Nunavut renews co-operation deal with Manitoba
MOU looks at expanded hydro network, winter road, and beefs up Inuit art promotion
Nunavut renewed its memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with Manitoba, a key partner in the territory’s efforts to improve transportation, trade, health and energy initiatives, Nov. 19 for another five years.
Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger signed the new five-year agreement in Winnipeg and also committed $1 million towards the preservation and exhibition of Inuit art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
“We want to ensure that we collaborate on some of these things to make sure we can benefit,” Taptuna said. “At the end of the day, it’s the strengthening of a collaboration we already have.”
The MOU goes back to Nunavut’s creation in 1999, when the territory signed five different agreements with Manitoba. Since 2010, the two governments have amalgamated those files under one single MOU.
The renewed agreement includes continued exploration of the expansion of Manitoba’s hydro-electric network into the Kivalliq region, along with the possibility of a winter road extending from northern Manitoba along Nunavut’s Hudson Bay coast.
Taptuna said the Kivalliq region presents the more obvious link to the southern road and hydro networks, given its shared land border.
“An all-weather road would be more economical and viable,” Taptuna said.
“We’re talking long term. But that’s a start.”
Discussions around the expansion of Manitoba’s hydro network into Nunavut are still very preliminary, the premier noted, but it’s a project that remains on Nunavut’s radar.
A recent study that looked at expanding the hydro network from Churchill to five Kivalliq communities priced the project at over $900 million.
“The scoping study is very early…but there are ongoing discussions,” Taptuna said. “We need to start figuring out ways to move the process forward.”
Nunavut is also expected to work alongside Manitoba on other projects to reduce the use of diesel fuel in the territory, as part of a new pan-Canadian task force addressing the issue, which is chaired by Manitoba.
Taptuna even suggested Nov. 19 that Manitoba and Nunavut could work together on mineral exploration for base and precious metals common to both jurisdictions.
As well, Inuit art may have gotten the biggest boost under the new MOU.
As part of the agreement, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is already home to thousands of pieces created by Nunavummiut artists, will receive the funds to welcome 8,000 pieces which belong to Nunavut, but are currently held in storage around the country.
Each government is investing $500,000 towards the digitization of much of the gallery’s Inuit art collection, as well as research and promotion to allow the gallery to tour exhibitions of Inuit art.
“We want all that fine art work put on display for a global audience,” Taptuna said. “So much of that has been stored in basements for so long.”
But Taptuna said those exhibitions will also be put on display in Nunavut.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery holds the largest contemporary collection of Inuit art in the world, which will now be supplemented with thousands of pieces on loan from the Government of Nunavut for a five-year period.