Mine-impacted Nunavut hamlets eligible for QIA funding
"We want to make sure that the families in the communities are supported"
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association plans to give away $750,000 to communities affected by the Mary River iron mine every year for the next six years.
QIA on July 9 launched its Ilagiiktunut Fund, which intends to offset potential social, economic and cultural impacts of the Mary River iron mine in five North Baffin communities.
Various bodies, such as hamlet councils, committees, groups, and even individuals in Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik and Pond Inlet may apply for funding for projects of their choosing.
“750,000 for five communities is a lot of money,” Okalik Eegeesiak, president of QIA, said when she announced the fund on Nunavut Day.
The Ilagiiktunut Fund replenishes to $750,000 every year, with QIA and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. each contributing $375,000.
Eegeesiak said the fund is essential for those working at the mine and their families.
“Because in a mining operation there’s at least a two-week-in, two-week-out period where staff work at the mine site, leaving the families behind,” Eegeesiak said.
“So we want to make sure that the families in the communities are supported by a fund like this,” she said.
The fund is mandated by the Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement that Baffinland and QIA signed in September 2013.
“It’s a very important part of the project being successful in people working successfully at the site,” Greg Missal, Baffinland’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said.
“This fund will help to get people ready and get people in the communities ready, Missal said.
However, the fund isn’t intended for projects the territorial government should be funding, Eegeesiak warned.
“We don’t want to go into what the government should be investing in. Like infrastructure, or programs that the government should be paying for,” Eegeesiak said.
The fund lasts until 2019-20. If all the money isn’t spent in one given year, the rest can carry over into the next year.
QIA and Baffinland will then decide whether to continue the fund for a further three years after 2020.
“Communities will really be the main driving force,” QIA executive director Navarana Beveridge said.
“They will have the biggest say in terms of what types of activities they would like to see in their communities as they’re being impacted by the mine,” she said.
Proposals can address issues such as community safety, recreation, health and wellness, food security, education, arts and culture, money management, or anything else the community feels is necessary.
Beveridge said Kimmirut and Cape Dorset can also gain access to the fund in the future, once the mine project takes off.
Other organizations not based in the five communities can also use the money on behalf of a community.
“Let’s say a community wanted to do a research program or they wanted to do a workshop for job readiness and they want to partner with a university down south,” Beveridge said.
“A university could write a proposals on their behalf, receive the money on their behalf and that would be fine,” she said.
“As long as the community is the driving force between the project, and that project is wanted [in] the community to offset some of those socio-economic experiences they are seeing as a result of the project.”
Officials at QIA said they’ve already started calling various committees on Baffin Island to see who’s interested in the money.
Eegeesiak said QIA will “make sure [the fund] is advertised and heard by the communities.”
Eegeesiak won’t see the fund in action, however.
She’s quitting her job as QIA president July 24 to work as the international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
QIA will call for proposals twice a year. Applications are now open, and available on QIA’s website.
The closing date to submit an application is August 31. In September a fund committee, comprised of staff at QIA and QIA’s subsidiary organization Kakivak Association, will review and evaluate the proposals and then award money to the successful parties.
QIA will announce its first round of successful projects at its annual general meeting in October.