Annual Report On The Implementation Of The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement


The broad and conceptual ambition of the agreement has created the challenges of implementation. Huge changes in educational infrastructure have been required to enable Inuit to develop the skills needed to take on implementation positions in newly created Inuit institutions, resource management bodies and the Nunavut government. It is disappointing to remember that in nunavut, you still have to go south to get a diploma or a professional qualification, with the exception of vocational training programs such as nursing. Standards in Nunavut`s elementary and secondary schools remain well below the national average and the dropout rate is well above the national standard. The Nunavut agreement was a triumph of the political art of the state and, although much has been achieved, its full promise has not been fulfilled. In 1993, expectations that the Nunavut agreement would “solve” difficult social and economic problems were probably too high. Nevertheless, the agreement offers many instruments that The Inuit of Nunavut, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada can use to address difficult public policy issues. It was in this broad and rapidly changing political and legal context that Nunavut`s original proposal was developed by ITC in 1975. Negotiations with the Canadian government have been slow and hesitant; the parties had very different views on the magnitude, intent and preferred outcome of the exercise. To expedite the process, the negotiating mandate for the Nunavut claim was withdrawn in 1982 by ITC and entrusted to a newly created Inuit organization, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN), created to negotiate a modern contract with the Government of Canada. Despite this difficult context, an independent review of implementation from 1993 to 1998, published in 2000, concluded that of 193 specific commitments, 98 were “essentially” “complete,” 46 “partially complete” and 49 “largely unfully not respected.” These bald characters tell only part of the story. Relatively simple and ad hoc tasks, such as the transfer of cash and land grants to Inuit, had been completed in a timely manner, but the review noted significant problems in implementing “more flexible” commitments that required innovative and coordinated action by federal authorities.

The audit team reported a “missed and slow start-up model, many unproductive and protracted discussions, declining commitments, loss of memory and business capacity, and resource consumption with no complete result.” The report recommended reviving Nunavut`s implementation body and called on the parties to agree on the “central role of the body in managing implementation efforts.” But from the beginning, it was perhaps a somewhat encouraging start. How could the Inuit, who were only allowed at the federal level in 1960 and were largely semi-nomadic until the early 1960s and had very few formal leaders, negotiate with the Canadian government a modern treaty dealing with land rights and political development that literally changed the face of Canada forever? Negotiations continued until the 1980s, with a hiatus in 1985 and 1986, which led the Federal Cabinet to approve substantial changes to the overall land use policy under which the negotiations took place.

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