Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 21, 2016 - 8:30 am

QIA launches wildlife compensation fund to offset potential mining impacts

“The fund is a measure to protect the rights of Inuit"

SARAH ROGERS
Olayuk Akesuk, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's executive committee member speaks during the official launch of its Wildlife Compensation Fund in Pond Inlet July 20. (PHOTO COURTESY OF QIA)
Olayuk Akesuk, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's executive committee member speaks during the official launch of its Wildlife Compensation Fund in Pond Inlet July 20. (PHOTO COURTESY OF QIA)

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association officially launched its wildlife compensation program, a fund established under the Mary River Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement to recoup wildlife losses in the north Baffin region.

The QIA made the announcement July 20 in Pond Inlet, the community that’s closest to Baffinland’s Mary River iron mine.

As part of its IIBA with Baffinland, signed in 2013, the mining company has paid the QIA $750,000 in relation to Article 17 of the Mary River IIBA, which recognizes that while the Mary River project will bring many opportunities and benefits to the Qikiqtaaluk region, it could also cause wildlife losses.

During its annual general meeting last year, the QIA discussed the uncertainty of the environmental impact the mine could have on the region, noting it could require hunters to be out on the land for longer periods of time, using more resources for harvesting activities.

And so the regional Inuit birthright organization decided to set up the $750,000 fund to help compensate hunters in communities in close vicinity to the mine site — Hall Beach, Igloolik, Arctic Bay, Clyde River and Pond Inlet.

“The WCF [wildlife compensation fund] is a measure to protect the rights of Inuit, by establishing a policy and process, allowing compensation to mitigate any issues related to wildlife losses caused by the Mary River Project,” QIA executive committee member Olayuk Akesuk said in a July 20 release.

“I strongly encourage beneficiaries’ victims of such incident to file a claim.”

Under its guidelines, the wildlife fund aims to compensate beneficiaries in cases “where a specific incident happened that could not be reasonably avoided. If the incident is believed to have been caused by the operation of the Mary River project and led to a loss or damage of wildlife or inconvenience, then beneficiaries are encouraged to file a claim.”

Although the fund targets communities closest to the mine, any beneficiary can apply to the fund.

Claims must include an accurate description of the incident that demonstrates the loss or damage to wildlife and equipment or interference with harvesting activities, and how it was caused by local mining activity.

The fund is not designed to provide compensation for major events, the QIA said, such as the introduction of invasive species or the long-term decline of wildlife.

The value of the claim will be determined based on the value of damage to harvesters’ property, associated costs of harvesting (such as fuel and food) and the value of the claimed wildlife loss, the QIA’s guidelines indicate.

You can read the QIA’s guidelines here, and download an application form here.

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