Finnish Sami want land rights back
Sami in Finland have run into another roadblock in their battle to gain more control over traditional lands.
Last week, a committee looking into the state of Sami affairs in Finnish Lapland submitted its report to Finlands minister of Justice.
But six dissenting Sami members on the 14-member committee condemned the report, saying "it would not be acceptable to the Sami."
Pekka Aikio, head of the Finnish Sami Parliament, and the five other Sami committee members, said the report wouldnt stop Sami assimilation or protect traditional reindeer herding lands.
Aikio said the committee was more concerned with protecting the rights of non-indigenous residents of Finnish Lapland, who now comprise the majority of the regions population.
About 4,000 Sami live in Finnish Lapland. Before 1945, they were a majority in the region. Now, there are more than 100,000 non-indigenous residents.
Aikio said the committees proposals would leave Sami with even less influence over Finnish politics than they have now.
The report suggests state-owned land in Sami areas should remain under state ownership and under the control of Finlands Forest and Park Service.
However, it recommends that decisions on land use be transferred to a special management board for nature reserves with equal representation from the Sami Parliament and municipalities in the area. The Finnish government would appoint a chair for the board.
But Sami say they want to have a majority of members on this board.
December 14, 2001
Jobs a priority for native affairs ministers and leaders
Will meet in Iqaluit in June 2002
Federal, territorial and provincial native affairs ministers met last week in Ottawa with the leaders of five national native groups to discuss ways of lowering native unemployment rates.
The ministers and leaders reviewed a report from the recent national aboriginal youth conference, and they promised to:
Establish a working group to study the report and develop an action plan based on it;
Find new ways to get native women and youth into the labour force; and
Plan for a national business summit of government, native and private sector representatives aimed at strengthening native participation in the economy.
The priorities of the National Inuit Youth Council include maintaining Inuit culture and language, having better access to education and preventing suicide and other social ills.
But the native affairs ministers and leaders have decided to concentrate on ways to lower native youth unemployment rates first.
Natives aged 15 to 24 are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-native youth.
"Were not trying to steer away from particular issues, were just tackling them one at a time, trying to make progress," said Indian Affairs Minister Bob Nault.
The ministers and leaders also discussed how to improve the overall employment rates for native people.
They announced Toronto will host a major business bash in 2002. The summit will showcase investment opportunities on Canadas 600 First Nations, promote native business success stories and encourage employers to hire more native workers.
The ministers plan to meet again by June 2002 in Iqaluit.
According to the federal government, however, Quebec wont sign on to the federal approach taken by the ministers and leaders.
"Quebec intends to find solutions to the problems faced by young Aboriginals within its own policy directions and mechanisms," a press release said.
December 14, 2001
Narrow wins shape new municipal councils
Voters show apathy with low turnouts
From dismal turnouts to narrow wins, the 23 municipal elections throughout Nunavut on Tuesday offered a smattering of shock and surprise.
Elections in Pond Inlet were postponed by one day because of power outages. Each community elected or re-elected hamlet councillors or mayors.
In Arctic Bay, Joanasie Akumalik ousted Niore Iqalukjuak as mayor by 31 votes. Four new councillors come to the table: Moses Oyukuluk, Pauloosie Kaujak, Sakiasie Qaunaq and Rod Reid.
It was a squeaker in Resolute Bay, where Aziz Kheraj beat incumbent mayor George Eckalook by one vote. The new councillors are Terri Lyn Hall, Kantasse Idlout, Sheena Karsarnak, Tabitha Mullin and Minnie Nungaq. Resolute Bays 85 per cent turnout was the highest in the three regions.
Qikiqtarjuaq mayor Lootie Toomasie won by acclamation. Four new council seats were filled by Loasie Audlakiak, Mary Killiktee, Toomasie Newkingnak and Gamailie Nookiguak.
Mathew Jaw Saviajuk remains mayor for another year in Cape Dorset. Joining his council are Joanasie Mathew, Alika Parr, Ejetsiak Peter and Ningeosiak Peter. Cape Dorsets meagre 40 per cent voter turnout was the lowest in all three regions.
Former deputy Sandy Kautuq is Clyde Rivers new mayor. New council members are Jayco Ashevak, Igah Hainnu, Laimikie Palluq and Uriah Qaqasiq.
Jarloo Kiguktak is mayor in Grise Fiord for the next two years. His six new councillors are Raygilee Attagootak, Laisa Audlaluk, Rob Belliveau, Martha Kiguktak, Meeka Kiguktak and Tivai Kiguktak.
Elijah Evaluarjuk remains mayor for another year in Igloolik. Joining his council are Dominic Angutimarik, Theo Ikummaq, John Illupalik, Zacharias Kunuk and Marie-Lucie Uviluq.
Joe Arlooktoo is Kimmiruts mayor by acclamation. His six new councillors are Judea Akulujuk, Killiktee Akeego, Atsaina Kolola, Jeannie Padluq, Martha Padluq and Itee Temela.
Hall Beach mayor Levi Kaunak has another year as mayor. His new councillors are Peter Kadlutsiak, Elijah Kaernerk, Peter Nuvviaq and Solomon Qanatsiaq.
In Pangnirtung, Hezakiah Oshutapik has one year remaining as mayor. The four new councillors are Naimee Akpalialuk, Adamie Komoartok, Dennis Kuglugutok and Julia Tautaukjuk.
Annie Amitook is mayor for another year in Sanikiluaq. Her new council members are Mary Inuktaluk Sr., John Jamieson, Davidee Kowcharlie, Silassie Tookalook and Charlie Novalinga Sr.
David Webster was elected mayor in Baker Lake. New council members are Samson Arnauyok, Leo Lareau, Simeon Mikkungwak and Frank Tootoo.
There was not much activity in Chesterfield Inlet. Mayor George Tanuyak has another year as mayor. The four vacant councillor positions were filled by acclamation.
Marvin Dion remains mayor in Coral Harbour. Joining the council are Potoguk Adamie, Joseph Angootealuk, Dino Bruce, Amouyah Eetuk and Casey Paniyuk.
Donat Milortok remains mayor in Repulse Bay for another year. New councillors are Richard Angotialuk, Joe Angotialuk, John Kaunak, Peter Mannik and Louisa Mapsalak.
David Alagalak is one year into his two-year term as mayor of Arviat. Joining his council are Nathan Caskey, Mark Kalluak, Annie Ollie and Luke Suluk.
Jack Kabvitok remains Rankin Inlets mayor. New councillors are Leonard Forbes, Roberts Janes, Laura Kowmuk, Justin Merrit and Hamish Tatty.
In Whale Cove, Davida Kritterdlik steps in to the mayors seat with a 21-vote win over Jack Angoo. New councillors are Makki Angoo, Elizabeth Kabloona, Roy Kritterdlik, Peter Kukshoot, Martha Panika and Pauline Sabourin. Whale Cove had the second-highest voter turnout, with 76 per cent.
Incumbent mayor Keith Peterson received 261 votes, securing his term for another two years in Cambridge Bay. All new councillors were acclaimed.
Joseph Agluukkaq remains mayor for another year in Gjoa Haven. His new councillors are Peter Akkikungnak, Ruby Eleheetook, Teddy Carter, Mary Kamookak and Gideon Qitsualik.
Stanley Anablak remains mayor in Kugluktuk for the rest of his two year term. The five new councillors seats were all filled by acclamation.
Raymond Kayaksark remains Kugarruks mayor for another year. Joining his council are Alex Ittimangnak, Joshua Kringorn, Zachary Oonark, Ema Qagutag and Joanne Sikkuark.
In Taloyoak, David Aqqaq is mayor. New councillors are George Aklah, Louise Alookee, Annie Buchan and Richard Totalik.
December 14, 2001
Winnipeg business starting Canada-Greenland route
A non-Inuit Winnipeg business steps in where governments and Inuit organizations have failed
MONTREAL Private business is stepping in to fill the need for air service between Canada and Greenland.
The Winnipeg-based Great Canadian Travel Company will offer flights this summer to Sisimiut, Greenland, from Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Iqaluit, in conjunction with a Sisimiut cruise operator, Arctic Umiaq Line.
The flights are scheduled to run from mid-June and last until the end of August.
"Wed have to look at it after that time. Its the first year, and we want to try it out," said Melanie Woodward of the Great Canadian Travel Company.
But Woodward isnt worried about filling the twice-weekly flights to Greenland.
The response to news of these flights, passed around Greenland and Canada by word-of-mouth, is already generating bookings for the renewed service.
"Im positive we can fill it," Woodward said.
The flights will run Mondays and Tuesdays, and bring passengers from the South to Iqaluit via regular First Air flights and then over to Sisimiut on Air Nunavuts 11-passenger King Air.
From Ottawa or Montreal to Sisimiut, round-trip tickets will cost $1,610. From Edmonton, tickets will cost $2,074. The round-trip fare from Iqaluit will be $939.
The tickets are valid for a one-week stay although passengers can also opt for more expensive one-way tickets or longer stays.
Travellers between Canada and Greenland welcome these renewed flights.
"Im already planning," said Kuujjuaq resident Ida Nassak. "Thats much better than absolutely nothing."
At the end of December, Nassak will travel for three days to reach her boyfriend in Aasiaat, Greenland.
Along the way, shell change planes in Montreal, Paris, Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq. Shell repeat the long jouney at the end of her trip to return back to Kuujjuaq.
The round-trip ticket from Montreal to Kangerlussuaq alone cost her more than $2,000.
The financial and logistical hurdles in planning this visit to Aasiaat have also been frustrating, despite contacts through e-mail and telephone.
"If its not accessible physically, it feels like a world away," Nassak said.
However, the new summer schedule for flights wont help anyone wishing to see the Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk in March.
Although, in January Greenlandair may decide to send its rented ATR-42 aircraft on a regular run between Nuuk and Iqaluit.
This show of interest from business comes at a time when some observers say the Nunavut and Greenland Home Rule governments have been dragging their heels on finding a solution to the lack of service between the two neighbouring Inuit regions.
Meanwhile, a task force under the Arctic Council has been looking at how to improve circumpolar travel. The Circumpolar Infrastructure Task Force will make recommendations to the Arctic Council ministers again next year in Finland.
The task forces preliminary report details how travel around the circumpolar world is still near to impossible without making many detours to the South.
Air travel through Russia and between Alaska and Siberia is difficult because of the dispersed population, limited points of entry, and visa requirements.
Flying between Alaska and the Eastern Arctic is tedious, too, and generally requires detours to the South.
While the air link between Canada and Greenland has been completely broken, there are two weekly flights from Greenland to Iceland and four to Denmark.
Air connections in northern Scandinavia still lack north-to-north service. The only way to travel by air from Tromsø, Norway, to Rovaniemi, Finland, is still to fly south through Oslo and Helsinki.
December 14, 2001
Breakwater gets break from bankers
The struggling company that owns Nanisivik mine will get enough money to operate until the end of December 2002.
The struggling Toronto firm that owns the Nanisivik zinc mine got a break from its bankers last month.
Breakwater Resources Ltd. announced on Nov. 15 that it has worked out a deal with its bankers intended to give the company enough cash to operate until December 2002.
Under the agreement, Breakwaters bankers will loan the company another US $6.5 million, under a guarantee provided by the companys largest shareholder, Dundee Bancorp Inc.
As of Oct. 31, Breakwater owed its bankers US $22.6 million under a term loan, and another US $16.3 million through a revolving fund used to finance operations at Nanisivik by pledging ore shipments against a line of credit.
At the same time, Breakwater wont have to make any payments on the principal of its loans until December 2002, but must pay interest on them.
Breakwater will also raise $15 million in a share offering.
Starting next year, Breakwater will be expected to begin paying for a clean-up of the Nanisivik mine site in compliance with a closure plan thats a condition of its water licence.
It also has to honour a commitment to pay severance to the workers who will lose their jobs next year.
Meanwhile, the company has begun a cost-cutting plan thats designed to maximize cash flow from the operation.
"All of the operations are under continual review to minimize cash requirements. Revisions to previously approved mining plans are under way and the temporary suspension of operations at one or more of the other mines is under constant review," a company press release said.
December 14, 2001
Canada Post helps stop the flow of illegal booze
Upon request, corporation will search suspicious packages for alcohol
Northern communities who want to block illegal booze shipments can ask Canada Post to inspect all suspicious packages, the corporation says.
"We could co-operate to prevent illegal booze from entering communities," said Marc LAnglais, general manager for Canada Posts northern services. "We have a procedure we can put into place to catch illegal packages of alcohol."
In a dry community, this procedure would ban all shipments of booze sent through the mail. In a restricted community, it would keep out unapproved shipments sent by individuals, but wouldnt affect licensed liquor retailers.
Its an "extraordinary procedure," said LAnglais. Every parcel gets a once-over before its handed to its recipient.
With the security measures in place, postal workers would keep watch for any package that looks strange, "sloshes or smells funny."
Postal workers are instructed to open the questionable package and remove any booze. Alternatively, employees can send the package "downstream" to the main regional postal centre for example, Val dOr, which serves Nunavik.
"It only has to be suspicious," LAnglais said.
The sender can pay to have the booze returned to its place of origin. Otherwise, Canada Post confiscates it. The remainder of the package would be sent on to its initial destination.
LAnglais noted that Canada Post honours "the sanctity of the mail." The corporation doesnt want to open any mail unless doing so could reasonably be expected to reduce the amount of alcohol entering a community.
For that reason, Canada Post wont implement these extra security measures if booze is pouring into the community legally through another outlet say, a bar or beer store.
Shipments of alcohol such as those sent by the Quebec liquor commission or grocery stores would not be opened as long as they were well marked and carried the necessary paperwork.
LAnglais was in Montreal two weeks ago to explain to the mayors of Nunaviks communities how Canada Post could help fight the flow of illegal booze. However, due to the unexpected cancellation of a First Air flight from Kuujjuaq, the mayors meeting was postponed until January.
Canada Post is open to working with any communities, LAnglais said, if their leaders can produce a letter describing the problems illegal booze is causing, as well as a municipal resolution asking for help. "It certainly is an option," he said.
So far, Canada Post has intervened in only one situation, at the request of one Manitoba settlement plagued by social problems made worse by shipments of illegal booze from the South.
"And it has worked," LAnglais said.
December 14, 2001
Rankin dreaming of a dry Christmas
Community asked to stop flow of booze during holidays
There may be snow on the ground, but it will be relatively dry Christmas in Rankin Inlet this year.
For the second time in as many years, the hamlet council is asking that alcohol be banned in the 2,500-person community from Dec. 14 until Jan. 2.
Levinia Brown, the deputy mayor of Rankin Inlet, explained the motion was put forward for the benefit of children and young people in the community so that all could experience a safer Christmas season.
"The reasoning behind my idea was to give people a chance to be more sober and enjoy Christmas," she explains.
Alcohol cannot be banned from the hamlet without a plebiscite so, like last year, letters were sent to the airlines asking them to not ship alcohol. A letter explaining the motion was also delivered to a private business in Rankin where many people get their liquor permits.
Brown says she has received no negative feedback regarding the ban. "I havent heard any opposition, or anyone not approving of it. In fact, I had congratulations a couple of times. There have been people coming up to me and saying it was a good move," she says.
Last year, people spent more time with their families and at feasts, Brown recalls, and the RCMP reported a very quiet Christmas. "It was very peaceful and the whole community participated in activities and nightly square dances," she says.
Const. Bob Hodyr wasnt posted in Rankin last Christmas, but he says from what he understands it was a quiet, calm holiday season. The RCMP is supporting the ban. Usually, he says, "the majority of calls are alcohol-related."
Brown says the council gets regular reports from the RCMP and it has been determined about 90 per cent of crime throughout the year is alcohol-related. "I would say thats a big problem," she admits.
While still in preliminary stages, she says, the hamlet council is also planning to form a council sub-committee to monitor alcohol use in the community.
"Were hoping that theyll get some ideas on how to deal with it," Brown says.
December 14, 2001
Water board to hold hearings on mine closure
Arctic Bay residents asked to provide input
The Nunavut Water Board plans to hold pre-hearings and hearings in Arctic Bay to consult the public on the closure of the Nanisivik Mine, the boards executive director says.
The meetings are actually part of the boards regular process before it makes major decisions, said Philippe di Pizzo. However, exactly when the meetings are held will depend on Breakwater Resources, which owns the mine.
Breakwater is expected to submit an abandonment and restoration plan to the board early next year.
Pre-hearings to inform the public about the scope of the proposed plan and identify the parties interested in participating will probably take place before early March 2000. Hearings will take place about two months after the pre-hearings.
There has been very little information distributed to the people of Arctic Bay, di Pizzo admitted. "There is no easy way to do that," he said.
But, he added, formal public notices will be posted in Arctic Bay before the pre-hearings. "We try to keep people informed."
Because the mine is located on both Crown and Commissioners Lands, approval of the decommissioning will also involve the Government of Nunavut and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.
According to di Pizzo, the water boards interests are in making sure the closure is permanent and to see that there is no impact on surface water. "The water boards responsibilities are water and waste," he said, "not jobs, social and economic impacts, environment and all other issues." Thats why its crucial for the public to be informed and involved in the process.
In addition, he invites the residents of Arctic Bay and other interested parties to call the Nunavut Water Boards office in Gjoa Haven at (867) 360-6338 if they want more information or want to be added to the boards mailing list.
December 14, 2001
Radical Greenlanders call for new election
One coalition crumbles, a new one is formed
OTTAWA Young Greenlanders are calling for a general election after the coalition that held together the 27-seat local parliament crumbled, leaving the Home Rule government in disarray.
"We have a crisis of sorts," said Inuit Circumpolar Conference president Aqqaluk Lynge in Ottawa recently.
"For the first time, you have the current leadership not capable of carrying out what needs to be done."
The Home Rule governments former coalition fell apart when the majority supported a motion that would double members salaries.
The new package would include retirement benefits, free annual travel for families and access to better housing in Nuuk, where there is a 13-year waiting list for housing.
The move to boost salaries and benefits caused the radical left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit Party to bolt from the coalition and it incited radical young Greenlanders to march in protest and take their call for a general election to the streets.
The break-up of the alliance between the social democratic Siumut party and the Inuit Ataqatigiit Party also left Greenlands premier, Jonathan Motzfeldt, scrambling to form another coalition from among the four remaining political parties to keep his government afloat.
Last week, the Siumut Party and the centre-right Atassut Party said they would form a new coalition government to avoid having to call an election.
Some observers in Greenland say the Inuit Ataqatigiit Party may have had its bluff called.
Encouraged by a victory in last months Danish national elections, its members may have expected to force the Home Rule Government into an election by withdrawing their support from the coalition.
But now, the Inuit Ataqatigiit has lost the important cabinet seats it held in economic development: health and environment.
The most recent Greenland election was held in 1998, and the next one isnt expected until 2003.
With the support of the new coalition, the Home Rule government hopes to push through the proposed legislation to increase members salaries as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, outraged students are still adding signatures to a petition that calls for a new general election. They already have 10,000 names.
The student-run movement, called the "New Parliament Group," says it will continue to protest the government and intends to collect signatures from half of Greenlands voting population.
If the petition doesnt lead to an election call, the group says it will "stand together and find methods of getting rid of these undemocratic careerists who hinder us from solving important problems in the country."