Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Nunavut May 04, 2016 - 2:20 pm

Individual Inuit should be allowed to buy IOL land in communities

"This way, it would ensure that Inuit become land owners just like non-Inuit"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
A view of some Inuit-owned land in Iqaluit, controlled by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. Should individual Inuit be allowed to buy plots of Inuit-owned land? (FILE PHOTO)
A view of some Inuit-owned land in Iqaluit, controlled by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. Should individual Inuit be allowed to buy plots of Inuit-owned land? (FILE PHOTO)

It sure doesn’t look like a majority of voters will vote Yes to allow the buying and selling of municipal land in all communities in Nunavut in the May 9 land referendum, except possibly in Iqaluit, where a large number of non-Inuit live.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has decided to urge a No vote among Nunavut beneficiaries and a large number of individual people have raised fears that too many Inuit will be left out in the cold should any municipal land become available for sale.

It would make obvious sense for NTI and the regional Inuit associations to just sell Inuit-owned lands in the communities to beneficiaries.

This way, it would ensure that Inuit become land owners just like non-Inuit.

Unfortunately, there is one problem: the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement disallows the sale of any Inuit-owned lands except to government.

The solution is very simple: NTI should propose an agreement to sell a small portion of Inuit-owned lands to the government in exchange for a system of allocating municipal lots to individual beneficiaries and Inuit-owned businesses.

I’ve estimated that a total of nine square kilometres should be sufficient to meet the needs of all Inuit at current population numbers.

This would barely make a scratch on the 38,000 square kilometres of Inuit-owned lands, a land area that some say is greater than that of merry old England

It doesn’t take much to realize the immense and positive impact this would make in the chronic housing crisis in Nunavut that is only getting worse each passing year — where we see two or three generations of families living in horrifying conditions in residences designed for a family of four!

Inuit beneficiaries would finally have the resources to become as self sufficient, resourceful and enterprising as their ancestors once were, instead of being whiny welfare recipients who are always bitching against the injustices of today’s world.

On top of all this, this solution would NOT cost NTI, the regional Inuit associations and the government any significant amount of money, which no one is currently willing to provide from either the government or private sectors.

In the meantime, I urge every eligible voter in Nunavut to vote Yes to the sale of municipal lands in each of their communities.

Saali Peter
Iqaluit



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