Devolution talks still at preliminary stage: Nunavut’s chief negotiator
“We’re hoping within this year that we’ll sit and negotiate"
David Akeeagok, the Government of Nunavut’s chief negotiator for devolution, had little progress to report on when he spoke Oct. 16 to the Nunavut Association of Municipal Administrators annual meeting in Iqaluit.
Devolution negotiators for the GN, federal government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. are “meeting on a regular basis to reach hopefully an agreement” on their mandate.
But that’s as far as they’ve gotten so far, Akeeagok said.
“We are at the discussion stage,” he said. “We’re hoping within this year that we’ll sit and negotiate.”
This past May, Ottawa named its chief negotiator, Dale Drown, 57, a former chief of staff to Yukon ex-premier Dennis Fentie.
However, if negotiators’ mandates aren’t reached in a timely fashion, “we’ve got to go back to the drawing board,” Akeeagok said during his talk.
Later this week, Akeeagok plans to attend a meeting in Rankin Inlet with Drown and Udloriak Hanson of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
The negotiators want to meet in different places to “allow the negotiators some exposure on what’s reality in Nunavut. This is an opportune time to visit communities,” Akeeagok said.
Communities need to understand and be involved in the devolution of lands and resources process in the territory, he said.
Mayors have said they want to be “part of devolution,” said Akeeagok, who was at the meeting to start “a dialogue with NAMA.”
But even after Ottawa does hand over more power and a single capital transfer of money to the GN, hamlets will depend on the territorial government for their infrastructure needs, Akeeagok said.
SAOs had a few questions for Akeeagok after his NAMA presentation.
“I wasn’t anticipating a lot of questions… this is sharing of information that they can bring back to their communities.”