Canada’s culture ministers hold low-profile talk-fest in Nunavut
Nunavut culture minister makes hopeful noises about long-delayed heritage centre
After Canada’s culture and heritage ministers met quietly in Iqaluit Aug. 14 to talk about their work, they finished their gathering by issuing platitudes and agreeing to keep working with each other.
Shelley Glover, a Conservative MP from Manitoba who was recently appointed minister responsible for Canadian heritage and official languages, co-chaired the meeting with James Arreak, Nunavut’s culture minister.
“I am honoured to have had the opportunity to share Nunavut’s rich culture and heritage with my counterparts this week,” Arreak said in a news release.
Arreak also said there is an “urgent need” to build a heritage centre, or museum, in Nunavut to house valuable cultural artifacts that are now held outside the territory, mostly at the Prince of Wales facility in Yellowknife.
In 2011, after plans for such a heritage centre were deleted from the GN’s five-year capital plan, Arreak told MLAs the GN was looking at a public-private partnership, or P3, for building the project.
The creation of such a heritage centre is also an obligation under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
But now that the GN has announced plans for a P3 project to build a new Iqaluit airport for up to $300 million, minus a $77.3 million handout from P3 Canada, its not clear if the GN can take on any more long-term debt obligations.
That’s because there may not be enough room within the GN’s $400 million long-term debt limit, which is set by the federal government.
During the meeting, provincial and territorial culture ministers looked at economic data from Statistics Canada that shows culture contributed $49.9 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2009, about 3.4 per cent of total national GDP.
“We all agree that culture and heritage are essential to our country’s social and economic development,” Glover said.