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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 10 - Evidence, June 2, 2008 - Morning meeting

IQALUIT, Nunavut, Monday, June 2, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 9:33 a.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 Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.

[Editor's Note: Some evidence was presented through an Inuktitut interpreter.]


The Chair: I call the meeting to order.

Let me say, first of all, tungasugisi, which, loosely translated, means welcome. That brings up the point that we have interpretation in English, French and Inuktitut. We have interpreters in all three languages, so you may use whichever language you choose at any time, and we welcome and we encourage you to do so.

This is the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. My name in Bill Rompkey. I am from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I would like to welcome my colleagues, starting with the deputy chair, Senator Cochrane, who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. Senator Hubley is from another island called Prince Edward Island, but equally an important island in this country. She does have some fishermen in her province. Senator Adams needs no introduction because he is one of you here. Senator Robichaud is from New Brunswick, a former Minister of Fisheries, very well acquainted with fisheries, and knows it from the ground up in his home province. Senator Cowan is from Nova Scotia, although I must tell you he has Newfoundland roots and, therefore, his genes are well accustomed to fisheries issues. That is our lineup for this morning, and we welcome everybody.

We are in the process of studying fisheries policy. Our particular focus is on the Arctic, and as far as I can tell, we are probably the only committee in either House that is doing such an in-depth study. Various other committees have studied aspects of it.

We are concerned particularly with the role of the Coast Guard. Naturally, we want to hear about fisheries too. We have had some hearings on fisheries in the past, and we have produced a report that has not been published yet, but will be published soon. However, our particular focus is the Canadian Coast Guard and the whole issue of security in the Arctic as a result of global warming. Naturally, that includes fisheries as well. We know that is a topic here, and we are here to listen. I want to make that point very clear. We are here to listen. We will be producing a report later on, but today and for the rest of this week, we are listening to what you have to say.

We welcome the Honourable Minister Olayuk Akesuk.

Mr. Minister, if you would like to introduce the people you have with you, and we will then proceed to your presentation.


Hon. Olayuk Akesuk, M.L.A., Minister of the Environment, Government of Nunavut: I wish to thank you for inviting me to be here this morning. You have interpreters, so I will be speaking Inuktitut. In 2002 or 2004, we appeared before your committee as witnesses. It went very well, but we are very happy to see you here in Iqaluit. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before your committee.

To the right of me is Simon Awa, who is Deputy Minister of the Environment. To the left of me is Wayne Lynch, who is the Director of Fisheries and Sealing. He has appeared before the Senate hearings, as well as hearings on sealing and fisheries. We have Earle Baddaloo, the Director of Environmental Protection. Those three are assisting me today, from my office.

Today I will begin by speaking briefly about our work on climate change — it is a concern to us — and then go on to my main topic, one of the Nunavut's main concerns is Nunavut's fishery.

Climate change is not new for the Nunavummiut. Climate change has been ongoing steadily for many years now and we are beginning to see the effects and the changes in climate. However, in recent years we have noticed more drastic changes than what we normally have experienced in the past. For example, one of the main changes is that in the springtime we have higher than usual temperatures, an earlier spring thaw. Then again we have later than usual sea ice formation. So we have an early spring thaw and a late freeze up, and of course less and less predictable weather. So those are the changes that we see in the seasons. We had a very cold winter though this year, more than usual, but it warmed up very quickly and we had a very early spring, earlier than normal.


The sea ice we hunt on is becoming more unreliable, thereby directly affecting the ability of our hunters to pursue game. The scientists are telling us that in the Arctic as a whole, average temperatures are rising at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the sea ice cover is at its lowest recorded levels in more than 40 years.

While the Government of Nunavut is an active participant in efforts to deal with the climate change on a national and international basis, our immediate concern, of course, is its impact on Nunavut and Nunavummiut.

Our small communities are not well equipped to deal with changes that have resulted from southern-based activities that are out of our control. For that reason, we are pursuing Nunavut Adaptation Plan, a two-part initiative consisting of a Nunavut Climate Change Adaptation Plan and community-based planning.

Mr. Chair, we are in the final stages of gathering community information for inclusion of the adaption plan.

Last year we initiated pilot projects in Iqaluit, Clyde River and Hall Beach. They will provide baseline data on sea level rise and coastal impact assessments, terrain assessment, vegetation impact assessment, and community watershed assessment. The results of these initial pilot projects will help us plan similar studies in other communities over the next few years.


Mr. Chair, I know this committee understands and supports Nunavut's efforts to develop its fishery sector.

In contrast, since my predecessor met with you in May 2007, the federal government has taken three decisions that clearly show it does not support our hopes for the fishery. This is what we know from a meeting that took place in May 2007 that support was given on the Nunavut initiatives or vision. Today Nunavut has access to just 42 per cent of its adjacent turbot and shrimp resources in Nunavut. Nunavut has access to just 42 per cent of its adjacent turbot and shrimp resources, compared to 75 per cent to 85 per cent share of the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia have in their adjacent waters. This gap represents an annual opportunity cost to Nunavut of approximately $56 million because we are only getting 42 per cent of the allocation going directly to the North. DFO has regularly encouraged Nunavut to recognize the progress that is being made over the past decade in reaching the current level, which is very nice. They say Nunavut should be patient while the passage of time brings our quota up to what they call a majority share.


It is interesting that they have taken to using this term, majority share, which could be as little as 51 per cent, and is certainly a lot lower than a share equivalent to the national standard. For a number of reasons though, it is difficult to regard patience as a reasonable or prudent strategy for Nunavut to follow.

To begin with, Minister Hearn has said he will not take allocations from existing southern quota holders to raise Nunavut's quota. Now, that is not helpful from Nunavut's perspective, but it is at least understandable. But what happens when an opportunity arises to help Nunavut increase its allocation without taking away from existing southern quota holders?

This brings me to the first of DFO's decisions. Last fall an allocation of 1,900 tonnes became available, an allocation the minister could have offered to Nunavut. Nunavut companies were ready to purchase that quota, but Minister Hearn chose instead to award it to a southern group. Then on May 9 of this year Minister Hearn announced that DFO was establishing Enterprising Allocations for 600 tonnes of turbot in the 0B Fishery. This means each existing license holder would receive a share of 600 tonnes, except for Nunavut which was excluded. This action further entrenched the claim of non-Nunavut interests to quota in Nunavut waters. Third, was DFO's decision to provide Nunavut with just one small craft harbour, while Southern Canada has over 1,100, all paid for by the federal government.

What about the draft fisheries act? Does it promise progress? As you know, in Bill C-32 adjacency and historical attachment are just two of several criteria the minister must consider in making allocation decisions. While there are many other criteria identified under the proposed act, there is no weighting of those criteria. That means adjacency will not necessarily be a primary consideration when it comes to individual allocation decisions, nor does the language of C-32 guarantee non-discriminatory treatment of the provinces and territories. So, from our viewpoint, the proposed changes to the act provide no basis of believing future allocation decisions will favour Nunavut.

As it stands, the act's provisions would merely entrench existing allocation and put Nunavut's achievement of parity with the rest of Canada even further out of reach. Unless this changes, Nunavut will not be willing to support Bill C-32.

Mr. Chair, the Government of Nunavut views Canada's failure to give Nunavut a share of adjacent fisheries comparable to the shares it has allocated to the Atlantic provinces as discriminatory. We think Nunavut's exclusion from federal allocation transfer programs available to the Aboriginal people elsewhere in Canada is also discriminatory. We see the enormous disparity between the federal government's investments in fishery infrastructure in Southern Canada and in Nunavut as discriminatory as well.

Mr. Chair, Nunavut has said repeatedly over many years that we are not seeking a solution at the expense of established southern interests. We asked DFO for an agreement that would provide for a right of first refusal for allocations that become available, an Allocation Transfer Program that Nunavut can participate in, and a program on small craft harbours. If anything, it seems that DFO is heading in the opposite direction.

Mr. Chair, let me put this in a broader national context. Canada's legal case in support of sovereignty rests on Inuit use of occupancy of the Arctic. DFO's approach to the Nunavut fishery, however, runs very much counter to Canada's sovereignty strategy. In order for Canada to have a sustainable presence in the Arctic it must use the region's natural resources, including fishing stocks, to provide jobs for people who live here. By blocking development of Nunavut's fishery, which for several of our communities is pretty much the sole economic base, apart from government, DFO is threatening the long-term viability of those communities, and thereby the underpinning of Canada's sovereignty strategy. It is also placing the Government of Canada in a deeply hypocritical position concerning its Northern Strategy. Mr. Chair, the succession of adverse decisions taken by DFO over the past six months cannot go unanswered.


As you know, last week the frustration and anger felt by the Nunavummuit over those decisions was expressed dramatically here in Iqaluit by the people most directly affected, the fishing industry and the people whose jobs are directly at risk. The Government of Nunavut understands and shares that frustration. We are concerned and we share the frustration of the fisheries people in Nunavut as we have repeatedly sought a negotiated allocation agreement and a fishery infrastructure program that would bring Nunavut in line with the rest of the Canada and the current discriminatory regime.

I ask that you carry back to Ottawa a clear message of the frustration that we are feeling here in Nunavut. I urge that you bring that to your other members that we are clearly frustrated in Nunavut because of the discriminatory practises in fisheries when it comes to allocations, and I hope that your message on our behalf will result in positive action for the Nunavummuit. I have every faith that you will be supportive of our concerns in Nunavut. We know that you have an important job to do and you are going to be attentive and hear the concerns of Nunavut.

I thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Chair.


The Chair: Nakurmiik. Thank you, Mr. Minister.

We will go to questions, beginning with Senator Robichaud.


Senator Robichaud: Thank you for your presentation, Mr. Minister. I certainly heard your message, and I, together with the other members of the committee, am ready to do what I can to try to help you with your demands regarding these fishing quotas. I would like to have a few more details.

On page 5 of your presentation, you talk about DFO's first decision regarding the 1,900 tonnes, when this quota became available and could have been offered to Nunavut. The companies were prepared to buy it, but it was sold to someone else. I do not understand. I thought that when these quotas became available, if there were people in the community who were ready to buy them, DFO took advantage of the opportunity to try to restore the percentages. Do you know on what basis this quota was allocated to someone else?


The Chair: Mr. Minister, please.

Mr. Akesuk: Sorry, I am used to hearing, ``Mr. Minister, go ahead,'' from the Chairman or from the Speaker.


Regarding the fisheries in Nunavut, the turbot —

[Technical difficulties with audio]

The fisheries people have been involved in trying to get allocations for a long time, and we have stressed to Minister Hearn over and over that allocations or new or allocations should be directed to the Nunavummuit first, but we were told the allocation that became free was already committed to a southern based group. We have written to the minister three times stressing that any allocations that become open should be given to the Nunavummuit. We have written to Minister Hearn. He has not responded to us the three times that we have communicated in writing to him nor has DFO responded to us because we have written to them as well. This was in regards to the 1,900 tonnes that became available for reallocation.

[Technical difficulties with audio]


Senator Cowan: You are speaking about 0B.

Mr. Akesuk: Yes.


Senator Robichaud: You say, Mr. Minister, that this allocation had been promised to other interests and that in your view, it was promised before it actually became available. Is that correct? I find it strange that promises of this type were made.


Mr. Akesuk: I think that happened because we have written letters to DFO, to their director manager, to Minister Hearn, and we have not heard from them. Like I said earlier, I do believe they promised those allocations for 0B. Both this 1,900 tonnes and the 600 tonnes that were from our adjacent waters were allocated to southern companies, so that we would think that would probably put us up to 50 per cent, at least, to our adjacent waters if those were allocated to Nunavut.

This is frustrating for us, even though the other jurisdictions have 75 per cent to 80 per cent of their quota. If you recognize that we should also be included into these to make sure that we might catch up with other jurisdictions. We are fairly young, and since we became a government we have been trying very hard to start our fisheries. I think we have done a great job. We do our own research with our own money, even though other jurisdictions get money to do their scientific research out of what they have in their waters. We, as the Government of Nunavut, the territory, we provide this to small communities to do their research. I think we are treated unfairly by the federal government right now.


Senator Robichaud: Was the company that received the 1,900-tonne allocation one that was already fishing in OB, or was it a company that had recently arrived to fish in this zone?


Wayne Lynch, Director, Fisheries and Sealing, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut: Just to clarify the points, the 1,900 tonnes that we are talking about was a transfer between Seafreeze and Clearwater Fine Foods. These companies do not own the vessels that are fishing this fish. They sell it for royalties. Neither Clearwater nor Seafreeze has a vessel that is going to fish this fish, and the fish that they transferred is between companies, so I do not know how much money changed hands.

This is a public resource, and we feel that we should have had the first opportunity to purchase that fish. Instead of two companies exchanging between each other in the South, we would have used the fish as an economic stimulus for Nunavut.

We became aware of the decision on February 13 despite our repeated correspondence to the minister to have consultations with us. We wrote three letters with the minister to DFO to ask for consultations, but DFO never consulted with us. We have always said that we did not want to take fish from the site but when it became available that we would like the first shot at it. That did not happen. Thus, the minister and the government have been deeply upset about the last two decisions on the 1,900 tonnes and the 600 tonnes.

Senator Robichaud: So you are saying that Nunavut did not even get the chance to make an offer.

Senator Cochrane: Thank you for your message. Trust me, we hear you loud and clear.

I want to talk about climate change, and I want to change the tone a little bit. Mr. Baddaloo, you are the man on climate change, are you not?

Earle Baddaloo, Director, Environmental Protection, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut: Yes.

Senator Cochrane: Yes. Let me ask you in regards to the whole issue of climate change, because that is on everybody's mind right now, could the waters here become more productive as a result with what is happening with the change in our temperatures and the ice conditions and so on? Could we become more productive here within our fishery?

Mr. Baddaloo: That question branches both on climate change and on fisheries. I will attempt the climate change part and leave the fisheries part to my colleague, Wayne Lynch.

With rising temperatures you will get increase in productivity, and certain species of fish could proliferate. But you have to remember that we have very unique fishes up here also, very unique species such as the Arctic char, and science has shown that very small changes in temperature could adversely affect Arctic char. In addition, increases in temperature would bring species from Southern Canada, the West Coast and the East Coast, that are very aggressive, such as the various species of oncorhynchus, which is the salmon from the West Coast. These are very aggressive, so they could adversely affect the Arctic char populations also.

Mr. Lynch: What we have seen in a couple of years is one positive and one negative. We have a winter longline fishery through the ice in Pangnirtung, and that fishing season is becoming shorter and shorter because the ice breaks up earlier and earlier. So the fishermen are affected by the length of season. On the other side, we see that the 0A fishery is opening up sooner so there is more time for fishing boats to go in and fish further north. So we see both positive and negative.

Senator Cochrane: What about 0B fishery?

Mr. Lynch: Well, the 0B fishery — and this is why my minister was upset — is one of the more lucrative fisheries. We only own 27 per cent of that quota in that region. It has more of an open water season, and it is further south, closer to where we ship our products out of Nunavut, and closer to the south where it is more economically viable. We have seen the fishing seasons the same there, maybe a little less ice, but the ice is coming down quicker from the Arctic and breaking up quicker, is what we see.

Senator Cochrane: So has the season been longer there?

Mr. Lynch: A little bit longer in 0B, but 0A is more dramatic. We have expanded the season by a couple of months in 0A as we learn and we go forward. The seasons are extending a little bit more, but we see 0A open more. It used to be more ice-locked. It is starting to loosen up. We are getting in there faster and a bit longer, but still much shorter than 0B. 0B is a more open water area and more economically viable than 0A.

Senator Cochrane: Mr. Minister, you talked about the changes that you are going to set up, for instance with the unpredictable weather, with the earlier spring thaw, with the higher than usual temperatures and so on. As you indicated, your government has taken steps to address these issues by introducing the Nunavut Adaptation Plan and a Nunavut Climate Change Adaptation Plan. What has the federal government been doing on this front? Are you receiving any support from the Government of Canada to help mitigate the effects of this climate change?


Mr. Akesuk: The federal government has been supportive, yes.

[Technical difficulties with audio]

We have done research on climate change. We have three regions in Nunavut: Kivalliq, Kitikmeot and Qikiqtaaluk. The three regions have done various climate change research studies and climate change is happening at different levels in the three regions because of the geographical locations.


We do have copies of the research in the three regions. However, we do receive funding from the federal government on the adaptation program.

Mr. Baddaloo: Regarding your question concerning assistance from the federal government, at the Bali meeting of the COP, Minister Baird announced the government's commitment of $14 million towards Northern programs on climate change. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada administers that money. Right now they are developing various activities, research plans, et cetera, in order that that money will be utilized in Northern Canada. So, yes, we do get assistance.

One aspect of climate change we strongly believe that should have a very important part in Nunavummiut is sovereignty activity. The Northwest Passage will be opening soon and we have already had vessels from various parts of the world going through the Northwest Passage without permission or privileges. There is concern in regard to rust buckets using that part of the world, and the high risk of spills that may occur, or vessels sinking in our Arctic waters. Nunavummiut need to become more involved in those particular issues.

Nunavut has a land claim and as such, it gives its entity and powers in the North. This is something the federal government should be involving the people of Nunavut. The Nunavummiut live in the North, and have a land claim in the North. They are involved in activities in the Northwest Passage, and that involvement will not only benefit Nunavut but will show Canada's presence in the Arctic and in the northern parts of Canada.

The Chair: I just want to say a few words about procedure. First of all, we did not get on the record an answer to Senator Robichaud's last question.

If you could put it briefly, Senator Robichaud, and we could get an answer.

Senator Robichaud: I asked Mr. Lynch if Nunavut had been offered the opportunity to purchase the 1,900 tonne quota, and he just nodded in the affirmative. We just want to know, for the record, if you would say yes or no.

Mr. Lynch: No, it was not offered to us. The minister never returned any of our letters nor have we ever had a meeting on it, despite our calls.

The Chair: I have a question for the minister, before he leaves. It is a follow-up, really, to the answer to Senator Cochrane's question, and that is the question of sovereignty and the importance of the Inuit in the Arctic to the Canadian legal case for sovereignty in the Arctic. How do you perceive that situation? If it is important, how should it be applied and how do you perceive it?


Mr. Akesuk: When the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut meets, we talk about the fisheries and we get an update. We fully support economic development from our waters and land in Grise Fiord, as well as Resolute Bay. They are the sovereignty communities and most affected by climate change. They will be affected by sovereignty activities. We are very concerned and would like to be kept up to date about what is happening on sovereignty issues for the sake of the two sovereignty communities in the High Arctic.

Simon Awa, Deputy Minister, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut: We all remember 1953 when the Northern Quebec Inuit were relocated from Nunavik to the High Arctic to establish the communities of Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord. The objective of the relocation of these people was so that Canada could put inhabitants into the High Arctic so it could retain sovereignty over that region.

We all know that the people from Pond Inlet were also relocated to be resource persons and assistants to the people from Northern Quebec. We have forgotten those people who were relocated for sovereignty reasons. They are forgotten people as of today.

I want to stress that this is very much in line with the devolution that the Nunavut government has been talking about. We are now into devolution talks and envisioning devolution with the federal government. I believe that we do have to include the sovereignty of communities such as Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord as part of the devolution talks.

I could go on forever about the sovereignty of communities and the Northern Quebec exiles who were relocated, but I will leave it at that just to remind you that Canada put people in the High Arctic for sovereignty reasons.

Senator Adams: When you wrote your correspondence to Minister Hearn, I was carbon copied. I cannot respond because I am an appointee. However, I do get copies of your correspondence to the minister. I am perfectly aware that you have been corresponding with Minister Hearn, and your letters have gone unanswered. Thank you for including me.

Before we had land claims, the quotas were allocated to southern based fishery interests. I believe NTI, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, became interested in participating in allocations when they got into fisheries after the Nunavut land claims. In Ottawa, DFO tried to address this by restructuring the allocations. Some would go to the Inuit in Nunavut, others to established southern based fishery companies. I believe this has being going on quite a long time; it is not a new issue. However, because we live in Nunavut, we really should have preference according to the land claim agreements when it comes to economic developments. I would like to see you guys remember that.

Mr. Akesuk: When the N.W.T. was the government, the fishery in Pangnirtung was the only established Inuit fishery going on in the early 1980s. They were the only Inuit community actively involved in fisheries, but when we established the Nunavut governments there were allocations. Allocations had already been given to southern based companies in 0B. 0A became a new allocation after the Nunavut government was established. We have no problem with that. I believe that is only exploratory, but in 0B that was already a foregone and completed negotiated allocation. In 0B when the allocations came up they were simply reassigned to existing allocations and the old southern based fisheries the Nunavummuit were not involved, although we have stressed that we wanted to get into it and made overtures to be involved.

I want to stress to you that we are now getting much more experience in fisheries and serious about being involved in fisheries. We will continue to pursue our involvements and our share.


The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for coming and being so frank with us. You have been very helpful to us in explaining your position and your understanding of policy at the present time. We are going to be reflecting on this and doing a report later on. We do thank you and your officials for coming and being with us this morning. Thank you very much. Nakurmiik.

Hon. Patterk Netser, M.L.A., Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, Government of Nunavut: Thank you, Mr. Chair. To my right is my deputy minister, Rosemary Keenainak, and to my left is John Hawkins, Director of the Department of Transportation.

I want to begin this brief presentation by joining with my colleagues in offering to you, committee members and staff, a very warm welcome to Iqaluit and to Nunavut, our land. I am very pleased that this committee's visit to Nunavut will include another Nunavut community in addition to our capital city.

When you visit Pangnirtung, I encourage you to look closely at the activity in and around the town, as people are coming and going between the community and to the areas where they harvest. I wish I were at home right now — although I believe harvest season is over until next season due to ice breakup but will resume once again as soon as the ice clears.

As the senator from Nunavut can confirm, a walk along the beach in any of our communities, even at this time when the sea ice is breaking and access to open water is limited, will clearly show that fishing and harvesting from the sea is a way of life in Nunavut. In many of our communities, boats outnumber privately owned vehicles. All our communities are coastal communities. We are a maritime people. Long before our communities were settled, people here set out in boats like umiaks and kayaks, which are made out of sealskin. These people set out in boats to make their livelihood from the sea. This type of harvesting continues today and we expect this way of life to continue indefinitely.

We consider the fishery to be one of the foundations of our economy. It was in the past, it is now, and will certainly be in the future. Recognizing its importance, our communities, our Inuit organizations and corporations, the private sector, and the Government of Nunavut are all making significant investments in fisheries research in vessels and in education and training. These investments are all important parts of the foundation for a sustainable sector in a growing economy, but one significant element is missing.

As I am sure you are aware, and as we emphasize this in the Nunavut Economic Strategy, the economic growth is dependent on our natural resources, on the knowledge and education of our people, on our organizational capacities and on physical infrastructure. The first three of these four foundation elements for a growing economy are in place here in Nunavut and we are doing good work to develop them further.

The physical infrastructure we need to support our economic growth is lacking. We cannot make up this deficiency without assistance from the federal government. In the fishery we invest only in research, vessels and training. There is a risk, as you heard from the Department of the Environment, that the benefit of our investment would only be realized outside the territory and very little would be retained in Nunavut if any. Without infrastructure for the sector, safe harbours to berth our boats and to land our catch, the economic growth the fishery can bring to Nunavut may pass us by.

Mr. Chair, it has been over two years now since the Nunavut Small Craft Harbours Report was completed in a joint effort between my department and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The report clearly outlines the benefits harbours can bring to our communities. Harbours would create an opportunity to create an inshore fishery where local owners and operators could prosper. This economic development at the local level would allow us to maintain strong family and cultural ties. Harbours would help us to increase jobs, which are so badly need. The study estimates the equivalent of 198 full-time jobs following construction of the seven harbours identified in the Nunavut Small Craft Harbours Report.

The report points out that with more harbours we would have less damage to our boats. Every year our harvesters suffer hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss and damage to their vessels. New harbours would increase safety. Even within our communities we have had deaths and near-drowning of people trying to access boats moored in unsheltered water. In other cases, people have had to wait out bad weather because there is nowhere safe to bring a boat into town or onto shore.

I want to emphasize that because our communities are strung along the coast of the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay, and the North Atlantic, the importance of safe harbours to the growth of our economy cannot be overstated.

In addition to our fishery, commercial and subsistence harvesting, mining and our growing tourism industry all depend on safe access to the sea. There is one, as you know, near Baker Lake and they have to do many barges up along that river and there is no place for them to harbour in case of a storm. It is my understanding that there will be up to 18 barges going up to that channel this summer, and believe me, Senator Adams will know that the prevailing wind is from the east and if you get caught in that storm you have no place to run. Am I correct? Yes? Thank you.

As you know, as a part of Canada without roads, much of the trade and commerce of the territory depends on the summer sealift. Yet despite the importance of harbour infrastructure to our economy, the response of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Nunavut Small Craft Harbours Report has been mixed. Most officials have been very helpful in seeing Nunavut harbours for what they are, an important advancement of Canada's Small Craft Harbours programs. However, that helpful reaction seems to stop somewhere between the officials and the approval of the federal budget. Instead, we hear that Canada's network of 1,170 small craft harbours is adequate, that 400 of these harbours are recreational and should be divested, that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans no longer builds harbours and is busy maintaining the harbours it has. This type of response is not acceptable to us.

In the past, where Canadians had the potential for a fishery adjacent to their communities, safe harbours were built to provide safe access to that resource. This needs to happen in Nunavut as well. We in Nunavut are Canadians too. We have an enormous fishery potential right on our doorstep. Yet, the physical infrastructures we need to develop that potential, the harbours, are still missing.

Honourable senators, very recently, we saw the door to federal support for this infrastructure open a crack and we want to put our foot in that space before it closes on us again. The 2008 federal budget announced the approval of only one harbour, while the Nunavut Small Craft Harbours Report recommended the construction of seven. The one harbour will serve the people of Pangnirtung well. It will demonstrate the importance of infrastructure to local and territorial economic growth. So, we must look at the federal announcement as important progress. In Nunavut, where there were no harbours, one is being built, but if one can be built, surely others can follow. We do not accept that it is the intention of the federal government to build only one harbour here in Nunavut, where there are 25 communities along two thirds of Canada's coastline. But to get those other harbours in place will take that same kind of effort it took to get the federal infrastructure funding for the Pangnirtung harbour and the other harbours in other jurisdictions.

I want to emphasize to this committee that we will continue to press the federal government to provide the infrastructure that we need in Nunavut to build a sustainable economy for our future.

I thank you once again for providing me with a hearing on this vital issue for Nunavut, and I ask for your support in ensuring that my message is heard in Ottawa. I hope you will find your brief stay with us both informative and enjoyable and thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak to you and the other committee members.

The Chair: Just to let you know, all of us here have experience with small harbours and know the importance of wharfs and breakwaters and fishing facilities, and many of us have spent a great deal of our careers trying to obtain those for small communities. We understand completely how important they are to you.

I would just like to tell you too that, as you say, we are going to Pangnirtung, and as far as I know this will be the first time that we have had formal hearings in a community outside Iqaluit. We are looking forward to that visit, and we know, from your description, that we should be looking forward to it as well because it is a very beautiful place.


Senator Adams: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for giving us a brief presentation on the issues regarding the report.

[Technical difficulties with audio]


I have my microphone off. Something keeps changing and I do not know what is wrong with the equipment. The interpretation sometimes switches from English to Inuktitut and then back again. There is something wrong with the equipment.

The Chair: Can we keep the English on channel 1? That would be very helpful to us all.

Try again, Senator Adams.

Senator Adams: Do you want me to do it in Inuktitut or English?

The Chair: Whatever you like.

[Technical difficulties with audio]


Senator Adams: Approximately how much will it cost to build those small craft harbours in other small communities? Do you have an estimate?

Mr. Netser: The seven communities with the proposed small harbours that we have identified we have been working on those small craft harbours since 2001. We say in total it will cost $45 million for the seven small craft harbours, excluding Pangnirtung because Pangnirtung has now set aside $1 million for their harbour. But for the small craft harbours the federal government has not made a commitment, but we have told them the estimate for that.


The Chair: Do you know when the construction in Pangnirtung will begin and could you make some comments also on docking in Iqaluit itself?

Mr. Netser: I understand that the tender will be put forth the summer of next year and construction should start in 2010. That is for Iqaluit, did you say?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr. Netser: I can have either John Hawkins or my deputy minister respond to that query. I am not briefed on that subject.

John Hawkins, Acting Deputy Minister, Transportation Branch, Department of Economic Development and Transportation, Government of Nunavut: The preliminary design is going ahead for the Pangnirtung harbour now. They expect to tender that project in 2009 and construction would —

The Chair: When you say ``they,'' who are ``they''?

Hon. Netser: That is DFO, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, yes. They expect to tender that in 2009 and construction will begin in 2010.

The Chair: Plans are underway for a docking facility in Iqaluit?

Mr. Hawkins: No, this is in Pangnirtung.

The Chair: Can you comment on Iqaluit?

Mr. Hawkins: There are no firm plans for a docking facility in Iqaluit right now.

The Chair: Have you put forward any proposals?

Mr. Hawkins: We have participated with the city on some feasibility, some preliminary design, but they have not been put forward to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They were not part of the Small Craft Harbours program. This is probably a larger facility that we are speaking about here. It is not part of that program at all.

Senator Cochrane: You really have not put forth a proposal for a Nunavut harbour.

The Chair: For Iqaluit.

Senator Cochrane: Oh, sorry, yes, for Iqaluit. Yes, okay. Rosemary?

Rosemary Keenainak, Deputy Minister, Department of Economic Development and Transportation, Government of Nunavut: The seven communities that were identified under the Small Crafts Harbours program were associated with DFO. The Iqaluit port has been identified as a strategic port and it has been presented in the Northern Connections document that was released by the three territories, however, it has not been brought forward to DFO for funding. The only ones that we presented were the seven so far, but it is identified as a strategic port for Nunavut.

We were hoping that the announcement last year would have included Iqaluit, but the federal government announced Nanisivik, an existing port. We are still hoping that Iqaluit will be identified. There is a lot of activity in the summer here in Iqaluit and they do have to wait for the tides and stuff like that for unloading, and it does take a lot of time for that. But it has been identified as a strategic port that should be here.

Senator Cochrane: Do I understand you correctly, that in your plan you identified seven ports and Iqaluit was not one of them?

Ms. Keenainak: Iqaluit was not included with the seven, but it was identified separately. The seven communities were Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Chesterfield, Kugaaruk and Repulse Bay.

Senator Cochrane: What is the status of those proposed harbours?

Ms. Keenainak: As the minister indicated in his opening comments, the federal government only identified Pangnirtung. We were hoping for seven harbours, and eventually, we would like to see all of our Nunavut communities with breakwaters.

Senator Cochrane: What were the minister's arguments for not including the other six?

Ms. Keenainak: I think that is a question you should ask the federal government because we were hoping for seven harbours.

Senator Cochrane: We will ask the government.

Senator Hubley: I must say it is a great pleasure for us to be here and to visit you and your people.

We have heard for some time how important infrastructure and small craft harbours are to developing the economy in the North, as you had suggested in your presentation. Harbours create safe access to the sea and its resources. I am pleased that there is going to be one harbour, but having seven harbours would be even that much better. It is going to take some time.

I would like you to comment on the importance of having small craft harbours in Canada's sovereignty strategy. If we put in a facility in a community, do you feel that will strengthen Canada's sovereignty strategy in the North?

Mr. Netser: I think it will go a long way in terms of the federal government addressing the sovereignty issues that they often talk about.

I said earlier that with the mining boom in Nunavut, the mineral exploration is high and we hear that within a few years Nunavut will be the mining capital of Canada. Without this infrastructure in place, we have these barges and ships coming in with supplies to bring to town, they often have to leave them in areas where it will be accessible to them during the winter. It is just a matter of time. It is not a matter of when, it is a matter of time, an accident will happen. We see accidents happening everywhere in this world. It is going to happen in Nunavut too. Without these harbour programs in place, we could eliminate a lot of the potential accidents.


Senator Robichaud: If it had been up to you to make the decision, as Minister of Economic Development and Transport, would you have chosen to develop the harbour in Nanisivik rather than the one in Iqaluit?


Mr. Netser: The federal government created the harbour that you mentioned. We know that Iqaluit and Nanisivik, we have not been really involved in that. But they have been identified as priorities for a harbour within the strategy that we have put together. Iqaluit is not included for a deep water harbour and that is a separate issue.


Senator Robichaud: You say that it is a separate issue, but, as I understand it, this is nonetheless a very important issue if certain economic development projects are to happen in the region. Is that not correct? My question is this: do you expect that in the near future the harbour in Iqaluit may appear in the federal government's development plans?


Mr. Netser: I think we misunderstood each other. I think the deep water port that the federal government announced is a sovereignty issue, but I think if we have the port here in Iqaluit it would be very good for the Government of Nunavut in terms of economic activities, economic growth. Nunavut would definitely benefit from that deep sea port if it happened in Iqaluit. We identified in the strategy that we put forth that Iqaluit be placed for a deep water port.

Senator Robichaud: In your mind, the Nanisivik is for sovereignty purposes while Iqaluit would be the place for economic development for the whole area, would it not.


Mr. Netser: Yes, that would be perfect if we were to have a harbour in Iqaluit.


We are not used to having three different languages all at the same time in Nunavut, so my apologies.

Iqaluit would really benefit from a deep-sea port. The local businesses would benefit. We have many ships that come here with our annual supplies and if we had a deep-sea port here, the ships would be able to dock and the companies could hire the local contractors to offload the ships. So yes, it would be a real benefit to the Government of Nunavut and also for Iqaluit if we had a deep sea port here.

Senator Robichaud: What impact would that have on the supplies including the food and everything that the community needs? Just how much would they have to pay for those goods? Would that have a positive effect in that you would not have to pay as much as you have to right now?

Mr. Netser: I think we would really benefit from such a port because, as I said earlier, the ships come in and they have to anchor out there for maybe a week at a time offloading their ships because they have to coincide with the low tide and high tide and they have to wait in between the tides. If we had a deep-sea port, it would cut the wait by 70 per cent to 80 per cent and that would cut the cost of transportation. So yes, we would really benefit from a deep sea port here in Iqaluit.

The Chair: First, if I could just summarize for my own purposes. You asked for seven ports as small craft harbours. You got one. With regards to Iqaluit have you put a proposal forward? Have you put a request forward to the federal government for funding for docking facilities in Iqaluit?

Ms. Keenainak: I believe when the Prime Minister made his announcement last summer the Government of Nunavut was hoping that the announcement would be Iqaluit. The announcement was made for Nanisivik, I think as you said, for sovereignty issues.

The Chair: Yes, that is true, and we understand that, but that still leaves Iqaluit without docking facilities. Have you or are you going to put forward a proposal or a request to the federal government for a docking facility in Iqaluit?

Ms. Keenainak: As I indicated earlier, the government, in conjunction with the N.W.T. and Yukon, just recently released a Northern Connections multi-modal transportation report where it identified land, marine and air strategic locations and Iqaluit was identified for the Baffin.

Mr. Netser: Adding to that, I think it would be very beneficial for you if you can travel across this vast territory. It is immense; it is huge. We have three regions. Talking about the deep-sea port here in Iqaluit would benefit Nunavut and Baffin region and I think Rankin Inlet is identified as one of the communities in the strategy to have a deep-sea port down the road. It would benefit the people of the Kivalliq region. We are not only need a deep-sea port here in Iqaluit, we need a deep-sea port here in Rankin Inlet as well to benefit Nunavummuit and endorse the sovereignty strategy that the government has been talking about the last couple of years.

The Chair: Minister Netser, I just want to say thank you very much for being so frank with us. You have been very helpful and you have clarified many things for us. We do thank you and your officials for coming. Thank you very much.

Mr. Netser: I forgot to mention that we would like a deep-sea port in the Kitikmeot region as well.

I want to leave you this Nunavut Small Crafts Harbours Report, which has been worked on since 2001 and we are getting blue in the face from lack of oxygen.

The Chair: Honourable senators, we now welcome Mr. Peter Kattuk, the MLA from Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay near where Willie Adams lives. We welcome you. John MacDougall is appearing on behalf of NTK, which I cannot pronounce, but maybe you can, John.

Hon. Peter Kattuk, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Hudson Bay, Legislative Assembly of Nunavut: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I am very thrilled and proud to speak to you about my concerns as the MLA for Hudson Bay. This is not my first time speaking in this kind of forum. Again, I am very proud to speak in front of you this morning.

The Chair: Now, Peter, you understand that you can speak English or Inuktitut. We have translation in English, French and Inuktitut. So you can use whatever language you want and you are most comfortable in. If you would rather speak in Inuktitut please do.

Mr. Kattuk: Yes, I will use my language.

[Technical difficulties with audio]

The Chair: Just a second. We are not getting the interpretation. Can we have the English on channel 1? The French is on channel 2; the Inuktitut is on channel 3. I am not getting it. I do not know how many other people are, but I was not getting a translation. Would you try again, please?


Mr. Kattuk: I will repeat what I said first to Willie, but I thank Willie that we can sit together in this kind of forum.

I will give my notes in English. That is more comfortable now to me because I did not learn my syllabics when I was growing up. There was no way to learn them. I had to learn my syllabics reading from the Bible. I had to do it one by one. So that was very hard for me. So I am going to speak in English instead.

Thank you very much for inviting me to appear before you today. I am very pleased that our senators take such a strong interest in Arctic issues and that you are here to see our environment with your own eyes. Welcome to Nunavut.

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak with you today about my views on marine activities and challenges of climate change in the Arctic. I would like to begin by telling you about myself.

I was born and raised in the Sanikiluaq area. Sanikiluaq is located in Belcher Islands in southeastern Hudson Bay.

Over the past 50 years the Inuit of Sanikiluaq have experienced great changes to our way of life. In the space of a few generations we have moved off the land and into permanent settlements.

My mother tongue is Inuktitut. I was sent to school and educated in English. I learned to hunt seals, trap and fish from my father.

I am a former mayor of Sanikiluaq, and was privileged to be first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut in 1999. I represent the people of my community. The Inuit of Sanikiluaq are the only permanent residents in Hudson Bay and James Bay. We take our responsibilities to protect the marine environment that surrounds our home in the Belcher Islands very seriously. This environment is the source of much of our food and is part of our culture and way of life.

Inuit are committed to protecting our unique culture and language while being fully participating members of Canadian society like you. Inuit pay their income taxes like you. We want the best possible future for our children.

Our elders have always told us that our youth need to draw strength from our culture, language and values. Numerous academic studies confirm that we have always known with respect to strong culture and a foundation to address such problems as youth suicide.

Our culture has its roots in hunting traditions. It is essential that our environment be protected so that we may continue to experience our harvesting rights and pass our values onto the next generation.

I have heard many scientists and researchers talk about the importance and values of traditional knowledge or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.


The government of Nunavut works hard to incorporate Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit into their policies and operations. It is my hope that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit will also be taken into consideration when evaluating monitoring policies and practices that are determined at a federal level.

As a member of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut I have been able to voice the concerns of my community on a number of issues relating to our environment. Many of my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly have joined me in speaking to the issues of global warming and climate change. As you can appreciate, this issue is of popular concern to us given our Arctic homes and communities are on the front line of climate change. Climate change affects the health and migratory pattern of the animals we harvest. It also affects our access to those animals due to changing ice forms and earlier ice break-up.

I have observed changes in the marine environment surrounding the Belcher Islands. The impacts of global warming are placing additional stresses on the marine environment of Hudson Bay and James Bay. These impacts are interacting with our manmade influences including fresh water input from hydro development. There will likely be many more long-term changes to the environment on which many others depend.

I can tell you that it is extremely important to the people of Sanikiluaq to have access to their traditional harvesting areas. They want to be sure of the good health of the species that live there.

My constituents depend on the water surrounding their homes for belugas, seals, walrus, polar bears, waterfowl and fish. In turn these animals depend on those waters and islands for migration, moulting and breeding. It is critical that the health of the marine ecosystem be protected. A healthy marine ecosystem is essential to developing our long-term economic potentials in such areas as tourism and commercial harvesting. Ongoing monitoring of marine activities is critical to a sustainable future.

In closing, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with you today and to share some of my views on these important issues. Your committee has been very supportive of this North, and I encourage you to continue the effort to raise awareness of issues such as climate change that directly affect northerners or our way of life.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Peter.

John MacDougall, Nunavuummi Tasiujarjuamiuguqatigiit Katutjiqatigiingit (NTK): Qujannamiik. Thank you very much to the chair and to the committee for the invitation to speak to you today. Thank you very much to Peter for being here. Peter has been very supportive to our group over the years, and very much a direct participant in all our activities.

The Chair: And you are going to explain NTK to us?

Mr. MacDougall: I am going to make an effort. The English members of our group normally refer to the group as Hudson Bay inter-agency working group, but we did officially adopt an Inuktitut name and that is Nunavuummi Tasiujarjuamiuguqatigiit Katutjiqatigiingit.

I have a short prepared text, if I may. I meant to say that we provided a map as well. I do not know whether that was circulated. You will see Sanikiluaq where Peter lives. You will see it down there in the bulge, that clean curve of Hudson Bay. That is where the Belcher Islands are located and Sanikiluaq is right on the northern tip of the Belcher Islands and not too far away on the western shore of Quebec is the hydroelectric project that I am talking about. It is about 160 kilometres from the Belcher Islands. You will see the name Chisasibi on the coast of James Bay. That is the mouth of the La Grande River which is the mouth of the La Grande Project and that is the project that I am referring to in this presentation.

The Chair: Just for orientation purposes, this is 55 degrees latitude, is that right?

Mr. MacDougall: I am sorry?

The Chair: The Belcher Islands are in Nunavut, right?

Mr. MacDougall: Yes, sir.

The Chair: Where does Quebec start? Is it below 55 degrees latitude?

Mr. MacDougall: Quebec is all on the eastern side of Hudson Bay. Nunavut is mostly up on the northwestern side. The interesting part, and which brings us here today, is that Sanikiluaq and the Belcher Islands, which are in Hudson Bay, are part of Nunavut. They are only about 160 kilometres away from this hydroelectric project.

The Chair: So the hydroelectric project is in Quebec?

Mr. MacDougall: Yes, sir.

The Chair: You are in Nunavut.

Mr. MacDougall: We are in Nunavut.

The Chair: We have the geography.

Mr. MacDougall: All right.

Thank you for the opportunity to draw your attention to an important environmental issue affecting Hudson Bay. On behalf of Nunavuummi Tasiujarjuamiuguqatigiit Katutjiqatigiingit, or NTK, I urgently request that you speak out about the Government of Canada's failure to act on a crucial recommendation of the federal review panel for the Eastmain-1-A and Rupert Diversion Project.

NTK is an environmental working group on Hudson Bay established in 2003. It is composed of the Municipality of Sanikiluaq, the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and Qikiqtani Inuit Association. I work for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

Our purpose is to advocate for and protect and advance the ecological integrity and sustainability of Hudson Bay. Our name means ``people of the bay working together.''

We participated extensively in the public hearings associated with the Eastmain-1-A and Rupert Diversion Project, the latest major addition to the La Grande Complex. On December 5, 2006 the Government of Canada released the findings of the federal review panel which contained 83 recommendations. One of them, recommendation 34, directly addressed our concerns.

Recommendation 34 states:

The issue of cumulative effects affects several jurisdictions, including the federal government, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, the territory of Nunavut as well as several government departments linked to these various levels of government. Assessing cumulative effects therefore goes far beyond the responsibility of a single proponent. Within this context, it would be imperative for the federal government to implement a large scale research and monitoring program for James Bay and Hudson Bay ecosystems. Such a program could be coordinated by an independent body whose structure is akin to that of the International Joint Commission. Such a structure could foster the pooling of efforts and resources of all concerned government agencies, as well as those of the academic community, which is already working on various problems related to cumulative effects in this sector. Whatever the chosen structure, it would be essential for the various Aboriginal communities affected to be stakeholders in this research and monitoring program, in order to integrate into it traditional knowledge and local expertise.

On December 7, 2006, we wrote to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asking when he intended to implement recommendation 34. On December 18, 2006, Prime Minister Harper announced the Government of Canada's unconditional approval of the Eastmain-l-A and Rupert Diversion Project. In making the announcement he made no mention whatsoever of recommendation 34 or any of the panel's 83 recommendations. Following the Prime Minister's announcement Department of Fisheries and Oceans posted on its website the following statement regarding recommendation 34:

The Government of Canada agrees with the spirit of the panel's recommendation. Federal departments implicated in the cumulative effects of anthropomorphic activities on Canada's physical, biophysical and human environments will monitor and/or coordinate, as may be appropriate, research activities in the James Bay and Hudson Bay region with provincial authorities and Aboriginal communities.

On June 8, 2007, having received no reply from the minister to our December 7 letter, we again wrote to him asking three questions. We asked what the government means when it says that it ``agrees with the spirit of the panel's recommendations?'' We asked for the government's timetable for implementation of recommendation 34. We asked how the research and monitoring program would be structured.

Seven months later on December 6, 2007 the minister finally replied:

The Government of Canada's response to the Federal Panel #34 stated that the Government ``agrees with the spirit of the Panel's recommendation.'' That is to say, we agree with the intent of the recommendation, namely to have a coordinated approach to assessing cumulative impacts, involving Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Governments as well as affected stakeholders. The exact structure and timetable of this coordination is still under development.

I would like to note that officials of Fisheries and Oceans Canada are working with their counterparts in Environment Canada, as well as other federal departments, provincial and territorial governments and other agencies to develop a coordinated approach to this issue, bearing in mind the recommendations contained in the reports produced by the Environmental Assessment Review Panel and Social Impact Review Committee. The specifics of any research and monitoring programs are still being developed, with the understanding that extensive consultations with all stakeholders will be required before implementation can begin.

To date, one year and six months after the Government of Canada released the federal review panel's recommendations, and five months since the DFO minister's December 6, 2007 letter, neither NTK nor any of its member organizations, including the Government of Nunavut, has been contacted by DFO or any other Government of Canada department.

Contrary to what the DFO minister is saying, DFO is not working with the Government of Nunavut to develop a coordinated approach to assessing cumulative impacts. DFO is not consulting with any Inuit stakeholders. If DFO is working or consulting with any other federal, provincial or territorial agencies or consulting with any other affected stakeholders we are not aware of it.

Time is of the essence with regard to the implementation of recommendation 34. Hydro-Quebec is forging ahead with the construction of the Eastmain-1-A Rupert Diversion Project. Excavation work at the powerhouse sites is well underway, as is the concrete work for the various spillways, earth fill work on the dikes, blasting work to create the transfer vault, and land clearing in the diversion bay section. This month marked the start of construction of the temporary dikes that will enable excavation of the Eastmain-1-A powerhouse water intake and penstocks to begin.

For this reason we can no longer rely solely on letters to the DFO minister to obtain implementation of recommendation 34. We believe it would be very effective if you, as the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in Nunavut, would raise this matter with the government.

Specifically, we would like to see three questions put to the DFO minister: When does the minister intend to implement recommendation 34? What is the government's timetable for implementation of recommendation 34? How will the research and monitoring program be structured?

Thousands of Inuit depend on the marine mammals, fish and waterfowl of the Hudson Bay ecosystem to eat and sustain their traditional way of life. They are very concerned about the impact of environmental change. Recommendation 34 addresses this concern. Anything you can do to help get recommendation 34 implemented will be a great service to the people of the bay.

Qujannamiik. Thank you.

Senator Robichaud: You are saying that we should put pressure on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to answer what at this very late stage, if I understand you correctly, something has to be done. Would it not be more expeditious if we were to go directly to the Prime Minister?

From what you are saying, a lot of work has been done and unless action is taken in the near future, the project will be completed and recommendation 34 will not have had any effect.

Mr. MacDougall: You make a good point. Bear in mind that the La Grande Project is massive. It is going to be at least a three-year project to bring in on stream. The powerhouses that are being built are not expected to be commissioned until 2011. An important phase of the work has already been done, and Hydro-Quebec is not wasting a moment, they are moving ahead.

If this committee has a direct pathway to the Prime Minister, we would respectfully urge you to bring recommendation 34 to his attention and request implementation of it.

Senator Robichaud: Maybe I was a little quick because now that I look back I do not think the Prime Minister would listen to the Senate committee, but we can always put the question to him.

You say recommendation 34 has not been taken into consideration at all in relation to the Inuit. I understand all islands of Hudson Bay are in Nunavut territory, are they not? I am sure there were consultations with all the communities on the Quebec coast that will be affected by this project.

Mr. MacDougall: I believe you are correct. In Hydro-Quebec's eyes their project relates only to the Cree. They have done a good job, as far as I know, in consulting with Cree.

The whole twist here, from our point of view, is that Hydro-Quebec sees that their study area for environmental impact ends at the mouth of the La Grande River. So, if you look on your map it just stops right there at Chasasibi. We presented a lot of evidence to the review panel because Hudson Bay has so much fresh water. Five hundred rivers flow into Hudson Bay. The La Grande is a big one, and the Rupert, plus the Eastmain, three big rivers are tied up in this main project. Hudson Bay is very much affected as a whole when you start fooling around with the timing of the fresh water pulse. That is what this project will do. This project will actually control the fresh water of the three big rivers that flow into Hudson Bay from Northern Quebec. They will control that pulse. The pulse will no longer be a natural pulse. It will be tied to the thermostats of Montreal. In the wintertime when people turn their thermostats up to get more heat, the sluice gates will go up so more water can flow through the turbines and make more electricity and that will flow more fresh water at an odd time for the ecosystem of Hudson Bay. That will happen all the time depending on what's going on in Montreal.

Inuit are very much affected by this project, and we have a hard time convincing Hydro-Quebec of that. We had no problem at the end of the day convincing the review panel and that is why they made recommendation 34.

Mr. Kattuk: I want to say something. I am the one who will be affected. I am the downstream user. Our concern is the fresh water right now. In the 1990s we were concerned about the environment itself in Hudson Bay. It is fresh water now. Like John said, there are more thermostats used down south so the flow of the river is increased at the La Grande River. That means more fresh water in the wintertime which is the wrong time. Now in the springtime there should be more water coming out from the river. That is normal spring runoff. Now the water is slower because they do not need the thermostats at this time of year. It is the wrong time. So there is more fresh water. That means it affects my hunting pattern. The fresh water ice is more dangerous than salt water ice. There is a difference. That is our concern now. We want to continue to practice our way of hunting so let us see that recommendation 34 be addressed for the people of Nunavut.

Senator Robichaud: Will this pulse of fresh water adversely affect some species at a different time of the year? Can you enlighten me on that?

Mr. Kattuk: People of Belcher Islands or Sanikiluaq depend on a lot of seafood and sea salt and we have lots in the Belcher Islands that would not survive in fresh water. So if there is less salt water they will die off and that is going to affect my diet because with less salt water, as I said, they will die off. I have seen it before. In addition, the fresh water ice melts faster than salt water ice, so that is going to affect the marine mammals in our area. The two things that we are worried about are seashells and animals that will be affected by fresh water.

The Chair: Maybe you could give us specific examples. Would scallops be affected, for example? And are there other species like that? Can you name some species for us?

Mr. Kattuk: We have scallops, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, mussels and shells. Those are the kinds of things. There are more but I do not know the English names.


Senator Adams: When we met in February, I heard your presentation regarding polar bears and how they are affected by climate change. We hear that the government says polar bears are decreasing in numbers and the Americans, of course, are instituting a moratorium banning the hunting of polar bears for sport. You mentioned that in your region of Sanikiluaq, you are now getting polar bears when you did not before.

I lived in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, for a time. It is on a river. Fresh water really did affects beluga whales. They shed their skin every year as we know. We know that when they are shedding their skin they go into fresh water. I believe they are afraid because they thrive in salt water. As we get more fresh water in Nunavik and Hudson Bay, they will become less and less available to hunt. They will migrate to more salty waters.

Mr. Kattuk: To talk about polar bears first, I am informed that we are getting more polar bears in our region. My grandparents and my parents, my father said there were no polar bear whatsoever in Belcher Islands in their time. But towards the end of the 1960s we began to see polar bears moving into our area and they were told that polar bears will become numerous but they would migrate elsewhere. So traditional knowledge says they do move around.

Regarding the Americans and their ban on polar bear sports hunting, yes they are concerned.


Senator Cochrane: Mr. MacDougall, regarding your organization, have you met with or are you in dialogue with any of the people on the border in Quebec in concerning the issues that you are concerned about? As you know, when you have a large group working together it is more effective than it is if it is one single entity.

Mr. MacDougall: Actually, Peter would probably be a better person to talk about that because he has actually been in conversation with Cree in some of those communities. Before he does I will just mention that we have been in touch with the Makivik Corporation, which represents the Inuit communities along that coast. In fact, Makivik sits often with our working group in discussion of these issues.

Mr. Kattuk: We have voiced our concern with the Inuit organizations or Cree organizations, but when it comes to the Quebec government or Hydro-Quebec, it is very typical because Hydro-Quebec has told us that they are not going outside of Quebec. We are from Nunavut. They are not to talk to us directly because we are not from Quebec. If we had concerns in the past, we have had to talk to the federal government. That is how we did it. The Government of Quebec would not talk to us.

Senator Cochrane: Have you tried to talk with the Minister of the Environment in Quebec?

Mr. Kattuk: We have tried that, but they do not want to talk to us. That is all I know so far. It is hard for us. It was hard for us when we had concerns about the environment when they started to build the Eastmain River diversion. It is hard for us. We have to talk with the federal government directly or talk with environmental panels from our perspective.

Senator Cochrane: Let me just try to be specific here on another issue. What impact of climate change on Canada's North do you consider to be the most important and the most in need of urgent attention?

Mr. Kattuk: I think we can witness what is happening now.

Senator Cochrane: What is the most important concern?

Mr. Kattuk: All I know is what I see. I see my environment almost every day, and I use it every day. I know what is happening over there. But technically I do not know what the effects are, why it is like that. I think the monitoring system placed down there will address our concerns. Like I said, I see it every day. I use it every day, and it is changing a lot. It is not the same anymore as it was when I was growing up 50 years ago.

Senator Cochrane: Is it the ice?

Mr. Kattuk: It is the weather. Like the fall starts late and spring starts early and it shortens the winter. In my area we used to have snow starting in September. Now maybe the end of October or the beginning of November it is starting to become winter. The warm weather is longer and that is why it is creating a shorter winter in my community. That is the change I have seen.

Senator Cochrane: Are your local people saying anything or are they worried and making other plans? What are the local people doing about this?

Mr. Kattuk: Well, that is why we created NTK so the people can address their concerns. The committee has been meeting. We are trying to do something about people's concerns, but we do not have direct say to the federal government. So we have to go through the committee.

Senator Hubley: In your presentation, Mr. MacDougall, you mentioned that you participated extensively in the public hearings leading up to this last major development on the La Grande complex. There would have been impact and environmental studies as part of that process.

I just want you to think about that. I am thinking that with the situation that we are finding ourselves in today regarding energy and the cost of energy that we are dealing with there is going to be a great deal of pressure to bring these projects to fruition. So I am sure that that is going to be something you are going to have to grapple with. I guess since it is very clear, at least to me, that this is having a major impact on the lifestyle and the environment of Aboriginal Peoples I am wondering at what point in this process are you pushed to legal action.

Mr. MacDougall: You make a good point, and we appreciate that there is going to be a thirst for electrical power, there is now, and there will be more so in the future. Hydroelectric power is a clean source of power. When we took our position before the review panel, they asked us, ``What remedy are you seeking?'' We replied that we are not trying to stop this project, even if we had a hope of doing so anyway. We did not make that submission to try to stop it, block it, or get an injunction. We did not even ask for compensation, which I think Hydro-Quebec probably thought was why we were in it.

All we asked for was a monitoring program of Hudson Bay to make sure that if there were any bad effects on the environment in Hudson Bay that it would send up a red flag and that maybe corrective measures could be taken to address those problems. That is what recommendation 34 indicates, that there should be a monitoring program run by all the affected territories, provinces and the federal government working together, sort of like what they have for the Great Lakes. It is not a new idea. We are just asking for that mechanism to be put in place and the monitoring to start. That is what recommendation 34 is.

We have thought about legal, but that is expensive. Hydro-Quebec is moving so fast that it is probably better if we can use folks like yourself to see if you could get the ear of the Minister of Environment or whomever, and just see if they could move up the schedule for implementation of recommendation 34.

Senator Cowan: The people, essentially the Cree, who live along that coast would they not be adversely affected by this project? What can you tell us about any consultations that might have taken place between the Cree and Hydro- Quebec?

Mr. Kattuk: I do not want to speak for them, but in the past they were concerned. That is all I can say. I think economic compensation was something that they had to agree to. They are concerned. I have been talking with them. Our ideas were the same. They are opposed to the project, but the government will not listen even though both of us were concerned about the project. I really cannot talk for them, but I know they were against the project before.

Senator Cowan: I realize you do not represent them, and I can appreciate the delicacy of the situation, but traditionally, historically, I would assume that your people living on those islands and the people who lived along the coast would have a similar lifestyle. Whether you lived on the island or you lived on the mainland, your traditional ways of life would be similar, would they not?

Mr. Kattuk: In some ways, but I do not know how they live on the mainland; I know how I live on the islands. We have friends or we have relatives in some of those communities from Belcher Islands. I have a cousin in Chisasibi. I know there are some other people from Belcher Islands who have relatives there too.

With respect to your question, all I can say is that both of us will be affected but I do not really know how they use their environment and use the mammals or what they have for their diet.

Senator Adams: I have a supplementary to Senator Cowan's question.

In 1975, Makivik Corporation and the Cree completed an agreement with Hydro-Quebec. They agreed on compensation. They have come back to the government and Hydro-Quebec but cannot do anything because of the agreement.

The Cree were a little different from the people living in Sanikiluaq because the Cree do not hunt just whales in Hudson Bay; they hunt seals and whales. Mostly, the Cree have been compensated by hunting and trapping foxes and beavers and animals like that. They got the money to do it, while those in Nunavut do not.

Senator Robichaud: I think the point has been made that the Cree who were affected by these large projects have been involved in consultations with Hydro-Quebec and the province while you, from Nunavut, have not been involved in any way except for the consultations leading to the report that proposes recommendation 34, which has not been acted on. Would you answer rather than nod because it will not go on the record.

Mr. MacDougall: Yes. Exactly.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you.

The Chair: We do want to thank you, Peter, very much, and John. You have been very helpful and clarified many things for us. You can be sure that we will be reflecting on this and doing what we can. Thank you very much for coming.

The committee adjourned.

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