Harper, Inuit leaders to hold big “Inuit-specific meeting” Aug. 22 in Nunavut
Leader hopes to see "something concrete and improves the quality of living for Inuit and Northerners"
(updated Aug. 21 at 8:55 p.m.)
Inuit leaders will finally gain what they have sought for more than a year: an “Inuit-specific meeting to focus on Inuit and Arctic issues” with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, when he visits the Nunavut community of Rankin Inlet Aug. 22 during his six-day Arctic tour.
The meeting with Harper will take place on the afternoon of Aug. 22.
One of the many Inuit leaders expected to attend that Aug. 22 meeting said he hopes the discussions lead to “something concrete and improves the quality of living for Inuit and northerners,” even if it’s simply “a commitment to work together on issues related to the Arctic.”
Mary Simon, the former president of ITK, said in January 2012 that Inuit needed to talk with the PM “about some of the critical issues facing Inuit today.”
Some of the issues Simon wanted on the agenda included education in Inuit regions, as well as mental health services.
Both are issues that Simon said prevent Inuit from taking part fully in the work force.
ITK’s ultimate goal at that time was to host a northern meeting with Inuit leaders, the PM, cabinet ministers and premiers of the Inuit-inhabited territories and provinces, all at the same table.
ITK said Aug. 21 that the focus of the discussions would be non-renewable resource and economic development, housing, marine traffic and search and rescue capabilities, and skills development and training.
Those attending the meeting include: Terry Audla, ITK president, Nellie Cournoyea, who chairs the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Cathy Towtongie, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president, Jobie Tukkiapik, Makivik Corp. president, Sarah Leo, Nunatsiavut Government president, Duane Smith, Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada president, Rebecca Kudloo, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada president, and Thomas Anguti Johnson, National Inuit Youth Council president.
Harper will be joined by Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, who is also minister of the environment, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Arctic Council, Bernard Valcourt, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister, and Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources.
Before the closed-door summit gets underway in the afternoon, Harper plans to speak in public at Leo Ussak Elementary School, starting at 9:30 a.m.
According to a media advisory, he will be joined by Oliver, Aglukkaq, Valcourt, Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut, and Ryan Leef, MP for Yukon.