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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

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

IQALUIT, Nunavut, Monday, June 2, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 7:01 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 Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.

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


The Chair: Honourable senators, this is the town hall portion of our hearings today in Iqaluit. We have with us tonight John Amagoalik, the father of Nunavut, and that is historically true. He is the one person, above all, who has fought for the land claims and worked very hard for it. He is known not just in Nunavut but elsewhere. He was a great help to the Labrador Inuit in their land claim, and I have seen him in other parts of the world. One of the last times I saw him was in an airport in London, I think, and he was travelling to someplace in Europe to give a presentation.

Mr. Amagoalik has a long experience and a wisdom that we can benefit from, and I would like him to make a presentation to us now and to tell us whatever he would like. He knows that our purpose here is to study the whole question of the Coast Guard in particular, which involves Arctic sovereignty, but we know that fishing and the fishing quotas are a big issue up here too. We would like to have the benefit of his experience in that regard as well.

Please welcome John Amagoalik.

Senator Robichaud: In the language of his choice.

The Chair: In the language of his choice. We have interpretation in Inuktitut, English and French.

John Amagoalik, Director, Lands and Resources, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, as an individual: Thank you, senator. I had not planned to make an appearance before this committee, but I came here to observe the proceedings this afternoon. Senator Rompkey asked me if I would like to say a few words to the committee, and I am happy to do that. I will not stay long.

I am the Director of Lands and Resources for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, but at this moment I am here as an individual. I am not directly involved in fisheries issues in Nunavut, so I cannot talk about them in any detail or answer questions in detail. However, I can give you a broad view of fisheries issues and other issues in Nunavut.

I have known Willie Adams since I was five years old. We were on the same ship called the C.D. Howe back in 1953. He was on his way to Churchill. He was being relocated to Churchill by the Government of Canada to work there. My family was being transported from Northern Quebec to Resolute Bay. I have known Senator Willie Adams for a long time.


Welcome to Iqaluit. Thank you for coming here.


It has been 15 years since the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was signed. We have reached the point where we are trying very hard to create an economy. Up until now, government has been the main source of employment, and we are getting tired of government jobs. We want to do other things. We want to diversify our economy. The mining industry probably will have a big impact on the economy, and we are hoping that fisheries will become a big part of the economy of Nunavut.

The Government of Canada has certain obligations under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. When the agreement was signed in 1993, the Liberal government took some time to understand their obligations under the treaty. After signing the agreement, many people in government thought they could just keep on operating the way they have always done. They soon found out that they had to live up to certain obligations of the modern treaty, which has constitutional protection. Over time, the government began to understand its obligations and to try to implement them. However, then the Liberals lost the election and the Conservative government came into power. We sort of had to start all over again, because one of the first things the new government did was to allocate fishing quotas to southern companies without even talking to us. The government has an obligation to have meaningful consultations with Inuit and their organizations when it comes to the development of resources — not just mining but also fisheries.

Just last week there was another story that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans had allocated more fish from our waters to a southern interest. When I say our waters, I do mean our waters, because fish stocks are our resources. Just as Alberta can say that its oil and gas belong to the province, and Newfoundland and Labrador can say that they have the right to benefit from the development of its offshore resources, so do we. I recognize that our territory has a different constitutional status because it is a territory, and lawyers will argue that we do not really have the same rights as people living in provinces. However, that does not stop people like myself and other people from Nunavut saying that it is ours, and we have the right to benefit from it.

We are trying to step out of a colonial era in which we have been stuck for hundreds of years. It is very hard work because there is inertia, I suppose, and governments and bureaucrats need to understand that there is a new reality up here.

We need better infrastructure if fisheries will flourish up here. That is an obvious thing. We need docks, processing facilities, and all that stuff. We are poor. We do not have the money for these things. Nunavut has the highest cost of living. That makes everything else that much more difficult.

I had not intended to say anything about sovereignty, but you mentioned it in your opening, so I will say something.

To us there is no question about sovereignty in the High Arctic. It belongs to Canada, mainly because Canadian Inuit live there and occupy it, and we use it. Yes, we use it.

I must say that I was disappointed when the Prime Minister came up to Nanisivik last summer to announce that the new deep-sea port will be there. He never bothered to invite the premier. He never invited the Inuit leaders. He never mentioned the Inuit. That will not work.

I think that is all I have to say. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Amagoalik.

Senator Adams: I got a book from Mr. Amagoalik, and he did a good job describing what happened in 1953. We got in from Kuujjuaq on the C.D. Howe sometime in July, and arrived in Inukjuak sometime the same month. We had a big celebration before those guys left the community.

I will never forget Annie Pudluk. She was an interpreter on the C.D. Howe when it was a medical ship, because we had a lot of TB in 1950. The C.D. Howe used to travel between communities. People would come from other communities and end up in Manitoba. Some people from Baffin ended up in Hamilton, Ontario, because the C.D. Howe transported patients there from the Arctic.

People spent about two months in Churchill waiting for the ice breakup to allow the C.D. Howe to dock in Resolute Bay. That is why seven of us got off in Churchill. At that time, we did not have any family. We left our families behind in Kuujjuaq. Whole families, dog teams and everything, boarded the C.D. Howe. All the families going to Grise Fiord and Resolute were in the rear of the ship, and the people with TB were in the front. We had to feed the dogs every day on the ship where they were kept underneath the helicopter pad.

I ended up working with the military in Churchill for 11 years. After that I got a job with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and worked as an electrician at Rankin Inlet.

I just wanted to tell a little bit of the story of what happened in 1953.

The Chair: Good. Thank you.

Mr. Amagoalik, we have heard many issues discussed. We have heard about infrastructure, fisheries, security and mining. We have not heard much, and neither should we, I suppose, about education and health and that sort of thing. Looking back, could you identify one or two of the most important issues right now for Nunavut? How would you categorize them?

Mr. Amagoalik: It is hard to pick two because there are so many. Housing is an extremely pressing problem. I think everyone knows that. People have been on a waiting list for years and years. As many as 20 people are living in three- bedroom houses. The housing shortage creates other problems. People cannot do their homework. They get sick all the time. They cannot sleep.

The other issue is education. Nunavut has been in existence for seven or eight years now and we still do not have an education act.

The education achievements of our young people are slowly starting to improve, but we need more resources to put together a proper education curriculum in Nunavut.

Senator Robichaud: You expressed some disappointment with the announcement that Nanisivik would be the place where the Government of Canada would put resources. Do I take it that if it were never to happen you would not be disappointed?

Mr. Amagoalik: My objection is not to Nanisivik. My disappointment was with the fact that the Government of Canada never communicated with us about how they were going to make their decision. There were absolutely no consultations about where the deep-sea port was going to go. They just did it out of the blue, and that is why we were disappointed.

Senator Robichaud: If there had been consultations, do think that a different location would have been recommended?

Mr. Amagoalik: Perhaps. I really do not know.

Senator Robichaud: Representations have been made to this committee that Iqaluit is in need of landing facilities, of port installations, and this would serve a greater number of people than the one in Nanisivik.

Mr. Amagoalik: It is certainly true that a facility in Iqaluit it would have multiple uses, not just for military ships. It would accommodate military ships but also freighters, tankers, small boats and commercial ships. I do not know whether the government realized that.

Senator Robichaud: You have made so many representations that what the people here wanted should not have gone unnoticed.

Mr. Amagoalik: Yes, our organizations and our leaders were all publicly speaking about the need for consultation. I could not say for sure whether any happened, but I am not aware of any.

Senator Robichaud: It is sad. It was also reflected in the minister's decision to accept the transfer of a certain quota that should, in my view, have come to Nunavut but was allowed to go to some southern interests. It should not happen that way, but I suppose through the years many things have happened that way.

Mr. Amagoalik: Yes. I was personally disappointed that that quota was given to the southern interest. That is all I can say. The people directly involved in fisheries were much more visibly upset. They were burning boats and that sort of thing. It is an important issue up here.

Senator Robichaud: Somebody told me that burning boats was not the Inuit way of resisting or indicating their point of view.

Mr. Amagoalik: No, it is not; but sometimes we get tired of being too nice.

Senator Robichaud: That is one way of putting it.

Senator Hubley: Mr. Amagoalik, when we think back on our memories of being in Iqaluit, your presentation and your presence here this evening will be a special moment for us all, certainly for me. It is wonderful that you have come back to share with us some of your thoughts and visions for your country.

You mentioned in your presentation that territorial status differs from provincial status. Are there benefits to having territorial status? Would there maybe be benefits to looking at Nunavut as a province?

Mr. Amagoalik: First of all, I am not a constitutional lawyer. I am not an expert on the Constitution. However, as I said earlier, territories and provinces have different constitutional status. That means that the citizens of those jurisdictions do not have the same rights. They do not get the same benefits from the development of their resources.

Would it be better to stay as a territory or to become a province? I could not really say. Whether or not we want to be a province, it is would take years, mainly because we do not feel ready for it. We will let the rest of Canada know when we are ready to pursue provincial status, which could be in 50 years, 100 years or maybe 20 years. Who knows? Our objective is eventually to have the same status as all the citizens of this country.

Senator Hubley: I think it is an important consideration too for the people to reap some of the benefit of their resources, whether in mining or in the discovery of gas and that whole industry. Do you feel that every consideration is being given to you and your people and your government from the resources that you have?

Mr. Amagoalik: I could say yes because the devolution negotiations seem to be going nowhere. We do not get royalties from development, except that Inuit land claims organizations do get some royalty from resource development. However, our government gets nothing, and they are desperate for resources. They have so many things to deal with. They are making progress, but it is hard.

Senator Cowan: It strikes me that it is difficult for the Government of Nunavut to become independent and self- reliant without having access to some of the sources of revenue that provinces have. So long as it is almost totally dependent on transfers — I was going to say handouts, but transfers — from the Government of Canada, then it will not have the kind of self-reliance for which I think you fought for so long so successfully. We have talked about royalties from natural resources. That is obviously one part of the pie. Another part I would assume is to improve access to education for your younger people and to find some meaningful employment for them, perhaps initially working for the government, so that they come back and live here and pay taxes here and contribute to the resource base or the revenue base of the territory. Can you comment on those points?

Mr. Amagoalik: Having to go on our hands and knees every year to beg for a budget is demeaning and counterproductive. There should be fair transfers from the federal government to the territories to bring our level of living up to Canadian standards. Up here many small communities have Third World conditions. Their infrastructure is failing. There is high unemployment. There are many, many social problems and health issues. We need an infusion of support from the rest of Canada to put us on our feet so that we can stand on our own.

Senator Cowan: We all come from provinces that receive transfer payments from the rest of Canada. They are not transfers from one province to another; they are transfers from the people of Canada to less well off parts of Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador thankfully will be off that regime within the next year or so, and the rest of us would be working towards that. But that is Canada. I assume what you are saying is that that is what Nunavut would want to be too, a partner in Confederation, sometimes receiving and sometimes paying.

Mr. Amagoalik: Yes, that is true. We do not feel that we are asking for your money. You know we are Canadians. We have been here longer than anybody. We are not really asking for anybody's money; it is our money. That is my attitude, anyway.

Senator Cochrane: It is a pleasure for us to be here to hear you. I am happy that you came to be part of our dialogue here today.

You talked about sovereignty a little. You said there is no question you are Canadian. Sovereignty is well recognized. Tell me about your people from all over the North. Do they feel the way you do about their Canadian heritage? If they do not, what are their concerns?

Mr. Amagoalik: Well, 30 or 40 years ago many Inuit in Canada were not sure whether they were Canadians or not, and they were not sure they wanted to be Canadian. However, over the years, through the settlement of our land claims and the recognition of our rights in the Canadian Constitution and the changing attitudes of Canadians, I think all Inuit today are feeling comfortable about being Canadian citizens. We have been saying for a long time that our land claims agreement is our entrance into Confederation. It points out the terms and conditions under which we agree to be Canadian citizens. I think all Inuit to this day are loyal Canadians.

Senator Cochrane: That is great.

Mr. Amagoalik: At the same time, we have to say that there is unfinished business. There is a list of unfinished business. The residential school issue is not over yet as far as I see. The relocations, the killing of our dogs, the assimilation policies of past governments — these are issues that Inuit in this part of the country feel need to be dealt with.

Senator Cochrane: If we should have climate change faster than what is happening now — and we think maybe that will happen — and a lot of the Northwest Passage opens up as a result of this climate change, we could have more input from other countries. Do your people see anything like that happening?

Mr. Amagoalik: We have been very concerned about Arctic sovereignty for a long time. We feel that Canada as a nation needs to get its act together a little bit, because the Government of Canada seems to want to deal with sovereignty all by itself and does not seem to want other sectors of society involved in that discussion. The Inuit have been left out and ignored.

The Government of Canada should be looking at our land claims agreement and implementing it. A marine council was supposed to be created that could try to deal with the issue of the Northwest Passage. The Government of Canada should be working with the Government of Nunavut, the Government of the Yukon, the Metis and all the Aboriginal organizations living in this part of Canada to deal with Arctic sovereignty. The Government of Canada will find that it has a lot of friends it is ignoring.

Senator Adams: I want to make a comment regarding the people sent to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay.

Martha Flaherty was very young at the time and acted as an interpreter. A book was written about the time we were removed from Inukjuak. Those people were moved to a different climate, and by the time they arrived up there, freezing had taken place and they could not build an igloo or anything. We were lucky at that time because the military, I think the air force, was building the base in Resolute. The people went to the dump and built tent frames from scrap metal. Then they waited for the snow to come so they could build igloos.


Mr. Amagoalik, I heard recently one White person say that the Government of Canada, if they are not clear about their responsibility and if we do not tell them what we have experienced over the years, will never know the hardships that we went through. Have you thought about the cost to us?

Mr. Amagoalik: Yes, I have talked about it. Many of us have continuing discussions about this. Since the land claims agreement came into play and we have our own Nunavut government, why is it that we are still the forgotten people? We are the exiles that were relocated to the High Arctic. We are the forgotten society even within the Nunavut infrastructure now and the government. That was the past right at the beginning. That is still the present today. We are still the forgotten people, we the exiles in the High Arctic. We have to voice our experiences and isolation and our lack of involvement.

Senator Adams: Inuit are scattered around Greenland, Alaska and throughout the circumpolar world. How do you see the Government of Canada viewing the circumpolar region?

Mr. Amagoalik: Regarding that, I refuse to say at this moment, but I do have my opinions.

Senator Adams: What you said earlier regarding mining, you are now working for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, and I sit on the Senate Energy Committee along with Senator Cochrane here. If they are going to start mining, when it comes to environmental impact hearings, will you have input? Will they listen to you on the impact of mega developments? How have the Inuit received the mega development in your own region?

Mr. Amagoalik: In the past, before we had our own land claim, before we had a voice, because we were silent and just merely being victims, the mining industry was totally free to move in and start looking for exploratory developments. They had no environmental responsibility. They left their garbage behind. They left toxins behind, PCBs and chemicals. They sank chemicals into our ocean. That was the practice in the past. Now we have regulatory agencies that are aware and keeping track. We are now the watchmen in the High Arctic, in the Arctic regions, to make sure that our environment is protected.

We do have a regulatory process now if people wish to start development. They have to go through an environmental impact statements and hearings. They have to be mindful of the wildlife that depend on our land that we live on and our Arctic waters that we feed off of and the Inuit who are the residents in the Arctic. We are talking about compensation if there will be a benefit impact. We are talking about Inuit impact-benefit agreements if development is going to happen. We now have a voice and a say when it comes to proposed developments. We can regulate on how we can be compensated for damage.

Today we are in a better situation; we are not quite on an equal playing field, but we do have a say now.

Senator Adams: I know that you have experienced gold mining, diamond mining and iron ore. There are minerals everywhere. People are rushing to Nunavut to explore and to mine. Do you have a strategy on behalf of the Inuit? What about training Inuit to take over mining and resource extraction?

Mr. Amagoalik: We need to train Inuit to be apprenticeship mechanics and technicians to be sure that they are involved in meaningful employment. We are pushing to have the Inuit involved through job training. We stress that we need job training. We do not want them to have menial jobs like in the past, janitorial jobs and so on. We want to see our people go through an apprenticeship program and get their certification so that they are making a living.

Often mining companies when they are on Inuit lands do not change their habits. They carry on as if they were living in the south. They are realizing how difficult it is now. They thought they could just take over and pillage the land and extract, and they are finding now that it is not so easy to be mining in the Arctic. We have many obstacles. The weather for one, as well as the high cost of living and freight.

Senator Adams: What are they going to do at the Mary River iron ore mine? How will they have Inuit involved?

Mr. Amagoalik: The Inuit are concerned about the Mary River project. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association cannot say that we support mining in Mary River or reject it. We rely on our community members and what their wish is. If the neighbouring communities are okay with it, then it proceeds; but if they object, we have to lobby for them. Many people have said they are dissatisfied and they are worried about the Arctic Ocean being used as a shipping route. If they are going to be shipping 12 months of the year, we are worried in Fox Bay that it will affect the walrus stock that the people depend on. That needs more discussion; it is an ongoing discussion.


Senator Robichaud: Mr. Amagoalik, you were introduced as the father of Nunavut, and I am sure that in all the meetings you have had, you had to meet other circumpolar nations. Would that permit you to draw any conclusions about how the situation of the Inuit here compares with the other circumpolar nations?

Mr. Amagoalik: We certainly have a lot of similarities to other Aboriginal groups around the circumpolar region. I think at one point or another all the circumpolar people have had a colonial status. Hopefully, we are starting to get out of that era. Our circumpolar movement started back in the 1970s with the establishment of the Inuit circumpolar conference. In those 30 years or so, the Inuit of the circumpolar region have made a lot of advances and they have worked very closely and very well together. They have had to deal with complex issues and have come up with detailed issues on many northern issues. We all wish that other nations could work the same way.

Mr. Chair, my apologies for leaving early, but tonight there is a hockey game, and it could be the last game of the season.

The Chair: I thank you very much for coming. You have been very helpful to us and given us the benefit of your wisdom and your insights, and we appreciate it very much indeed.

Mr. Amagoalik: Thank you, senators.

The Chair: Senators, we now welcome Mr. Waguih Rayes, who has been with us today, I have noticed.

Waguih Rayes, General Manager, Desgagnés Transarctik Inc.: Allow me to begin by thanking you and the committee for giving me the opportunity to speak. I understand there is a hockey game, so I will try to make it very brief. I will try to put it in a nutshell.

Certainly it is appropriate to introduce myself properly. I am Waguih Rayes, General Manager of Desgagnés Transarctik. Desgagnés has been a sealift provider for more than 40 years to Nunavut and to Nunavik.

I am also here on behalf of Nunavut Sealink and Supply and Taqramut Transport, as a managing partner to both corporations who are Inuit majority-owned and who do the commercialization of sealift activities in the North.

I would like to start by saying that the point of interest mainly for me is the services provided by the Canadian Coast Guard. However, inevitably, I will touch on a little bit of everything: sovereignty, the Northwest Passage, deepwater ports and others. In my opinion, they all link in the North. It is inevitable.

Desgagnés has been providing sealift activities in the North for 40 years. However, we always take for granted that when we talk about sealift in the North, everybody should know that, but the reality is, not many people know that to provide these services, which are vital services in certain cases, we need to carry cargo, barges, tug boats, wheeloaders and men to deliver cargo on the beaches. Sometimes we think that this is only true in Third World countries, but it is true here in Northern Canada.

The cost is very high because of the lack of port infrastructure; we know that. However, it is, I believe, not reasonable to think that we can put ports everywhere. I do believe it is always true to say that large communities where ports are badly needed because of volumes should get one, and maybe if I have a chance I will elaborate a bit on that in the context of Iqaluit and Iqaluit's inquiry request.

When it comes to the Canadian Coast Guard, I would like to say that we, the industry, as they call it, or their client, have always appreciated the support and the cooperation we receive from the Coast Guard. We always mention them. As a matter of fact, last fall I had an opportunity to meet with the commissioner at a social event, and I mentioned to him that every time I have an opportunity to reiterate, I will do it. I guess that is what I am doing today.

That being said, it is always true that one cannot give what one does not have. As an industry, we feel that the Coast Guard is trying hard, but still the pie is limited, and this is a problem.

Let me tell you this, just to try to explain. I have been involved in sealift activities for more than 20 years. In the mid- 1980s when I managed the sealift for the Inuit communities in Nunavik — it used to be called Northern Quebec or Kativik Region at that time — a big sealift was in the order of 45,000 cubic metres. We weigh it by cubic metres, not tonnes, because it is more volume than anything else. Last year Desgagnés, on behalf Nunavut Sealink and Supply and Taqramut, delivered 250,000 cubic metres. Our competitor delivered in the Eastern Arctic another at least 150,000 cubic metres. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

This is where we connect a little bit with the idea of economic development. It is booming in the North. The mines are there, and not many mines so far have started their production. Imagine when they do.

Earlier this afternoon Senator Robichaud asked what it is for the communities to have a big icebreaker. I believe that was the sense of the question. Well, it means a lot. As a matter of fact, when the new ship is built, which may be seven or eight years down the road, it will not be enough because we will need much more. Ten days at the beginning of the season and 15 days at the end of the season we can do a lot with the help of the Coast Guard, which can open ice for us and make sailing and trailing safe in the North. Every day counts.

From there we can go a little bit North to the Northwest Passage. I have been invited to many events about the Northwest Passage and the crossing. Some of them are in Russia and others are in Europe. I never bother to go. The reason is very simple. For us, the industry, the Northwest Passage means that we will have a better opportunity to expand our services to the Central Arctic from the east, which was never done before. The Central Arctic, the Kitikmeot Region, is serviced out of the Mackenzie, but with the gas and with the mines, the need to connect with the rest of the world across the Atlantic is evident. They will need services from the east. Mother Nature is allowing us to do that. We are building them bigger, stronger, and in a way we are forcing, but we are getting help.

We talk about the dramatization of the weather change. South of Bathurst Inlet, many mines are developing. They are struggling with the weather conditions, the ice roads. They need more and more fuel, but with the warm weather the ice is melting earlier than it used to, and it is exactly the two opposite things that are happening. They are getting less fuel; they are expanding; and there is less ice.

This takes us to some kind of logic. On the one hand, lots of economic development is happening. We hear discussions about the North or in the North. We hear a lot also about Canadian sovereignty. We have two things: the left hand and the right hand. In my opinion, and it is a personal opinion, not a corporate opinion, I had been living in the North for 10 or 11 years before I managed companies that do sealifts. I hear things; I live things. I believe that, whether we like it or not, these two hands will end up working together; so why not make it happen on a structured basis? Why is it that one hand is working alone from the other and they never meet? They belong to the same country. We are talking about economic development.

I noticed something just a few minutes ago. Self-reliance came from Senator Cowan. Well, there is money in developing mines and royalties. There is money, and taxes eventually. Eventually there will be a feud. Just look at the map. Strategically, we have the Iqaluit gateway. We heard this today. Nanisivik Mine is already there. It needs a little bit of money, but it is there and can be developed. There is also Bathurst, which is exactly in the centre of the passage. We talk about sovereignty. This is what we need, this crescent, a port. I am not a defence strategy person, but deep in myself I believe that it will end up that the three are needed for economic development and to support sovereignty.

I have one thing to add pertaining to Iqaluit. Having a small port in Iqaluit with just basic infrastructure would be a deception more than anything else. I will explain.

At the beginning of the season five or six ships are in the bay. Two companies are delivering dry cargo, maybe a tourist company or carrier. If we have a port we wonder if we will end up having ships waiting. We heard it today, the most costly is the cost.

We mentioned earlier that we have to carry all our gear. Expectations in a community like here is that if they have a port, it would be cheaper. It will not happen. If they have only a small port it will not happen. However, if the need is considered to be decent infrastructure — three berths or more — for military purposes, for commercial purposes and for tourism, the investment will be worth something. Again, I believe that we will end up combining both needs, military and commercial, in economic development. Why not look at it from the beginning and let the left hand and the right hand work together? That is my opinion.


Senator Robichaud: Thank you, Mr. Rayes, for sharing your experience in that region with us.

With respect to icebreakers, is there really a need for a huge icebreaker compared to what we have today, and would it not be better or more advantageous for northern communities to perhaps have facilities here in Iqaluit? You said that if the facilities turned out to be modest, it would change next to nothing in the cost of food for the people in the region. Is the Iqaluit proposal a proposal for modest facilities which would have no effect, or do you think that what they are suggesting could make a difference?

Mr. Rayes: Certainly, I believe there were some discussions on other alternatives, but as soon as I saw ``a single wharf,'' I said to myself there is obviously going to be a line-up, first come, first serve. It is going to cost some money. Some companies will say: ``Our needs are greater, to transport our barges, our tugs to deliver on the beach, there is a wharf.'' These companies are going to have to charge their clients more, they will be waiting three to four days for the wharf to be freed up. And those who will be transporting their equipment, because they have to go elsewhere after having gone through Iqaluit, will find that because of the wharf, perhaps the beach has been neglected. So there is always a dilemma. Obviously, if the infrastructure does not meet real needs, you cannot achieve economies of scale.

The reality is there is a high demand. This afternoon, and I do not recall in what presentation, mention was made of five services or five reasons why we should have a wharf. The first reason which was mentioned was sealift. It is true that these were not set out in order of priority. It was mentioned as the first reason. Tourism, fuel and fisheries et cetera, all of that is within a five-month window. There will be competition, unless the port can accommodate more, and I think it may be worthwhile to consider it as an investment, not an expense. It is worthwhile to look at the option of meeting both real needs, which everyone is referring to today, and to work together with common goals. We could look at things in this way. I do not know if I answered your question.

Senator Robichaud: Construction of a road towards the wharf, if it were to happen, would be one of the major expenses, is that correct? Once the road is built, it would not cost that much more to have three landing facilities rather than one, and at that point, if you did not have to transport the barges you need to unload on the beach, you could transport far more useful goods which would serve the community. So, it could serve two purposes, right?

Mr. Rayes: In fact, this theory could be said to make sense.

Senator Robichaud: Well, you can tell me if it does not.

Mr. Rayes: No. The fact is that when a vessel leaves Montreal, it will stop at eight or nine ports. It will have eight or nine destinations. Now, we have just agreed that out all of the destinations mentioned today, except for Nanisivik, Churchill and Raglan, there are no other ports. These are all beaches, so whether we like it or not, we have to continue transporting this equipment. However, that is why I mentioned that for a destination as major as Iqaluit, it is worthwhile. Why? Last year, the last ships transported 16,000 cubic metres. That is enormous. Demand is very high in Iqaluit. It is true that Iqaluit can only accommodate a deep-sea vessel. If there were to be a port, perhaps that ship would not have to carry equipment. But, once again, if the ship arrives to then have to wait and waste three or four days at a cost of $30,000 to $35,000 per day, there are no savings. So, it is a dilemma.


The Chair: Is the industry thinking about building ice-strengthened ships? We have heard stories about the Koreans, I think, who are building ships with some sort of reversible hull so that if they get in ice they can back up and break the ice that way. What can you tell us about the intention of the industry to provide ice-strengthened ships for themselves?

Mr. Rayes: The ice-strengthened ships are ice class ships. We have them already. The ice class category can go from ice class 1 to ice class 8 or 9. The higher you go, the stronger the ship is, and not only the hull but also the power.

Today they build the ships bigger and stronger. However, the cost of not only building them but operating ice class ships for commercial purposes is huge. The cost for just the fuel on a daily basis can triple in some cases.

Icebreakers like the ones the Canadian Coast Guard uses are built strong, not necessarily big, but strong with big engines and strong hulls, and they do the ramming of the ice; they open the ice for commercial shipping. We follow them when we need to. If everyone were to build a commercial ship with the strength of an ice class, an icebreaker, the cost of shipping would be very high. In my opinion, it is not a commercially viable solution.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Mr. Rayes: I have one final comment. Last but not least, I want to mention the question of the famous Coast Guard service fees. Presently they are making a final decision at the minister's level, I believe.

I wish really the fees would just dissipate and go. Making an educated guess, I believe that charging the North fees of any kind for essential services is not compatible with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The spirit of it is to help communities to catch up with other communities in the South in terms of level and standard of living. I will not elaborate on that. There is a decision to be made soon. I hope it will be the one that says this fee should disappear, should go. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Senator Adams: I have been asking the Coast Guard and DFO since the beginning about navigation fees from Iqaluit to other communities in the Baffin area. Either the Coast Guard or DFO charges you a navigation fee. Is that true?

Mr. Rayes: What is written in the agreement from the beginning excludes the services north of 60, but we realized at the end that this exclusion for some people like me means providing the services north of 60, because 99 per cent — please allow me to exaggerate a little bit — of the trade is from south to north. For others it was trade within north of 60 — in other words, from Iqaluit to Pond Inlet or from wherever in the North to another destination in the North.

This stretch between communities north of 60 was always excluded. For us, the industry, our understanding was always that north of 60 pertains to services provided north of 60, not for trade between one community and another north of 60.

Senator Adams: With satellite technology, you can tell where you are going. You do not need the Coast Guard to do that. Is that not the way they operate now?

Mr. Rayes: I am not an expert on technology, but I know that satellite technology does a lot for us.


Senator Robichaud: The user fees you collect for the coast guard, do you have to pay them all the way from Montreal right up to the 60th parallel?

Mr. Rayes: Yes. It is our duty to collect these fees for the coast guard for everything transported from south of the 60th parallel to north of it — in other words, from Montreal to any northern community.

Senator Robichaud: And you say that these fees are being reviewed at the moment, or that the possibility of requiring fees for transportation north of the 60th parallel is being considered?

Mr. Rayes: I know that some recommendations have been made. I think that a document has been submitted to the minister for a final decision as to what should be done about these fees once and for all. There have been many calls from industry users and the governments involved to have these fees, however minimal, abolished, because of the principle of equity toward the north and the need to take its essential requirements into account. The answer has always been no, because it has been determined that the system should work in this way, as it applies throughout all of Canada, which is true. The fees charged in the north, in terms of the amount or the total revenue, are minimal compared to what is collected throughout the country. However, the idea of fairness toward the north has always been put forward by the industry, by users and by governments.


The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing. You have been very helpful.

Mr. Rayes: You are most welcome. Thank you again for the opportunity.

The Chair: We will now hear from Ms. Aaju Peter, please.

Aaju Peter, as an individual: Nice to see you all. As for the hockey game, I am a Maple Leafs fan, so I can stay all night.

I have not prepared a speech, but I wanted to make sure that the Inuit voice or Inuit participation was here. I am sure you have heard from Inuit already. I saw that John Amagoalik was here, so I could have gone home.

I want you to look at the pictures behind you and the pictures on the side. This is the landscape we are talking about. This is the area we live in. The part that you are seeing here is very small, Iqaluit. When you sail through this beautiful, magnificent area, you will see how incredible it is, how vast it is. We are talking about the Northwest Passage, we are talking about sovereignty, we are talking about sailing through this beautiful area, and whether Inuit like it or not, whether Canada likes it or not, the ice is melting and we are not stopping it. What is our next step?

As a resident of this beautiful territory, being part of Canada, I believe the most important thing you can walk away with from Nunavut is the understanding that you have to consider the people who live here because this is our territory. We have been the custodians and wards; we have been looked after by nature and been provided food by the animals for many generations. Actually, we were the only ones who could live up here. Therefore, in any talk about shipping, about big ships from the South to the North or through the Northwest Passage, and when you look at these beautiful pictures, you have to include the Inuit. You cannot say that Nunavut is just a territory so they have no power. It is not about status; it is not about who is who. It is about safeguarding our environment here.

When you speak to Inuit, I believe 100 per cent of them would always be on the side of animals, on the side of nature, and then everything else comes. Once you establish that you have all the safety regulations, that you have everything humanly possible safeguarded, then okay.

We are for development, absolutely. We see the high unemployment rate up here. We see so many people not educated. To go to the nearest university I have to fly 2,000 miles for my education. We are the only territory without a university. This is 2008. That is really not acceptable.

When you are looking at sovereignty, at the ships that will be sailing through, the planes that will be flying and at everything that will be happening through our territory, you have to have Inuit as the pilots of the ships, as the pilots of the planes, as educated participants and members of the Canadian society. We do elect; we are Canadian, and our flag is hanging right there.

I cannot say it often enough. We have to have equal participation at all levels. I think anything less is unacceptable.

I work on a cruise ship that sails through this beautiful country and through the Canadian Arctic. We also sail to Greenland. I believe ours is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and tourism is a big part of our future income.

There are many rules and regulations that we need to develop to safeguard our environment: the dumping of human waste, the safeguarding of the ships and so on and so forth, but also the educating and the taking part in the cruise industry.

I want to keep saying it: legislation participation. There must be Inuit participation in the Northwest Passage and at all levels. Thank you.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you, Ms. Peter, for coming and speaking with us.

You make the point about education. A similar point was made in response to a question asked by a member of this committee about the problems with the participation of young Inuit in activities that would require a college or a university education. The point was made that the difficulty is exactly as you said: the nearest university is 2,000 miles away, which means that students have to leave the community, and not only for a couple of weeks but for some time. That was the main difficulty. Would you agree with that?

Ms. Peter: In my school, which was the Akitsiraq Law School, we were able to work around that distance. They actually brought the university to Iqaluit to where the Inuit live. If the people will not go to the mountain, you bring the mountain to the people. The success rate was incredible. Inuit mothers with young children were going through law school, and we had a very high success rate. We also demanded that we learn Inuit customs, traditions and language as part of our legal system training. I believe that that was the root of our success.

It is not just about bringing the schooling to people. It is also about respecting Inuit language and culture and adapting a system to function in this environment. When you live here, what are the things you have to include in your teachings? What are the customs? What are the things that you need to focus on? It is 50-50, I believe, for success.

Senator Robichaud: Given your experience with the law school, do you think a similar program for other professions would be successful?

Ms. Peter: Absolutely. We have looked at accounting, financing, engineering and many other fields where this could be applied. They say that if a university does not have hundreds or thousands of people enrolled, then it is really quite expensive. With our numbers and the distance that we cover, you really have to adapt the system to function for us. Otherwise, you will continue not seeing people graduating.

Although many of our students are succeeding in the southern universities, they are paying a price. I had to go to school in Denmark, away from my own language and my own culture. I paid the price, and I was willing to do that. However, if you were able to bring the education to the communities or to the territory, you would have a much higher success rate.

Senator Robichaud: Are there any efforts made to do just that?

Ms. Peter: Again, money is always a question. We are now working on doing the second phase, the second intake of students into another law program, and we are hoping to start this next year. Money is always coming up. It is like the chicken or the egg question — which came first? Why do you not just put it in there and get it going?

Senator Robichaud: It is sometimes easier said than done; is it not?

Ms. Peter: Not really. As I said, I am from Greenland, and when we sail to Greenland we have harbours that we anchor at or dock at. Greenland is very similar to this environment. How come it is so hard for us on this side to build even one harbour when they have harbours everywhere? The infrastructure, the industry development, the money that is put into developing the country are incredible, and they do not come up with all these excuses. Well, it is the money. I think it is a matter of priority. What is your priority?

Senator Cochrane: Are you familiar with distance education here? That means we have a centre and we can tap into one centre and have different things like this setup with students and so on. We have that in Newfoundland, and it has been very productive. We can even have programs taken from Memorial University into a classroom like this. Various students come in and take this program, and it goes on for three or four months. It is a university program. It is very productive.

Ms. Peter: Yes, we are familiar with that. We just graduated Masters of Education here a few days ago. Many students who attended through distance education along with working as teachers were taking their Masters in Education.

Senator Cochrane: Yes, absolutely.

Ms. Peter: However, I cannot stress enough that our law school was able to succeed because we were also able to take it in our own language and also learn more about our own culture.

Distance education, I would presume, would be all English and it would not be geared to the Nunavut territory and what is particular to this area. If I wanted to be a rocket scientist or something that does not require me even to be here, that would be good.

Senator Cochrane: There are people in your culture that are qualified, I am sure, to do this sort of thing within your own culture. They may not be living up North; they may be living somewhere else in Canada or in some other country, but they may well be qualified to do just that in Inuktitut.

Ms. Peter: Absolutely. Many qualified people here end up not completing or taking the next step because of the distance. Along with distance education and more funding for university and higher-level education, that would be fantastic.

Senator Cochrane: Yes. I think it is viable.

Ms. Peter: It is.

Senator Cochrane: Cruise ships have positive economic impacts. Like tourists, the cruise ship guests buy the Inuit art and so on. However, could they also have negative cultural impacts, as the foreign tourists descend on small communities? Do you think of anything like that? She is smiling.

Ms. Peter: I laugh a lot. I was just imagining in my mind what negative impacts would come in with tourism. I do not know. We have many silly staff with adventure and they may come in sometimes dressed up like Vikings or something and that is hilarious. I do not think that is a negative impact.

If a ship is too large, for example if there are 500 or 600 people on the ship, I think all those people could destroy some parts of an old site if they are not careful, if they are not respecting a very small community that has only 100 people. This is why Inuit have to be participants in making the regulations and the laws related to tourism. Not only would we like to develop the industry — I think it is the future of our territory — but we have to be ahead of the negative impacts that tourism might have on the communities.

I have been fortunate to see the positive impact that we can have on the communities. We hire the people in the communities to talk more about their culture, to show us the things that they have, to share with us their food and so on. That part has been very positive.

Senator Cochrane: Thank you. I am glad you came.

Ms. Peter: Me too.

The Chair: Here today we had testimony from a witness that if there were violations of the land claims agreement or if the agreement were not lived up to, the Inuit might reconsider their support for sovereignty. How do you feel about that?

Ms. Peter: What do you mean by violations?

The Chair: We have heard that in some cases the land claim has not been lived up to, that government, in whatever department, has not followed through as it should. One witness today suggested that if that were to continue the Inuit might reconsider their support for Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

Ms. Peter: I think I have two opposing views, and I am wondering how I can have two opposing views on the same issue.

The Chair: It is possible.

Ms. Peter: Absolutely. We have been pushing for implementation of the land claims agreement. The government has not implemented it. It is 10 years overdue, which means that we are not fully enabling this territory to exercise any kind of jurisdiction. Being a territory, we have even less power to exercise jurisdiction in this region. The government, after it took the land, is not living up to the agreement that it signed with the Inuit; it is not doing its share. We are losing a whole bunch of money that Inuit could have been using to further educate their own people to start living and then developing tourism or mining or whatever.

In a sense, if the land claims agreement is not implemented and the contract is not lived up to, then it is a faulty contract. I can understand if one would argue that there is no territory here for Canada. Canada really does not have jurisdiction over this area. I would hesitate to support that position because I would not want any other country jumping in and taking over. We have already invested 30 years of our time negotiating this land claim, and I think our first try should be to see if Canada will implement the agreement and not make it null and void by not implementing it.

Senator Adams: You have been very involved with the schools in trying to protect and promote our language. I think our language will remain, unlike Aboriginal peoples in the West and in the South, many of whom have lost their language. The reason may be that we live in a cold climate, and most people do not want to come up here when the temperature is between minus 40 and minus 50 degrees. They know it is too cold and they do not want to live in the Arctic.

Our language is Inuktitut. New technology has come out and names of everyday items need to be incorporated into Inuktitut. If there is no word for something in Inuktitut, the English word is spoken. All the different areas in which the Inuit live, such as Nunavik, Labrador and Nunavut, have different dialects, so it is easier for people to learn English. They have to go to high school. I believe there are some programs at Nunavut Arctic College that will try to include new words, like ``camera'' in what they teach.

Is there some way right now under Nunavut's new education policy, Bill 21, to ensure that our language thrives? Ed Picco, Minister of Education here in Nunavut, was with us at a Senate Transport Committee hearing last February. Nunavut Arctic College is enlisting the help of our elders because they understand about our culture and language, even though they never went to school. How do you feel about that, because you know the language and the culture?

Ms. Peter: First of all, the Inuit in the circumpolar region share one language. If he speaks his dialect and I speak my Greenlandic dialect or my Inuktitut dialect, we understand each other. We just have different dialects. We are the same people, but our colonizers were from different states and we were separated for about 500 years. Mind you, the Greelandic and the High Arctic kept in contact, so they share virtually the same language.

In Nunavut, here in Iqaluit, we have Roman orthography syllabics. It is signs. My name would be like this, Aaju. That is syllabics. In Greenland it is Roman orthography. The difference is that in Greenland we have a board that sits and continually develops teaching materials that are in Greenlandic and keeps the language alive as technology and everything else is being developed.

I had put the reading the education act on my list of must dos. I have not gone through it, but I have not seen a provision specifically for development of new terminology. My opinion on that is that we should have a board, a committee or an elder or younger person in a group developing new terminology.

Senator Robichaud: The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament was here in February, I think, and we were looking at the possibility and technicalities of introducing interpretation services for senators who speak Inuktitut in the Senate of Canada. We were invited to visit the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut, who told us that one of that office's responsibilities was to develop those technical terms that do not exist in the language. As they did so, whatever was accepted was in consultation with the elders and also the two dialects that are mainly used in Nunavut. We were pleasantly informed that this was happening.

Ms. Peter: Yes, it is happening, and I should have recognized that the interpreters play a very large role in the development of the language because they are having to interpret something like this, and they cannot say sovereignty. An elder would not understand that. The interpreters would have to find a translation or an interpretation for that. I think a large part of the development of the language is being done by the interpreters.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming. You have been very helpful to us, and we appreciate it.

The committee adjourned.

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