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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 7 - Evidence - April 15, 2008

OTTAWA, Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 6:20 p.m. to examine and report on issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans. Topic: Arctic Study

Senator Ethel Cochrane (Deputy Chair) in the chair.


The Deputy Chair: I am Senator Cochrane, from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I will be chairing the committee this evening.

I will introduce our members. We have Senator Comeau from New Brunswick, Senator Eyton from Ontario and Senator Watt from Northern Quebec. Senator Robichaud is from New Brunswick, Senator Hubley from Prince Edward Island and Senator Adams from Nunavut.

Today we are studying the new and emerging policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans. Specifically, we are examining the topic of the Arctic. The committee has heard from a number of experts in the recent past on issues pertaining to Arctic sovereignty, the role of the Canadian Coast Guard in Canada's North, climate change and issues that are fundamentally transforming the Arctic.

I will give a summary of the witnesses we have heard from: The current Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, George da Pont, as well as former Deputy Commissioner Michael Turner; legal advisers from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada; Dr. Michael Byers from University of British Columbia; Dr. Rob Huebert from the University of Calgary; Mr. Duane Smith, President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council; and Dr. Scott Borgerson, Council on Foreign Relations.

Today it is my pleasure to welcome, from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Paul Kaludjak, President; and Gabe Nirlungayuk, Director of Wildlife. From Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, we have John Merritt, Senior Policy Advisor.

I understand you have some brief opening remarks. I will open the floor to you.

Paul Kaludjak, President, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated: Thank you, Madam Chair.

[The witness spoke in his native language.]

It is great to be here in Ottawa. We are still hitting minus-30 at home in Nunavut and you have a balmy plus-10 today. It is way too hot for us. I told my staff to shut down Ottawa for a while to cool it down, but they did not listen for some reason.

My name is Paul Kaludjak. To my left is Gabe Nirlungayuk who is the Wildlife Director. John Merritt has many hats. He is also legal counsel for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Behind me we have Mr. Comeau, our staff member from NTI.

Honourable senators, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening, to present on behalf of NTI our views on some of the matters relating to Arctic sovereignty as well as other matters I would like to highlight. They greatly concern Inuit today. Also, I will say a few words about the Nunavut fisheries.

Very often, we feel we are speaking as a voice in the wilderness; that we speak but are not heard. Nevertheless, it is fortunate that, in many cases, the chamber of sober second thought seems more than others to be seriously listening to us. For example, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is currently reviewing the implementation of the land claims agreements. NTI representatives appeared before it on December 4 of last year, and on February 26 and April 2 of this year. Their inquiry into the implementation process is giving implementation the attention it deserves. We look forward to the completion of their report and action to follow it up. Real implementation action is needed thereafter.

As well, I was pleased to hear that, on April 9 of this year, the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament recommended that a pilot project on the use of Inuktitut in the Senate Chamber begin at the earliest opportunity. Additionally, I was pleased to learn that this pilot project may be extended to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples as well as to this committee.

I welcome this initiative and look forward to the adoption of this report.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated has many disagreements with Canada's government. However, I should begin by saying that the Prime Minister and his government deserve some credit for giving a focus to the issue of Arctic sovereignty. The Prime Minister toured the North in 2006 and 2007, and Arctic sovereignty was the lead item in last fall's Speech from the Throne. It is clear to me that the Prime Minister is personally committed to Canada's asserting its Arctic sovereignty.

One central concern, shared by Canadians everywhere, is to prevent oil spills and other accidents when climate change opens the Northwest Passage to oil tankers and other shipping. The 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska affected 28,000 square kilometres of ocean warns us what shipping activity could lead to if not controlled. The spill occurred in an isolated area and there was no capacity to respond immediately. As well, techniques that were attempted, like skimming, burning, the use of chemical dispersants and hot water treatments, were ineffective or had damaging side effects. Eventually the spill was cleaned using booms, absorbent pads and cold water spray. However, evidence of this oil spill remains today.

The best means to protect ourselves and the environment is for Canada to manage and regulate shipping in the Northwest Passage in line with the most rigorous standards and procedures. This requires Canada to exercise full and complete sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. The Inuit presence in the North and Canada's ability to assert Arctic sovereignty are glued together. Inuit use and occupy 3.8 million square kilometres of land and ocean in the Northwest Territories, as it was documented, mapped and published by the Government of Canada in 1977. This project showed that Inuit use Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait, the eastern end of the Northwest Passage which the Americans and Europeans claim to be an international strait. We beg to differ.

In 1985, the Government of Canada drew straight baselines around the Arctic archipelago and said all waters within the baselines were internal to Canada, just like Hudson Bay. The Department of Justice Canada relied, in part, on Inuit occupancy to support this legal move. This fact is reflected in article 15 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which states that:

Canada's sovereignty over the waters of the Arctic archipelago is supported by Inuit use and occupancy.

More broadly, the rights and benefits Inuit receive through the Nunavut agreement are, to quote from the agreement:

. . .in recognition of the contributions of Inuit to Canada's history, identity and sovereignty in the Arctic.

By fully implementing the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Government of Canada would demonstrate Arctic sovereignty on the ground. The problem is that the Government of Canada is not implementing all of the articles in the agreement or respecting its spirit and intent. We explained this to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in our appearances on December 4, February 26 and April 2, and our views were supported by findings of the Auditor General and independent consultants. I would like to give you some examples of failure in the claims agreement implementation that are of particular relevance to this committee.

Article 12 of the agreement requires government, in cooperation with the Nunavut Planning Commission, to adopt a plan to monitor Nunavut's natural environment as well as Inuit social, cultural and economic well-being. You have to know what is going on in the territory where you assert sovereignty in order to demonstrate your presence to others. Yet, 15 years after our agreement was ratified, this article remains unimplemented.

Article 15 of the agreement provides for the establishment of a Nunavut Marine Council to bring together institutions of public government and government departments to focus on the offshore. By its very existence, the Nunavut Marine Council would further demonstrate that the offshore is part and parcel of Canada, but due to lack of government initiative and funding, this article also remains unimplemented.

With regard to the fisheries, Article 15.3.7 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement recognizes the principle of adjacency in allocating commercial fishing licences. Over the past 15 years, NTI has engaged in extensive lobbying efforts, and occasionally litigation, to convince successive ministers of fisheries and their officials to increase Nunavut's share of the valuable commercial turbot quota in division OB to the level that adjacent jurisdictions hold in the rest of Canada.

Canada has made some progress in our emerging and exploratory adjacent turbot fisheries. Nunavut Inuit now hold 100 per cent of the exploratory turbot quota in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, division OA. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the full-fledged commercial turbot fishery in NAFO division OB. Here, Nunavut fishers hold only 27.3 per cent of the commercial quota, with no core or enterprise allocation licences associated with it. In all other parts of Canada, fishing interests in adjacent jurisdictions receive 80 to 95 per cent of the quota in their adjacent waters.

Recently, Minister Hearn lost a tremendous opportunity to address the inequity of Inuit access and allocation to division OB when he permanently transferred 1,900 tonnes of Seafreez's turbot quota to southern companies in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This transfer was done without any consultation, in contradiction to Article 15.3.4 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. This article requires the minister to seek the advice of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board on management decisions that affect Inuit harvesting rights and opportunities in marine areas of Nunavut. This procedure was not followed.

Following years of frustrating negotiations with DIAND on behalf of the Government of Canada, including federal negotiators walking away from the table, NTI launched a court case in December 2006 because of the failure of the Government of Canada to fully implement the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. We are now in court because the Government of Canada has failed to implement an agreement which, given full force and effect, would strengthen Canada's Arctic sovereignty, allowing us both to do our jobs.

After filing a blanket denial, the first step of the federal government in this case was to bring a motion to force us to name the Government of Nunavut as a co-defendant. Justice Earl Johnson of Nunavut Court of Justice ruled against the federal motion on April 11 of this year, a few days ago. He found, as NTI had argued, that the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is between Nunavut Inuit and the Crown in right of Canada.

Last year, the Prime Minister announced that ice-strengthened patrol vessels would be built, the Rangers expanded, and a deepwater port would be developed at Nanisivik as well. In this year's budget speech, the government announced that it was planning to replace Canada's oldest and largest icebreaker, CCGS Louis St. Laurent, but last year the Prime Minister added, ``Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it, and make no mistake, this government intends to use it.''

Inuit are proud citizens of Canada, and we have been using the Arctic for thousands of years. We have a constitutionally protected agreement with Canada that reflects this fact. My basic message is that the Government of Canada should use the agreement as part of its strategy to assert and express Canada's Arctic sovereignty. Military and Coast Guard activity and satellite surveillance should be part of that strategy, but they are not an effective strategy in isolation.

Let me end by bringing to your attention a real opportunity to get things right. The Speech from the Throne promised the development of an integrated northern strategy to include sovereignty and security measures. We look forward to being consulted on this strategy, which should commit to engaging Inuit and using the Nunavut agreement to assert Arctic sovereignty.

Thank you very much for your attention and this opportunity, on behalf of my staff and Nunavut.

John Merritt, Senior Policy Advisor, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: I thank honourable senators for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. I apologize because you may not have English and French texts of my remarks. That would be due to my lateness in supplying your clerk with a copy, but I believe the text will be circulated when both language versions are available.

ITK understands from your clerk that the committee is particularly interested in the connections between fisheries policy and Arctic sovereignty. My name is John Merritt, and I am a policy adviser to ITK. I also work half-time for the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Mary Simon, the president, was not able to be here today. She is at an important education conference in Inuvik with the entire ITK board except President Kaludjak. There was an unavoidable conflict. I will do my best to provide you with ITK's views today. I will try to provide you with some specific suggestions as to what can be done about the connection between sovereignty and fisheries policy to bring about benefits to both Canada and Inuit.

I will not repeat some of the ground already covered by NTI, but any discussion of fisheries policies in the Arctic must take into account fully the central importance of the four Inuit land claims agreements to issues of fish allocation and fish management.

The fisheries rights and management provisions of these agreements vary, as you would expect, from region to region, taking into account biological, societal and jurisdictional factors. However, all these agreements guarantee Inuit participation in co-management arrangements that must balance conservation priorities, Inuit rights of access and public confidence and accountability.

In ITK's view, sovereignty is a factor that is as relevant to domestic policymaking as it is to foreign policymaking. The strength of Canada's sovereignty is a function of the effectiveness of its social policies in the Arctic as well as its military and diplomatic approaches and activities.

As the ITK president has summarized in various public addresses and newspaper articles over the last year, sovereignty begins at home. Rather than repeat the arguments that ITK has brought to bear in support of that conclusion, I would point out to you various articles that have appeared in national newspapers in recent months and going back to last summer, where President Simon has forcefully made that argument to the Canadian public. ITK will be happy to supply you with any additional materials that might be useful in that respect.

Inuit are concerned that federal government policymaking for the Arctic has increasingly obscured the reality of Inuit history, demography, economic and social circumstances and rights and aspirations. We see this in a number of ways. Federal policymaking routinely describes the land areas of the three territories as if they capture the broader land and range areas, including Arctic Quebec and Labrador, which make up the Arctic. This leads to all sorts of confusions and weaknesses in policymaking efforts. While there is enthusiastic focus on the possibilities of major new non- renewable resource developments in the Arctic, the truly appalling gaps between Inuit and other Canadians in access to basic health, education and housing are often pushed to the margins.

Repeated offers by Inuit of working in genuine partnership with the Government of Canada to create imaginative and energetic ways — outcomes that are win-win, that is outcomes that are both good for Inuit and Canada as a whole — are not squarely embraced. All this does not go unnoticed by Inuit and does not escape consequences. For example, in March 27 of this year, an Iqaluit newspaper reported the following:

Delegates at a three-day fishing industry symposium in Iqaluit last week passed two resolutions that lambaste Ottawa for ignoring Nunavut's need for more small craft harbours and more commercial fish quota.

Here is a quote within a quote:

``The only time we feel like Canadians is at the end of the year when we pay our income tax,'' said George Qulaut of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, a company that's made big investments in the offshore shrimp fishery in recent years. . .

When a respected leader like George Qulaut, who, among other things, served on the federally appointed commission to oversee the creation of the Nunavut government, feels compelled to say things of this kind, then Canada's sovereignty interests are not being well served.

What can be done? More specifically, what can this committee do?

At the outset, ITK believes that this committee has already shown welcome initiative in examining the connections between fisheries policies and Arctic sovereignty, and ITK commends this committee for undertaking to do that.

In addition, ITK invites the committee to consider adopting the following five positions, and communicating those positions to both the Government of Canada and the Canadian public.

First, in all its policymaking, the Government of Canada must get the geography of the Arctic right. The Arctic includes all those land and marine areas that make up the Inuit homeland in Canada, including Arctic Quebec and Labrador. It is worth noting that the Quebec National Assembly has adopted a resolution consistent with this proposition. Specifically, in the case of the Quebec National Assembly resolution, it says that a northern strategy should include Arctic Quebec.

Second, fisheries policies for the Arctic, for mutually-reinforcing reasons of sovereignty, sustainable economic and social development for the people of the Arctic and fairness to all Canadians, must be oriented toward creating a viable and expanding resident commercial fishery. This means, among other things, the necessary creation of a network of small harbours and the allocation of appropriate and reliable access to commercial fisheries to Inuit.

Third, following on the last point — and here I am reinforcing some earlier comments from President Kaludjak — fisheries policies now discriminate against Arctic regions, and thereby Inuit, by giving consistently lower allocation levels to adjacent communities than anywhere else in Canada. These policies should be changed so as to bring about the early end of this discrimination.

I know NTI has appeared before this committee in the past and told you that it has an opinion that says that these policies are contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms insofar as they do not meet the equality guarantees of section 15 of the Charter.

Fourth, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Justice should be urged to revise the proposed new Fisheries Act to do three things. ITK appreciates that that bill is not before you, but at some point it will be coming to you, I am sure, and there are features of that bill and the previous bill which undoubtedly will figure in that legislative project as it goes forward.

ITK would like to offer some advance thoughts on three features of that bill which, from our point of view, would best be changed now while the bill is still in a relatively early stage. First, the bill should recite equal treatment of adjacent regions in Canada as a governing principle. All regions in Canada should be treated equitably, which in this case means equally, when it comes to having access to 85 to 100 per cent of fish in adjacent waters.

Second, the bill should position Aboriginal peoples to be as well situated to enter into voluntary — I am emphasizing voluntary — co-management agreements with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as with provincial and territorial governments. Aboriginal people should be in the same position to enter into agreements. Of course, as agreements, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would have to concur, but they should be as equally well situated as provincial and territorial governments to enter into co-management agreements.

Third, the bill should reflect the recent report on the wording of non-derogation clauses written by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Inuit organizations participated quite actively with the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and that committee produced an excellent report on non-derogation earlier this year. We would like to see that report respected in the drafting of not just the fisheries bill but all future federal legislation.

The final recommendation ITK would make to you today is that the federal government should be urged to convert the northern strategy, promised by the 2007 Speech from the Throne, into an Arctic strategy, and to develop the substance of that strategy in active and concerted partnership with Inuit.

The Deputy Chair: Mr. Nirlungayuk, would you like to speak as well?

Gabe Nirlungayuk, Director of Wildlife, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated: No, the president has spoken. If there are any questions, I am here to help.

Senator Comeau: I have just a couple of points that I would like to clarify to see if I understood correctly. First, Mr. Merritt, you indicated that we must get the geography right, and that Quebec seemed to have got it right with its northern Quebec areas. Would you explain that more to us? Where did the Government of Canada get it wrong and how did the Government of Quebec get it right?

Mr. Merritt: The federal government tends to view northern and Arctic policy as policy in relation to the three territories, and it tends to see the territories as essentially land-only events. There is ambiguity in the statute books as to whether the Northwest Territories and Nunavut today include very large marine areas. The better opinion is that they do, but the Department of Justice Canada has never accepted that.

When you look at the federal government's starting point, Arctic policy tends to be read down as federal policy towards three territorial governments. If you confine it to land areas, by definition that leaves out huge amounts of marine areas all through the archipelago and on the east and west sides of the archipelago. From an Inuit perspective, even more damaging, that leaves out Arctic Quebec and Arctic Labrador.

Those areas are north of the treeline, and any geographer would say that Canada's internal boundaries do not capture the Arctic in the three territories. The Inuit live in two provinces as well as three territories. The federal bias tends to be that northern strategy should be an intergovernmental strategy between Ottawa and the three territorial governments. From NTI and ITK's point of view, that does not capture the essential geography.

The Quebec Legislative Assembly acknowledged that in a recent resolution. I think the resolution was suggested by Makivik Corporation, which represents the Northern Quebec Inuit. There is a new opportunity here with a new strategy, and their resolution suggested that the federal government should get it right and adopt a strategy that consciously includes Arctic Quebec and Arctic Labrador.

When you consider a northern strategy confined to the land areas of the three territories, all the difficult sovereignty issues drop out of the picture. Canada is not being challenged on these topics when it comes to the land areas within the three territories.

Senator Comeau: Mr. Merritt, would you tell us what the ITK is and its objectives?

Mr. Merritt: ITK, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, is a national organization incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. It has a membership composed of the four Inuit land claims organizations, including NTI, and has a board of directors made up of the presidents of those organizations plus several other members including the president of ICC. Essentially, it is the national Inuit organization in Canada.

The four regions are the Western Arctic region occupied by the Inuvialuit, the Nunavut area in the territory, the Nunavik region of Arctic Quebec, and Nunatsiavut, which is the area on the Labrador coast where there is a land claims agreement.

Senator Comeau: Mr. Kaludjak, in your presentation you mentioned that there was no plan to develop and monitor Nunavut's natural environment as well as Inuit cultural and economic well-being. I think you were referring to article 12. The article, in fact, did indicate that there should be a plan developed, and once you have a plan I assume you would move to implementation.

Do I understand correctly that there is no plan whatsoever that has been developed to date?

Mr. Kaludjak: Yes, that is correct, unless there is a plan that we do not know about.

Senator Comeau: A hidden agenda somewhere.

Mr. Kaludjak: Yes, but to our knowledge there has not been anything developed.

Senator Comeau: That is very important to us. On page 7 of your presentation, you mention the permanent transfer of 1,900 tonnes of turbot from Seafreez to other companies in the south, including companies based in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Did Seafreez lose this 1,900 tonne quota? How or why did Seafreez allow this to be transferred?

Mr. Kaludjak: As for our information and records on that, it was allocated by the Minister of Fisheries on his own without consultation with us. Again, that proves that whatever happens within the fisheries allocations, Nunavut has very little bearing on how much it gets, what goes on in the southern fisheries industry, and how much we lose on these opportunities.

We call Minister Hearn to task to follow up on this matter and make sure that this sort of thing is prevented in the future.

Senator Comeau: This is in NAFO division OB, which is the contentious area we have looked at over the years.

However, Seafreez obviously had this quota for the last number of years and, somehow, it either allowed its quota to be redistributed to other companies or lost it. This is what I am trying to get a feel for. I am quite sure that what you would have wanted to see was a transfer to your communities. I can understand that clearly.

Mr. Kaludjak: That is something we will have to follow up on because we do not know exactly what happened.

Senator Comeau: That would be very important. Over the years, this committee has looked at this very issue. We have made comments in the past that if ever any transfers became available, we have strong recommendations on that. Therefore, I am wondering why your group was not party to this discussion.

Mr. Kaludjak: Exactly. We have wanted to be part of the process and ensure we get the share of the pie that is due to us.

On a humorous side, when we talk about fisheries, the more detail we get, the fishier it gets. I think it is probably one of those issues.

Senator Adams: This is the third time you have come before this committee. I would like to congratulate Paul Kaludjak for winning his second term as president of NTI in March. He is doing a good job.

I do not know how we will get more power over Arctic sovereignty. When Paul Martin was still Prime Minister, he talked about the three territories becoming provinces. Has NTI looked into that? We should apply for that in the future. Maybe Mr. Merritt can comment on that. What is the difference between a territory and a province when it comes to acting on land claims and such? We could look to the United Nations for recognition in the future. We have been in the Arctic for 1,000 years, so why are we still dealing with land claims agreements? Why are we still a territory? We should have more control over adjacent waters. Now it is controlled by NAFO and other countries.

Mr. Merritt: Senator Adams, perhaps I could offer a legal perspective and the president can give you a political interpretation. Territories becoming provinces involves constitutional amendments. Clearly, you are into a very big ball game if at some time, as I suspect will happen, the territories position themselves to seek provincial status. In the past, there has been more active conversation in Yukon about that being a more short-term objective than in the other territories. I am not aware that any Inuit organization has adopted a formal position seeking early provincial status for either Nunavut or N.W.T. in the case of the Inuvialuit. However, there has been a very active demand that devolution negotiations be fast-tracked to bring about an earlier transfer of more jurisdiction in respect of natural resource development and more benefits associated with mineral and oil and gas development in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

There has been disappointment expressed that the federal government appears adverse at this time to including marine areas in negotiating devolution agreements with the territories. You heard from both NTI and ITK that Inuit believe that the promised northern or Arctic strategy should be developed and designed in full collaboration with Inuit organizations, who want to participate in a constructive way in helping to right that situation. So far, there has been only limited, if any, opportunity to help do that. That has been a point of considerable frustration.

Mr. Kaludjak: We talked about the complicated side. This is the simple man speaking now. In terms of ownership, I will tell you a story that will give you a little understanding of someone from Nunavut who has lived up there all their life, who is unilingual and speaks only Inuktitut. When we got Nunavut, they always thought they owned land. They did not believe in the government owning the land before because they always harvest on the land and did what they required to survive. It was their land. When Nunavut came about, some of the comments were: I thought we had land. We thought it was ours to govern and to use at our will.

In terms ``at our will,'' the simple approach we take is ownership, and adjacent to the waters that we harvest is the resources of the quotas in the fishing zones that we have been talking about. We are divided between Greenland, as you see on the map, and Nunavut. We believe in ownership, of honouring each other, so we split the ocean in half. We believe in sharing the waters. There are no fishing zones for us. There is a simple understanding between the two Inuit groups. I suppose that would be the right way to approach it, not countries, because we have had relations with Inuit from the northern high Arctic to Greenland and Alaska and Russia as well for many years. Those are the things that we believe in. There is no border understanding.

Senator Adams: We do not know how to go about Arctic sovereignty. We have met with some government departments. Officials from Foreign Affairs came before the committee a couple months ago. They did not know what will happen in the future with Arctic sovereignty. It is under negotiation with other countries — Russia, the U.S. and Denmark — for the future. They have been up there looking. In the meantime, they tell us that they cannot do anything yet because they are still mapping the seabed. I asked them why the Russians would put a flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. They told us that it is only for a photo opportunity, and that they were not concerned about the waters there. I asked about oil and gas resources and they said, no, it is just to help us map the bottom of the sea.

That was not really an answer. They told us that here in this committee. I was trying to find out how many countries do not recognize that the land belongs to Canada. In 1953, two communities were moved up there by the Diefenbaker government. The Government of Canada moved those two communities up there to protect Arctic sovereignty. I would say that we settled Arctic sovereignty in 1953. Why are we talking about Arctic sovereignty today? The land claims are settled and it should be considered owned by the Inuit.

John Merritt talked about Northern Quebec and Labrador. We are all related. Senator Watt and I are related, living in Nunavut. We should be stronger since we are joined together from Northern Quebec, Labrador and Nunavut. Does the government not recognize that because you have a different land claim agreement? I do not know.

Just like the rest of the Canada, we must start with recognition in the individual provinces. Maybe that is how we will be recognized. We have the same language, and the rest of the Canada has to be concerned about French and English. We are all Canadian. Can you answer that?

Mr. Kaludjak: For information, we met on the topic two weeks ago. My board met two weeks ago to talk about this, and the subject of the dropping of the flag on the North pole came up. I told my friends, the Inuit that live up there, to go up there. We have hooks to retrieve sunken seals. We make them ourselves. I told them to take a hook and snag that flag out of the water, bring it to Hudson Bay, drop it in there so they can track it and pick it up. While they are picking it up, we can confiscate a submarine.

The Deputy Chair: You are very creative, I must say.

Mr. Nirlungayuk: I want to address Senator Adams. Being from the younger generation, I understand the closeness of the Inuit in the other territories and provinces. Being a devil's advocate, I must say that the Danish government takes care of their fishing nations up there quite well.

I am sorry to say that it is appalling that within Canada it is a different story. Scientific research to support the new industry that was started not long ago — within my lifetime anyway — with respect to turbot and shrimp, a commercial industry in that region, has to be considered. I even joked that probably we should go to the Danes. They treat their people quite well. Maybe we could have small harbours and research dollars to up our quota.

Mr. Merritt: I have two additional comments. In terms of what Senator Adams was saying about sovereignty challenges, it is true. I read some of the evidence that the Foreign Affairs legal people offer as comfort to Canadians that our position is solid on all fronts, but the reality is that when it comes to rights of transit passage, other countries do contest our position. The agreement we have with the Americans, which was signed in 1986 or 1987, related to advance notice of American Coast Guard traffic, and that was stipulated on its face to be without legal prejudice to their position.

The other thing that escapes the attention of Canada regularly is that it is not only the United States that has expressed opposition to our position. Other countries have been much more low profile, and I have never seen a complete list of those countries that have registered objections to our position, but it is my understanding that there are quite a few countries that have, quite under the radar, indicated that they, along with the Americans, dispute our position, so it is a real problem.

Inuit have emphasized over the years that one of our stronger cards in relation to the Northwest Passage channels is that Canada has a history of use and occupation by Inuit going back a long time. Inuit use and occupation of marine areas has been proven by extensive research, now in the national archives, to have been as great in geographical extent in marine areas as on land. In particular, the various channels of the Northwest Passage have been used as ice platforms for fishing and hunting for a very long time.

The reverse side of that is if Canada will rely on Inuit use and occupation as a major factor in demonstrating why its sovereignty should not be contested by the international community, then the international community will expect that Canada will deliver on its commitments to the Inuit with honour. The concept of the honour of the Crown, which the Supreme Court of Canada reminds the federal government is relevant on a regular basis in court decisions, can be served only if there is a genuine partnership with Inuit, and that means respecting land claims agreements and developing a northern strategy in some partnership with Inuit, not leaving Inuit on the margins. There is a quid pro quo there on those arguments.

Senator Adams: I heard something from DFO that as long as there is ice, you can hunt anywhere up to 60 miles. Does the DFO recognize that? If there is open water, they can go only 12 miles. Is that true?

Mr. Merritt: The Nunavut settlement area, which is the lands claims agreement area, coincides perfectly with the seaward extent of the 12-mile limit drawn around the baseline. Interestingly enough, the rights of Inuit in relation to Nunavut are defined geographically to coincide explicitly with Canada's position on the outer extent of its own territory.

That is probably a happy thing, and it is not a coincidental thing. Inuit consciously worked to ensure that Canada's position and the Inuit position would be perfectly aligned, but as I mentioned a moment ago, with that alignment come responsibilities to deliver on all the promises made in the land claims agreement, not just the geographic lines.

Senator Hubley: My question is along the lines of the comments of Mr. Merritt. One of our more recent witnesses from the United States made a knowledgeable presentation on the North, its waters, who the players are and what will happen there. Our committee interjected with respect to the people of the North and their resources. I do not think it was a high priority for those witnesses. I did not sense — others may have gained a different impression — that it was at the top of their list, and they had a great deal of information on many aspects.

We kind of felt that they were coming in and taking over, for want of a better word, and ignoring the fact that there are people in the North, and they fell back a little on the numbers. We are not playing a numbers game; we are dealing with people who have a traditional way of life, who have worked on land — and we do not put a fence around it — and they have used the waters. How do you respond to that?

Mr. Merritt: I have a couple of responses. First, the viewpoint that would be offered by American witnesses would turn heavily on who those witnesses were. I am sure there would be Americans who would come forward with quite different positions, and who would perhaps have much more supportive views of the proposition that the position of Aboriginal peoples is as important in terms of international affairs as domestic affairs.

The other comment I would make is that the United States did distinguish itself, along with Canada, New Zealand and Australia, in voting against the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples last September. Since then, the Australian government has indicated, I believe, that it will change its position. However, the United States, over the last year, along with Canada, has taken the position contrary to where the rest of the world has gone on the importance of indigenous rights in the context of international law and politics.

An observer must say that is a minority position when you look at international public opinion. I would anticipate that, independent of what administration is in office in Washington, the world community as a whole will be interested in the views of Canadian Inuit and other circumpolar peoples on all the issues of sovereignty and international collaboration.

As you know, the Arctic Council exists as a very informal organization of Arctic states, and indigenous peoples are permanent participants in that forum. That was a creative innovation, but it was also reflective of a larger trend. Maybe we have not seen it playing out as much recently, but the longer trend over 30 years is that the role of indigenous peoples in international affairs in the Arctic has attracted increased attention and increased awareness. That is the longer-term trend, and it would be foolish for Canada to ignore that.

Mr. Kaludjak: In addition to Mr. Merritt's comment about the Inuit of Nunavut, throughout the Arctic, whether western, eastern, or central — the four regions — I am appalled when I hear, and I used the example, “use it or lose it,” and the Prime Minister stating that. Hello, we are here; we are Inuit in Nunavut, we live here, and how dare you say that when we have been living off the land up there for thousands of years. Again, it becomes an afterthought, as the Americans have indicated. Again, their sole interest has been resources and the lands, and, “Oh yes, people live there.” Again, I am glad someone asked that question: How about the people?  

We go out of our way, as Inuit, to welcome visitors. Because we did that, it seems like that is overpowering. We welcome the great change that has come about and surrounded our communities. The culture has changed; the demand to change that culture was so great that it has, in a sense, forced us to make that change, to accept and welcome whoever wants to come into the community. That change has been so great and quick, and that is why you see so much difficulty in the social side of the different communities. Again, that is something that we must work at very aggressively, to try to reach out and save that community before we lose it. That is how dramatic that change is in the community, to share that information with you.

The Deputy Chair: Senator Watt, please.

Senator Watt: Thank you, Madam Chair.

[The honourable senator spoke in his native language]

You have two seasons there and we have four seasons up north. Where do I start?

We have to be frank with each other as an Aboriginal people, and also the authorities outside. My own personal experience over the years is that we seem to be getting pretty good at skating around the issue, to be blunt. If you know me, I am always blunt. The whole core of our problem in the Arctic, in connection with Arctic sovereignty and in connection with the land claims, wherever that might be, is that we do not have strong enough leverage in terms of being able to make things happen economically, as well as politically. This is a weakness, and a big part of that is because we have already given away too much. We expect the generosity of the government to get back what we have lost. Those issues need to be addressed head-on. We are not addressing them head-on.

There are Inuit organizations, in which I would include myself, that have been around for a number of years that have probably not been honest with themselves or with our people. In other words, we are not being honest with our people, our workers, the regular people who depend upon the government and their leaders to do the utmost possible to defend what is dear to them.

By saying that, at times we are persuaded to deal with certain things that seem to be important at the moment, but then we find out later on, down the road, that we lost something. We need to use our influence at the proper time. When there are proper subject matters being dealt with, we do not have that leverage any more. This is our biggest problem.

I would like to alert you to what I learned — I think it was last week — when we had the American doctor, the young fellow, an expert on the Arctic, before us. He is now a businessman who had retired from the Coast Guard. He came to this particular committee here to talk about why we would do something that will not work. Why is it something that will trigger the military on both ends? Why could we not look at it from the standpoint that you need us and we need you, and look into the possibility of harmonization in terms of relations between Canada and the United States?

He was very much against, from what I understand, visiting the question of Arctic sovereignty. That is at the beginning. That related to the so-called access corridor to the Northwest Passage. I questioned him further, because I suspected that his interest was much more than that. Does that exclude the sea bottoms, continental shelf and the slope from the continental shelf? He said no. It is not only discussion from the American side about failing to recognize Canadian sovereignty; they would like to work out some regime, a policy, which could be good for that particular Northwest Passage. At the same time, it became quite clear to me that their interest is also the oil, the sea bottom, the continental shelf.

Here we are as a people who have lived in the Arctic for many, many years, and we will be caught in between the two power countries, if you want to call them that. How do we fit in? How do we get the maximum benefit out of that situation as an Aboriginal people, whether you live in Nunavut or Nunavik, Labrador or Inuvialuit?

We are, in a sense, in many respects, at the mercy and subject to the goodwill of our government. As you have stated quite clearly, you have sued the Canadian government because it is not honouring the treaty that you felt should be honoured. I do not know what will happen there.

We are already, in a sense, experiencing a very bad taste as an Inuit people, if I may say so. Some corrections have to be made. I do not have the answers. It may be the American style of looking at things. Let us not visit an area that will endanger you and end up with something that you do not really want to become. Look at all the agreements; we are extinguished. We do not have specific rights as the Inuit people according to the agreement, but at the beginning, that was not meant to be. We must address that situation. As long as we do not address it, we will remain — how would you say in English — in the hole, if you want to put it that way.

Can I get some reaction from you on that point? I am like you. I know what my people think. You know what your people think. There are things they decided to become an expert on, but they are not addressing that particular problem issue.

Mr. Kaludjak: Thank you, Madam Chair and Senator Watt.

I know this is being recorded, so I go into the records as being direct. We lobby on behalf of our people, the beneficiaries, to be very direct. We do not dance around the issue. We go directly to you. We are dealing with the court case now because we were unable to do anything else over the past years in trying to implement the claim fully. We were forced to go to that level. We could not make the government do what it needed to do.

We Inuit always look for solutions in every aspect of our lives. We prefer not to fight with people. We welcomed people to work with us through this difficulty, but this difficulty came to an impasse and we forced the government to go to court two years ago.

The situation is escalating now because obstacles were put forward to prevent us from going to court. We received a clear message from the courts of Nunavut that the Nunavut government will not be a co-defendant with the federal government. There will be only two parties; the Inuit and the Crown. That will escalate as well, and we hope that things will happen a little more rapidly in the future in terms of that action.

As the senator said, we at NTI and the people of Nunavut try to be up front and centre and not walk around the issue. We try to deal with issues as best we can and try to make people understand.

Our current membership is approximately 25,000 to 26,000, and the entire population of Nunavut is about 33,000. Nunavut Tunngavik represents those 25,000 to 26,000 people, and we lobby on their behalf on any issues that come forward, including this one.

We have many challenges before us. The Makivik Corporation, the Inuvialuit and the Nunatsiavut have their share of challenges as well. There will be negotiating tactics wherever one goes. We try to negotiate as well. We could not come up with our best possible claim 15 or 16 years ago, and we wish we could have done a lot better. I wish I had been there 15 or 16 years ago, but I was not. There is an Inuktitut word that means you wish you were there at that time.

Now it is up to me, my organization and the people of Nunavut to make our claims work. Our sole task now is to make them work in the best way we can. They are signed off and now it is our chance to make them work as well as we can. We challenge ourselves, and you, to work for the success of that claim as best we can. We need your support to ensure that we get that which is due to us.

Senator Watt: I will suggest a leverage mechanism, which may be what we are all looking for. When you dealt with the geographical aspect of your land claim, I do not know to what extent the sea was considered. Is there a provision in the agreement that stipulates that it does not include the high water, the Northwest Passage, which did not fall under the non-assertion clause? The word ``extinguishment'' is not used in your agreement. It is, rather, ``non-assertion,'' which has the same effect. Is there a possibility that this could be reconsidered, to see whether it could be used as leverage?

The outside only understands one thing. If you have legal leverage, you can make things move. Without that, it is pretty hard. You might want to consider that, because you need to get involved in what is about to happen on the Arctic sovereignty issue. You cannot be excluded, or they will screw it up. I am sorry to use that term.

Mr. Kaludjak: The option you put forward is worth considering. There is another thing that you must understand. Many of you know Churchill, which is on Hudson Bay, as the polar bear capital. Inuit have the right to harvest from the high-water mark in Churchill, Manitoba, down to the core of Hudson Bay. We have that arrangement to harvest from the high-water mark outside Nunavut, in Manitoba and in Quebec. We need to explore how far that extends legally on Baffin Island and the other islands.

That is why we continue to tell governments that we have jurisdiction over those waters, an interest in them to the line between Greenland and Nunavut. We base our interest on our use of the waters. However, that remains to be legally interpreted. We need to explore that aspect to ensure that our interests are protected in that regard.

Mr. Merritt: On Senator Watt's question about geographic extent, the Inuit in Nunavut have rights under the agreement to all the channels of the Northwest Passage, including hunting rights, fishing rights and rights in relation to the operation of various management boards. Therefore, in theory the Canadian government could, in defence of those rights, indicate that international ship traffic is unacceptable to Canada because the passage of those ships would interfere with Inuit hunting on the ice in question.

From my perspective, whatever the legal resonance is, that would probably gain much more political sympathy around the world, if it were said with sincerity, than many other arguments that are much more complicated in terms of international law. Canada standing up for Inuit hunting rights in areas that form part of the Northwest Passage might actually be relevant in terms of future events.

One would have to speculate about what those events would look like. What kind of a ship would it be and what nation's flag would it be carrying? Some countries do not pay much attention to international public opinion, but I think it is a relevant consideration.

Second, none of the northern land claims agreements of which I am aware involved the Aboriginal party compromising fundamental rights to self-government. These land claims agreements deal with an exchange in relation to territorial or, to put it another way, property rights. They do not compromise the fact that Aboriginal people can still assert rights to self-government. The legal picture is not one in which the federal government can assume that Aboriginal peoples do not have not only the rights under the agreements but other common law rights in relation to self-government. Aboriginal peoples are a party to virtually all of the major public policy issues that play out in these regions.

Senator Watt: I have a very quick question. I do understand, Mr. Merritt, where you are coming from. This is an issue that is a bit touchy for everyone, including the legal profession, the government, the Inuit and so on. Nevertheless, our foremost problem at this point is our Canadian government. It would be nice if the Canadian government came over to us and saw the light and said, ``We had better defend their rights. There are bigger animals coming from outside.'' If they come to that conclusion, that will be fine, but that is not where we are at this particular time. We need to continue to have internal discussions amongst ourselves, as Aboriginal people, along with the governments that are willing to listen, to explore ways on how not to get left behind.

You are negotiators; I am a negotiator. The only time that government moves is when you pinch them where it hurts. We must explore that avenue.

Senator Eyton: Senator Watt has plumbed the area that intrigued me about your presentation and the issue before us. There is a dichotomy between the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the difficulties in getting it fully implemented, which represents a dialogue between the Nunavut nation and Canada, so it is really a domestic or, if you want, a national discussion or debate. Then we try to catapult that into the international sphere, and make it relevant and binding.

In your remarks, Mr. Kaludjak, you did try to put it together, but it is complicated and it is difficult to take what amounts to a discussion here at home and say that that has some significant impact on the question of sovereignty and the international issue that that carries with it.

Whenever I am in a tight spot or have not the vaguest notion about what to do next, I look around to find someone who has done it well. This is a difficult issue. Some people, clearly, must have resolved it someplace, somehow. Who has done it best and what can we learn from them?

Mr. Kaludjak: Who has done it best? I do not think there are any nominations in that category at the moment.

Senator Eyton: It is difficult.

Mr. Kaludjak: It is very difficult. Our own claim was very difficult.

Senator Eyton: This is a large world with many sovereignty claims. There are First Nations or the equivalent indigenous populations in many places around the world. Certainly the issue has come up; but is your response to me that it has not been dealt with any better than we are dealing with it now, here in Canada?

Mr. Kaludjak: I can only talk to what we have as the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. In 1993, when it was signed, we thought we had won the war. We thought we were getting somewhere. That was the federal government working with us at that time. It was the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney who signed it. We thought we had something that would work for the people and improve the lives of Inuit and Nunavut for infinity, but it has not been all glamour. It seems that after the claim was signed, someone in the government put it away on a shelf and now it is gathering dust. Every time we are down south here, we try to wake someone up: Look, we have a claim here that has to work and has to tick.

In terms of sovereignty, as Senator Watt has stated, we can still make it work. We are not too late. We only ask that we be included in the planning process. I think it is not too late and we can make the best of it. We can utilize the people up there and learn from the Inuit who live on the land. When it comes to the techniques of surviving in the cold, they are the experts. No American can tell you; they do not come close. The Inuit are the experts in their own land. I can only rely on them. I am not, myself, even close to them. You talk to our elders; they are experts on how the land forms in terms of freeze-up and ice and snow, what to use for snow huts and igloos and how to use the ice. They are the experts. They have gone through it right up front and centre with their eyes and experience. They have managed to survive all that. I am here today because of their will and their skill.

The Deputy Chair: Would you like to respond to that question, Mr. Nirlungayuk?

Mr. Nirlungayuk: That is a good question. From what I have learned from American history, when you are an American, whether you are Inuk, Black or Caucasian, you are an American, period. Up in our part of the world there is something to be said about that, because having our land claims agreement does mean a legal obligation to Canada. It is different how politics work in the United States. The Alaskans envy Inuit in Canada.

However, looking east to Greenland, they have their home rule government, their own elected governing body. They have issues as well, too, with the Danish government. It is a complicated question. Maybe some day, after we are long gone, it will be answered, but I do not think so.

Again, the Danes have taken care of their people, with infrastructure such as harbours, fishing vessels and seaports. A Norwegian coming up to Iqaluit was amazed by this big ship that was unloading when the tide went down. He said that the last time he had seen this was down in Jamaica, somewhere in the Third World, yet this is happening in Canada.

Mr. Merritt: It is estimated by the United Nations, I believe, that there are 370 million indigenous peoples in the world. It depends on the definition you use. Anyone who reads Amnesty reports or the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs can see some pretty grim stuff in terms of the circumstances that various Aboriginal minorities face in various parts of the world, and some of those things happen in other countries that would not be tolerated in Canada, so you can set the marker in different places.

In terms of material circumstances of well-being, if one looked at the circumstances of the Sami in Scandinavia, or Laplanders, you would not see the depth of basic social problems in terms of lack of access to housing, education and health care that you would see in Canada. You can certainly look around the world and try to find best outcomes or most promising practices, however you want to add them up, but I would return to the comment of President Kaludjak. The modern land claims agreements were negotiated very much with the idea that it was possible to do things differently, and better, than in the old colonial period with the older treaties.

A coalition of lands claims groups, aboriginal parties to land claims agreements, at the moment is very active in meeting with one of your other Senate committees, trying to get the federal policy reformed so that it will work properly. Some of the evidence that was given at that other Senate committee was quite striking, because an opinion was offered that both the federal government and Aboriginal peoples tend to see these agreements in the context of family law, but Aboriginal peoples tend to see them as marriage contracts and the federal government tends to see them as divorce arrangements. Marriages are difficult things, and people have to work at them, but if people are to share space, they must make those partnerships work. You can either retreat from that or you can embrace it, and you hear consistently from Aboriginal groups that they are determined to make those arrangements successful, notwithstanding the obstacles.

Senator Robichaud: Would it not be better to change the title of land claims to some other title that will more reflect the people living up there? When we think of lands, we only think of land, and I wanted to refer to the point that Mr. Merritt made. A long time ago, when we were meeting people from the North, one of the witnesses said, ``You see, you do not look at it the same way we do. The land and the ice and the sea to us are just as important because we spend as much time in one place as another.'' He was making the argument that if you drive an icebreaker through, you are cutting him off from his home, or from the place where he goes hunting.

In asserting our sovereignty, we have missed the point that we should have used the definition of ``territory'' as it is understood by the people who live there. We tend to see the land as the land and the sea as something else. If we were to use the definition ``the use of the territory,'' which is the lands and the ice — and you made this point, Mr. Merritt — maybe we would have a little more credibility when we try to impress other nations of the world who want to use that territory. They think it is just water, and they can go through it at any time, but we say, ``No, people live there, and it is not only the land, but they live on the sea surface, the ice. It is part of the way of life of the people.'' Would you agree with that?

Mr. Kaludjak: Before I try to give the best assessments I can in terms of ownership, Nunavut means ``our land,'' and Tunngavik means ``our foundation.'' You should know that, because you were talking about the fact that there should be a better interpretation on how we interpret ``land ownership.'' You were very descriptive in telling how we use that land. That is very good, because we use the land mostly in the summer, and we use the ice when it forms. When we talk water, use of the water, perhaps the legal people could challenge me on this, but the water is held by land, because there is land underneath that water. That explains why that water is there, because something has to hold it. We are talking about land underneath the water base. If you are talking about interpretations, that is one way of saying the land that holds the water. If you want to interpret it legally somehow, that is the way you would make policy or rules, or make ownership. If that is the way you want to do it, I think that would be a good way of describing the Inuit ice, using that water, because there is land under that lake or under the sea that we use.

Mr. Merritt: The Nunavut Lands Claims Agreement tried very hard to reflect the point that you made about the high level of integration between land and marine areas in the Arctic. For example, if you look at the wildlife management board in Nunavut, it has an equal role to play in relation to the management of fish and marine mammals as with respect to terrestrial mammals. In some parts of the word, these things are separated. If you look at how we do things in southern Canada, there are generally different people running the fish and marine side from what you see on the terrestrial side. The integration of wildlife management and fish management was very much a feature of that agreement, and you see the same with respect to the other management boards when it comes to who is responsible for environmental assessment, et cetera. That has huge advantages. Even if you look at, for example, projections about major resource development projects, it is likely that many of these projects will have both marine and land components, so it is better to have an integrated set of institutions.

There has been some frustration at the Nunavut end because the federal government has appeared to want to revert back to form, if I can put it that way. On the devolution negotiations, there seems to be a sense that marine areas should be taken off the table early, even though, earlier on, the federal government committed to a high level of integration in terms of the Nunavut land claims features.

Canada itself has been quite innovative in the past. I am not sure of the dates, but I think the 1970 Law of the Sea Convention made reference to exceptional arrangements in ice-covered waters when it came to international management of sea areas. In the past, Canada has been, at least at times, out front in emphasizing that you must make special arrangements in parts of the globe that look different and where people have used the resources differently, and where ice is more than just something you cut through but also a platform on which people live and support themselves.

Mr. Nirlungayuk: Thank you for that question.

I wanted to point out, as well, that we have traditional names for those areas that were named by Europeans when they were ``discovering the new lands.'' I think Canada could learn from our elders what you use this for and the names of the area.

The Deputy Chair: I want to hear your thoughts on climate change and what it means for your people. What is the position of your organization on climate change? Would you say that your approach to climate change is one that seeks to slow the progression of change and minimize it, or are your people adapting to the changing environment and finding new opportunities and ways of doing things?

Mr. Kaludjak: That is a very good question. In terms of climate change, of course there is no other alternative but to accept the change that is coming about, because we are seeing longer summers, longer falls, longer springs and shorter winters; that is evident. It varies from season to season.

I have been in Baffin Island, in Iqaluit, and over the last three years it has been minus 20, 25 during the dead of winter, which is mild for that part of the land. This year we have been hitting record temperatures of approximately minus 50 in the same area. That is why I say it varies.

The hunters are telling us this year that the flow edge is the farthest away from the community that it has been in 20 years. It varies from season to season, and every year is different. This year the ice is unusually thick. It is thicker than usual, and some of the lakes we are fishing have an ice thickness of eight feet right now. Those are some of the lakes that we fish in. It is usually an average of four to five feet in the area where I am. Of course, the farther north you go, the colder it gets and the thicker the ice is.

Overall there is change, and the Inuit accept that change. We maintain that we are indicators of that change, and we let whoever wants to be educated about climate change know that we continue to accept that change as it comes along. We still practice our hunting traditions as we always have; those things continue. The only real change we have seen is longer springs, summers and falls, and shorter winters.

The Deputy Chair: Do your people feel that, as a result of this change, it will improve their livelihood? Will they be able to build on that in some way and find new opportunities, or would they rather keep the status quo?

Mr. Kaludjak: I would not mind keeping the status quo, but we must move forward. We have just had a mining symposium last week in Iqaluit where we talked about taking the opportunity to utilize the lands we use for mining activity.

In a sense we are being proactive. At Nunavut Tunngavik we maintain that we must do a balancing act where we ask people to respect Inuit rights and harvesting areas when it comes to mining. We must maintain a mutual respect between the two; developing that land and safeguarding the wildlife and the marine mammals around it.

For modern-day living, we are taking the opportunity of new changes that are coming about. We want to keep our tradition. We want to keep our lifestyle in terms of harvesting the wildlife that we eat at home in Nunavut. We want that protected at will.

Senator Watt: I will pick up on Senator Robichaud's point about calling it something other than ``land claims,'' and whether there is another way of addressing this issue.

I think Mr. Kaludjak would agree with me that agreements are legally binding. So much so that the concept of ``ownership'' of land, and the way that Mr. Kaludjak has stated it, obviously Inuit were always perceived to be the owners of the lands. Do government authorities look at that as an obstacle? That is to say, if it is an obstacle, it must be removed. It is a question of title. That is the basis of a land claim. They replace that — again in a similar fashion as I call it, ownership — under the fee simple. You have the right to be on the land for as long as the authorities allow you to be on it, is the translation.

As Aboriginal people — and I am not the only one; there are many people who are not talking yet in relation to what I am expressing now — we need to discuss this issue to overcome the problems we are facing now. Otherwise, it will not disappear.

I have one question that I would like to put to Mr. Kaludjak, and Mr. Merritt could respond as well.

If nothing happens in deliberations in regard to overcoming the hurdle you are facing now — government reluctance to implement your agreement — you stated before that by signing on the dotted line you were prepared to live with that and move it forward. Yet that does not happen. Would you consider taking back what you have lost, and make that statement loudly, and even be prepared to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, if necessary? I think we are at the crunch now.

Mr. Kaludjak: It is difficult to answer exactly what the next step is that we will take because the courts must take their course. I have instructions from my board to maximize this court activity, to do at will, to ensure something snaps on the government side. That is the intent. As you said, you have to poke something. Something needs to snap, and that is what we are hoping to do.

On the other hand, as negotiators we must always have something in our back pocket. It is like poker; you must ensure that you have enough chips to play the next round. We have that. Being at the court stage, we are not obligated to divulge all we have in our pocket. However, I can tell you that we have a couple of options on the floor that we will execute when the opportunity arises. If none of those work, it is very likely that we would go to the Supreme Court if necessary. That is how serious we are.

The Deputy Chair: Thank you. I want to say that we, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, will be travelling in the North and will be visiting several communities. We will start in Nunavut and go up to Resolute Bay and along the way we will be visiting different communities. That will be happening in the first week of June. We may meet you there. You never know.

Mr. Kaludjak: We look forward to it.

The Deputy Chair: Second, I want to mention the name of the American who appeared before us last week. His name was Dr. Borgerson. If you wish a transcript, it is no problem whatsoever to get it. It is on the web, is it not? Yes it is. You can get that at any time.

I want to thank senators for staying for this lengthy period, but I especially want to thank our guests. You have been wonderful. It has been good hearing from you and let us hope we all meet again.

Mr. Kaludjak: Likewise. Thank you.

The committee adjourned.

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