Online survey will help shape Nunavut’s economic future
Results will feed into new economic development strategy
The Nunavut Economic Forum is inviting all Nunavut residents to help shape the economic development of the territory by filling out an online survey.
Posted Feb. 3, residents have until March 2 to complete the confidential survey on the internet. As an added attraction, respondents earn a chance to win an iPad mini.
The results will feed into a new 10-year economic development strategy for the territory, called the Nunavut Economic Development Strategy for 2014-2024.
The survey’s purpose is gauge “issues, opportunities and challenges” that Nunavummiut see in the territory, said Terry Forth, executive director of the forum.
“We’re hoping to get some measure of that,” Forth said, “in terms of education and employment, to know what issues are top-of-mind.”
The Nunavut Economic Forum started as a coalition of about 30 federal, territorial and municipal government agencies, Inuit organizations, business associations and non-government groups in the territory.
The coalition set up the forum as an independent organization in 2004, first to monitor an earlier economic development strategy for the territory, covering 2003 to 2013.
The forum also charts overall economic development of the territory in a yearly report called the Nunavut Economic Outlook, and organizes Sivummut economic development conferences.
The territory’s 2013 outlook was presented last week at the Northern Lights conference in Ottawa.
Once the survey is in and the analysis done, the forum will take it to this year’s Sivummut conference, where the Nunavut Economic Development Strategy for 2014-2024 will take shape, Forth said.
Now based in Iqaluit, the forum has a long view of how the territory has developed, going back to the first Sivummut conference in 1994, Forth said.
That meeting, held just one year after the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was signed, offered an outlook on economic prospects for the territory of Nunavut —which would be created in 1999.
“In ’94 there was a general feeling that the population would shift as the economy grew, and we would have more economic opportunities in things such as mining,” Forth said.
The territory’s proportion of Inuit to non-Inuit has changed little over the past 20 years, however.
One of the reasons, Forth said, “is that we now have a lot of fly-in, fly-out people who work at mining sites like Meadowbank, or construction sites anywhere else in the territory, and work for short periods.”
A bigger concern in recent years, he said, is migration and mobility of the territory’s population.
Surveys show some migration of Inuit out of the territory since 1999.
“Nunavut Inuit are moving out,” Forth said. “Not in great numbers, but increasingly, they’re seeking educational and employment opportunities outside.”
University and post-secondary programs, which are only available outside the territory, are understood as part of the reason, he said.
“But at the same time, if people are not seeing their future in Nunavut, I think it’s important for us to know why, and what are some of the issues that might be addressed to make the place a little more attractive,” he said. “We want to get a measure of that.”
The online survey is for all residents of Nunavut.
“Obviously we’re looking to get input from as many permanent residents or people who consider themselves permanent residents as possible,” Forth said.
The NEF needs answers from at least 400 residents, who must answer online. Forth said he doesn’t see internet access as a barrier for respondents.
“There are fairly large segments of the population that do have Internet access, even through schools and libraries,” he said. “So we’re hoping it won’t be a huge impediment.”
Forth said he expects the greatest response from residents between the ages of 16 and 35.
That age group, “even in the most remote communities, are used to going online and having access,” he said.
“We’ll be able to tell the extent to which the respondents are reflective of the population as a whole,” Forth said. “I’m told we have a good chance of something like 95 per cent accuracy.”
NEF commissioned Iqaluit-based Aarluk Consulting to develop the survey, and analyze the results.
The forum expects results and analysis to be ready in April. These will be used in the next Sivummut conference, which will take place in May at the earliest.