclides for industrial and agricultural activities in developed and developing nations. [Note 612]

The federal government assumed responsibility for northern resource management in 1921 through creation of the Northwest Territories Branch within the Department of the Interior. [Note 613] Historically, Inuit use of natural resources was motivated by subsistence needs, and the environment is an intrinsic part of Inuit culture because of this long-term reliance. Federal administration of resources and policies, such as game quotas, restricted Inuit access to traditionally harvested resources. Additionally, the disappearance of resources through overuse prompted subsistence concerns among Inuit. During the late 1960s, their incomprehension of federal land and resource management policies motivated Inuit to organize politically. Their objective was to increase Inuit knowledge and awareness of political rights, especially regarding use of renewable and non-renewable resources. Ultimately, Inuit sought to negotiate land claim agreements with the federal government that would protect their access to traditionally used lands and resources. [Note 614] Since realizing the settlement of four comprehensive land claim agreements with the federal government between 1975 and 2005, Inuit have partnered with Canada on a variety of joint management committees to share administration strategies for the northern environment. [Note 615] Notably, in the settlement of the comprehensive land claim agreements, national parks were created throughout northern territories. The location and boundaries of these parks were established in consultation with Inuit. [Note 616]

Program and Policy Development

Renewable and Non-Renewable Resource Management

Renewable resources, such as caribou and seals, continue to support the basic subsistence and mixed economy of Inuit, as well as their commercial harvesting and tourism enterprises. Non-renewable resource development projects, including diamond mining, have the potential to provide significant employment opportunities and revenue for Inuit. Federal consultations with Aboriginal peoples on non-renewable resource development, such as the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, were precursors to the resource joint management committees arranged between Canada and Inuit through the four comprehensive land claim agreements. [Note 617] These committees employ traditional ecological knowledge and traditional resource use as elements in their decision-making processes. There are significant challenges, however, associated with using traditional knowledge in scientific studies and federal policy, including differing methods of quantifying and documenting traditional and western scientific knowledge, and the difference in value historically assigned to traditional knowledge (compared to western scientific knowledge). [Note 618]

Successful joint management committees include four established through the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) in Nunavik. In addition, the federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada manages the harvesting and health of marine mammals in partnership with the Fisheries Joint Management Committee of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in the western Arctic, and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated in the eastern Arctic. [Note 619]

Throughout the 1970s, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) managed most northern natural resources. The department's mandate included approving licenses for resource development projects as well as protecting the interests of northern people. During the 1970s, natural resource legislation for the North included the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevent Act and regulations, the Territorial Land Use Regulations, the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Regulations, the Oceans Dumping Control Act, the 1972 Northern Policy and the Expanded Guidelines for Northern Pipelines, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (1972-1977), the 1973 Oceans Policy, and the 1974 Beaufort Sea Project. Through Cabinet directive, the federal government established the Federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process (EARP) in December 1973. Within this process, proposals for land and resource development underwent initial screening by relevant federal departments and agencies. If projects had potential to significantly impact local renewable or non-renewable resources, they were recommended to the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office (FEARO). Within the EARP, opportunity was provided for community consultation regarding the proposed resource development project. The current process for environmental assessments is similar but often encompasses social elements of the proposed development. [Note 620]

Where federal legislation and international agreements have restricted traditional Inuit subsistence practices, Inuit have occasionally challenged the regulations. The bowhead whale hunt, for example, was prohibited by international agreement in 1937. Beginning in the 1960s, Inuvialuit expressed desire to hunt bowhead whales, prompting scientific studies of bowhead whale population health. In 1979, Canada instituted a licensing system for bowhead whale hunting under its Fisheries Act. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement, which was signed in 1984, provided for joint federal/Inuvialuit management of subsistence harvesting quotas for marine mammals. [Note 621] In 1991, at the request of the community of Aklavik, the joint management committee issued a whaling license. The whale hunt is significant to the Inuvialuit because it provides for their physical needs, as well as validating their cultural identity as marine hunters. [Note 622] More recently, the 1997 Oceans Act, and within it the Oceans Management Strategy (OMS), incorporates principles of integrated resource management and sustainable development. Within the OMS, there are provisions for collaboration between levels of government and other stakeholders with regional interests in the management of marine resources. This is an important consideration for Inuit, who are affected by the OMS designation of protected marine species and regions, conservation quotas, and maintenance of sustainable levels for marine development. [Note 623]


Although the Canadian Arctic has a small population, relatively low levels of industrial activity and is remotely located, studies conducted during the past thirty years have consistently found levels of contaminants in the traditional food resources of many northern communities that are higher than animal contaminant levels elsewhere in Canada. [Note 624] Scientists first identified contaminants in the Arctic during the late 1970s, which included synthetic organic compounds (also called persistent organic pollutants [POPs] and include PCBs, DDT, toxaphene, dieldrin, and chlordane), heavy metals (mercury, lead, and cadmium), and radioactive isotopes (cesium-134 and cesium-137). [Note 625] Studies have demonstrated the atmospheric spread and stability of organic compounds, indicating their ability to concentrate within the fatty organs of animals. Although heavy metals are naturally present in the environment, their levels have been anthropogenically increased, causing concerns about the health affects of heavy metal concentrations in humans. Radioactive isotopes are artificial by-products created through the fission of uranium in nuclear bombs, which are released when bombs are tested. [Note 626]

Although there are some local sources for contaminants, such as the DEW Line sites constructed throughout the North during the 1950s, most contaminants are transferred to the North through the air or water and are incorporated to the food chain at low levels. [Note 627] Contaminants are bio-magnified as they reach the upper levels of the food chain, most notably in humans because Inuit diets tend to rely heavily on country foods. High concentrations of POPs have been found in commonly consumed northern animals, including polar bears, ringed seals, Arctic char, lake trout, and beluga and narwhal whales. High levels of contaminants in humans, particularly infants, have been linked to reductions in gestation period, head circumference and birth weight, as well as impairments in neuromuscular development and visual recognition memory. POPs negatively affect human health, and are also credited with degrading the ozone layer, leading to changes in the Arctic climate. [Note 628] Although many countries banned the use of PCBs and other POPs in the 1970s and 1980s because of evidence for their environmental persistence and effects on human reproductivity, these pollutants are slow to biodegrade and exit the ecosystem. [Note 629]

In 1991, the federal government established the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) to address the presence of environmental contaminants in the Canadian Arctic. The objectives of the NCP are to reduce and eliminate contaminants in Aboriginal peoples' traditional food resources, and to promote awareness of contaminants to facilitate informed decision making by communities on the use of traditionally harvested foods. Several federal and territorial government departments, Aboriginal organizations, and researchers affiliated with universities jointly manage the NCP. The federal participants of the program are Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment Canada. NCP Aboriginal partners include the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) and ITK. The NCP primarily focuses on contaminants in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, but will initiate projects in any northern community where there is evidence that people have been exposed to significant levels of contaminants in their traditional food resources, such as communities in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec. [Note 630]

Between 1991 and 1997, the NCP conducted studies to determine the source, distribution, and quantity of contaminants in northern food resources. The Canadian Arctic Contaminants Assessment Report describes the initial findings of the NCP. [Note 631] Since 1997, the NCP has researched the affects of contaminants on human health by facilitating participation of Aboriginal peoples in the NCP, funding the Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE), supporting international agreements to control the use of contaminants, and by arranging for discussions about contaminants in northern communities. In consultation with the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the NCP continues to assess and monitor contaminant levels in the Arctic. Canada has used evidence for contaminant levels generated by the NCP to support international agreements, including the United Nations Economic Commission for the Europe Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, POPs and Heavy Metals Protocols; and the United Nations Environment Programme POPs Convention, which took place in Stockholm in 2001. [Note 632] In addition, the Canadian Government funds the organization, Canadian Arctic Indigenous Peoples Against POPs (CAIPAP), which participates in international initiatives, aimed at reducing and controlling the use of environmental contaminants. [Note 633]

Climate Change [Note 634]

Longer summers, shorter winters and shorter springs resulting in a faster thaw, are all indicators of climate change that have been observed by Inuit in communities across the North. Changes in weather patterns have made it more difficult for Inuit to predict weather, making it more dangerous for them to travel on the land and on the sea ice. Aboriginal organizations, such as the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), began discussing climate change in the 1980s, and have initiated national and international discussions on how climate change affects humans, animals and the environment. Inuit use their traditional knowledge of the Arctic environment, or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge and ways of living), to note the rate of change and its effects on their way of life. Traditional knowledge has been defined as, "a cumulative body of knowledge, practice and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living things (including human beings) with one another and their environment." [Note 635] Beginning in the 1950s, the federal government collected climate and observational data on the environment, yet until recently, there were few scientific studies on the effects of climate change in the North. [Note 636] Traditional knowledge of the local environment forms a useful compliment to scientific studies of issues requiring long-term environmental observations, such as patterns, cycles, and changes in the ecosystem that are linked to climate change. In Sachs Harbour, for example, the International Institute for Sustainable Development documented Inuit observations of coastal erosion caused by spring permafrost thaw that was well outside the normal variability of observed weather patterns, and was historically unfamiliar to the community. [Note 637]

In 1995, Natural Resources Canada initiated the release of Canada's National Action Programme on Climate Change (NAPCC). This programme proposed strategies for federal, provincial/ territorial, and municipal agencies to create informed responses to climate change, and was followed by Environment Canada's 1997 Canada Country Study reports, which provided scientific evidence for the currently occurring and predicted effects of climate changes on Canadians and their environment. [Note 638] In Canada, ITK and the ICC, and the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (a non-governmental organization) have lobbied nationally and internationally for protection and preservation of the Arctic environment. Membership of Canadian Inuit in international organizations, such as the ICC, which is a member of the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, has provided opportunities for voicing concerns about the circumpolar North and has generated support for international measures to ensure sustainable development. [Note 639]

Inuit are also members of non-Aboriginal international organizations. The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was established in 1989 with membership from seven Arctic nations. The organization committed to meeting regularly, to involving Aboriginal peoples in its strategies and initiatives, and to establishing four working groups that would monitor aspects of the environment. These working groups were the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme; Protection for the Arctic Marine Environment; Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response; and Conservation of the Arctic Flora and Fauna. In 1993, a fifth working group, the Task Force on Sustainable Development, was created in response to the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development. [Note 640] In 1993, the ICC achieved full participation in the AEPS as a permanent participant, and was followed by two other Aboriginal organizations: the Saami Council; and the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East (now the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North). This level of participation by Aboriginal peoples was unprecedented in international organizations but was facilitated by the Canadian Government, who had worked in close partnership with the ICC on Canada's international delegation, and who had partnered with Northern Aboriginal peoples for Canada's Northern Contaminants Programme. The inclusion of northern Aboriginal organizations as permanent participants in the AEPS set a precedent for the status of Aboriginal peoples in other international organizations. [Note 641]

Although Canada recognized the significance of issues being addressed by the AEPS, evidence for climate change across the circumpolar North in the late 1980s prompted the Canadian Government to seek international cooperation in forming a council to address and advocate more broadly for northern issues. Led by Canadian academics, politicians and Aboriginal peoples, a preliminary panel negotiated a model for the council that included full participation of northern Aboriginal peoples. [Note 642] The Arctic Council was established in 1996 with a program and policy focus on northern sustainable development, including environmental, social and economic aspects of development. The Council's five working groups were modelled on the AEPS, which was subsumed within the Arctic Council. [Note 643] The Council is a high-level political forum whose activities are co-ordinated by the chair nation. While the Council does not actively implement programs and policies for environmental stewardship, it defines common issue-based agendas, and member countries use the research generated by its working groups to address national and international environmental issues. [Note 644]

Recently, the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee commissioned the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which is a technical report describing the evidence for climate change and its impacts on circumpolar regions. According to the ACIA, major effects of climate change in the North include increased temperatures, rising sea levels, decreased extent of summer sea-ice, melting glaciers, coastal erosion, northern extension of the tree line and reduced permafrost. These changes will affect animal habitats, and the ability of circumpolar peoples to maintain their traditional subsistence strategies. [Note 645] Other studies have noted incidence of extreme weather in the Canadian Arctic, including electrical storms and increased UV rays causing sunburns. As this is an issue requiring international co-operation, Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. [Note 646]

Ongoing Concerns

As climate change is now widely recognized as one of the most pervasive long-term concerns facing the circumpolar world, Inuit want to ensure their involvement in national and international climate change initiatives. According to Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuk and the International Chair of the ICC, increased international co-operation and mobilization by Aboriginal political organizations has resulted in Aboriginal-sponsored initiatives and studies on the Arctic. As Watt-Cloutier states, "national government[s] are not leading circumpolar co-operation, they are following it." This is an important consideration for policy development bodies, such as the federal government's Northern Strategy. According to the ICC, Inuit want to create a partnership with the federal government, similar to the arrangement that Canada has with Inuit under the Northern Contaminants Program, to facilitate joint management of climate change issues among Inuit, territorial and provincial governments, other Aboriginal organizations, and the federal government. [Note 647]

Further to the 2004 Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable, which invited input from Aboriginal organizations on various policy issues, including housing, healthcare, economic development, life long learning and accountability, ITK arranged an Inuit-Specific Environment Session that followed the federally-scheduled sessions. ITK's initiative was supported by the federal government, who participated along with one hundred other stakeholders and observers. [Note 648] According to Rosemarie Kuptana, a former ICC Chair, by combining traditional knowledge of northern environmental conditions with contemporary studies, more holistic interpretations of the changes occurring in the Arctic environment will be produced. [Note 649] Incorporating traditional Inuit knowledge in contemporary environmental research, and ensuring that Inuit are involved in developing processes to assess environmental risks and determine the direction of development is essential. According to Sheila Watt-Cloutier, "the Arctic is the globe's ‘barometer' of environmental health" and "Inuit are the mercury in that barometer." [Note 650]

Urban Inuit

Historical Discussion

Historically, Inuit were seasonally mobile within northern Canada. Inuit camp locations were often determined through ecological and economic subsistence strategies, and kinship ties. On occasion, such as to trade fur pelts for supplies, Inuit congregated for parts of the year near Royal Canadian Mounted Police, missionary and Hudson's Bay Company posts. During the first half of the twentieth century, there were few communities in the North. Military posts and Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites were constructed across the Arctic during the 1940s and 1950s. During the 1950s, the Canadian Government began providing Inuit with social services, such as healthcare and education, with increased frequency and geographic range. Schools and nursing stations were often constructed near existing government infrastructure, including military buildings and police posts, establishing locations for northern communities. Residential schooling of Inuit children encouraged families to settle near schools, contributing to the growth of communities like Iqaluit and Inuvik. In Labrador, the Moravian Church established communities beginning in the late eighteenth century, including those at Nain, Okkak, Hopedale and Hebron. [Note 651]

While most Inuit continue to live in northern communities, some have chosen to live permanently or temporarily in urban centres throughout southern Canada. Inuit have migrated to southern cities for a variety of reasons, including access to educational and healthcare facilities, increased opportunities for general employment, and for employment with specific organizations located in urban centres. Often, Inuit families move to urban centres when one member obtains better employment than was available to them in the North, or to accompany ill or elderly relatives who are accessing medical care. Notably, the small size and close nature of northern communities sometimes means that women escaping violent domestic situations will relocate to urban centres where they have access to a wider range of social services for themselves and their children, and greater opportunities to re-establish their lives. [Note 652]

Northern regions, such as Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, have no post-secondary facilities and college or university education can only be obtained through distance education programs or relocation to urban centres. Similarly, many isolated northern communities have nursing stations but are not staffed with full time physicians, requiring people to obtain medical assistance from the few northern communities with hospitals, or to travel to urban centres in southern Canada for specialist care. Depending upon the treatment required and the age of the patient, medical care may necessitate a term of residence in urban communities by one or more members of an immediate or extended family. In addition to the increased public and private sector employment afforded by urban centres, many Inuit organizations have their headquarters in urban centres of northern or southern Canada. [Note 653]

According to 2001 Canadian Census data, approximately half of Canadian Aboriginal peoples, including Inuit, live in urban communities. Approximately 5,000 Inuit, out of a total population of 45,000, live outside the four Inuit land claim settlement regions. The largest Inuit community in southern Canada resides in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, with a population between 600 and 900. Several hundred Inuit live in each of five other Canadian cities -Yellowknife, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver -and smaller numbers of Inuit live in many other cities across Canada. [Note 654]

Program and Policy Development

Within urban Canadian centres, Inuit have access to the same federally, provincially/ territorially, and municipally funded services and programs as other Canadians. As Aboriginal peoples, however, Inuit are also entitled to federal services, such as the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program, which is administered by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada. Federal services for urban Inuit are provided directly, like the NIHB program, and through community agencies like the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa. [Note 655]

Within urban centres, Inuit have access to programs and services offered by Native Friendship Centres, which are operated nearly nationwide through the National Association of Friendship Centres. These centres are supported with funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, and provide social and recreational activities, and information-based seminar programs for Aboriginal people of all ages. [Note 656] Additionally, some urban centres have federally-funded Inuit-specific community services, like the Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) Community Centre in Ottawa. TI provides support and information for Inuit students attending post-secondary institutions; culturally appropriate support services, such as counselling, addictions treatment and employment training; information on programs for Inuit within the city; and opportunities to meet and socialize with other Inuit in the Ottawa area. [Note 657]


During the 1960s and the early 1970s, few northern communities had facilities for secondary and vocational education, requiring young people from isolated communities seeking higher education to live in school residences in larger northern communities like Iqaluit and Yellowknife, and in urban centres like Montreal and Churchill, to complete their high school educations. The federally funded Churchill Vocational Centre in Manitoba opened in 1964 and offered courses such as carpentry, plumbing and mechanics. In the early 1970s, the Government of the Northwest Territories became responsible for providing educational facilities within the territory, and opened high schools at Iqaluit and Yellowknife. Before that, Samuel Hearne High School at Inuvik, which opened in 1959, was the only secondary school in the territory. In Labrador, secondary education was offered at Lake Melville High School in North West River near Happy Valley-Goose Bay beginning in 1971. Nunavik established a secondary school with a residence near Montreal in 1978. [Note 658]

Post-secondary studies required even greater relocations, often to communities like Montreal and Ottawa where college and university facilities were available. Inuit who relocated for academic purposes often found it difficult to live isolated from their families, and to make the transition from living in northern, rural communities to urban cities in southern Canada. Accessing traditional food resources, and participating in traditional subsistence and cultural activities was difficult in urban centres. Some Inuit experienced problems reintegrating themselves to their home communities after they had lived in urban cities and had obtained post-secondary degrees. [Note 659]

During the 1960s, the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Vocational Training Section (VTS) in Ottawa encouraged graduates of the Churchill Vocational Centre to further their academic and vocational training at secondary schools, colleges and universities. INAC also established a VTS office in Winnipeg to assist Inuit students seeking to further their education there, and a counselling office in Edmonton to assist students from the NWT in obtaining secondary and post-secondary education-related information and funding. During the 1970s and 1980s, Inuit students attended several post secondary facilities, including the Institutes of Technology in northern and southern Alberta, Algonquin College in Ottawa, George Brown College in Toronto, an air pilot trainee program in Peterborough, and an air mechanic program at Camp Borden in Simcoe County, Ontario. [Note 660] Students furthering their education in southern Canada were provided with advice on adapting to the different climate and culture through articles in Inutitut magazine, which was published by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. A 1972 article, for example, recommended that students do such things as: make friends at school, help out with chores at their boarding home, pay their rent on time and learn to use the city bus system. [Note 661]

In 1980, approximately 70 Inuit from across the North were attending schools in southern Canada. According to a report prepared by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), most Inuit attending school were at secondary schools and vocational or job training programs in Ottawa. Two Inuit were attending university. In their report, ITK praised Indian and Northern Affairs' VTS for assisting Inuit students, and for funding counsellors, orientations, boarding homes, tutors and the Inuit House drop-in centre (now Tungasuvvingat Inuit). [Note 662] Still, ITK reported that Inuit experienced difficulty adapting to the southern system of schooling because of inadequate educational preparation in the North, the long distance between the students' urban homes and their schools, the large size of the schools, and the irrelevance of the curriculum to the students' northern lives. ITK stated that Inuit from rural communities experienced similar issues adapting to secondary schools in larger northern communities, including Iqaluit, Yellowknife, North West River and Inuvik, and that services to assist Inuit students with their adaptation in the urban North were not offered to the same degree as they were in southern Canadian cities. [Note 663]

In 1985, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Program was created by the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) to train Inuit fieldworkers able to liaise between TFN and northern communities, to ensure that Inuit were informed about progress of the Nunavut land claims settlement. With the settlement of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993, Nunavut Sivuniksavut became a preparatory program for young people seeking post-secondary education. Currently, Nunavut Sivuniksavut is an eight-month program that operates from Ottawa. Its courses have been affiliated with Algonquin College since 1990 and students receive a certificate from the college upon completion of the program. The Nunavut Sivuniksavut program uses its Career Orientation and Independent Living Skills (COILS) course to assist students with the transition from living in rural northern communities to an urban city in southern Canada. Additionally, students learn about Inuit political and cultural history, and complete academic courses, such as English and computer skills. [Note 664]

To facilitate Inuit enrolment at post-secondary institutions, national programs for Aboriginal students, such as INAC's Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), are available to Inuit living in urban centres as well as those living within their land claim region. [Note 665] Programs like Nunavut Sivuniksavut, that support students' adaptations to urban centres in southern Canada, have contributed to the increase in educational completion rates among Inuit, which is consistent with the trend in increased educational attainment for Aboriginal peoples generally. [Note 666] Even by 1980, ITK was reporting increased educational completion rates among Inuit in southern Canada. ITK attributed several factors to students' adjustment ability, which students have continued to benefit from during the past twenty years. These factors include a larger network of Inuit in cities, such as Ottawa, to support students; increased family encouragement for students to complete courses, based on improved awareness of education-related benefits and the length of time required to complete programs; and improved knowledge of English and southern Canadian culture through television and other media. [Note 667]


Although most northern communities have nursing stations, few communities have resident physicians. When Inuit in rural communities require medical care beyond the capabilities of a nurse, patients are sent by regular airplane or by medivac in an emergency, to hospitals in larger northern communities, including Yellowknife, Iqaluit and Inuvik. When more specialized medical attention is required, patients are sent to hospitals in southern Canada, including Churchill, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Moose Factory in Ontario, Montreal, Kingston and Ottawa. [Note 668]

Common healthcare issues requiring urban medical attention include major surgery, and paediatric, orthopaedic and cardiology-related concerns. Depending upon the demographic of the person requiring medical care and the family's situation, urban healthcare sometimes involves relocating entire families for several months. Although urban medical treatment is often necessary for Inuit who require specialized medical care, Inuit patients, particularly the elderly, are less likely to speak English or French, and often require interpreters to interact with healthcare staff. [Note 669] Additionally, interpreters must speak a dialect of Inuktitut that is compatible with the dialect spoken by the patient. Some hospitals in southern Canada that routinely receive Inuit patients have produced guidebooks with English/Inuktitut phrases to assist Inuit patients in communicating with hospital staff. [Note 670]

Increased numbers of Inuit living in urban centres during the last twenty years, and federal recognition of Inuit-specific needs, have resulted in the creation of several national healthcare programs with components that are culturally appropriate for Inuit. These programs are administered through the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada and include: Non-Insured Health Benefits; the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program; the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program; the National Aboriginal Health Organization; and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative for Métis, Off-Reserve Aboriginal, and Urban Inuit Prevention and Promotion. The Non-Insured Health Benefits program was established in 1979 as the Indian Health Policy, and then revised in 1997 to its current name. The program covers many drug, dental, vision care, medical transportation, medical supply and equipment, and crisis intervention counselling costs above those covered by provincial, territorial, and third party health coverage. To receive NIHB coverage, Inuit must be registered members of a land claim beneficiary corporation, and have received an N-number (Northern number). [Note 671]

In 2005, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation granted money to several organizations, including Tungasuvvingat Inuit's Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa to provide addictions, community support and liaison programs for Inuit suffering from the legacy of a residential school experience. The Mamisarvik Healing Centre is the first urban institution to provide Inuit-specific healing services, including non-residential school related counselling and addictions programming. [Note 672] Through the Aboriginal Head Start and the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse programs, Inuit communities tailor and administer programs specific to their needs. [Note 673] The National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), which was established in 1999 and receives its core funding from Health Canada, and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, create and distribute health-related research. The Ajunnginiq Centre operates within NAHO as an Inuit-specific research branch. [Note 674]


In the early 1970s, small numbers of Inuit migrated to urban centres in southern Canada for employment opportunities. Approximately 80 Inuit from the Keewatin and Nunavik regions, for example, were living in Churchill, Manitoba during the 1970s. A 1975 study for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada determined that Inuit had moved to Churchill to receive medical attention during the 1950s; for employment opportunities with private companies and with the Departments of Indian Affairs and Public Works; and to attend classes at the Churchill Vocational Centre. [Note 675]

In the 1980s, as an alternative to formal education, and to improve Inuit employment rates, the Department of Indian Affairs' Indian and Inuit Recruitment and Development Program sponsored on-the-job management training in community and business administration for Inuit through several government agencies and organizations located in urban centres. The management-training sponsors included ITK, Makivik Corporation, the Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau Quebec, the Canadian Armed Forces, Employment and Immigration Canada, and the Vocational Training Section of INAC. [Note 676]

By 1980, approximately 60 Inuit were working in urban centres in southern Canada, with the majority living in Ottawa and Montreal. Most people worked for Inuit organizations, like ITK or Makivik Corporation, or for the Government of Canada at Indian and Northern Affairs or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Northern Service. Common issues of concern cited by Inuit living in southern Canada included culture shock, homesickness, lack of access to traditional foods and pursuits, isolation, difficulty understanding cultural rules, and having to communicate in English. [Note 677] Although Inuit continue to be the least urbanized among Canadian Aboriginal peoples, urban Inuit tend to earn more than Inuit living in rural areas. [Note 678]

Ongoing Concerns

Within northern communities, the NIHB program and use of N-numbers for direct billing of healthcare coverage is well known. Urban Inuit, however, often deal with pharmacies and healthcare providers who are unfamiliar with the program and the N-number cards issued by land claim beneficiary corporations. Each of the land claim beneficiary corporations issues separate identification cards, which include different information. Additionally, corporations do not provide photo identification on the cards, making them appear different from the more widely recognized Indian status cards. [Note 679]

Outside their land claim settlement region, Inuit cannot access some of the rights and benefits derived from their land claim agreement. Inuit living in southern Canadian cities, for example, cannot hunt and fish according to the terms of their land claim. Similarly, Inuit who have lived outside of their land claim region for a year or more have experienced difficulty accessing the post-secondary assistance funding that is intended for land claim beneficiaries. [Note 680]

During the 1990s, most Inuit moving households relocated within rural communities. Many Inuit, however, moved to urban cities and moved between urban cities. [Note 681] As Inuit migrate to urban centres in southern Canada, the need for culturally appropriate services and recognition of Inuit cultural values by municipal and provincial governments similarly increases. Providing culturally appropriate services for urban Aboriginal peoples without an urban land base to centralize their place of residence poses significant challenges for community service providers. Similarly, urban Inuit lack specific community leadership, such as land claim beneficiary corporations, to represent their requests for culturally appropriate and specific services. [Note 682]

Today, many Inuit who migrate to urban centres in southern Canada are part of extended kin, friend, and community-based networks that have already established themselves in these cities. The presence of such community networks provides increased opportunities for Inuit to practice traditional community activities, such as country food feasts and naming ceremonies, where children are presented to the community and the significance of their Inuit names is explained. As many Inuit children are now born in urban southern Canada, these Inuit communities are making efforts to ensure the transmission of language and traditional culture through the creation of community centres, and Inuit-specific programs and services. [Note 683]

The recent Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) was announced in 1998 as a four-year initiative that was part of the federal government's commitment to a renewed relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan. The Urban Aboriginal Strategy, "was designed to improve policy development and program coordination at the federal level and with other levels of government." [Note 684] The UAS focused on several urban centres, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto, with additional funding going to local Aboriginal organizations. Objectives of the UAS involved effective responses to community needs and priorities, improved federal co-ordination with provincial services, the creation and testing of innovative policies and programs, and overall improvement in socio-economic status of urban Aboriginal peoples. In 2002, the federal government committed further funding to the UAS, which has been used to support nearly 100 community-based projects dealing with life-long learning, housing, health, and outreach services. The UAS has involved eight federal departments in partnership with over fifty community and Aboriginal organizations. Although funding for the UAS ends in 2007, the Government of Canada's analysis of projects carried out under this strategy will help them to determine how best to serve the needs of urban Aboriginal peoples, including Inuit, in the future. [Note 685]

In October 2005, Tungasuvvingat Inuit and the Inuit Relations Secretariat of INAC co-hosted a two-day workshop on National Urban Inuit, entitled "One Voice." This workshop was held in Ottawa and included representatives from St. John's, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife, as well as the federal government and Inuit organizations. The three themes consistently raised by workshop participants were: the need for an organization representing Inuit in urban areas, more Inuit-specific community centres in urban areas, and the need for additional support from a variety of sources, including the federal government. The workshop also focused on issues of concern to many Inuit, including the undercounting that results from methods used by Statistics Canada to collect data on Inuit; the ineffectiveness of the federal government's "pan-Aboriginal" approach to programming, which does not meet the needs of Inuit; the feelings of isolation experienced by Inuit living in southern Canada; and the need to provide urban Inuit-specific support services in areas including education, daycare, business development, job training, policing and the justice system, and social work. [Note 686]