The Special Senate Committee on the Arctic met this day at 1:02 p.m. to consider the significant and rapid changes to the Arctic, and impacts on original inhabitants.
Senator Dennis Glen Patterson (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good afternoon. Unnusakkut. Welcome to this meeting of the Senate Special Committee on the Arctic.
I’m Dennis Patterson, senator for Nunavut and chair of this committee. I would like to ask senators around the table to please introduce themselves, beginning with our deputy chair.
Senator Bovey: Patricia Bovey, senator for Manitoba.
Senator Eaton: Nicky Eaton, senator from Toronto, Ontario.
Senator Coyle: Mary Coyle, senator from Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
The Chair: Thank you. Today, we continue our study on the significant and rapid changes to the Arctic and impacts on original inhabitants.
I’m pleased to welcome, for our first panel this afternoon, as individuals, present with us here in Ottawa, Maribeth Murray, Executive Director, Arctic Institute of North America and Professor, University of Calgary; and Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, Mulroney Institute of Government, St. Francis Xavier University. Joining us via video conference from Fairbanks, Alaska, from the International Arctic Science Committee, we have Larry Hinzman, President.
Thank you all for joining us today. We’re still connecting with Alaska. Could I prevail on our other witnesses to begin with their opening statements?
Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, Mulroney Institute of Government, St. Francis Xavier University, as an individual: Thank you and good afternoon.
It’s my pleasure to be here and to offer some comments on Canada’s Arctic and the circumpolar North more generally. In particular, I would like to focus on the question of defence and security, since these issues have been making headlines lately and remain very relevant to how the Government of Canada frames its approach to the North.
Over the past several years, we have seen the Russian Federation undertake a significant military buildup in its northern regions. This includes new and refurbished bases, new ground forces and the deployment of sophisticated systems of area access and denial. The recent deployment of 10,000 Spetsnazand Special Forces soldiers for search and rescue frames up what the Russians are doing very well.
The United States, the U.K. and other NATO nations have responded with a new focus on the region that was demonstrated very well during exercise Trident Juncture, a large-scale exercise in Northern Norway that saw the return of a U.S. carrier group north of the Arctic Circle for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
On the other hand, we look to Canada, where the Canadian Army’s official operating concept sees no need to prepare for combat operations in the North and where the Royal Canadian Navy’s newest class of Arctic-capable vessels, the AOPVs, are, at best, only lightly armed.
In my experience, many audiences, both abroad and here in Canada, tend to find this dichotomy hard to understand and often even chalk it up it to extreme Canadian naivety, at best, or negligence, at worst. The reality, however, is that many fail to realize that the Arctic is not one region with common security concerns. It’s a series of different regions with very distinct areas with very distinct security concerns. As such, there are no universal Arctic defence issues.
While great power conflict seems to be reemerging in the European Arctic, this has not extended into the Canadian North, and, to its credit, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Government of Canada have recognized that. Efforts here at home have, therefore, been focused on unconventional security concerns, search and rescue, disaster response, constabulary duties and support to the civilian power. It was these unconventional security threats that the Harper government wisely focused on, despite its sometimes bellicose rhetoric, and there was little change to that focus with Strong, Secure, Engaged, and the current government. Canada has done a good job focusing on those current and realistic future threats to our Arctic, while simultaneously engaging with our NATO allies to prepare for a very different set of challenges in the European Arctic.
It’s important to note as well that the root causes of militarization in the European Arctic stem not from changes to the Arctic itself, as it is sometimes assumed, but from broader geopolitical change. The development of Arctic shipping lanes and new oil and gas fields in the region are not causing the Russian government to deploy the assets I mentioned; rather, disputes and tensions created outside the Arctic are spilling over into that region. With this in mind, I would caution the committee not to directly correlate resource development or increased shipping activity in the circumpolar North with intrastate competition and conflict.
Along these lines, China has also been increasing its presence in the North, though again it’s important to separate out those different Norths. Chinese investment and shipping activity have largely been in the Russian Arctic, with relatively little attention paid to Canada’s northern territories. This activity does not necessarily translate into a security threat, as is sometimes assumed. China’s interests are primarily economic, and it’s hard to see what the Chinese could hope to accomplish strategically by deploying military assets into or anywhere near the Canadian Arctic.
The one exception I would put on the government’s radar, however, might be something that Dr. Rebecca Pincus of the U.S. Naval War College mentioned last week, and that was the potential for a Chinese submarine voyage through the Arctic Ocean near the Canadian Arctic. We should remember that U.S. submarine voyages in the Arctic began, in part, as a demonstration of American technological prowess, and given China’s clear desire to be seen as a global power with first-rate naval capabilities, an Arctic voyage would be a logical way to demonstrate that growing reach and capability. Such a voyage may change the equation for continental defence planners but should be kept in perspective. An operational submarine capability took the U.S. navy decades to acquire, and it will not be achieved overnight by the Chinese.
Here at home, Canada has made good progress in preparing for a more open and active Arctic. Though there are complex problems and progress is always slow in the North, no matter what we’re doing, new assets like the Arctic Offshore and Patrol Vessels and the Nanisivik Naval base are important tools for enhancing Canada’s ability to exercise control in the region and to respond quickly and effectively to unconventional security threats.
Today, and in the foreseeable future, there is no need for an expansion of Canada’s military presence or conventional military capabilities in the Arctic. Instead, the government should focus its energy and resources into continuing to prepare for a more open Arctic with a focus on unconventional security scenarios and surveillance capabilities, ships and maritime infrastructure needed to respond to those unconventional scenarios.
I will be happy to take questions later. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you. We’re going to go to the other panellists before we open it up for questions.
Maribeth S. Murray, Executive Director, Arctic Institute of North America and Professor, University of Calgary, as an individual: I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to speak today. This is a critical time for Canada and for the world as we act to respond to and manage the rapid climate-driven changes that crosscut all aspects of the Arctic environment and impact its ecosystems and political, economic and social systems.
As an Arctic nation, Canada can and should lead on Arctic issues, particularly with respect to support for Indigenous rights and interests, Arctic science, cooperation in science and sustainable development. Although we are a small country in terms of population, we are home to many of the worlds leading thinkers on Arctic matters. Our universities and colleges are filled with Arctic expertise across all disciplines, and Indigenous people in Canada have paved the way for those around the circumpolar world when it comes to establishing self-determination, including self-determination in research and conducting research that is respectful of, meaningful to and needed by them. Canada has shown clear leadership in these areas, but there is still more to do. A new Arctic policy framework for Canada presents us unparalleled opportunities to advance scientific research and mobilize Indigenous knowledge and expertise such that we may truly move the needle on sustainability for the North.
Today I will confine my remarks to three related areas: the need for national coordination and international cooperation in Arctic research; the need to engage Indigenous peoples and bring Indigenous expertise to bear on addressing the challenges of a rapidly changing Arctic; and the role of science in Arctic diplomacy.
Communities in Canada’s Arctic face many challenges. Many people are living in substandard housing with inadequate heat, poor water quality and poor sanitation. Compounding this is the extremely high cost of store-bought food and the high cost of fuel for heat and transportation. Cost aside, for food security, physical health, cultural vitality and general well-being, Indigenous people depend on country foods even as these wildlife and plant species are subject to pressures from climate change and human activity. Among these are occurrences of new parasites and diseases, increased occurrence of existing disease, nutritional stress, changes in the timing of seasonal life cycles, fragmentation of habitat, increased development and pollution. The viability and health of northern species is critical to local people and central to ecosystem conservation.
Arctic conservation is also a global concern. The Arctic plays an important role in the global carbon budget. It affects the seasonal and annual climatology of much of the northern hemisphere, and its ecosystems are essential to planetary health. Yet, they are among the most severely impacted by anthropogenically caused warming. Developing and implementing solutions for current and emerging problems such as failing infrastructure, food insecurity and declining biodiversity is urgent. Understanding and responding to the local and global scale impacts of a changing Arctic system is a national and international priority that requires meaningful, coordinated and collaborative investment.
Canada has a vast research infrastructure in the North. In addition to the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, we have a network of over 50 research facilities across the territories and provinces that are operated by universities, the northern colleges, territorial governments and Indigenous organizations. These range from oceanographic research vessels and long-established research institutes and observatories to seasonal field stations and unstaffed remote monitoring installations. They are widespread, representing every major ecological region in Canada’s North and support both basic and applied research across the biophysical, social and health sciences. Some of these research stations have supported science in Canada’s Arctic for well over 50 years, and all of them have enabled the collection of the data that underpins our understanding of the changes we see today. They are critical components of Canada’s science capabilities and our contribution to global observing activities.
The Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators works for a common purpose to support coordination across these facilities. Scientists and Indigenous experts from across Canada often use them as a base of operations and, importantly, they also serve to facilitate cooperation in Arctic research and build bridges across nations and cultures. Maintaining our Arctic research facilities and this network is critical to continuing to track change, project future conditions and develop strategies for mitigation and response that will benefit Canada. These facilities can serve as the foundation on which to build out Canada’s contribution to the development of an internationally sustained and coordinated Arctic observing system. Importantly, these facilities can and do provide opportunities to leverage scientific expertise and Indigenous knowledge to increase the capacity of Arctic residents to engage in research and to use research outcomes in policy development and decision-making across scales and institutions.
Addressing the scale and scope of Arctic change, and climate change more broadly, transcends the resources of any one program, institution, level of government or nation. Cooperation across scientific, cultural, institutional and national borders is essential. Canada has an important leadership role to play here — leading by example in leveraging the full capabilities of our citizenry. There is untapped opportunity to address some of the most pressing issues, including the long-term protection of the Arctic environment, maintaining biodiversity and reducing the negative impacts of climate change on people and infrastructure, as well as the transition to sustainable energy.
Environmental management is a shared responsibility, and there is much expertise and leadership to be found within our academic and indigenous organizations. Canada can and should support coordination and engagement of its academic and Indigenous partners within our country to inform Arctic policy and science policy. This expertise can also be more fully utilized at Arctic Council by supporting substantive Canadian scientific and Indigenous engagement with Arctic Council working groups, with initiatives such as the Sustaining Arctic Observing System and inter-preparations for a third and potentially fourth and even more Arctic science ministerial. Academic and Indigenous expertise can inform Canada’s positions on key issues, ensuring relevance to more Canadians, and it will serve to build stronger ties with our international partners in areas of common interest. Broad engagement of this sort is essential to ensuring that our substantial national achievements in research and knowledge sharing are utilized for the benefit of all.
Larry Hinzman, President, International Arctic Science Committee (IASC): I will start by commending the Canadian government and the people of Canada for the forward thinking and visionary efforts applied in consideration of Arctic affairs, both at this time and in recent decades. Canada has much to be proud of, and other nations have much to learn from your example. Canadian scientists and engineers are among the finest in the world. The other Arctic nations, and indeed the global scientific community, are indebted to Canada for the substantial achievements of your researchers.
On this day I will speak to the international cooperation in addressing the challenges and opportunities affecting the people, the economy and the environment in Canada’s North. I will also remark upon the importance of engaging Indigenous peoples and the local residents in critically important issues of responding to a rapidly changing Arctic. These changes are not limited to those driven by climate, globalization, local, regional or international politics or economics, nor by demographics or changing social and cultural structures. The highly dynamic Arctic is driven by all of these. Communities are affected by the confluence of these interdependent systems and processes.
The Canadian North is undergoing rapid change in ecological, socio-economic and political responses to climate and other drivers. Climate effects can result in direct and indirect impacts on the region’s physical, chemical and biological environments. Social and cultural change alters the fabric of Indigenous and other communities, including the preservation of Native cultures and traditional knowledge. Economic change can bring opportunities but also dislocation as local residents are trained to work in fields that may not exist or persist in their home regions. Political change can affect resource use and also the ability of stakeholders to organize themselves and govern Arctic resources.
This region is geographically vast, sparsely populated, and characterized by strong connections among its Indigenous people and the land and sea. Understanding the culture and nutritional ties of Indigenous people to a geographic place and natural resources is an important element of realistic adaptation planning for climate change. Adaptation to climate change intersects with other environmental issues and needed policies confronting Arctic residents, including those concerning food security, human health and welfare, environmental security and quality of life and resilience of ecosystems.
The environmental drivers that have been increasingly shaping the lives of people in coastal communities are expected to continue to grow in magnitude and effect during the 21st century. Impacts on the physiography of the coast will continue to direct the location of human habitations and the staging and feasibility of subsistence activities. A restructuring of Indigenous cultures to accommodate change in a specie’s composition and the availability of subsistence food resources appears inevitable. The loss of multi-year sea ice and changes in the duration and distribution of annual sea ice will also continue to circumscribe the availability of the marine and coastal subsistence resources. If multi-year sea ice disappears from some areas entirely, variability in the amount of first-year ice is expected to result in profound changes in the availability of marine mammals and birds as sources of subsistence foods. The thawing of permafrost is having serious implications for the integrity of homes, municipal buildings and essential facilities, including infrastructure of the oil and gas and mining industries. More challenging travel conditions and increasing unpredictability in animal movements and the availability can decrease harvest success and require additional hunting effort associated with additional fuel costs, time away from jobs and families and increased wear and tear on equipment and increased risk of exposure and injury.
As the Arctic is undergoing rapid transformative change, information to help track, predict and respond to such changes is at a premium. In particular, there is an urgent need for coordinated, sustained observations of Arctic environments. The Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks, or SAON, initiative of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee was created to help coordinate and implement a pan-Arctic observing system. Many nations, including non-Arctic countries, are providing substantial support to help achieve the goals laid out by the SAON strategy. For example, the U.S. and Japan are collaborating on joint observing efforts in the Pacific Arctic sector and preparing for the third Arctic science ministerial to be hosted by Japan and Iceland next year.
With Canada standing to benefit substantially from enhanced, well-coordinated observing capacity in the Arctic, there are several ways Canada can add critical momentum to the SAON effort. Providing for strong engagement by the Canadian researchers and Inuit on the SAON board and committees and test teams will facilitate ensuring your perspectives are being taken into consideration at this critical time. Encouraging Polar Knowledge Canada to become more engaged with the international Arctic science community could fill that gap. Supporting the Arctic Institute of North America at the University of Calgary in their effort, jointly with U.S. institutions, to help transform the Arctic Observing Summit will be helpful as well. The Arctic Observing Summit has been successful as an information exchange and coordination forum that brings together researchers and people from the North, the private sector, NGOs and government agencies. Now the summit is ready to be transformed from a biennial meeting into an effective process to put in place a pan-Arctic observing system with shared societal benefits.
Canada has been well represented by Lisa Loseto on the SAON Committee on Networks, by Maribeth Murray and Eva Kruemmel on the Arctic Observing Summit, and by Wayne Pollard on the IASC Council. While we are extremely grateful for the efforts of these and other dedicated Canadian scientists, we do encourage your government to make the commitment of resources needed to help Canada and the rest of the world prepare for an uncertain future in the Arctic.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We will now turn to questions from the senators.
Senator Bovey: Thank you all on diverse topics, and I’m trying to get a question that will weave them together. You all talked about change that brings open waters and changes to the permafrost. Dr. Lajeunesse, you talked about an open and active Arctic and brought up the world “capabilities.” I appreciate and I’m very encouraged by the amount of pan-Arctic research going on, but I have to say, with my own historical background and being from Manitoba and knowing the military base during the Cold War was up in Churchill, I’m certainly not militaristic, so I’m glad we’re not looking for the Arctic being a military zone, but on the other hand, I was surprised, Dr. Lajeunesse, that you didn’t seem to think that — correct me if I’m wrong — a military buildup or preparation was important. As I take a look at what’s going on in China and Russia and at NATO and the changing globe around us and how core the Arctic is, shouldn’t we be doing something so that we can act if things happen? I find myself wondering why the air force base in Churchill has been allowed to get so decrepit.
Mr. Lajeunesse: Thank you. It’s a very good question. The key to understanding security requirements is recognizing how distinct the different Arctics are.
When I say that there is no need to enhance a military presence in the North, what I’m talking about, and I thought I made clear, was defence capabilities from what the military would call a kinetic perspective. The Canadian military does not foresee fighting the Russians, Chinese or anyone else in the Arctic, or at least we don’t foresee that in the Canadian Arctic. It’s a very different question when you’re looking at what the Norwegians call the High North — the Bering Sea, the Norweigan Sea. It’s a very different security scenario there. We are engaging with the Americans and our NATO allies to prepare for combat. That’s what Trident Juncture was. Canada is contributing forces. We are preparing, if you will, for a great power conflict in the Arctic, but not our Arctic. Not our Arctic because it is almost inconceivable to see what strategic value our Arctic would have from a military combat perspective. We are developing capabilities, but we are developing those capabilities with very realistic scenarios in mind. Those are not fighting the Chinese or the Russians. Those are search and rescue, environmental disaster response and aid to civilian power. The navy is preparing not necessarily to fight Russian submarines but to help Transport Canada, Fisheries, Oceans, the RCMP, border services and other government departments in our Arctic.
Senator Bovey: Do we have military equipment that is viable in the Arctic?
Mr. Lajeunesse: Absolutely. We have been developing that, in recent history, since around 2002. The Canadian Armed Forces have been working hard to develop capabilities, equipment and the ability to project power into the Arctic. One of the reasons Canada is relying on the military to project power into the Arctic isn’t because we are looking to fight in our Arctic; it’s because the military has the resources, the manpower, the capabilities and the platforms to provide the necessary support that the Department of Transport and the RCMP simply don’t have. In a sense, the military is looking to lead from behind. They are not going to be the lead agency. They don’t have the mandate for most of the security scenarios that we predict happening in the Arctic.
Senator Bovey: So if issues took place in the High Arctic, would that not affect our Arctic?
Mr. Lajeunesse: It depends on what you mean by “issues” and “High Arctic.” Could you be more specific?
Senator Bovey: I’m not sure I can. It shows my ignorance, which is why you’re here to enlighten us. You mentioned that you weren’t concerned about military activity in our Arctic but that there was international preparation in the High Arctic. Being a Manitoban, having grown up in Manitoba during the Cold War, I do know the medical issues that have come out of some of the materials that were flown across our province during the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. I do know the port of Churchill. I’m trying to get my historical background. Is it useful for the present or future or not?
Mr. Lajeunesse: History is absolutely useful in this respect. History, in many cases, is repeating itself. If it’s not necessarily repeating itself, it certainly rhymes. However, when you read about Arctic militarization these days, the best way to understand that is to go back to the 1980s and look at what the Russians, Americans and NATO were doing then, because very much what we were doing is similar to that.
The issue is the Russian Western Arctic in the Kola Peninsula area is one of the most militarized in the region. It is where the Russians keep most of their nuclear ballistic missile submarines. It is their main naval base, and it is from the Russian Arctic that the Russians would surge submarines into the North Atlantic. Therefore, that is one of the areas that in the 1980s — and it seems today as well — NATO and the Russians are preparing to fight. I don’t think that fight is going to happen, I don’t think it’s a realistic future, but that is what the preparations are being undertaken for.
It’s difficult to see a strategic rationale for that to spill over across the Polar Basin and into the Canadian Arctic. One Canadian general said in the 1940s about the Canadian Arctic that there is nowhere to go and nothing to do once you get there. From, if you will, a Russian military strategic perspective, that remains the case today. It’s simply not an area with any conceivable strategic importance for the great powers in this developing great power competition, and it’s hard to see how or why kinetic, conventional, state-based conflict would spill over into the Canadian Arctic.
Senator Bovey: Interesting. I thank you, but I think I remain needing more convincing.
The Chair: Do you have a supplementary question on that, Senator Eaton?
Senator Eaton: I do. You quoted this general in 1940 saying the Canadian Arctic has no value, but is the Northwest Passage not considered Canadian territory?
Mr. Lajeunesse: Of course it is.
Senator Eaton: Well, I went to a Maritime naval security conference in the fall. You have nations like Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India all building up their navies because they want to keep the South China Sea open, and you have commercial aircraft now flying into Chinese airspace or over the South China Sea that phone them up and say, “We’re flying into this ocean.”
You think the Northwest Passage, that’s fine. You were talking about flying the flag and showing one’s sovereignty. How is Canada showing its sovereignty north of 60? We have Indigenous communities and Inuit communities. Do we have Arctic submarines that can patrol and make sure that nobody else is going there? Do we have icebreakers capable of breaking two- or three-year-old ice going up there all the time? What are we doing? We have the Arctic patrol, which is, what, 200 or 300 people that patrol on sleighs or snowmobiles? I guess I’m surprised that you seem to be saying, “Let’s not worry about our Arctic,” when everybody else in the whole world wants a seat on the Arctic Council, wants to observe and is looking at the Northwest Passage.
Mr. Lajeunesse: Sure. That is a multifaceted question, with three or four components. I’ll answer the first. As to the South China Sea —
Senator Eaton: It’s just because why would they stop at us?
Mr. Lajeunesse: I don’t see a connection with the South China Sea.
Senator Eaton: Everybody else but us Canadians, we’re different from the rest of the world vis-à-vis the Chinese?
Mr. Lajeunesse: Well, there isn’t a clear connection between the Canadian Arctic — either from a political, military or strategic perspective — to the South China Sea.
Senator Eaton: No, but China is moving everywhere. Africa and Europe are now investing in Italian infrastructure. Why do you think that north of 60 we’re completely safe when you look at our mining and oil and gas interests? We have nothing to worry about?
Mr. Lajeunesse: When I say we have nothing to worry about — and I do not believe I said that in particular — I said there is no military state-based security. Now, when the Chinese are concerned, if you want to talk about the Chinese, I would stand by that. There is no threat certainly in the foreseeable future of Chinese military activity threatening the Canadian Arctic. That is virtually inconceivable. Now, there are Chinese —
Senator Eaton: Why is it inconceivable? I guess this is what I want to get at.
Mr. Lajeunesse: I would find it difficult to understand what the Chinese would seek to gain by a military invasion of the Canadian Arctic.
Senator Eaton: What are they seeking to gain in Italy by building their trains?
Mr. Lajeunesse: That is an economic development.
Senator Eaton: Controlling the Northwest Passage.
Mr. Lajeunesse: The Chinese could not control the Northwest Passage, either physically or legally. The Chinese have never suggested they would want to do that.
Senator Eaton: Why would you say that? They have already started making inroads. We had an Indigenous community here last week telling us that the Chinese were very interested in buying up infrastructure and building the infrastructure in Yukon.
Mr. Lajeunesse: That’s very true. The Chinese could certainly purchase infrastructure, and they are theoretically one of the largest investors in the North. However, if they owned assets, meaning mine sites, that would not convey on them any legal right or title to the Northwest Passage. I don’t see an obvious connection between —
Senator Eaton: It’s okay. We’re not going to agree.
Mr. Lajeunesse: Apparently.
Senator Eaton: I won’t waste any more of your time.
Mr. Hinzman, you were talking to us about the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks initiative on the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee. Can you tell us, what should we practically put in our report to ask the government for?
Mr. Hinzman: One of the major limitations that all of our nations that have an interest in the Arctic are facing is just the lack of understanding that is dependent upon the lack of observations. If you look at any network of critical variables, including air temperature, precipitation, ocean circulation, seismic, even social science issues, if you look at any of those variables of the Arctic compared to anywhere else in the world, you will see it’s incredibly sparse. So our capabilities to project, understand and predict are essentially limited by that lack of observations.
Senator Eaton: Would you have observers in each of the Arctic countries? Is that what you’re talking about? Or are you talking about more observers in Alaska and across the Canadian North?
Mr. Hinzman: The function of SAON is to facilitate collaboration among various nations so that we can all establish the observations that are important to our national priorities but then also share that data so we can all develop a better capability of predicting the impacts and projecting process changes.
It depends on which variable you are looking at. For many of the social science variables, yes indeed, you do need observers in the communities, working with the communities to try and understand what those changes are and how the communities are adapting. For others, such as ocean variables, we need more moorings that are tethered in the Arctic Ocean. For some variables, such as clouds, in those cases we need more aerial observations. It really depends on the variable we’re talking about.
Senator Eaton: With climate change — and perhaps Ms. Murray can answer this too — what are the two biggest changes you have seen in the Arctic? Is it the changeover living into communities or no food security? What are the two biggest changes you think that climate change has wrought?
Mr. Hinzman: The biggest change that we have seen is the change in the Arctic Ocean sea ice. That’s such a dramatic, huge change. And the consequences of that are affecting not just the people who live in the circumpolar coastal areas, but also it affects the global climate dynamics. It affects teleconnections of weather from the High Arctic to the more temperate regions. It is affecting our economy. The increased interest of China in the Arctic is because of the degradation of sea ice. It affects transport. It affects communities. It affects our hunting capabilities. It just has such a broad and dramatic impact on every aspect of life in the Arctic, but also it does reverberate throughout the whole global climate dynamics.
As far as the second, I would say it is the impact on the global climate dynamics, as the changes in the Arctic don’t stay in the Arctic. Those changes are reverberating into the more temperate regions, into Southern Canada, into the United States, throughout Europe. It’s affecting the weather processes in the Northern Hemisphere. It will affect the precipitation dynamics. It’s going to reverberate into food production. That, in the very long term, will have a consequence on the immigration into Canada. There is no doubt about it. The decreases in food production capability in the Midwestern United States, southwestern United States, affected by changes in precipitation will affect what we may call at this point climate refugees in 20 or 30 years, 40 years, sometime in the future.
Senator Eaton: Thank you.
Ms. Murray: While I would agree with Dr. Hinzman, I do think changes to the sea ice are probably the most critical. I would broaden that to include the cryosphere as a whole, so river ice, lake ice, permafrost and glaciers. In combination, the dramatic changes to the cryosphere have cascading effects throughout the marine ecosystem. We are seeing warming of Arctic waters, incursion of new species and ocean acidification, which is impacting lower trophic levels, which cascades up.
Senator Eaton: Lower trophic levels?
Ms. Murray: Creatures in the ocean that form shells. As the ocean acidifies, it contributes to the deterioration of those and then they are at the bottom of the food chain.
It is the same impacts we see on land with respect to terrestrial ecosystems. The thawing of the permafrost has the potential to input huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere, exacerbating the warming we are already seeing. It impacts the tundra vegetation, the boreal forest vegetation and, in turn, and all of the plant and animal species on which people depend and which are part of the ecosystem regulatory frameworks. So I would argue that yes, it is the cryosphere.
I did want to make a point about the need for an observational infrastructure around the pan-Arctic and in Canada in particular. I think to some extent it may speak to your earlier questions about sovereignty. Establishing a strong observational network across the Canadian Arctic, building on the research facilities and stations that we already have, which are located as far north as Eureka, as well as in many coastal communities, is part of a way for us, as Canadians, to establish our footprint in the North, at the same time that we make a contribution to understanding what is really happening up there and acknowledging the fact that the changes in our North do have global repercussions as well as local ones.
Senator Eaton: Where would you see further observation posts?
Ms. Murray: I think this is a complicated question. My own feeling about it, or my own understanding, is that as a national community, we need to sit down and take a hard look at what infrastructure we do have, what sort of observational data is being collected, whether that’s atmosphere, ocean, observations at the community level, and then determine where our significant gaps are and place our infrastructure and our resources in those gaps. Then I think by extension, we need to work with our international partners to see how best, having met our own priorities, we can help to fill gaps in observational infrastructure at the international scale.
Senator Eaton: I have one more question. Dr. Hinzman and Ms. Murray, do you feel that a lot of Arctic research is siloed, or do you all communicate amongst each other?
Mr. Hinzman: I believe that the Arctic research community is the most collaborative in the world of any scientific nature. It is remarkable how Arctic research scientists are so willing to share their understanding, share their ideas, share their resources and work together to advance science. I think there are so many huge challenges that every nation understands that we cannot tackle these tremendous challenges individually. There has to be collaboration or sharing of resources and sharing of data and understanding. If we don’t work together, we just won’t accomplish the development of the understanding that we need. So there is remarkable collaboration.
The International Arctic Science Committee exists to facilitate that collaboration. We exist to establish programs, such as the recent MOSAiC program, which is an icebreaker that will be frozen in the ice north of Canada and will be allowed to drift throughout the winter. It will be supported by three other ice-breaking missions from China, from Sweden and from Germany. It’s that international collaboration, and those contributions of huge resources to these issues will help us develop the ability to predict and project what these changes are in the future.
Senator Eaton: Thank you.
Ms. Murray: I would say that certainly over the last decade, and the last 15 years, collaboration has increased significantly across nations, but also among disciplines, and in cooperation and partnership with Indigenous people in the Arctic.
Our research priorities have shifted, and we are trying, with real collective effort, to address those priorities in a collaborative and interdisciplinary and intercultural fashion. We see this across everything from basic field work, which Dr. Hinzman just talked about in terms of sharing platforms, to the final end where the data and information that comes out from projects and programs is shared broadly and widely. Certainly Canada is leading in the effort to make Arctic data widely accessible and usable by a broad audience, not just the academic and government research communities but by communities themselves and the policymakers and the general public looking to have a better understanding of what is happening in the North.
The Chair: Both of you, Mr. Hinzman and Professor Murray, have talked about the SAON effort and the need for Canada to become more engaged. I’m just wondering if you would have specific recommendations that we should make to Canada about support for these efforts. I think you said there should be more engagement. Were you referring to a lack of financial support from Canada, or what were you getting at there, may I ask, Mr. Hinzman?
Mr. Hinzman: What I would like to see is strong engagement from the Canadian government, and many other governments. I’m not solely identifying Canada in this respect.
What I would like to see is a much greater investment in the observations that are of priority need for Canada and then sharing of that information, those data. I have asked many other nations to step up in a similar manner. The international Arctic observing network is critically important at this time. This has been identified by both the first Arctic science ministerial and the second Arctic science ministerial to be a critical issue for the international community. We need to have more observations. We are really seriously limited in our ability to predict and project the consequences and the impacts of these changes without having more data to rely upon.
What I would like to see from Canada is a serious engagement. We have had wonderful participation in SAON and in the Arctic Observing Summit from Canadian researchers. What I would like to see is to see Canada step up and make a commitment to the observing network, which I hope will be matched by the United States and every other country that is interested in Arctic processes. Thank you.
Ms. Murray: In addition to that, I think within Canada it would be very beneficial to put some resources into bringing the community, for lack of a better term, of Canadian observers together, and not just the federal family, but also the academic partners, the partners at independent research institutes and the Indigenous organizations, to help to determine where we can best place our resources with respect to Arctic observation and set those priorities. Then we can deliver those nationally, as well as to the international arena. I think we could strongly benefit from some coordination at the national level in delivering on these things.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Coyle: Thank you to all three of our guests this afternoon.
I have two quick questions, and one is for you, Mr. Lajeunesse. I want to look for a confirmation of what I think we have heard from you. I want to be clear that what you have said to us today is something we have heard from others before. This is not contradictory to other evidence that we have been hearing, but I just want to check with you on that.
There are two things. One is that Canada’s efforts, in terms of its military engagement in Arctic sovereignty or potential conflict in Arctic areas, are largely in coordination with our NATO partners, and those are taking place outside of the Canadian Arctic and more in the European Arctic. That’s the first thing I want to confirm with you on the military engagement side of things.
In terms of the Canadian military’s role in our own Arctic region, what I think I understood from what you had to say is it’s more following the lead of other Canadian entities in their needs that can be met with the cooperation of the Canadian military, such as search and rescue, et cetera.
Are those the two main things that you’re telling us about the role of the Canadian military in the Arctic region, be it Canadian or beyond?
Mr. Lajeunesse: Thank you. To begin with the latter question, yes. Canada has intentionally built its Arctic military strategies around a support role because it does not have the mandate to undertake the lead for most of the foreseeable security threats, be it illegal fishing, trespassing or criminal activity. It is in a support role in that it supplies the resources and sometimes the person power to support another government department in that respect.
As to coordination with NATO, we don’t coordinate with NATO within the Canadian North. We never have. That’s been a politically sensitive issue. As to outside of the Canadian North, of course we do coordinate with NATO. There is obviously very little that Canada could do or would want to do alone in the European theatre if you’re looking at great power conflicts and competition.
Senator Coyle: That’s where our military might be engaged in a military first approach, if you like. That would not be within the Canadian Arctic. It would be in other Arctic areas as a member of NATO?
Mr. Lajeunesse: Yes. In the very unfortunate and highly unlikely situation where we engage in combat with the Russians, that would be entirely in partnership with our NATO allies.
Senator Coyle: That’s helpful. Thank you. You have all answered most of our questions in your presentations.
Dr. Hinzman and Dr. Murray, you have painted a pretty good picture of where we are nationally and in our global research efforts.
Dr. Hinzman, you spoke about the uncertain future in the Arctic. That was the last thing you said. That uncertain future really is a big driver for a lot of what we’re talking about here today. We already know huge, rapid change has happened in the Arctic, and it’s very hard to even predict what is coming, and therefore the need for more monitoring.
Dr. Murray, you have spoken very eloquently about this new paradigm of Arctic research that we’re now seeing, and you are exemplary of that interdisciplinary working of scientists with Indigenous populations. You talk about our existing research infrastructure and mapping that and utilizing that, knowing what that is, and you talk about the gaps and filling and resourcing those gaps. I’m curious not just about resourcing the gaps but also the infrastructure that we have. You talked about the variety that is there. Is it well resourced itself? If we start going about determining what the gaps are and resourcing those, is this existing infrastructure already in a good position to sustain and grow as required?
Ms. Murray: Sometimes and in some places, but not everywhere.
Senator Coyle: Any recommendations for us on that?
Ms. Murray: I think one recommendation I would make to the government, and that I think many of my colleagues would make, is that we have a stable source of dependable funding for Arctic research infrastructure that perhaps sits outside the typical competitive funding envelopes that, say, in my case as an academic, I would normally be looking to acquire money from.
The maintenance of research infrastructure anywhere is costly, but it is even more costly in the North. Many northern research facilities are trying to transition to more renewable energy sources to run more efficiently and more effectively and to reduce their footprint on the landscape, while continuing to support the best science possible.
I would recommend stable funding to support the infrastructure that is already there and, I think, funding to implement and put out observational infrastructure where we nationally identify critical gaps is important. In talking about that infrastructure, I would include not just infrastructure on land, but in the sky, in the sea and on the water.
Senator Coyle: Okay. Thank you, that’s helpful.
The Chair: Thank you. Before we wrap up, I would like to ask you about a couple of things.
First of all, in connection with the need to support the gathering of data, a recent story in CBC North said that the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Lab, or PEARL, on Ellesmere Island is once again threatened with closure due to a lack of funding allocation in the recent federal budget. A spokesman for Dalhousie University who was part of the research team said that there is a fear that PEARL’s funding will run out in September if it can’t secure funding through another program. Would this be something that we should be concerned about in connection with your highlighting the importance of gathering data in the Arctic in light of sparse research activities?
Ms. Murray: Yes. I think PEARL is an important facility. It collects data and information that is beneficial to Canadians, but it also contributes data and information to a global network of atmospheric observatories.
We have a number of facilities like this in Canada. We have facilities that are now contributing data to the WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch. These deserve long-term support and maintenance. It’s sometimes difficult to immediately see the benefit of the collection of these kinds of observations, but they are key to underpinning our understanding of where we’re headed, both in the Arctic and more broadly, so I would certainly like to see stable support for these kinds of nationally significant pieces of research and observing infrastructure.
Mr. Hinzman: All stations are critically important, and there are so few of them, but that’s a good example of the problem we face in many of our nations in that we have observing systems that are set up as part of a research program funded on a three- or five- or, in rare instances, a ten-year time frame, and then at the end of that period, the station is discontinued and the data are no longer collected. The key part of SAON, Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks, is sustained observations. We must have these observations for the long term. The environmental noise that is, amongst the many variables we measure, very great, and the signal associated with the changing climate is sometimes quite subtle, and it’s important to maintain these observing networks in the order of decades to get that critical information. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I think that brings this panel to a close. I would like to thank you all very much for your contributions and sharing themes from different viewpoints.
We will now proceed with our next panel. I’m pleased to welcome, from Hutchins Legal Inc., Peter W. Hutchins, lawyer, and Robin Campbell, lawyer. Thank you for joining us today. Please proceed with your opening statement, and then we’ll have our questions and answers. We are a little pressed for time this afternoon, so I will ask you to govern yourselves accordingly in order to allow time for some dialogue. Professor Hutchins, please proceed.
Peter W. Hutchins, Lawyer, Hutchins Legal Inc.: Honourable chair and honourable senators, as you know, I am Peter W. Hutchins, and I’m appearing with Ms. Robin Campbell, a colleague at Hutchins Legal Inc. and someone who has given a great deal of thought to especially international aspects of the Arctic and Canadian policy with respect to that. We had planned for a presentation total of five minutes to be split between us. That was a daunting idea. I gather now, if I’m not mistaken, that we have been accorded a few more minutes — it certainly wouldn’t be more than ten, or seven— it’s really up to you. At any rate, I have promised to Ms. Campbell that she will have her time, and that’s not just a promise of a White man, which is what the courts refer to, but a solemn promise.
Let me start by saying that my interest in the legal status of the Inuit and their territories goes back to 1970, believe it or not, when I was studying at the London School of Economics and presented an LLM thesis on the legal status of the Canadian Eskimos, as they were at that time called. The early 1970s were a time of great legal and political skepticism around the notion of native rights. They either never existed or were extinguished by the Crown. Certainly, the charter of the Hudson Bay Company of 1670, it was believed, denied or terminated Inuit rights. I examined the successive law, doctrine, policy and practice from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century to at least 1970 and concluded, “in the determination of future direction, the [Inuit] people need ask no favours; history and law are on their side.”
After 45 years of practice in this area, I’m encouraged that prediction was not completely acceptable. Even now, it is certainly more acceptable, but there are still deniers, and it’s interesting to look at the history of the nineteenth century, for example, where there’s always a feeling that we’re improving, that government policy is better than it was and that we are more enlightened than we were. The Victorians would take offence, and I’m not sure that in this area that it’s absolutely true.
I give you in the speaking notes the words of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Aborigines in the period 1835-1837, and the committee wrote:
It might be presumed that the native inhabitants of any land have an incontrovertible right to their own soil: a plain and sacred right however, which seems not to have been understood. Europeans have entered their borders uninvited, and, when there, have not only acted as if they were undoubted lords of the soil, but have punished the natives as aggressors if they have evinced a disposition to live in their own country.
The committee goes on to say that this was contrary to Crown policy. It may be a certain amount of special pleading, but certainly I’m sure you’re aware of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which is the grounding anchor for Aboriginal law in Canada, cited by all the courts, and was, if you read it on its face, a progressive and generous document.
But just to indicate that all was not necessarily well, in the period, at least, where the select committee was examining the actions in the lands of the Hudson Bay Company, there’s a nice example of the evidence where the committee asked:
Is it then your opinion, upon the whole, that natives of that great region would have been somewhat more moral, and considerably more numerous if they had never seen the face of a man professing to be a Christian . . .
And the answer was: “— Not a doubt of it.”
So, two sides.
Now the present emphasis on reconciliation, and we hear that a great deal from the Prime Minister down and it certainly permeates the area of Indigenous law these days, is based on and has its origins in the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada and the lower courts when adjudicating upon Aboriginal title and rights. That’s where it flows from. There are a number of examples that I mentioned in the speaking notes and we can get back to them, but Delgamuukw, the B.C. case, is one. Mikisew and Sparrow are important cases, and I will give you just an idea of what these courts said.
The Chief Justice in Delgamuukw spoke of the recognition of the prior occupation of North America by Aboriginal peoples with the assertion of Crown sovereignty requiring that the Aboriginal perspective and the common law be given equal weight. I’m going to speak about the Aboriginal perspective because I think that’s the key to this area NS to understanding the dynamic between First Nations and Inuit, on the one hand, and the Crown and other governments on the other.
In Mikisew, Justice Binnie characterized reconciliation as the fundamental objective of the modern law of Aboriginal and treaty rights.
In Sparrow, interestingly, the court stated that it was crucial to be sensitive to the Aboriginal perspective itself on the meaning of the rights at stake. So if you’re looking at the rights that have been argued by the First Nations or the Inuit, you have to look at it from their point of view, and this is what the courts are saying, and, believe me, they are saying it a great deal now.
In the Inuit perspective, there are questions of significance of ice in relation to land, what constitutes full use of the Arctic territories, the importance and conservation of the renewable natural resources, the appropriate governance structures and their purpose and the international competition for Arctic passage and the Arctic non-renewable resources.
Indeed, Canadian sovereign claims all must be looked at through the lens of the Inuit perspective. I’m providing in my speaking notes an excellent piece or extract of it by Franklyn Griffiths, which, I suggest, requires careful consideration. Professor Griffiths is the Ignatieff Chair Emeritus of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. He refers in the extracts that I provide to the Inuits’ “new imagination,” and you will probably hear that from Mr. Aporta. When it comes to travelling through the North, the trails that the Inuit established in the North, they’re unmarked, they’re in their heads, they’re in their imaginations and they stay there.
I will point you to certain parts of this and go right to page 4 of my notes. In the middle of the page, Professor Griffiths writes:
What Inuit have to offer, above all, is a new imagination. Historically and culturally, that imagination is given to openness and sharing, not closure and exclusion.
Very important distinction.
With brothers and sisters in three other Arctic countries, the outlook of Inuit tends to be transnational. Thus, it is suited to Arctic problems, whose origins more often than not ignore borders and whose solutions typically require more international cooperation than unilateral action behind national frontiers.
I’m sure you’ve heard that from other witnesses, Inuit witnesses. It is something that both First Nations and Inuit have argued before the courts for decades: that the treaties, for example, were not about surrendering their rights to the Crown; they were about providing access, allowing access into their territories by the settlers, by Crown representatives, to share the territories. The vocabulary is always share, not extinguish, not terminate. At the bottom, we see that highlighted:
In short, their interest is in stewardship as opposed to remote control.
The fundamental truth, as stated in the Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Arctic Sovereignty in the Arctic, is as follows: The Arctic is our home. That’s it.
The maps that I mentioned, prepared by Professor Aporta, illustrate the Inuits’ great occupation of their home. You’ll find that map in our PowerPoint, which I hope has been distributed to you, at page 20. This is extraordinary because shows the great myth of the empty Arctic, the wasteland, what lawyers would call terra nullius, no one there, no one using it, is, to put it bluntly, bunk. This is how the Inuit used the territory and have for generations, on ice, on territory. I won’t go into Mr. Aporta’s talk because he is much more effective at this than I am, but it’s extraordinary how the Inuit, for example, when the ice melts or the snow melts, are still able to locate the trails and use the trails because they are in their heads. They’re in their imagination.
I suggest that one of the most important applications of both the Aboriginal perspective and the honour of the Crown relates to the so-called certainty clauses in the Inuit modern treaties, and also the historical treaties, but this is key to what’s happening and to the future. The Inuit did not fully understand at the time of those treaties, and now that the real consequences for the Arctic and Inuit are becoming clear, Inuit should not be held to those clauses. I have suggested elsewhere that the doctrine of rebus sic stantibus in international law may have application in this context. Briefly, that’s when circumstances change fundamentally, a party to a treaty can request to be excused from its obligations. There is a lot more to say on that, but that’s it. I referred to a couple of places where I have referred to that before.
The important part of this is that what’s required in that instance is what the courts have referred to as the “honour of the Crown.” It’s a very important doctrine that the Supreme Court has invoked time and time again, which serves as a break, as a constraint on Crown behaviour and conduct. Actually, that doctrine goes back to the eleventh or twelfth century, but in this context, certainly back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, again, when the Crown honourably pledged the protection of lands, their lands, to the Inuit and the First Nations.
Let me finish here with a very simple idea, which I get from David Arnot, who is a lawyer. He wrote a piece in the Saskatchewan Law Review entitled “The Honour of the Crown.” I agree with him, who identifies the essence of the honour of the Crown as “our capacity as a mature society to act from principle.” That is what’s needed in moving forward in the Arctic, together with the Inuit, to make life for everyone better.
I’ll pass over to Ms. Campbell now.
The Chair: This will have to be brief, I’m afraid.
Robin Campbell, Lawyer, Hutchins Legal Inc.: I appreciate that.
There are two aspects I would like to address concerning Inuit related to the theme of Arctic in a global context and the Arctic policy framework. The first is to look at Canada’s obligations under international law, as the policy should be based on respect for these obligations. The second is to look at how the policy could support Inuit self-determination with respect to the Arctic Ocean, looking at resolving issues with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This draws on the work we were fortunate to do with Senator Watt and I understand that you are examining in this committee.
Canada’s obligations to respect the self-determination of peoples and its obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should inform the Arctic policy. Under international law, Canada is required to respect the self-determination of peoples and promote the realization of this right. This is one of the essential and highest principles of international law. It means that people have the right to determine how they will be governed and to make their own decisions.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the international statement on the respect for self-determination of Indigenous people. In 2016, Canada officially adopted the declaration as full supporters and without any reservations. Canada is now responsible, as a result of that, for implementing the rights within Canada. The policy should support the implementation of the declaration in the Arctic. This could involve Canada adopting Bill C-262. However, even in the absence of that bill, the declaration applies to Canada, and Canada, pursuant to that declaration, is required to take measures to achieve the ends of the declaration. So whether or not the bill goes into effect, those obligations are still there.
The respect for the self-determination of Inuit should be at the heart of the new Arctic Policy Framework. This involves having Inuit work with Canada as partners in governing the Arctic. It can involve applying the lens of self-determination in all areas, asking the question for every action, does this help Inuit self-determination? That becomes a key question.
As Mary Simon has emphasized, self-determination requires healthy and prosperous communities and individuals. The policy is an opportunity to state that Inuit should have a fair share of the benefits derived from Arctic lands and waters, including royalties, and that initiatives to support their economic development should be supported.
Secondly, the Arctic Policy Framework will look outward at Canada’s place in the international community and its role in the circumpolar region. The policy should be fully developed with Inuit and support and respect Inuit rights at the international level, in particular in international governance matters.
I’ll focus on the pressing issues occurring in the Arctic Ocean governance, in particular the work we did with Senator Watt looking at how to protect Inuit rights in the Arctic Ocean in the face of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, which states are using to establish their rights in the Arctic Ocean. The two immediate pressing concerns are with the extended continental shelf and the new agreement for the high seas. I’m going to go very quickly so that I can address both of those.
With respect to the extended continental shelf, Canada and the other coastal states are currently drawing the boundaries of their extended continental shelf using the rules of UNCLOS. The issue is that there is no recognition in UNCLOS for the rights of Indigenous peoples such as the rights to marine areas, the rights to migratory marine mammals and fish or to the rights and benefits to the resources extracted from the Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic policy is an opportunity to state that Canada will support Inuit gaining a role in Arctic Ocean governance, in particular, in the UNCLOS system. It is also an opportunity to state that Canada will share royalties obtained from any developments in the Arctic Ocean continental shelf with Inuit and that Inuit will have a key role in determining whether and where any exploration or extraction of resources should occur in these fragile and virtually untouched areas.
Another area where partnership between Canada and Inuit is required is in the negotiation of the new agreement currently, as in today, being negotiated at the UN to protect the marine biodiversity of the high seas. This new agreement will apply to the high seas of the world, including the Arctic Ocean. It is to be complementary to UNCLOS, covering areas such as conservation and sustainability, environmental impact assessment and Marine Protected Areas for the high seas. These issues matter a great deal to Inuit and are connected to their rights.
Supporting Inuit self-determination in the Arctic can mean inviting Inuit to be a part of Canada’s negotiation team at the UN and for Canada to seek terms in the agreement that would provide Inuit a role in the governance of marine biodiversity in the Arctic Ocean high seas. The recent experience of the negotiations of the 2018 agreement for the high seas fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean should be a model to follow. ICC was a member of the Canadian delegation and helped develop Canada’s position on the agreement. As a result of this collaboration, the agreement recognizes the interests of Arctic Indigenous peoples and the sustainable use of living marine resources and ensures that Indigenous knowledge informs the consideration of where the commercial fishing should be undertaken in the high seas as a central Arctic Ocean.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you. You have given us a wealth of material as well, which is greatly appreciated. If we stick to the timetable, we only have 10 or 15 minutes more. Could I ask senators to keep that in mind with brief questions? Maybe I’ll have to allow one a piece.
Senator Bovey: I just have one. I want to thank you both. You have tied together a great deal of what we have heard from other witnesses over the past many months and what we saw when we were up North, so now I want to tie what you said and what you have given us together with one of the witnesses from the prior panel. You could tell from my questioning that I was concerned about what role the Canadian military should have or does have up North.
On page 61 of your PowerPoint, under the title of “Building Strategies,” you list the effects of the beneficial mutual collaboration, which I think is very self-explanatory, but your last bullet is “anchor Canada’s sovereignty claims in the region.” My question is, are those claims clear or do we, as a nation, still have work to do in making those claims as the Northwest Passage opens and, as I least read in the press, China wanting a greater presence in the Arctic to the point that they are trying to buy fiords and lands in various Arctic countries?
Mr. Hutchins: Thank you, senator. I think a member of the previous panel expressed the thought that there was nothing really to worry about, that Canada’s sovereignty is secure in the Arctic and that everybody knows it. Well, there are a lot of people who don’t accept that. Let’s start with our neighbours to the south. You can’t be naive about the fact that, especially with the melting ice and the opening of the Northwest Passage, commercial interests are going to dominate. So that’s it.
Now, elsewhere, we have made the argument about Canadian sovereignty, but one of the interesting things is that Canada, from the early 1950s, invoked the Inuit presence to justify Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. I’m sure you have already heard, perhaps ad nauseam, certain statements of Prime Minister Clark at the time, the question of the tragic situation of relocation of Inuit up very far North, Grise Fiord, et cetera. They may have had other applications, but there was no doubt about it, admitted by officials, that it was there to assert Canadian presence by Canadians. I think at that, point 1950s, we were talking about Eskimos. If you talk to the Inuit, they are very offended by that, not just the harshness of the program, but the fact that they are being called Canadian Inuit and sort of agents to the Crown. There is a certainly good argument to say that actually they are free agents in many respects, and I can’t get into it but they definitely have been there a lot longer than Canada, period.
So Canada depends upon the Inuit. But if they are doing that, it’s because they feel somewhat insecure about their sovereign claims. If they are smart, we’re smart, speaking as a Canadian, we would begin to concentrate on the relationship with the Inuit and partnership with the Inuit so that a Canadian presence becomes real. I think under international law, it would be a strong argument. There are all sorts of arguments against small populations claiming large areas, but you have international cases like the Western Sahara where the International Court of Justice found that nomadic people and semi-nomadic people could claim sovereignty and could pass that sovereignty on to the state, or on to states. Some say that the origin and, really, the anchor for Canadian sovereignty is the presence of the Inuit and the fact that they have passed on, to a certain extent, via treaties, which raises a whole thing.
But those treaties, like the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Nunavut, were created and passed, from the government’s point of view, as an assertion of sovereignty — let’s not kid ourselves — just as the numbered treaties in the West were concluded with the Cree and the Blackfoot to consolidate Canadian sovereignty on the plains, faced with the American army sitting on the border. It all comes back to the Inuit and their interests, and we can’t avoid it and we shouldn’t.
The Chair: Thank you. We’ll need more concise answers if we are to allow Senator Eaton and Senator Coyle to ask their questions.
Senator Eaton: This will be a concise answer, I know, Mr. Hutchins. Thank you both so much for your presentations.
I would like you to educate me. With the nation-to-nation agreement with the Inuit, is that a bit like provincial and federal rights, or is it federal-to-federal? And in the end, is there a place where Canada would have the last word?
Mr. Hutchins: I’ll try to make it brief. If you look at federal-provincial relations, the provinces are sovereign in their areas.
Senator Eaton: That’s right.
Mr. Hutchins: I would say exactly the same analogy is with the Inuit. They have a degree of sovereignty in these areas both on the basis of international law and their general rights, but the treaties have to be considered as well because, although there are problems with the treaties, they have derived real authority through those.
Senator Eaton: It’s just like the federal government. If there was to be a war or some national thing, the federal government does have the last say, does it not?
Mr. Hutchins: I don’t think Inuit or, indeed, First Nations, have ever claimed that their sovereignty extends to military action. There are certain things they agree are the place for the Canadian government as a whole. Border crossing is one. The Mohawks plead border crossing but not bringing anything across any border crossing. Mike Mitchell, in his case, said this is not about cigarettes, liquor and arms, not at all. It’s about how people traded in the past and want to continue. I had better stop there.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Coyle: Thank you both for your presentations. I’m curious, because you have been looking at Canada and you’ve been looking beyond Canada. We certainly get the principle that you have been reinforcing here. I’m interested in the consideration of Indigenous rights by other Arctic coastal states. Is there anything to be learned from those other examples that you could mention?
Ms. Campbell: I think we have to look at the example of Denmark and Greenland. That is very close to a state being governed by Inuit. Going back to Senator Eaton’s point, Denmark holds international affairs and defence, but otherwise that is a nation governed by Inuit. There is a great deal to learn from that example. Certainly Inuit, circumpolarly, are working together. There are certain things, for instance, like fishing, that Inuit in Canada would like to be partnering on and are trying to partner with Inuit in Greenland to do. There is a great deal to learn from what is happening in Greenland with Denmark.
Senator Coyle: Are there any other Arctic states where there are exemplary cases to mention?
Ms. Campbell: There are always things to learn from the U.S., too. They had a treaty model early on that Northern Canadian Inuit looked to, and they are pressing ahead. I think ICC, working around the circumpolar world, is bringing that into Canada and are talking with the government through a circumpolar world lens.
Mr. Hutchins: If I could add something about Alaska, the Alaska settlement was around at the time that we negotiated the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement, and having looked at that agreement, we said we don’t want it. It was not a model.
Senator Coyle: So that’s what not to do, then?
Mr. Hutchins: I think time has proved that’s right. We have to be a little careful in looking at the Americans.
The Chair: I would like to ask one closing question of Mr. Hutchins. There are negotiations going on with the N.W.T. and the Inuvialuit on a new regime for managing the Beaufort Sea offshore. There are negotiations going on in the eastern Arctic with Canada and the Inuit and the Government of Nunavut on a transfer of natural resources management functions on the onshore, with a prospect of moving to the offshore. Give us, if you could, briefly, your vision of what would be an ideal arrangement for the Aboriginal people of Canada in managing the offshore. What do these rights entitle primarily the Inuit to have inland?
Mr. Hutchins: Thank you, senator. I think the rights themselves include the right to manage fisheries, and the jurisprudence is that whether you’re talking, again, about First Nations or Inuit, when they have recognized a right to hunt or fish, that includes the right to manage those resources.
Now, just the Inuit, or together? I think that the model should be a partnership, but a respectful partnership in which Inuit participate as full members. I just have one example. I told you before the session, senator, that the Migratory Birds Convention Act for years and years excluded the hunting of birds in the spring, which was absolutely key to the exercise of the right by Aboriginal peoples. When section 35 came in, there was a clash, and as a matter of fact, back in the old days in 1974 when we negotiated James Bay, the feds wanted statements that the Cree and Inuit accept that there will be no harvesting in the spring, and both people said, “No way. This is our Aboriginal right.”
The parties agreed to not agree, but Canada agreed to seek amendments to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which they did later on in the 1980s, and that process, which I was involved in, had Inuit, First Nations and Metis as full delegates of the Canadian delegation. They were front and centre in negotiating for four days with the Americans. Somebody had to explain to the Americans what section 35 was all about, and they did a very good job. Out came an amended Migratory Birds Convention Act and an international treaty. If you’re interested, there is a document put out by the wildlife service, worked on by us, which explains what those amendments were and why and what the motive was. The motive was this is what we need to ensure the treaty rights, the Aboriginal rights, of these peoples and it included management. How do you manage? This happened years ago. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen an exercise like that since.
There is a lot of talk of joint development. I haven’t personally seen impressive examples of joint development. Joint development is speaking to officials and trying to convince them, officials saying, “Thank you very much; we’ll go away and see what we’re going to do.” They go away and that’s the last you hear about it. The language bill, for example, was one I was dealing with a few months ago. It wasn’t jointly developed at all. It was completely ignored. And these were Inuit who were arguing that.
I think it comes back to David Arnot saying everybody has to act in a principled way, starting with the Crown — the honour of the Crown.
The Chair: We’ll have to end on that powerful note. Thank you both for your testimony and the wealth of material that you have provided the committee. It has been most helpful.
We have a third panel at this meeting of the Special Committee on the Arctic. I’m pleased to welcome with us in the room Shirley Tagalik, Director, Aqqiumavvik Society, and as an individual, Karla Jessen Williamson, Assistant Professor, Ed Foundations, University of Saskatchewan, and joining us from Halifax by video conference, also appearing as an individual, Claudio Aporta, Director, Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University.
Thank you all for being with us here today. May I suggest, Dr. Aporta, that you begin with your opening remarks, followed by Ms. Tagalik and then Dr. Jessen Williamson. There will also be time for questions and answers.
Claudio Aporta, Director, Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, as an individual: Thank you very much. It’s an honour to be invited. I’m going to be reading my statement to make sure I don’t go over the five minutes.
My observations are based on 20 years of working and researching in the Arctic, documenting and studying Inuit understanding and use of marine and coastal spaces, mapping Inuit traditional trails across the four Inuit regions in Canada and advising Inuit organizations. My ethnographic work in the Arctic included extensive travelling with hunters, particularly in Igloolik. My mapping work includes an ongoing pan-Arctic map of Inuit trails that shows interconnections across the totality of the Inuit-occupied Canadian Arctic. This project was partially sponsored by former Senator Charlie Watt, and some of you might be familiar with it.
It is often forgotten that present-day settlements are the result of a sedentarization process that took place between the 1950s and the 1970s. Before that time, Inuit lived semi-nomadic lives, moving to different locations according to the seasons and the availability of resources. While moving to permanent settlements represented a dramatic change for Inuit communities, they have continued to regularly use the same territory and resources. In fact, Inuit communities use most of the same trails and routes that their ancestors did for many generations.
The study of Inuit mobility reveals systematic use of coastal and marine spaces and a relationship to the land that is fundamentally anchored in profound knowledge of environmental processes and dynamics. What I find frustrating about the past and present relationships between Canadian governments and Inuit is a pervasive lack of understanding or acknowledgment on the part of governments of how Inuit relate to the environments where they live, how connected they are across the pan-Arctic world and how their sense of community and identity is revealed and maintained through these relationships.
I put together a list of some challenges and some opportunities that I see that I would like to share with the committee. I will start with the challenges that I think need to be addressed and overcome. The first one is the need to stop thinking about Inuit communities as isolated from each other. They are interconnected by a vast infrastructure of sled trails and boat routes. Second is to stop thinking of settlements as boundaries of communities. Basically, a sense of community is entangled with the much more extensive territory way beyond the boundary of the settlement. Also, it is important to recognize the sea ice and the ocean in general as part of Inuit territories and to acknowledge that towns are often perceived by Inuit as the reason for most problems, while the land is thought of as having sort of a healing property. The Canadian Arctic settlements were not carefully planned, and planners and policymakers certainly did not have Inuit cultural and social considerations in mind.
Some of the opportunities or things that could or should happen in the future from my perspective are, number one, to increase and facilitate communities’ agency and empowerment — basically, to let communities make their own decisions and have a say in the things that matter to them and to follow on the current path of developing co-governance models. That’s critical. There are a few examples that need to be looked at very carefully. One is a bit older: the Integrated Management Plan in the Beaufort Sea that involved the engagement of Inuvialuit communities and organizations. Other ones are the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area in Nunavut and the Imappivut Initiative in Labrador. The three of them are examples of co-governance.
Another thing to do would be to empower Inuit organizations so that they can have the capacity to engage in co-governance and co-management arrangements, because usually it falls on them, and most of them are overstretched in terms of human capacity, the regional Inuit organizations.
Also, investments in infrastructure should have the input of communities to come up with creative designs and ideas, not only for housing but also for public spaces. There are a couple of examples that I could mention later on.
We need to embrace the whole-of-government approach to the fullest and make it truly effective, not just an idea. In this sense, the Arctic can be a testing ground for a forward-looking policy approach. Presently, the silos approach that has been common in Arctic policies produces fragmented governance and constitutes an immense burden for small Inuit communities and organizations. It is time to accept what Inuit have been saying for a long time: All problems are connected and a holistic approach to governance is needed. For instance, conserving biodiversity cannot be separated from individual and social health or from developing sustainable economies.
Capacity building is a two-way process. It is not just building capacity in the communities. It’s also building capacity for non-Inuit, for government, for researchers, to actually learn from Inuit. This is not a one-way street. It’s a two-way process.
Finally, there is a need for creative and bold approaches. The question I will ask and leave with is, how do we start thinking outside the box and how do we break off the bureaucratic inertia through which most government departments operate?
The Chair: Thank you very much, and also for the graphic material you’ve provided from your exhibit, “Inuit Highways,” from the fall of 2016.
Shirley Tagalik, Director, Aqqiumavvik Society: Good afternoon. My name is Shirley Tagalik. I’m a volunteer director at the Aqqiumavvik Society in Arviat, which is on the west coast of Hudson Bay.
I came to Arviat from Montreal as an educator in 1976 and have lived there since that time. I taught in local schools until the creation of Nunavut in April 1999, when I was asked to establish the curriculum division for the new department of education. Our mandate was to redesign a system of education according to Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and to rewrite the K to 12 curriculum so that it could be delivered bilingually in both Inuktitut and English.
I retired in 2010. Throughout my career as an educator, I worked in areas of early years development, cultural program initiatives, youth engagement, suicide prevention and community health. I have spent 25 years working closely with elders in researching Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and in 2012 we received an Arctic Inspiration Prize to document Inuit world views, and that’s captured in the book that the elders wrote that I made a copy available to the committee.
I have also written and presented on this topic for the Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well-Being, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, the UNICEF child index project and Indigenous Global Child.
I have worked with the Arviat Wellness Centre under the auspices of the Hamlet of Arviat since 2002. In 2017, we became a registered society in Nunavut. The mandate of the Aqqiumavvik Society is to promote wellness and self-reliance using community-identified approaches to seek solutions to address our own issues and priorities. I shared a card that has the website and contact information, and more information on our programs is available there. We have three program priorities.
Our programs are all grounded in cultural knowledge and ways of being. To this end, we continually research and document cultural systems and perspectives around key issues and deliver programs to revitalize and apply these approaches. Cultural articulation and revitalization are essential to healing and decolonizing. Arviat was one of the last communities to be formed in 1960 through a policy of forced relocation. Because of that, cultural knowledge and practices are still relatively strong and are seen as a very strong protective factor for community wellness. We know, however, that with every generation, these protective factors are weakened as colonial systems become more entrenched in everyday life. In our work with elders, we have been told that the purposes of beliefs and cultural practices that served Inuit for thousands of years do not change with time. If we can reclaim them, they can become strengths for Inuit today, just as they were in the past.
Aqqiumavvik is delivering programs in five key system areas such as inunnguiniq — making a capable human being; aajiqatigiingniq — redesigning a justice system around healing, consensus and reconciliation; avatimik kammattsiarniq — promoting and training community members in sustainable and respectful harvesting; qanuqtururangniq — training youth in becoming keen observers of the environment so they can seek solutions to adapt and sustainably manage climate change and resources in the community; and inuuqatigiitsiarniq — promoting living in respectful relationship through healing and caring practices.
In addition to these larger projects, we operate the community library where we are working on issues of identity and connection through family genealogies and creating an archive of photographs and documents that can help families have access to resources that tell their own stories. We view this also as a healing program since the disconnection of relationship has been a result of colonial programs that disconnect people from relational networks that were designed to keep people closely connected and in support of each other.
The second area that elders have told us is that in order to bring the strength of Inuit culture back into our community, the place to most successfully intervene is with parenting. We have designed a number of programs under our Aajiiqatigiingniq Inunnguinirmuit initiative that offer home visiting, child development information, parenting supports and training, and public awareness campaigns to improve child and family health. We partner with the high school, the early childcare society, the research community, local businesses and with territorial, national and international groups working in this area. A priority for our community since 1981 has been to establish a community birthing centre. We continue to actively pursue this goal in the hope that we can eventually bring birth home where it belongs.
The third area that we view as core is our youth engagement programming. Our population is very young — 60 per cent under the age of 18 — so this is a critical area of focus for us. Both youth engagement and training are priorities. We have offered a very successful Young Hunters Program since 2012. This was recently highlighted in a Movember Foundation film called Boys of Nunavut, which is available on our website and YouTube. This program trains youth aged 8 to 25 in sustainable harvesting, climate monitoring and survival and land skills.
We believe that youth are uniquely situated as message-carriers to our community. We also train them in multimedia and literacy. On our YouTube site, Arviat Wellness, you will find over 50 short videos created entirely by youth. They also populate our three Facebook pages: Arviat Goes Green, Arviat Harvesters and Aqqiumavvik Society.
We try to offer summer employment as training opportunities for youth. We run after-school programs to engage youth and create learning opportunities, such as our environmental action clubs, our culture of cooking program and our coding clubs. We offer training in cultural skills and knowledge within the high school program and have mentoring and healing programs that target disengaged youth and young adults in the community.
Aqqiumavvik is a sought-after partner in the research community. We are currently engaged in a wide number of partnerships with groups such as SmartICE, Arctic Eider Society, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre and a large number of universities. We also mentor and support individual researchers looking to do research in areas in which we can offer expertise. For researchers who partner with us or come into our community, we insist that they partake in an IQ orientation workshop that we deliver and also that they contribute to training with our local research assistants.
Aqqiumavvik is entirely funded by third party grants. I’ve given you a list of some of our partners. For community organizations such as ours, there is no core funding available, so it usually requires us to cobble together a number of different funding opportunities in order to deliver these kinds of programs.
Karla Jessen Williamson, Assistant Professor, Ed Foundations, University of Saskatchewan, as an individual: First, I would like to actually greet Nunavut today. It’s their day today. It’s the creation of Nunavut twenty years ago today. Congratulations on that.
I am very pleased to be here, somewhat nervous, as usual, but I came here because of the fact that I read your paper and reread it and the framework for discussion, and I saw the fact that you are looking at the considerations to be made in the form of significant and rapid changes in the Arctic and impacts on the original inhabitants.
I grew up in the Arctic, very much like many of the Arctic peoples, especially among the Inuit. I was born into a very tiny little town just north of Nuuk, north of Maniitsoq. That’s where I was brought up. The town was closed back in the 1960s and hence the relocation. Coming from Greenland, as you can hear from my English, I grew up having to learn to speak Danish. All my schooling from day one was immersed deeply into the assimilation of becoming a Dane, so that was my second language. My third language is English because I moved here to Canada back in 1978 and went to the University of Saskatchewan.
In the area of rapid changes, indeed, as peoples across the Davis Strait, we have undergone an incredible amount of pressure to change to something that we are not. Whether we are Greenlanders to becoming a Dane or an Inuit Canadian becoming that of the Canadians, or Inuit in Alaska becoming Americans, the pressures are unbelievable to change to something else that you are not. The changes in the form of an innocent child, innocent subject in the school systems, are quite severe. The severity in the form of having access to services or not is very real, because I see that most of the monolingual Inuit have little access to the structures put in place today. I’m going way off my writing here to let you know.
I think that my invitation was actually on the Indigenous knowledge and how I used it. As you can hear, we had very little content in the form of curriculum in the schools given to us about our ancestry. As I remember, we were told that the lands we were treading on were not ours, that we were squatters, and anything that we learned was based on, in my case, on Danish nature, Danish flowers on the side of the road and nothing about our own ecology. We never learned anything about the seals, the whales or birds in the Arctic. That was the case.
In my own endeavour, I decided that I wanted to do studying on whatever I could possibly have in the form of Inuit knowledge. My master’s thesis was on the Inuit relationship with the land and I did that back in the 1980s and 1990s. In relation to what was being learned in the school system, as you can imagine, there was absolutely nothing we learned in school about the Inuit relationship to the land. Later on, I did my PhD studies at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where I wanted to study how Inuit gender relations were equal, because we were told by our grandmothers that, as Inuit, we practised gender equality. Again, this is an area where I could not find any sources of information on how Inuit saw themselves as human beings and how they negotiated gender relations. In many ways, my own research was indeed figuring out, as a knowledge holder as well as a person deeply affected by assimilation, how to actually gain access to knowledge from our ancestors, how they organized their own social structures and how they arrived at being equal to one another.
I was very lucky in many ways that the knowledge that I brought to these universities was respected. That is something that I would like to see in the future, that Indigenous knowledge be respected for what it is, not necessarily reinterpreted by the knowledge that has been gathered for many years through the university systems around the world. It was difficult insofar as there was no support to be had, but persistence and an absolute total devotion to the knowledge provided to us besides the school was a thing that I was feeding myself on.
Today, I sit here wanting to recommend that Inuit knowledge is unique, unique knowledge that is used well for people to be able to live in the Arctic and for that to be carried through the systems that we have in place today as we are now going through decolonization in Canada and devolution, as far as the governments are concerned, and the wishes of the ancestry to be independent and show what we can do.
I am concerned. I would very much like to see that this committee look at how Indigenous knowledge is actually promoted through the various systems put in place in Canada, for example, through the Tri-Council agencies, how the competition for funding for Inuit knowledge is in various processes and for that to be given directly to the Inuit organizations living in the Far North. The Tri-Council system is through, basically, scientists that never really lived in the Arctic and have no intentions of living there but are going up there for two to three weeks a year and are oriented towards proving themselves to the theories that were invented in academia and exercised through the field research on the Inuit.
I found that kind of research and knowledge gathering really thrilling at the time when I was growing up, but at the same time, now at this great age of 65, I am realizing that a lot of it was actually guess work. Because that’s what theorizing is, guess work and guessing in a way that — are they doing this way or that way and trying to figure out, many of them on their own, how to make a meaning of it.
At this point, I do have grandchildren growing up in Iqaluit and living their lives as Inuit up there. I would like them to be living a life where they are acknowledged for their own special knowledge as to how to be Inuit and be healthy with that. There are far too many who are not, who never really have the understanding of who they are in relation to the land and never really have been given the chance to be literate in all traditions. That’s what I’m finding, because oral traditions are the ones that are well-grounded on the land, well grounded in the ways of being versus that of the written one that actually is guesswork as far as Inuit knowledge is concerned.
Canada has been a leader in the area of traditional ecological knowledge gathering and done really well as far as the Tri-Councils are concerned that’s being promoted to the other nations that have Indigenous populations, like that of the Maori in New Zealand, and also for the fact there is now an attempt to get together with Scandinavian countries to promote the Canadian ways of doing research with Indigenous populations. We have a lot to offer, but for me, what I would really like to see is that our knowledge system be appreciated and heralded for what it is, namely a unique one, because without that there is no other Inuit anywhere in the world except here in Canada, Alaska, some Russian and in Greenland, and yet the systems put in place today do not exercise that right. To me, that is a serious issue and that is why I came.
The Chair: Thank you very much to all the witnesses.
Senator Bovey: I want to thank all three of you. It has been a very rich and interrelated series of presentations, so I will preface my question with thanks.
Mr. Aporta, I want to thank you for the presentation you also gave to the open caucus a while back when you shared with us the maps of the routes that the Inuit traversed winter and summer and how they did the same whether the ocean was open or frozen. Those images have stayed with me since that day, so I thank you for that.
I want to ask you all about land and culture. Dr. Aporta, you said the land is healing. I will come back to a key question for you after we have had a little discussion on this. Ms. Tagalik, I thank you for your book. I will get a copy of it. It looked very interesting. I see that your first priority in your programs is that everything is grounded in cultural knowledge. Dr. Williamson, you too mentioned the land and Indigenous knowledge and respecting that Indigenous knowledge. I will link the three with my own students’ comments over many years when I have taught Indigenous students and asked them to define the word “culture.” They defined the word “culture” as meaning land, and I think in many ways that ties what you have all said together.
We have talked about holistic approaches. Dr. Aporta, you talked about creativity and boldness and how to start thinking outside the box. We’re nearing the end of our witnesses. We have to write a report soon and deliver that report by the end of this session. I would like to ask each of you, as we link culture, land, history and tradition and holistic approaches: What is it that we should be recommending to the government to take all the work you have done and take it that next step? How do we encourage the government to be creative and bold and think outside the box, represent and understand culture and respect Indigenous knowledge? I’d like each of you to tell us how do we put this in a report? Because I found what you’ve said very compelling.
Ms. Williamson: Thank you. I teach at the University of Saskatchewan in the College of Education, and we do deal with knowledge. What is knowledge and whose knowledge matters? I think it’s a very pertinent question that we need to ask here in Canada. Obviously, Canada as a nation is a state that has been deeply and continues to be very deeply involved in colonial structures. It’s amazing to see how many of the students that I teach never actually have considered the land in Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon.
Senator Bovey: I taught in Manitoba at the University of Winnipeg. I think the thinking about the land was the same.
Ms. Williamson: Yes. It didn’t exist in their imagination or in thinking about the fact that education needs to take that into consideration. In a decolonialized mindset, that’s the input the First Nations, Metis and Inuit can have, the relationship with the land, because without the land we are nothing in reality.
Great scholars like Paulo Freire were one of the first ones to alert us that, as human beings, we need to explain ourselves in relation to nature and the environment, and I think it’s something that needs to be well taken for what it is, because without the land, without the environment, we are absolutely nothing. That would be my first comment.
Ms. Tagalik: The information that I have all comes from elders. What the elders will always say is it’s about relationship. From their point of view, when they talk about relationship, they’re talking about relationship that is so much deeper than our understanding of relationship is. They talk about the land as healing. You can go out on the land and feel the land heal. Recently, we interviewed 40 incarcerated young men and asked them what could have prevented them from getting to this place, and they said if they’d had opportunities to go — I’ll say 38 out of 40 said if they’d had opportunities to go on the land, they wouldn’t end up here. So even though they hadn’t gone on the land themselves, they knew that was a healing experience.
The other thing is that the elders talk about needing to heal the land. You are never supposed to camp in the same place more than two seasons in a row because you had to remove and allow the land to heal. So living in a permanent settlement is deeply difficult for them because they’re living in an unhealthy place, because they’re not allowing the land to heal.
There are things like when you walk on the land, if you see some bones, you should always turn them over because that’s a sign of respect to the animal who died there. That idea of being in relationship requires this deep sense of respect, and so many of the laws and the legislation that we operate under don’t take into account the relationality and the depth of respect that is required.
Working at a community level, for us, the most important thing is to make sure that those values and beliefs that are inherent in the community are the values and beliefs that we use in our programs. That doesn’t happen when the programs are being parachuted into the community from someplace else.
Mr. Aporta: How do you put that into a report? I think one of the main problems I see right now is there is a huge what I call “consultation fatigue” in the community. This means basically different researchers like myself, different departments coming into town, to ask sometimes the same questions over and over. That’s what I also call “fragmentation of governance,” at least in what governance is concerned. So you have a national marine conservation area and you have DFO and Parks Canada and Transport Canada and Coast Guard all coming at different times and asking the same questions. You are talking about small communities. Some of them are 500, 600, 1,000, 1,500 people. This produces consultation fatigue. Again, it is in contrast to what the communities are telling us all the time, that all these problems and issues are actually connected.
In terms of concrete recommendations, I would need to think a little bit more. One way of looking at this is to look at problem-driven discussions, maybe some sort of think tank. I know think tanks are a bit out of fashion now, but think of maybe inviting people who are not the usual suspects — younger and older generations, Inuit and non-Inuit — trying to look at some of these problems in a more holistic and creative way.
The second recommendation is to enhance partnerships between academia, industry, government and communities. It’s really incredible when you go to some of the communities that have seen more in terms of development, such as mining development — think Baker Lake or Kugluktuk. If you go there, you don’t see any significant improvement in terms of housing or infrastructure. All you see is newer trucks, cash flowing into some people’s pockets. You don’t see any concrete improvement, any new buildings or public spaces. Those are incredible problems that people have to deal with today all the time, including housing. I think there are a lot of smart people, and I’m not sure if we’re creating the conditions to have different types of conversations, and very interdisciplinary conversations at that.
Senator Bovey: Thank you very much.
Senator Eaton: Thank you all very much. It leads me to continue the questioning, Dr. Aporta, looking at your wonderful maps.
Do you think it’s a question of politics? Neither government — they pay a lot of lip service. They give a little bit of money, but not nearly as much as they do to some other areas in Canada. Do you think it’s because there are so few people, so few political seats? It’s not southern Ontario, Quebec or B.C. Is that why it gets so little much-needed attention? Do you think that’s right?
Mr. Aporta: I think that’s part of the problem. I think there is a problem of demographics in the Arctic. Even to improve basic infrastructure, you’re looking at a lot of money to invest. Of course, you have, relatively speaking, geographically isolated settlements. You are talking about maybe large investments for a small number of people, for communities that are very small. Of course that is short-sighted, because the Arctic is becoming more and more important; it has enormous geopolitical interest that is only going to increase. So the answer is yes, there are few people, but it’s certainly an oversight.
Senator Eaton: This question could be for all three of you. How can we better empower the Inuit? I know this is a question that comes up at the Senate Finance Committee a lot. When Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Indigenous and Northern Affairs come before us, they say, “We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Indigenous housing or Inuit housing.” We know about the mould factor. We know about the overcrowding in the North. But now with the permafrost, how can we empower people in the North to start creating their own housing codes?
To you, Ms. Tagalik, who is involved in education: I think that in Nunavut, Inuit languages are being taught in the schools again. How can we empower people to take back their culture and say, “All right. In this high school curriculum, we will do so many hours a week on living on the land, or hunting on the land; this many hours a week, whether it’s medicinal or reading or writing your own languages.” How can we empower people? I think it’s all very well for us to sit around a Senate committee room saying, “You need money for this, money for that.” But even if we got you the money, it still has to be people in the North who take the reins and say, “This is what we want. This is the way we’re going to do it.”
Ms. Tagalik: I think in many cases there are systemic barriers. People in the North are not unwilling to take the reins. For years, we have been talking about things we could do to improve housing. For example, there are many people in our community — we’re the second-largest community in Nunavut — who would like to own their own houses. However, it’s very difficult for somebody to build their own house because you don’t own the land that you’re building your house on.
Senator Eaton: Why is that?
Ms. Tagalik: Because it’s Crown land and we lease our land. Because we lease the land, you can’t get a bank loan until you have built the house, and then you can apply for a mortgage.
Senator Eaton: That’s something we should put in our report.
Ms. Tagalik: Absolutely. For young people in our community, you can expect to put your name on the housing list, and seven years later, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a house.
Senator Eaton: Is it built to your standards or to your codes that are appropriate to the weather up there?
Ms. Tagalik: If you’re able to build your own house, we can build it — I built a house last year. You can build it any way you want. You can increase your insulation factor, those kinds of things. In our community, permafrost degradation is one of the areas we’re doing youth monitoring in. We have that information, and we make it available to our community. However, the fact that it’s very difficult to get any funding to do that means that everybody is in subsidized housing because they can’t get through these roadblocks to build their own house.
Similarly, the reason we have been struggling to have a birthing centre is because there are blockages that prevent that from happening. For example, I spoke to the deputy minister about getting enough midwifery positions in our community to open a birthing centre. We had two designated positions. We needed at least four. When I talked about taking $124,000 times two to put the four midwives into our community, he said, “There are no PYs.” But they will spend $2.5 million sending our pregnant women to Winnipeg to have their babies. When I said, “How can we allow that to happen?” he said, “They’re different line items.”
Senator Eaton: Does the political system in Nunavut stop you from trying to make these changes?
Ms. Tagalik: Well, he was the deputy minister. He said the feds pay for the travel and we pay for the PYs. He couldn’t make it happen.
Senator Bovey: Another recommendation.
Senator Eaton: What about education?
Ms. Tagalik: I worked with the curriculum division. We developed a made-in-Nunavut, grounded in Inuit education system. We began to put it into the schools. Then there was a change at the deputy minister level, and now the decision has been made — unilaterally, without any consultation with the communities — that they will use the Alberta education system, which was —
Senator Eaton: Who decided that? Excuse me.
Ms. Tagalik: That was decided by the deputy minister and minister, unilaterally, without consultation.
Senator Eaton: Are they Inuit?
Ms. Tagalik: Yes, they are.
Senator Eaton: I just wanted a clarification.
Do you have anything to add, Ms. Williamson?
Ms. Williamson: In relation to the land and what the Inuit First Nations have done, for example, regarding negotiating nation to nation and giving up the incredible amount of land that Canada has become, what Canada is today as a nation, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and to be so ungenerous to the First Nations, particularly the Inuit in this sense —
Senator Eaton: No, it’s the Inuit we’re interested in here.
Ms. Williamson: Exactly. It doesn’t make any sense to be that unChristian and undemocratic.
Senator Eaton: Hear, hear.
Ms. Williamson: Yes. I could go on. It’s the most ungenerous nation.
Senator Eaton: I think everybody around this table agrees with you.
Ms. Williamson: When the United States acquired Alaska, they paid a certain amount of money. Back then, it was a big amount of money. You can put that to what it is in the form of the payment that needs to be made for the housing alone. A hundred years from now, it will be ridiculous.
With all the conditions that you have listed in your discussion paper here, would Inuit ever have done this negotiation to become part of Canada if they had known that there would be crowded housing? “Yes, become Canada. We’ll give you a crowded house, 25 people in a two-bedroom house, a high school diploma, you name it.”
Senator Eaton: It’s appalling.
Ms. Williamson: It’s the kind of discussion or wording that we need to say for that to get across. It’s just so ungenerous. It’s dispiriting
Senator Eaton: Can I have one last question?
The Chair: Yes you can. Before that, we’ll thank Ms. Tagalik. I understand you have to leave shortly. Thank you very much for being with us here today. Senator Coyle wants to ask you a quick question before you leave.
Senator Coyle: Thank you very much for being here. I do have questions for others, but if you’re leaving I would like to ask you this: You have developed this curriculum. As you are saying, it’s not now being utilized in the school system, which sounds like a serious problem. You have also been involved in youth programs and other community programs to build up the wellness of the local society, which sounds really laudable. I’m curious about whether you have seen any relationship with retention rates in the formal school system and the work that you’ve been doing at the community base. Is there any interplay there between the successes in building up a healthier community with retention rates in the formal school system in Arviat?
Ms. Tagalik: When I was in the school system as a principal, if the attendance rate was less than 86 per cent, I began to panic. Our attendance rates these days are more like 56 to 60 per cent.
Senator Coyle: Graduation rates are what?
Ms. Tagalik: They used to be 25 per cent, and now I think they are up to 35, close to 40 per cent. There has been an improvement in graduation rates, but that doesn’t always take into account how many kids have left the system.
One of the things that we have made a priority at the community level is that, for example, in order to participate in our after-school programs, you have to attend school. Our young hunters program is very popular.
Senator Coyle: It’s an incentive.
Ms. Tagalik: One of the evaluation outcomes from that program is that parents say, “My child wants to go to school now so they can participate in the young hunters program.” We are trying to make that a priority.
With our family support program, we have home visitors who come alongside families whose kids are not attending school. We are trying to intervene with families to find out how we can support them so that they can get kids back to school. When we did a small project in our community asking why they weren’t sending their children to school, the two main factors were that their children were being bullied at school or that they couldn’t get their act together to get them out of the door and into school. We have been trying to work with the school to use Inuit philosophy around inunnguiniq, making a capable human being, to put in place relationship building, to prevent bullying. The schools said they didn’t need us, but we have been working with the families, and the families have been very receptive to the programming that we’re doing. There is a lot of potential there, but this is only one community.
Senator Coyle: Sure. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you for being here.
Ms. Tagalik: Thank you.
Senator Eaton: I was looking at your wonderful maps, doctor, of the trails. They were saying that traditional routes, however, constitute significant places that Inuit are used to travel reliably, reach their destinations, meet other travellers. They constitute sources of food, clothing, fuel and socialization.
We forced them to live in settlements long ago as opposed to being nomadic. Are these trails still being used? Are they still being used to go back to the land? Could we ever have healthy settlements if these trails remained operable?
Mr. Aporta: There have been variations that are maybe associated to the location of the permanent settlements or using different technologies, but most of the trails are still used. As I usually say, every single trail that you see in those maps basically starts at a person’s doorstep. The land is truly connected to everybody’s houses.
Can we have healthy settlements? Yes, but it would need some thinking because those settlements were designed to keep people in the settlements. When you talk not only to hunters but also to anybody in the Inuit communities, they often say, “Well, I feel so well when I’m out in the land.” They complain about the settlements. As an outsider, you’re thinking, well, you’re living in this small settlement in the middle of the land. How can you actually feel that you’re not in the land? There were some flaws in the developing the settlements and in designing houses and buildings that are not really connected to the surroundings.
There is an example of a public building in Clyde River, the cultural school — Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural Learning Centre — that was conceived by a group of architects in Montreal, but in consultation with the community. There are some simple things in that building such as garage doors that actually face the beach so people can actually bring their snowmobiles and their boats. There is a working space where people can skin their animals and work on the floor. There are open spaces. But that’s really an exception. Most public buildings in the Canadian Arctic are basically the same cubicle ideas that we see down south. It would take some thinking and investment to change that perception of the settlement as being separated from the land because the trails are there and people use them all the time.
Senator Eaton: Thank you.
Senator Coyle: Thank you very much. I really appreciated your presentations. I have a question for each of the two remaining witnesses.
Dr. Williamson, you’re from Greenland, you have told us. One of the things that we have not talked about very much on this committee, but it’s behind much of what we’re talking about, is this concept of reconciliation. Has there been any kind of experience with reconciliation in Greenland? If so, is there something we could learn about that in terms of the reconciliation between the government there and the Inuit population?
Ms. Williamson: Thank you. Actually, there was a very good report done by Marianne Stenbaek at the University of McGill on the Canadian experience of the reconciliation. She’s still at it. She is still reporting to the Greenland radio, the national radio, Greenland broadcasting system there.
In fact, because of that, Greenland did set up a reconciliation for Greenland. I was part of it as being a member with distinction. What happened was that as a Greenland self-governing institution there decided that they were going to have reconciliation, Danes put their hands up and said, “We did nothing wrong, sorry. If you’re going to have reconciliation, you are going to have to do it on your own.” So Danes excused themselves from that whole history of colonization. They have nothing to do with it. They have done nothing wrong. That was the message that we got.
So Greenland took that task of looking at the reconciliation in the form of what did we do as a Greenland Indigenous population to aid the colonization? That was very much like what happened. What did we do in return to aid the colonization happening? It was very interesting that way. We finished the report a year and a half ago and gave it to the Government of Greenland. Unfortunately, nothing has happened yet. For that, there were a number of recommendations that we made, and as far as I can see, nothing has happened yet in the form of actual apology.
We did recommend that people who were moved forcefully from small outpost camps like mine, that they receive an apology from the Greenland, because Greenland government as an advisory committee to the Danish government consented to these closures of these little towns, little outpost camps. I haven’t seen anything like that.
Second, we recommended that apology be given to the Greenlandic children who were sent to Denmark as sort of experimental group, and sent back to Greenland, and not being allowed to see the family members, talking to them, nothing, but staying in institutions. Again, nothing has happened.
But having said that, I also sit on the commission that is looking at establishing the constitutional role for Greenland. That’s a step beyond provincial type of governance for Greenland to consider to sever the colonial ties with Denmark in the future.
Senator Coyle: Thank you very much.
I know this is not a small question for you, Dr. Aporta. You didn’t leave us with any small things to be considered either in your report. A lot of what I see you talking about here really is this making sure that the Inuit people are in the driver’s seat, right? You talk about facilitating the community’s agency and empowerment, and you talk about empowering Inuit organizations, and I believe you have been strengthening their capacity to carry out what they are currently doing better and take on more. Could you talk a bit about the how? “What” can sometimes be easier to say than the “how” to go about that.
Mr. Aporta: This is I think connected to the previous question about how to empower communities. I teach at Dalhousie. I teach a course called Community-Based Co-Management. In my first class, I tell my students that if you really want to engage communities, you have to involve them from the beginning. You can’t come up to a community with some sort of solution, even with the definition of the problem, because the problem might be different for a researcher than for a government official or for the community. So engaging the community means to engage them also in defining what the problems are and how they connect to each other. So that would be one way of looking at it.
A second way, also kind of connecting to my point of whole-of-government approach, is to connect the initiatives, investments and policies that are going to be filled in the Arctic, in these small communities, and make them part of an overarching government’s approach.
Senator Coyle: Better integration of those?
Mr. Aporta: Absolutely, better integration.
The last point is maybe concerned with the location dimension that was discussed before, not only in terms of improving the curricula in schools but also in creating opportunities for maybe short-term professional development programs that could be done in partnerships with the universities, for instance, because empowerment in terms of dealing with governments and dealing with legal and management issues sometimes refers to learning how to use some tools and some skills that might be important for people to have. Otherwise, you end up dependent on consultants, people from the outside and so on. Maybe partnerships with the universities in the very prevalent-driven, focused programs that could be even co-designed with people in the North.
Senator Coyle: Equip the community so they are less dependent and can then not just drive their own futures but actually be in a position to carry that out on their own?
Mr. Aporta: Certainly.
I also mentioned the Inuit organizations before simply because sometimes the communities are so small. So you can’t have so many people and give them so many things, right? You can’t have experts in everything in a 500-person community.
Senator Coyle: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you both.
Just to wrap up with a quick question from me, Dr. Williamson, you threw out an exciting idea about encouraging and supporting Inuit Quajimajatuqangit traditional knowledge by changing the way research grants are allocated, the tri-council. We have seen recently that the current government has allocated money in its budgeting for what they call Aboriginal-specific or Inuit-specific funding in the last two budgets. Dr. Aporta, maybe I’ll ask you first. You would be familiar with these granting councils. Have you had difficulty getting funds for your work gathering traditional knowledge, and should we look at a way of revamping our research granting in Canada? Would you agree with Dr. Williamson on that?
Mr. Aporta: Yes, I have obtained funding, of course, from the granting agencies, but I do think that sometimes we overcomplicate things. The grants and the applications are often too complex and too geared towards academic questions and so on, and I think that sometimes the needs from the communities are simpler than that. They need very concrete things to be solved. For instance, it has been relatively easy to find funding for my mapping project, but not necessarily from the granting agencies, because if you just said that you want to document traditional knowledge, then you have to come up with all sorts of justification and again overcomplicate it. Some of the initiatives also involve large partnerships across academia and industry and so on. The partnerships become bureaucratic issues. You have to spend most of your time dealing with granting, reporting or communicating instead of maybe smaller project-driven, even seed projects, that would actually allow people to come up with focused and innovative solutions. I think there is a need for revisiting the granting scheme in Canada.
The Chair: Thank you. I think Senator Bovey has a quick supplementary question.
Senator Bovey: I have a quick follow-up question on granting agencies, if I may. I hear what you’re saying and don’t disagree with you at all. In fact, for much of my work, I have found the funds not from the traditional granting agencies but from other sources. That said, one of my concerns when we were travelling north — and I’m going back to my own field of the arts — was the very real difficulty for artists living in the Arctic is that, even if they wanted to write it in the art-speak of granting agencies, even technologically getting the information down to the granting agency poses a problem. We talked to several granting agencies, and it seems some are now willing to work with staff and the granting agency and do more verbal, non-written grant applications. Have you had any discussions with any granting agencies about other ways for those from the North, especially Inuit and other First Nations, trying to work differently with granting agencies for their work?
Mr. Aporta: I myself haven’t had any experience discussing those issues with the granting agencies.
Ms. Williamson: I have never had funding from SSHRC, ever; I never have, even though I have been applying. But my ideas that are well grounded in the Indigenous knowledge have never really been appreciated, except that 10 years later, they will be inviting me to speak on some policy making.
Senator Bovey: Or be part of a jury on other people’s grant applications.
Ms. Williamson: Exactly.
Senator Bovey: I rest my case.
Ms. Williamson: I’m very enthusiastic about the new program being developed in the area of Indigenous research for its own sake. As I was saying, there is no other knowledge on Inuit, living in the Arctic. You can’t find it in Australia, and you cannot find it in New Zealand or in Europe. This is the only place. Canada has a very unique opportunity to actually do that and show the rest of the world. After all, we are part of the United Nations. That would be the first of its kind.
The Chair: In that connection, colleagues, I am pleased to tell you we are having representatives from the tri-granting agencies appearing before the committee this week, so we will have good questions for them.
With that, I would like to thank you both very much for your helpful presentations and being with us here today.
I’m pleased to welcome, for our fourth panel this afternoon, from the Fisheries Joint Management Committee, Gerald Inglangasuk, Inuvialuit Member; and Mr. Burton Ayles, Canada Member; and Madam Valérie Courtois, Director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative. We’re expecting the Fisheries Joint Management Committee to begin with their opening remarks followed by Ms. Courtois. I understand, Mr. Inglangasuk and Mr. Ayles, you’re going to team tag on this. Please begin. We’ll save the questions until after you’re done.
Gerald Inglangasuk, Inuvialuit Member, Fisheries Joint Management Committee: Chair, deputy chair, and Senate committee members, especially Senator Anderson, newly elected from my hometown, my name is Gerald Inglangasuk. I’m a hunter and a fisher and Inuvialuit member of the Canada Inuvialuit Fisheries Joint Management Committee. We call it FJMC to shorten it right up. This is my colleague Dr. Burton Ayles, who was the government research scientist and a senior regional manager and is now a Canada member of the FJMC. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you today. We have provided a written submission and are prepared to answer questions or elaborate on our presentation at a later date if you wish.
On April 23 of last year, you heard from Mr. Bob Simpson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. In his presentation, he gave an overview of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the Inuvialuit Settlement Agreement in the Western Arctic, including the institutes that were established by the IFA. I will not repeat what Mr. Simpson discussed except to note that my committee, the FJMC, was established by the IFA, which is my Bible. The FJMC was established by IFA and, with our partners the Inuvialuit Game Council and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, we have the responsibility for co-managing of fisheries and marine mammals in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Western Arctic.
Burton Ayles, Canada Member, Fisheries Joint Management Committee: In this presentation we are going to briefly discuss co-management of natural resources in the Arctic. I think you all have our deck. We’ll summarize some of the things, but that’s what we’re speaking to. We are going to identify some initiatives in the ISR, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, we say that speak directly to the themes of your discussion paper, particularly the themes of the strong Arctic communities, Arctic science and Indigenous knowledge, protecting the environment and Arctic biodiversity and the Arctic in a global context. We are then going to conclude with some recommendations for the committee.
First of all, about co-management, in the Canadian Arctic, the social systems and institutions are being defined by the comprehensive land settlement agreements, or treaties, between the peoples of the Arctic and the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories. Co-management of renewable resources is one of those institutions that has been established in each of the treaty areas, and the FJMC is, as we said, for the Western Arctic. Two members to the FJMC are appointed by Canada and two members are appointed by the Inuvialuit.
As do most of the co-management agencies, we have operational, decision-making and recommending and advising roles with respect to fisheries. That means in some of the areas in the rest of the country where the Minister of Fisheries makes the decision, in the Western Arctic and in other parts of the Arctic, we make the decisions. Those decisions cannot be overturned by the Minister of Fisheries or any of the Fisheries bureaucrats. While the specific details differ between the different regions for each co-management institution in the Arctic, it’s about the sharing of power and responsibility between governments and local resource users. Somebody raised the question, and internationally Canada is seen as the leader in co-management initiatives that share power and responsibilities.
Important for your policy framework is that the co-management bodies are the boundary or bridging organization. We exist at the boundary of two worlds, the government and the Indigenous communities, and we facilitate the collaboration between them. Specifically, co-managers have responsibilities in both worlds. We have members that are appointed by government and members appointed by the Aboriginal people. We are accountable to both the government and to the Aboriginal people. We work with both scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge. Our established practices and procedures bridge the gap between the two different worlds. Depending on the issue, we bring together community members, resource users, scientists and biologists, government managers, industry, non-government agencies and others to discuss common issues.
Now, the co-management bodies, we believe, should be a key part of Canada’s Arctic Policy framework, particularly with the themes of strong Arctic people and communities, Arctic science and Indigenous knowledge, protecting the environment and diversity and the Arctic in a global context.
The role of the FJMC and, by extension, other co-management bodies as bridging organizations can probably best be understood by the use of examples. The following are some specific examples that may be of interest to the Senate committee on the Arctic.
Mr. Inglangasuk: Strong Arctic people and communities: In 2018, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway was completed, and for the first time the Canadian Arctic Ocean was accessible by highway. Canada is now truly sea to sea to sea. The new highway also opened up a number of previously unfished lakes and streams to Inuvialuit fishers and sports fishers from elsewhere in North America.
The FJMC and Inuvialuit recognized the potential impacts of overfishing and the highway blockage to the fish migration and raised the issue repeatedly with federal and territorial governments, with little response.
Concerned that the stock could be destroyed without protection, the FJMC, working with the community hunters and trappers committees from Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and with NGO Oceans North developed the Imaryuk Monitoring Program. The IMP was established as a community-fishing plan as a vital step in the long-term management of the fisheries resources, which are critical sources of food for the communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
The 2019 program will continue the education aspects and focus on enhancement of the information collection and sample activities to facilitate the management of the resources. It has strengthened the HTC and given more power and responsibility.
I have a fish hook for Dennis, and it has the Imaryuk logo on it. This is an example of co-management that would apply across the Arctic as a community-based environmental guardian program. There are successful programs in other parts of the country, e.g, Haida Gwaii, and a new federal Arctic policy should recognize opportunities for the North.
Mr. Ayles: I should mention that we had trouble getting this through the Senate security. They didn’t recognize such a large thing as being a fish hook. They couldn’t imagine here in Ottawa that fish would be that big, but we did get it. Thank you very much to the clerk. Senators can fight over who gets to keep it.
Arctic science and Indigenous knowledge: The FJMC and other co-management bodies bring TEK and science together for a continuum or spectrum of fisheries and environmental management decision-making, not just creating knowledge but actually using the knowledge. How we use it what we think is important. In fisheries, decision-making ranges from simple permitting and licensing of fisheries or environmental issues all the way through to things like guidelines, environmental assessments, regional environmental assessments, all the way to changed world views, and what we’re doing here is taking Gerald’s traditional knowledge and bringing it to the Senate to help change the world view. So TEK is not just collecting facts or things; it’s how we use that that’s important.
We will give an example. In 2016, DFO, the FJMC and the Inuvialuit Game Council organized a beluga summit, a three-day conference in Inuvik bringing together 80 participants from government, academia and the six ISR communities for the co-production of TEK and scientific knowledge to support the sustainability of the Beaufort Sea beluga whales. The people of the western Arctic are called the “people of the beluga,” it was so important for their culture. The results of the conference have been presented by community members, FJMC members, DFO and academic scientists at numerous conferences and in many publications. Most recently was ArcticNet in December right here in Ottawa. Gerry gave a talk along with some of the scientists who were involved in the program. The results will help inform a management plan for to Beaufort Sea belugas.
Although co-management bodies do bring science and indigenous knowledge together in specific instances like this, there is no comprehensive national approach to incorporate TEK into decision-making, and we think this needs to be addressed in the framework if at all possible. We’ve given you a very bureaucratic-looking model. We can discuss that later. I’m not going to try to do that now.
Mr. Inglangasuk: Protecting the environment and preserving Arctic biodiversity: There are two marine protected areas in the Western Canada Arctic. The FJMC is working with DFO and the Inuvialuit Game Council and IRC and four Inuvialuit communities to establish Tarium Niryutait, TNMPA, and Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam, ANMPA. The TNMPA is in Tuk, in the delta region, and the ANMPA is in Cape Parry in the Beaufort Sea. With DFO, Oceans and four Inuvialuit communities, the FJMC is now working on the MPA, management plan, and the science and TEK environmental indicators to ensure sustainability of these protected areas.
With DFO, Parks Canada and the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board, the FJMC led the development of an integrated management plan for the Dolly Varden char of the Yukon North Slope. The northern form is only found in five river systems in Canada and is listed as a species of concern under the Species at Risk Act. The plan established how these unique stocks will be managed and preserved. The FJMC is responsible for implementing this plan in the ISR with DFO, Parks Canada and the community of Aklavik.
These are two different initiatives, but they demonstrate how co-management can help protect the Arctic environment.
Mr. Ayles: I like it when Gerry tries to say TNMPA and ANMPA because he’s just a little bit better than I am. I always just say NMPA, and TMPA I won’t even try.
Global Arctic is the final theme we want to talk about a little bit. The FJMC participates in global Arctic initiatives that have a potential impact on fish and marine mammal resources of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. We’re observers at international organizations and we participate in some.
The FJMC, specifically for the Beaufort Sea, led the DFO, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Inuvialuit Game Council in the development of an integrated fisheries management framework for the Beaufort Sea fisheries. This framework established an agreed-upon set of guidelines and processes for any commercial fisheries in the Beaufort. The framework will protect the Beaufort Sea resources and the Inuvialuit way of life.
This framework also supports Canada’s stewardship role on Arctic fisheries development, as was spelled out in the October 2018 agreement to prevent unregulated high sea fisheries in the central Arctic. Canada made a commitment there to Aboriginal input into any Arctic decision-making, and this is a really good example that supports Canada’s initiative.
There are only 60,000 Inuit in Canada, and somebody mentioned earlier the small population and why do you not get attention. But these 60,000 people can have an outsized influence on world events, especially as they relate to climate change and the Arctic. The framework needs to recognize this.
Just to show you the influence, I was the regional director general for the central Arctic region twenty years ago, and in all my career with DFO, I only met with the Minister of Fisheries once, and I was the senior person for the Arctic. It was nothing to do with the Arctic in particular; it was just the bureaucracy. Once I met with Brian Tobin, and you can imagine how much attention he paid to me.
As a Canada member for the FJMC and with Gerry, I have met with every Fisheries Minister in the last 15 years. The most recent meeting was in December. We talked to the minister; sometimes the deputy minister waits outside and waits to hear what it was. We tell them what the problems are. We get feedback — usually we don’t have problems — and then we go to the community. In June, we’re going to the Hamlet of Sachs Harbour. There are 100 people in Sachs Harbour, and we can go there and say, “We talked to the minister and we told him about your problems.” That’s what co-management does. It’s the bridge from a community of 100 people directly to the minister. And the 60,000 Inuit people are also a bridge from the Arctic to the rest of the world for Canada, and we want you to recognize that in that agreement in your framework.
Mr. Inglangasuk: Because the IFA states it.
The four regions of Inuit Nunangat — the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut — encompass 35 per cent of Canada’s land mass, and 50 per cent of its coastline.
Also, the IFA mentioned don’t forget the First Nation people. Our IFA states that we have to work with the First Nation people.
Our culture is strong and resilient, and the people harvest country food such as Arctic char, seals, beluga whales, caribou, muskox and other country foods to feed their families and communities. We are on the land. We see what’s happening. We see what has been occurring in the Arctic, and we are concerned about the future.
This proposed Arctic policy framework is going to be important, and there are many opportunities to enhance Canada’s resilience to these coming changes. We offer these three specific recommendations:
One, co-management bodies are the bridge between Arctic peoples and the government, as well as the rest of Canada. The strength of these already established and well-functioning institutes needs to be reflected in the policy framework. We are positioned to be key developers of the new policy and programs.
Two, co-management has been primarily focused on resource management and protection. From our experience of co-management bodies established under the land settlement agreement, it is our belief that collaboration governance, such as co-management, should be a strong focus for all the six themes under discussion.
Three, the policy must be supported by new resources. An Arctic policy framework is of no use if it is not supported by resources. New policies and programs must be well funded if we are to have any impact.
I just came from Bethel, Alaska, on food sovereignty, and they really praise Canada on how the co-management system works.
You have a slide, No. 10, and thank you for this opportunity to speak.
The Chair: Thank you both very much. We will hold the questions until we hear from Ms. Courtois.
Valérie Courtois, Director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative: Thank you very much, dear colleagues.
[Editor’s Note: Ms. Courtois spoke in her Indigenous language.]
I was just introducing myself in my own language. It is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, so I just make sure that, when I open, I do that.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are on Algonquin territory as we speak. It’s a genuine honour to be here today and to have been invited to speak to this committee on Indigenous people’s knowledge, expertise, leadership and conservation.
My homelands in Labrador are often considered to be part of the Arctic region, but I want to be clear that my expertise rests in the boreal forest region and I’m a forester by trade.
Like the Arctic, the boreal is a globally significant ecosystem. It’s the largest intact forest left on the planet. It contains a quarter of the world’s wetlands, and it offers the last refuge for animals like caribou that have lost most of their ranges elsewhere. Yet, like the Arctic, it is also being altered by climate change and development pressures.
To ensure a sustainable future for these regions, we must turn to the knowledge systems that emerged thousands of years ago. Indigenous peoples have been the stewards of the boreal and the Arctic region for millennia. We know and are learning more every day about our awesome history through all of those centuries. It is a history of strong and diverse Indigenous nations and flourishing cultures from coast to coast to coast. And it’s about traditions, practices and wisdom to survive, to grow and the exercise of sacred responsibilities to protect Mother Earth and all the animals, fish and winged ones that share her with us. It’s also about our enormous contributions to the world as well; our songs, drums, systems of governance, art and our languages have greatly enriched civilizations and continue to do so.
Our people know the mountains, the plains, the seas, the great rivers and the valleys and trails. We know the ice, snow, fire and the air we breathe. We are a place-based people and of the land, connected to all its things. It is our essence. It looks after us, and in turn it is our sacred duty to protect it.
A look around the globe confirms the strength of Indigenous conservation. The traditional territories of Indigenous peoples hold 80 per cent of the planet’s remaining biodiversity — 80 per cent of the world’s remaining biodiversity are located on Indigenous lands. From medicinal plants in the Amazon to the 5 billion birds that take to the air from the boreal each fall, Indigenous knowledge systems safeguard an abundance of animals, plants, clean waters, clean air, the natural systems that we all depend upon.
Here in this country, Indigenous peoples are asserting their stewardship responsibilities to land through guardianship. It is a movement growing directly from the land, from the elders, from the youth and from a new crop of women leaders, all calling for Indigenous leadership on this land. We see it in the more than 20 Indigenous Guardians Programs now managing traditional territories. I was pleased to hear the evolution of the program here in the Inuvialuit region. We met a few years ago to share experiences with ours. We see it also in the incredible response through the available funding through the Canada Nature Fund to support proposed Indigenous protected and conserved areas that will sustain hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of healthy lands and waters.
Our nations are honouring their cultural responsibilities to care for the land, and in the process we are strengthening our communities and expressing our own nationhood. We are also helping Canada meet its commitment to protect at least 17 per cent of lands and fresh waters by 2020 — an international commitment to help stem the loss of animal and plant species around the globe. Should those targets be revisited, as we expect, in the future international agreements, Indigenous peoples are poised to contribute to that new target.
The movement of Indigenous guardianship is about a brighter and a more sustainable future — our collective future. We all rely on the land for our survival. It is in our shared interest to ensure those lands remain healthy and vibrant. By working together, forging partnerships and honouring stewardship responsibilities, Canada and Indigenous nations within what is now Canada can create that future. In fact, the work is already under way.
Today I would like to discuss three elements of Indigenous-led conservation with you; land-use planning, protected areas and guardians.
Many Indigenous governments are embracing land-use planning as a tool for determining the future of their territories within a context of cultural responsibility. Through extensive community meetings, interviews and data analysis, communities identify which lands they want to protect and which land would be open for development and exploration. Along the Mackenzie River, the Sahtu, Dene and Metis designed a land-use plan that honours cultural traditions, elders’ knowledge and Indigenous and western science. More than 700 people from Sahtu communities, government, industry and non-government organizations participated in the process. When it was finalized in 2013, the communities proposed protecting an area known as the Ramparts as well as several other areas. I would not presume to pronounce the Dene word. I wish I could.
Indigenous land-use plans also provide welcome clarity. Companies interested in investing in projects know where development can proceed, and Crown governments can identify opportunities for collaboration.
Indigenous land-use planning also often inspires the creation of Indigenous protected areas. These are places designated by the Indigenous governments for conservation based on ecological and cultural values. They reflect Indigenous law and tradition, and they ensure Indigenous peoples can maintain their relationship with the land. Indigenous protected areas are created in collaboration with Crown governments, but Indigenous governments must play the primary role in identifying and managing the lands. I like to say they hold the pen on the lands and they decide what happens within those boundaries.
Last July, for instance, the Dehcho First Nations passed Dene law to create the Edéhzhie Protected Area — a sweeping stretch of boreal forest, head-water lakes and caribou grounds west of Yellowknife. Then in October, the same Dehcho leaders held a signing ceremony with Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna to designate it as a joint Dehcho Protected Area, a national wildlife area. The new protected area will be managed through a partnership between the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Dehcho K’ehodi Indigenous Guardians program. As Dehcho elder Jonas Antoine said, Edéhzhie “will be a gift for the future.”
The Dene are not alone. I have visited nations and communities across the country, from Déline to Misipawistik to Eeyou Istchee, to my own home nation Nitissinan. They are using cultural protocols, Indigenous laws and innovative tools to conserve those lands.
Many of us are also looking to Indigenous Guardians to manage those lands. Indigenous Guardians serve as the moccasins and mukluks or the eyes and ears on the ground. They are skilled in traditional knowledge and cultural protocols, and they are trained in western science. Drawing on this expertise, Guardians manage protected areas, they test water quality and they monitor development projects. It’s good for the land and good for the people.
We have been inspired by the experience in Australia where they invested over $840 million Australian in similar Indigenous Ranger programs, also known as the Working on Country program. A study commissioned by the department of the Prime Minister and cabinet found that for each $1 invested in integrated Indigenous protected area and Rangers programs, there is $3 generated in social, economic and cultural benefits. Those translate into things like reduced income support, health spending and justice costs.
We see the same returns on investment in Canada with over 40 existing programs here. We commend the initial pilot investment by the Government of Canada in Budget 2017, but significant and sustained funding is needed for Guardians to reach their full potential and for meaningful reconciliation at all scales relating to lands and waters in Canada.
The benefits of Indigenous-led conservation are clear: reconnecting with culture, healing from trauma, and feeling pride in identity. All of it is rooted in the land. Guardians help foster those connections. Imagine how healthy our land and communities will become if hundreds of Guardians programs were existing right across this country.
Now is a pivotal time. We vow to double our protected lands by 2020, and many Indigenous nations have proposed new protected areas. In fact, Friday was the deadline for the submission to the Canada Nature Fund, so many of our partners were busily typing right up until midnight on Friday to submit and propose their solutions to achieving this 17 per cent.
Our country has a special responsibility to act. Canada is one of five nations that hold the remaining 70 per cent of intact lands on this planet. We still have vibrant lands, clean waters, and on a scale that is rarely seen today in other parts of the globe — places like the boreal and the Arctic.
Our prime minister has said there is “no relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples.” Our collective future depends on the depth and breadth of that relationship between us and each other as peoples, and as importantly, our future relationship with our land and waters. By working together, Canada and Indigenous nations can sustain these important lands for future generations. We can offer a model for the world of conservation rooted in respect, responsibility and reconciliation, and we can all take a sustainable route to our shared future.
The Chair: Thank you very much, all of you. Would you be able to refer the study commissioned by the Australian prime minister to the clerk of the committee, please?
Ms. Courtois: Gladly. I will also offer a similar study we conducted in the Northwest Territories that has a Canadian context. We applied the same methodology. I’ll send that to the clerk, gladly.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We’ll open with questions from our deputy chair, Senator Bovey.
Senator Bovey: This has been a very inspiring panel, and an inspiring afternoon. I think, Mr. Chair, our theme this afternoon seems to be culture and the land and place-based ideas and knowledge from and of the land. I want to thank you all.
I found the conversation about co-management particularly encouraging, if I may. I’m really pleased to hear of the results you have had with the work you have done, and I want to thank you for the three recommendations you have made. I have to agree that new policies must be supported by new resources. You can’t change how you do what you do without the resources with it.
You used the phrase that you, in the co-management work that you have done, are really global leaders. You talked about how the way you have worked should be carried right across the country with all Indigenous communities. I’m going to ask you if you can dig a little deeper on that for us so that we can come up with how we might tie some of the threads we have heard today together with the co-management. I think you have picked it up with the work you have done, Ms. Courtois. I was intrigued to hear about the work, from your perspective, of what the guardians have done and your work across the country and, again, the funding needed there.
I think it’s important when we do any forward planning that we understand our non-negotiables. It’s much easier to plan ahead if you know what is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. I’m going to ask you to wrap your comments in that frame. In terms of the pristine lands and waters that we have and the depth of culture and understanding of the land, how do we wrap that into the essence of where we want to be five, 10, 15, 100 or 150 years ahead?
Mr. Inglangasuk: Land will be the same in 100 years as today.
Senator Bovey: Bravo.
Mr. Inglangasuk: This year’s Imaryuk Monitoring Program has no power, but it goes to our fishing plan. We have three Inuvialuit from Tuktoyaktuk, and they patrol the highway. They don’t stop, and people talk to them. They just show our fishing plan. But the presence is there. We always laugh at this when we find a caribou with a rifle beside it. Because of the presence, the poacher took off. I find it’s really working. Before, they said there were only eight fish-bearing creeks in there, but now we found 30. We found some culverts are not working. They have to be fixed. Due to the permafrost, they are dropping and sticking out that way. It’s actually killing fish and stopping their migration.
The Beluga Summit got so much Indigenous knowledge with science that Alaska keeps talking about it. They’re talking about doing the same thing. I find when you work together, you solve problems a lot easier than just arguing all the time and not getting anywhere.
The love of my land is what pushes me. I want to see it stay the same for my generations to come.
Senator Bovey: Thank you.
Mr. Ayles: There are several bureaucratic things that are important for co-management to work and for collaborative governance to work. One of those is resources and the others are time and trust. Trust and time go together because it means people working together for a long time.
The Inuvialuit program that Gerry is talking about is a self-enforcement program. It works because the Inuvialuit have enough confidence in the IFA that they accept that it’s their responsibility to manage the resource. They don’t say, “Well, that’s a government problem and I’ll go fish.”
Ultimately, it was the legislation. It was the treaty between Canada and the Inuvialuit that created the institutions and has created the time and the trust and the money that have led to that. That’s the same across the Arctic. There are land settlement agreements or trust that has come from that, and that’s what I think we need to build on.
There is no one magic thing. It depends on the personalities of the individuals too, in a lot of cases, with people really engaged. The Inuvialuit agreement stems from some Inuvialuit leaders who were really engaged and really believed in the process, and the agreement reflects their concern about the resource. One of the main goals is to protect the resource, so that influences everything that we do.
Ms. Courtois: The only non-negotiable thing for me is natural law, which is what all our actions are based upon. Clearly, it’s no longer on to have a centralized government in the South deciding what should happen to our lands in the North, nor has that really worked. We have had multiple attempts of governments doing that.
In my home area of Labrador, which is 300,000 square kilometres in size, there is one officer who is charged with enforcement of fisheries acts and environmental and water acts and who is based in Goose Bay. He doesn’t have a travel budget so he has to stay on the base there in Goose Bay. We have, on average, between 20 and 32 guardians on the land. That is 32 extra sets of eyes that can apply those laws and can see things, and not only that, but fix them so that they really apply to a context that is local and appropriate.
It was just like in 1992 when the Fishery Guardian Program was created by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. That was originally the department saying, “Hey, we want to hire Innu guardians, so come and work for us,” and the Innu said, “We don’t really like you guys. You guys have stolen our food. But we do want to deal with you. We want to understand each other, but we have to do that from a footing that respects who we are as a nation.” What led to the creation of the guardians program was that kind of idea of respect in governance.
The final non-negotiable is that we have to recognize that we have different world views and different knowledge systems. When we speak in rooms like this, it predisposes us to a western world view and a western-based conversation that sometimes makes it a little bit difficult to have this idea of integration of knowledge. I’m a planner by trade, so I have had that issue of how to translate something that says, “This is where the caribou master’s house is,” from a spiritual point of view, into a plan that then works from a western framework. It’s worth the effort to try to figure that out on how we can respect each other’s knowledge systems. That’s off the top of my head.
Senator Bovey: That’s all very encouraging, and for me very inspirational, as long as we remember the three issues of money, time and trust. Thank you.
Senator Eaton: Money, time and trust, yes, which makes my question difficult. We have heard so much about there being fewer caribou and difficulty with calving grounds. Being a forester, do you know anything about the caribou? Are the caribou in Alaska in better shape than they are in the Yukon or Nunavut, for instance? Are they doing things differently, or is their climate different? Is it because the caribou are running out of things to eat? What is the problem?
Ms. Courtois: I am also a facilitator for the UPCART process, which is the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table, which gathers six, sometimes seven, nations that depend on the George River herd, which was once the largest herd of caribou, of any ungulates in the world, in fact. It was nearly at a million animals in 1993.
Senator Eaton: What was their range?
Ms. Courtois: That’s Quebec and Labrador. From the Atlantic Ocean right through to Hudson Bay and James Bay. That’s their normal range. That herd was at almost a million in 1993 — 800,000, give or take — and the latest census two years ago has it at 5,500 animals. My people are caribou people. I grew up on caribou. I haven’t eaten my own caribou in four years. That’s unheard of in our nation.
Senator Eaton: What were the causes? I’m not saying overhunting by the Inuit. I’m saying overhunting by tourists?
Ms. Courtois: When I went to forestry school, one of the first things I was told is forestry is half art, half science. Caribou management is more than half art, less than half science. Our science is very young, relatively speaking, on caribou, compared to Indigenous knowledge systems. What we’re finding is that while we know the caribou are cyclical, like lynx or rabbit, the cycle is very long. The Western science data and the information we have doesn’t cover the entirety of a cycle. The oldest collars installed in Canada on caribou were installed in Labrador in 1983 to track packs of low-level flying. We have only got less than 40 years.
Senator Eaton: How long does a caribou live?
Ms. Courtois: Depending on the nature of your life, a caribou can live between 17 and 18 years, but it’s just not enough to really recognize that population cycle.
It’s a combination of eating yourself out of house and home, as you’re big, to predator management and changes to definite impacts of climate change. I have a camp on the George River in what is now known as the Nunavik region, and we have had to delay our presence there by over a month in the last 10 years because of the nature of the changes on the ground in order to time our arrival with the arrival of the caribou. That’s how much it has changed in 10 years.
Senator Eaton: Do you have anything in common with the western caribou?
Ms. Courtois: Yes. We are exchanging strategies. In the West, there are herds that are much more stable naturally than the George River herd. The Porcupine herd is one of those herds that has less of an amplitude of change over time. The George River herd is known to have the most extreme amplitude of change. There is less of a change, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less urgent in the West than it is for us.
Senator Eaton: No, I’m not saying there is. I was wondering if it was happening in other areas of the country as well.
Ms. Courtois: Around the globe, including in Scandinavia, declines of caribou are being seen everywhere.
Senator Eaton: Thank you.
Mr. Inglangasuk: I hunt Porcupine, Bluenose and Cape Bathurst. When I was a kid, there was only one herd on the Tuk side. It was called Bluenose. Now there are three or four. Porcupine is doing good. They say Bluenose is not doing too good.
Senator Eaton: You just said there are more of them.
Mr. Inglangasuk: There is more in Porcupine. They are a healthy herd. But the ones on the Tuk side, I went hunting with my son, not for caribou, for goose hunting, on Richardson Island, and we were watching two grizzlies on the hill chasing down fawns, and just travelling around we see lots of fawns. I think it is a lot to do with predators. Because of warm weather, predators are getting more and more.
Senator Eaton: Grizzlies were not in your area before?
Mr. Inglangasuk: Yes, they were in our area but not too much. They had a coat on them because they were down. But now they are coming to the garbage all the time. It used to be black bears in the Inuvik garbage. Now there are straight grizzlies.
Senator Eaton: And caribou are not an aggressive animal, are they?
Mr. Inglangasuk: They just run away.
Senator Eaton: Thank you.
Senator Anderson: Thank you for your information. One of your recommendations is that the policy must be supported by new resources. Could you elaborate on what you mean by “new resources”?
Mr. Inglangasuk: For example, with the Imaryuk Monitoring Program, we had to go to an NGO for funding. We’re still dealing with funding. We have no DFO enforcement. The closest enforcement is in Yellowknife. They come up every two or three weeks, but right now, you know as well as I do it’s fishing season. They should be up there during fishing season because you can catch a lot of fish now with that highway, and people there to control the hunting. There is just nobody there. Anybody could hunt or fish.
Mr. Ayles: When the Inuvialuit signed their agreement with the federal government back in 1984, the government had a certain set of priorities and programs, and the government said, “We’re going to do this, and we’re going to give you money for your responsibilities that are spelled out here,” and they have continued to do that over the years. The funding has been renewed, and it has been increased at roughly the cost of inflation.
But the government has also added new programs in the last 30 years. When the Inuvialuit signed their agreement in 1984, there was no Oceans Program for Canada. DFO was not the coordinator of the oceans; they managed fisheries. So this agreement just speaks to fish. The oceans component started at the end of the last century, and DFO got a big program that they ran. They ran quite high levels of resources, and now it’s quite a bit lower. The FJMC by default became the oceans program for the Inuvialuit because there wasn’t anybody else. The FJMC did get some funding through the department for the marine protected areas that Gerald talked about — two of them — but they didn’t have any more core funding to give to the co-managers that now have that responsibility.
Similarly, DFO, as part of its readjustment of programs, has ended almost all freshwater programs in the country. They focus mostly on the marine systems. They used to have a fairly significant freshwater program in Winnipeg at the Freshwater Institute. That’s gone. When I was there, that was part of the program. There is no capacity in DFO for freshwater science. If we have an issue on freshwater, there is nobody for us to go to to ask about how we handle this issue and what we should do.
Similarly, with the contaminants, the DFO used to have a fairly large environmental contaminants program for fish across the country. They have ended that program. The people in the Arctic are still concerned about contaminants in their fish and marine mammals. We have nobody to turn to.
When you ask what kind of resources? There are these things that the government changes, gets out of them or away from them, but the people are still concerned about them. We still have those responsibilities, and then they add other things on. There is a big announcement: “We want to have more marine protected areas. We want to increase the level of protected areas in the country.” It is coming down on these people, who are somehow going to have to make the adjustment.
As Gerry said, the guardians program is totally run outside of the government and outside our own budget. We scramble. We’re going to be meeting in April in our committee to see where we will get the money to run the program for this year that we know we have to continue.
The Chair: I think Ms. Courtois may wish to answer your question.
Ms. Courtois: When we originally proposed the guardians initiative nationally, we proposed a $500 million program that would have created programs in over 220 communities and created over 1,600 jobs. That would have created the core team upon which other things could be built from. An example like this, where there is so much capacity it just needs to be brought together where it looks like an enforcement program on the ground, could be enabled by that.
We have had the government dip its toes in, and now it behooves us to make the investment case for that larger investment, and we will make it. But the more there is investment in these sorts of programs, the less they will fund other things.
There are very personal stories and experience of guardianship. I’ve seen transformation in individuals go from what the community called “lost causes.” In our communities in Labrador, we were well known for our gas sniffing problems, and many of our youth were seen as people who were lost causes, as people who would be sniffing gas for the rest of their life. And they became guardians. Now they are deputy fire chiefs for the community. They are leaders in their families, and they are inspiring their kids to say, “I want to be a guardian when I grow up.”
That is what we need funding for. We don’t need another suicide prevention strategy. We need to be back on the land. That’s where our healing and our identity will come from, and that is where our relationship with the rest of Canada and Canadians is really emerging from. It is that very personal on-the-land relationship.
The Chair: Okay. With that, I would like to thank the panellists for very strong, coherent and coordinated presentations. I think we had an excellent panel on this important subject. I’d like to thank you all for being here with us.
I think we should thank our clerk and Library of Parliament staff for having overall assembled a very informative group of witnesses today to help us in our work.
Senator Bovey: Mr. Chair, I would like to thank you and the staff for enabling a full day. I know it has been, in one way, a long day, but in another way, it has gone very quickly with very valuable contributions. I think it has given a great deal of depth and pulled together a lot of threads that we have been hearing in the last many months. As we wind the hearings down, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hear you talk about the love of the land pushing you along. Those are words I won’t forget.