Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans
Issue 10 - Evidence, June 5, 2008
PANGNIRTUNG, Nunavut, Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 1:11 p.m. to examine and report on issues
relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and
oceans. Topic: Arctic Study.
Senator Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.
[Editor's Note: Some evidence was presented through an Inuktitut interpreter.]
The Chair: I welcome everybody to the meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. My
name is Bill Rompkey. I chair the committee. I am from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I will introduce
my colleagues: Senator Hubley from Prince Edward Island; Senator Cochrane, who is the deputy chair of the
committee, also from Newfoundland and Labrador — we are the two latest Newfies to arrive in Nunavut; Senator
Robichaud from New Brunswick, who is a former minister of fisheries and very knowledgeable about the subject; and
Senator Willie Adams, who I keep saying needs no introduction simply because it happens to be true.
We have translation in English, French and Inuktitut. Channel 1 is English, channel 2 is French and channel 3 is
Inuktitut, so you can listen in the language of your choice.
We have held hearings on essentially two separate but related topics. Our main focus is the Canadian Coast Guard.
As a result of global warming and opening up the Arctic, we want to know whether the Coast Guard is doing the job it
should be doing for Canada, whether that mission needs to be changed, whether they have the equipment and mandate
to do the job.
We also want to know about, and have had some testimony on, the impact of global warming and opening the ice
passages on the life of local people, for good and for ill. A lot more cruise ships are coming through the Arctic. How is
this traffic affecting life?
Essentially, our focus is the security in the Arctic region and the role of the Coast Guard in helping to make sure
that security is done properly. We want to make sure also that local people have some input into that security, and
their lives are reflected in how it is carried out.
We know, too, that the fishery is an important issue here. All of us on this committee come from fishing ridings of
one kind or another on the East Coast, so we are familiar with that industry. We know it is important for you up here.
We have heard discussions of quotas; we have heard discussions of new cooperative ventures; we have heard testimony
on infrastructure or lack of it, I should say; and we are looking forward again today to hearing your views on those
We are here to listen, and as a result of our listening we will prepare a report and publish it at a later date.
We want to welcome first today the Honourable Peter Kilabuk who is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for
Pangnirtung and the Speaker of the Nunavut Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, welcome. We have not visited the legislature yet. We hope to make time tomorrow morning to see it
because we understand it is a beautiful building and we want to have a look at it.
Minister and Mr. Speaker, please proceed.
Hon. Peter Kilabuk, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Pangnirtung, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of
Nunavut: First of all, I welcome you to my beautiful community of Pangnirtung, and likewise, everybody around the
table and the staff that have traveled to Pangnirtung with you.
I will start by raising a couple of issues that I feel are important and worth mentioning. I understand and know that
many more issues will be raised with you, and have been raised already.
One comment you made about the fisheries and its development is critical to Pangnirtung, as you will probably hear
from presenters following me. I will start with the fisheries development and some of the unfair distribution of quotas
that we have seen which have negative impacts on our development of fisheries, resources, capabilities and our
participation in the growing fisheries industry.
Since Pangnirtung has developed its own chartered fisheries and is now successfully competing in the world market
despite its small size, Pangnirtung has become dependent on turbot quotas, which are critical for its success and its
future. It first started locally with on-the-ice winter fisheries, gradually increasing its participation in the offshore
fisheries. Now considered a huge success in Nunavut through its only European certified fisheries plant in Nunavut, it
is considered to be a model enviable to all involved in inshore and offshore fisheries. It has partners both locally in
Nunavut and outside of Nunavut, negotiating its own contracts and deals.
I will convey a message that needs to be said because I firmly, strongly stand behind the groups involved in the
fisheries. Our message to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, DFO, is that we want our fair share of the turbot
quotas from our adjacent waters. We want quotas to be distributed fairly, and for us to be recognized as full
participants and responsible caretakers of our adjacent waters and resources.
I will give you a view of some of the problems at the root of our problems in Nunavut in not getting some or most of
the resources Nunavut rightfully deserves.
I do not sit here in front of you to offend anybody around the table, chair, but it needs to be said. When DFO
ignores the Nunavut share of allocations it rightfully deserves from its own and adjacent waters, and when DFO,
through the minister's office gives it to its constituents down South, it is shamefully felt hard up here because we know
who the rightful recipients ought to be.
As you have probably seen already for yourself within your short stay, we do not have many other economic
opportunities such as agriculture, mining, lumber and so on that the other provinces and territories have as options.
To make matters worse, chair, our territorial government has no control of its own resources, royalties or revenue.
We lack participation on all fronts. Instead, our resources are controlled by those from the South with southern
interests and southern constituents. With royalties and benefits being recognized only by the federal government, it has
become obvious to us that when opportunities arise where Nunavut can benefit from its rightful resources, for
whatever reasons — unknown reasons — past history has shown that, depending on where the minister responsible for
DFO is from at the time, we tend to see the resources being allocated to the minister's constituents. To us, this practice
is unfair, and it has caused real hardships and difficulties as we want to be full participants of our developing fisheries.
Before I proceed, Mr. Chair, for technical purposes, let me ask how much time you will give me to present a couple
The Chair: I am sure we have the time for you to go through a couple more items.
Mr. Kilabuk: As I said, I am sure others will present other issues to you so I will leave the fisheries issue at that. I
hope that our message can be delivered that the current practice of distributing turbot quotas is not seen to be fair in
Nunavut. We still fail to receive a quota allocation that we feel is rightfully ours because of our adjacency to our waters
On another matter, chair, I know I may be opening a new can of worms, but a couple of days ago I was listening to
the radio where the DFO Minister, in consultation with Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, NWMB — if he
receives the support of NWMB — is considering listing the Cumberland Sound beluga under the Species at Risk Act.
Chair, as the MLA for Pang, and as a former DFO representative, I strongly feel that Inuit up to now have been
wrongly targeted as the group of people responsible for the near depletion of our whales. They were depleted by the
different countries, Canada included, who did the commercial whaling in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. I hope I can
be clear in stating that I have never been involved, nor have I heard of any efforts by DFO to look at who was
responsible for the near depletion of our beluga stocks at that time. I am glad to say that I have confidence in the
traditional knowledge that has been shared with me that our whale populations have increased greatly since then.
When I heard the radio announcement, I quickly checked the DFO website, and learned that the Inuit are listed on
the website as the group of people responsible for the reduced numbers of whales. I do not believe that is the case,
chair. It has never been studied, according to the information shared with us, and I feel strongly that the people I
represent have been accused wrongfully for overhunting our marine stocks. I do not believe there is overhunting today,
chair. Also, it has never been mentioned to us what the numbers of whales are supposed to be in the stocks that they
are considering listing under the Species at Risk Act.
The quotas we have today are quotas we imposed upon ourselves in stopping our own hunts because you will not
find a DFO enforcement officer in our community. The laws imposed on us are ones we are enforcing ourselves. That
is how responsible my constituents have been since the first quotas were applied here in Pangnirtung. However, the
people I represent receive no recognition. Sadly, today, they are paid with further threats of lowering the quotas or, as
we have seen in the last couple of days, they are threatened with listing them under the Species at Risk Act.
Last year, this past winter, at a general public meeting, it was reported to us that Inuit Quajimajatuqangit, IQ, Inuit
traditional knowledge, was right, and that our beluga numbers were not as low as reportedly thought by DFO. Now,
we learn that they are telling a different message again. They want to list them under the species at risk, for whatever
reason. As you can probably imagine, there appears to be disconnect with the different messages shared with us, and
we would like to help set the record straight.
Justice would be done if DFO would name the countries, Canada included, responsible for having reduced the
numbers greatly because only then will we learn what the population of beluga whales is supposed to be and the real
countries and participants who were responsible for depleting their numbers.
We view ourselves as one of your greatest allies. As an example, the one I shared, we enforce your own laws upon
ourselves. I give a lot of credit to my constituents because probably that is not communicated enough to the world.
Lastly, I want to share with you that our Inuit traditional knowledge still lacks participation. There is lot of Inuit
traditional knowledge within the elders today. That knowledge can help with the work needed in identifying the
populations of beluga whales, and who is responsible for the great reductions of our once healthy, unthreatened
I believe it is simple. The wrong group of people has been targeted as responsible for the reduced numbers of our
whales. Today, the countries who once nearly depleted our population of whales are probably looking at us, maybe
sometimes laughing at Canada and the Inuit when the Inuit are told, you are irresponsible; you are killing your own
populations, when, in fact, we, as Inuit, are caretakers of our resources, land and marine waters, trying to preserve our
populations for our generations to come.
I will leave it at that.
Senator Robichaud: Mr. Speaker, when we came in February to meet with you and were looking at how we could use
the three languages — French, English and Inuktitut — in the Senate Chamber in Ottawa, we had successful meetings
with you and your colleagues.
The Rules Committee submitted its report to the Senate and we are going to do everything possible to have
interpretation available into English and French, from Inuktitut, that is, so that Senators Willie Adams and Charlie
Watt can address the Senate of Canada in Inuktitut from time to time.
I thank you for your cooperation, because when we came, it was that cooperation that made the committee
members react as they did.
You say that the number of belugas is not diminishing, but other people say they are. Would there be an effect of the
marine traffic through the areas here when ships travelled through, especially with the mine that was active in
Nanisivik, Arctic Bay? Now, the traffic has gone down from what I hear, but we are told with the ice is melting at a lot
faster rate than we expected, that the Northwest Passage will open up and there will be a lot more marine traffic going
through. Is that a concern to you and to your points about the belugas?
Mr. Kilabuk: I lack the knowledge and depth of information because I have not come across much research being
done for the opening of the Northwest Passage. Having lived only on the southern part of Baffin, and with the hunting
activities that I partake in as a community member, I am not in a good position at all to give a good indication if that
would cause me immediate concern, knowing the seasonal migration of our beluga into the Cumberland Sound area
and Clearwater Fjord, which is a specific area of waters where the beluga go to give birth annually. For that reason, I
am not in a good position at all to indicate if that increased traffic would cause me or my constituents an alarm at this
time, probably because we have concentrated our efforts on much closer issues within our community.
Senator Adams: I have a question about the division 0B allocation quotas. We hear over and over, we want to
support the Inuit communities in getting the quotas in 0B.''
We supported you with respect to the 1,900-tonne quota, and they responded to us the same way as they responded
to you. We lobbied for you, but we were not successful. As an Inuk senator, I always speak for the Inuit communities
and try to represent their concerns. Hopefully, the quota allocations, and the new ones that may come out, will be
directed to Nunavut.
I will turn my attention now to the beluga issue. It is the first I have heard about the beluga whales being threatened.
We have not heard that yet in Ottawa.
A year ago, perhaps, DFO appeared before the committee. We asked whether they had done any studies on the
beluga whales in Hudson Bay, Cumberland Sound and the Beaufort Sea. We asked how many studies they had done
on the different stocks. Their response, if I remember, was that it was the same — no decrease and no increase.
The DFO estimate of the number of beluga whales in Hudson Bay was between 25,000 and 28,000. Around
Tuktoyaktuk and the Beaufort Sea, they expected 39,000. What is the latest figure they are quoting? What stocks and
what numbers are they estimating now? This is DFO I am talking about. Perhaps DFO is being pressured by the
Americans because the Americans have been imposing their polar bear hunt moratorium. Are they only supporting the
new politics from the Americans? Now the belugas will be threatened. Are they being led by the Americans?
We have no quotas on belugas in the communities on Baffin Island. What is the stock number that you have
estimated in your Nunavut waters? Are you aware, or have you any information on, what the stock estimation is to this
day on beluga whales in your region? For instance, are their numbers being depleted? Are people able to verify that?
Mr. Kilabuk: As for the number of stock in Baffin Island and the beluga numbers, I cannot give you that. In
Pangnirtung we have a quota and other communities do not have a quota. They have imposed a quota on
Pangnirtung. It is difficult to come out and state an estimated number. We have a quota of 35 to 40 in Pangnirtung.
This winter, we were informed, and we were happy to learn, that the traditional knowledge of Inuit had proven correct,
that belugas were in fact increasing. We were very happy to learn this validation of Inuit traditional knowledge. Then
yesterday, I heard that the belugas are now being threatened and that they may have to impose quotas. It will be
difficult for the people that I represent if they impose a quota on us now.
I cannot say to you exactly how many belugas are in this area. The hunters and trappers will be here. They can give
you an estimate much better than I.
Mr. Chair, I failed to mention an idea I had regarding what we view as unfair distribution of turbot quota from our
adjacent waters when it is left to the minister responsible of the day. Maybe the federal government would look at
setting or laying down a plan that looks at multiple years for the fisheries development, and setting certain percentages
of what the Nunavut fishers will receive on an annual basis or, depending on the quota allocation that will be
distributed. If it is increased in division 0A or division 0B, then I strongly believe a concrete plan should be laid which
identifies the percentage that Nunavut will receive. When it is left to the minister of the day who is responsible, it is
totally at the minister's discretion which constituents the minister will give it to in the Atlantic Provinces, as we still see
today. As you have probably heard, we have a couple of fine examples of that happening this past winter.
The Chair: I want to underline what Senator Adams has said. I think I can speak for the members of the committee
when we say that we believe in the principle of adjacency, and that the stocks should be primarily for the people who
have those stocks off their shores. We are interested in the proposal that you have put forward, and we can reflect on
that. I think that all of us agree that you should benefit — the people who have that resource off their shore should
benefit from it. As a matter of fact, as Senator Adams reminds us, that recommendation has been in previous Senate
committee recommendations, and I do not know if we can take any credit for that, but we are happy to see it
happening. We hope that the pattern progresses.
Senator Hubley: Mr. Kilabuk, my question is reflective of the question of Senator Adams. If supported by the
NWMB, will the Minister of Fisheries present any research or traditional history to support declaring the Cumberland
Sound beluga a species at risk?
Mr. Kilabuk: As I indicated earlier, I have limited information. Right now, the DFO minister is looking for support
from NWMB. It was publicly mentioned over the regional radio that even if he does not receive the support he needs
from NWMB to list the Cumberland Sound beluga under the Species at Risk Act, he will pursue further the possibility
of listing the beluga under the Species at Risk Act. Obviously, from the little information I have received, the DFO
minister of the day is content in seeing the Cumberland Sound beluga being listed. However, as I said earlier also, last
year we were led to believe by the same department that our population of belugas was not in the low numbers they
previously thought them to be.
Senator Hubley: You have a quota now of 35 to 40. Have you had any difficulty in reaching that quota?
Mr. Kilabuk: Not at all: As a matter of fact, the quota these days is reached within 24 hours if that long.
Senator Hubley: I have one other question on pollution and how it might affect not only the belugas but other
animals as well. Is there any indication from the perspective of your people or the DFO of pollutants such as mercury
that might affect the belugas or other marine species?
Mr. Kilabuk: Over a number of years, DFO has undertaken studies to look also at contaminants in the whales. I
believe those studies are readily available from DFO. I do not have a good indication as to the level of contaminants
that have been found in the whales. However, to broaden your question, the people that hunt at a certain end of the
Cumberland Sound area see a lot of debris that may have been overthrown by ships, by fishing vessels, as we see a lot
of shrimp nets and floats along the shoreline at the far end of our Cumberland Sound area. So a lot of garbage is being
dumped in our waters and is reaching our lands.
Senator Cochrane: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for appearing. We appreciate having such a large audience as well. I
think the audience is an indication of how the community feels toward their issues and how they feel towards other
issues that are not well met.
I begin by saying that I totally understand what you said when about elders not being given the opportunity to give
the advice. We have heard from many of your elders as we have traveled along the coast and we have heard from them.
I personally think that elders need to be consulted because they have so much history, knowledge and good advice to
share. I think that you should pursue that, and I appreciate the elders that are here, and their advice definitely should
be taken into consideration.
I want to ask you about infrastructure. In many of the communities that we visited, we have been told about the
need for infrastructure for ports, for breakwater and for docks, and we have seen the need for ourselves, firsthand. I
want to hear your thoughts on the local infrastructure. What is needed here and what would a port mean for your
Mr. Kilabuk: What would a port mean to my community? To the fishermen, hunters and everybody who take part
in similar activities, it means a lot. I had listed in my closing remarks that I appreciate, and thank the DFO and the
federal government for, the announcement of the $8 million funding for the breakwater that will be constructed here in
Pang. Our appreciation goes to the federal government and the department responsible because it means a lot to the
community. As it is now, our fishermen lack access to offloading their catch. Likewise, they are not able to load their
boats for their fishing activities depending on the tide, because our tides here are one of the fastest in all of Baffin, and
the highest tides in all of Baffin. So only about half the day is the clear breakwater accessible because of the tides, and
most times it is not accessible; it is accessible only for limited hours each day. So the funding for the breakwater will
mean a lot to our community. I have also heard, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Iqaluit, that there is a
loud cry for facilities throughout the territory.
The Chair: To underline that, we have heard that too and we had a good meeting last night in Qikiqtarjuaq about
the same issue, and we are dismayed that there is so little in terms of infrastructure in Nunavut. All of us come from
fishing communities and all those communities have wharves and breakwaters. Some are repaired, some are replaced.
Yet, there are communities here who do not have one yet. So we are cognizant of that issue and we feel that the
treatment has been abysmal and we will reflect on that.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for coming before us and giving us your personal thoughts and proposals. We thank you
for being so frank with us and so full with your time.
I now call the Deputy Mayor of Pangnirtung and Ron Mongeau, the Senior Administrative Officer.
Welcome, Mr. Deputy Mayor. Please proceed.
Adamie Komoartok, Deputy Mayor, Municipality of Pangnirtung: On my right hand is our secretary-treasurer. We
represent the municipality, and we are happy that you arrived here to speak to us or listen to us. These issues that we
will talk about are important, especially in terms of climate change at this time. I am happy that you are here to listen
to us. I will speak English so we can understand each other much better.
The Inuit of Baffin Island face a number of important challenges in our attempts to gain greater control over our
economic destiny. The physical realities of this region, including its isolation, limited population base, and harsh
climate largely preclude the growth of commercial agriculture and manufacturing. As a result, most attention has been
focused on the exploitation of the region's diverse natural resource base. In the past, these resources have created few
sustainable linkages with the local economy and have generated little in the way of long-term local employment. This
situation has changed with the evolution of the Pangnirtung fishery.
The fishery in Pangnirtung is a major component of the economy of this community. Along with the tourism and
arts and crafts industry, we rely on the fishery to flourish and create employment and other economic opportunities for
our community. The fisheries industry in the Eastern Arctic is relatively new, yet with the development of appropriate
infrastructure such as vessels and fish plants, it has the potential to become a major contributor to the economy of
Nunavut, particularly Pangnirtung.
As you are aware, the last federal budget identified $8 million over a two-year period for the construction of a
commercial harbour in our community. This money will transform our fishing industry by providing a secure harbour
facility for local fishermen, and also an opportunity to transport our products to market at a much more advantageous
However, the fishery still faces barriers, as witnessed recently with the permanent transfer of 1,900 tonnes of turbot
quota in the waters of Baffin Island from one southern fishing company to another. We strongly believe that the people
of Nunavut must control the fishery off our own coast.
Overall, the Nunavut fishermen have been allocated slightly less than two-thirds of the fish from our waters whereas
other provinces and other jurisdictions in Canada enjoy at least 80 per cent of the allocation within their shores.
The quota is worth about $8 million. It would have meant a longer season for the Inuit who work for Baffin
Fisheries Coalition, and a lot more work for the people that work within our fish processing plant in Pangnirtung.
We need to research and develop resources and infrastructure to allow the fishery to exploit new opportunities to
develop additional markets for shrimp, scallops, clams, cod and other potential species. We need to address the high
cost of transportation and inspections as well as the challenges of competing with mature southern markets.
The rapid escalation of the price of oil and gas will challenge the fishery in Nunavut to examine alternative sources
of energy such as tidal, micro-hydro, wind and solar for use in fisheries, ports and operations.
I also point out that the prices that have been paid to the fishermen in Arctic char harvesting have not increased at
all in so many years. Our local fishermen are not able to keep up with the increased prices, inflation and the increasing
costs of operations.
Our fishing industry has enormous opportunities as well as significant challenges. The sustainability of the industry
depends on a cooperative approach among all levels of government. This approach would help to ensure that one day
our offshore fishery will be fished, and the products processed, solely by the people of Nunavut.
Mr. Chair, I want to address briefly another mandate of this committee: climate change and its impact on the
The ancient ice caps on Baffin Island, particularly the ones in the northern regions, have started to melt
tremendously, and it shows that the twentieth century was the island's warmest since 350 A.D., C.E., so it is warming
up tremendously. Vegetation that died when first covered by snow is now emerging, as are undisturbed rock surfaces.
Ice caps on the northern plateau of Baffin Island have shrunk by more than 50 per cent in the last half century and are
expected to disappear completely by the middle of this century.
Our homeland, the Arctic, is home to the world's most distinctive mammals, millions of residents and migratory
birds, rich ice-edge community and major world fisheries. It is a biologically and culturally unique environment.
The environment and human cultures of the Arctic are linked. The people of Pangnirtung maintain a strong
connection to the environment through subsistence on wildlife and natural resources, a practice that has endured over
thousands of years.
As you know, the scientists have now predicted that human-induced climate change will have its first and most
severe impacts on polar regions. The Arctic is more sensitive to climate change than any other place on earth. Our
unique physical characteristics help explain why this region is so vulnerable. With extremely low temperatures, limited
sunlight and precipitation, and a short growing season, the Arctic has one of the most severe environments on the
Arctic sea ice, snow cover, tundra and permafrost are highly sensitive to even subtle variations in sunlight, surface
temperatures and precipitation. Ecosystems in the Arctic exist in a delicate balance with the region's climate and thus
are more sensitive to change than temperature or tropical ecosystems. Human communities are also affected and they
also survive in a delicate situation with the Arctic climate and, therefore, are equally sensitive to the changes that are
occurring with our climate.
Chair, these changes are occurring in Pangnirtung today. We are experiencing earlier ice break-ups, later freeze- ups,
shifting migratory bird patterns, unpredictable sea ice conditions, changes in the open water areas within the ice and
the presence of animals are not normally found in this region.
Further climate change will also threaten our subsistence-based way of life. It will lead to early thawing, thawing of
permafrost and land erosion. These conditions will lead to extreme weather and sea levels rising, and it will pose
enormous human health consequences.
We have all heard in the last little while that scientists predict that the Northwest Passage will be ice-free within the
next 20 years. Inuit may realize some benefits from such a shipping route, but in reality would likely experience
disproportionate adverse effects from potential environmental incidents such as oil spills, effects on wildlife such as
changes in breeding and migration routes, and socioeconomic disruption.
We are powerless to stop this climate change. We need to develop our capacity to deal with and manage these
As we all know, people that have resided here for thousands of years have a well-earned reputation for being
adaptable to the changing environment but that has its limits also. Climate change is about culture, health and our own
survival as indigenous people. I ask you to keep this in mind as you make your recommendations to Parliament.
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Komoartok, it is pleasing to have you here.
I am interested in the climate change you are talking about, and all the changes you see. You say you see so many of
them right now. The unpredictable weather and the early spring thaw that you mentioned, and the higher than usual
temperatures are all having an effect right away on your people. Has the federal government been doing anything for
you on this front? Are you receiving any support from the Government of Canada to help defray the effects of climate
Mr. Komoartok: Not really: Climate change in a way is so new up here also. Mind you, we have been dealing with it
for the last 15 or 20 years. We have seen the slow changes over that period. However, we have not seen much help from
the federal government. A young lady here from a university down south has been studying this ice pattern. She has
been here for about a year, in and out of the university, going to the land and talking to the elders as to exactly what is
the history in regard to the weather and how it is today. There is a little bit of research going on, but the federal
government has not come here to study or to see what more they can do for us. They have not been there at all.
Ron Mongeau, Senior Administrative Officer, Municipality of Pangnirtung: To my knowledge, there is no overall
federal program or process to address climate change in the Arctic. We are working individually with some government
departments. We are working with, for example, the Geological Survey of Canada. We have installed a permanent
permafrost monitoring station that will begin to give this community information about what is happening and how
quickly these changes are happening.
I think what concerns us is these changes are happening now. They have been happening for many years, and they
have been accelerating, and unless we can develop the capacity here to address those problems, we will have more and
more difficulties down the road. We need government help, from both the federal and the territorial level, to develop
the capacity of individual communities in Nunavut to address these changes. The changes will vary from region to
region, and from community to community. We need each community to have the resources they need to address the
future of our communities in Nunavut.
Senator Cochrane: Have ideas been submitted by the people or by your various organizations as to how to do this?
Do you have any ideas?
Mr. Mongeau: There has been talk here with the council and with other organizations. Then again, we need to rely
on the elders; we need to rely on traditional knowledge, and we need to rely on science to help us mitigate these effects
as they come. We are only scratching the surface when we talk about potential impacts. The other impact, obviously, is
as the Arctic melts, the resources of Nunavut are staggering. In terms of the potential resources of Nunavut, in 15, 20
or 30 years, it is possible that Nunavut could supplant Alberta as an economic powerhouse of Canada. How will
communities be prepared to deal with that kind of development? Again, we need to develop capacity today for those
changes that will take place in 5 and 10 years. It is not recognized that the problem even exists.
Senator Robichaud: In your presentation, you say that Inuit may realize benefits from the increase in shipping route
traffic, but in reality will likely experience disproportionate adverse impacts from potential environmental incidents
such as oil spills. Do you believe that the Coast Guard is well prepared for those oil spills if one ever happened in the
Mr. Komoartok: I do not know. They have not been here to tell us if they have anything concrete; any concrete plans
to deal with that sort of thing. They have not come into our community to talk about that situation. To me, they need
to come and talk to me for me to give you an answer.
Senator Robichaud: If this is a concern of the hamlet, are you contemplating an invitation to the Canadian Coast
Guard to come and speak with you on those matters?
Mr. Mongeau: Yes, obviously the council would welcome an opportunity to meet with the Coast Guard. The Coast
Guard does not have a strong presence, certainly in Pangnirtung. To my knowledge, they have never come in to meet
with the community in the past.
I think the impacts that we are talking about, though, even though they are further north from us, are potentially
devastating. I am not certain that any entity, whether it is the Coast Guard or anybody else, is prepared for the
possibility of a major oil spill in the Northwest Passage. I do not know that we have the technology, if the technology
even exists, to address an oil spill in those types of waters. We know that as more and more transits take place and, as
the Northwest Passage opens, it will be popular around the world. Things will happen. It is inevitable. We know that.
It is human nature that machines and machinery break and there will be an oil spill. We know it will be dramatic and
difficult to control.
Senator Robichaud: We have been told, and I think that it was when we first met, or somebody else told us, that
there is an increase in the number of cruise ships coming to the area. Those cruise ships could run aground, could they
not, and the more ships there are, the more there is a danger of this happening? The Coast Guard could come in to
open up a dialogue with you in case something like an oil spill happens.
Mr. Mongeau: Yes, on one hand it is a tremendous boost for tourism to have the number of cruise ships coming in.
However, again, we lack the basic infrastructure to address major incidents if they were to happen. If a cruise ship ran
aground at the mouth of the fjord, we would have a difficult time to go out there and adequately rescue the people.
Another concern, prosaic but it happens a lot, is illnesses that seem to develop on cruise ships. We hear these stories
of cruise ships that are devastated. If that ever happened in this community we, again, lack the capacity with the four-
nurse health centre to address a serious health epidemic.
Both from that perspective, the human perspective of the passengers, and also the perspective of a boat running
aground or running into any difficulty in the area, we do not have the capacity to deal with those issues. The Coast
Guard does not have a presence close enough, I believe, to provide anywhere near an immediate response. There are
issues here that need to be addressed. Again, it comes back to developing community capacity to be able to deal with
Senator Adams: I have a question for the hunters. I will raise it again with the hunters but since you are the deputy
mayor, I will ask you first.
Regarding climate change, I know the Inuit in your community rely on legal fishing, turbot fishing on the ice, and
they were affected by a late freeze-up and thin ice. I myself went to the turbot fishing area. They really enjoyed being
out on the land and it is an economy that they could rely on. However, now I hear for the past two or three years that
they have lost all their equipment. It floated away when the ice broke up and this equipment is expensive. When they
lost the equipment and the turbot fishing gear, they were told that there was no way to insure the equipment and
compensate the hunters who lost their equipment. I believe that the intent was to fish for the fish plant here, to create
employment. I believe that because we are not involved in fishing in division 0A and division 0B, we wanted to make
sure that Inuit were involved in turbot activities. However, even that possibility is gone because the ice is too thin due
to climate change and they cannot go to that location anymore.
Mr. Komoartok: It is so true. I understand exactly what you are saying. People enjoyed going out turbot fishing. It
was a community activity. It was an economic venture for those who needed to make a living, and we cannot do it
alone. It takes a team effort to have a turbot on-ice fishery. It was a big effort and many people were involved to make
the turbot fishery work. That is when we could rely on the ice.
Many people were becoming involved in turbot fishing on ice. About 100 to 150 people were active in turbot fishing.
Then they brought the fish that they caught to the plant and that created employment. It created micro-employment
for the fishers and the fish plant, and it seemed to be going well. However, we have had open water for so long that the
area no longer freezes completely. It is too shallow to fish in other areas where the ice is dangerous. We had to go on
the open water when it froze away from the islands to go deep water fishing, but we cannot do that anymore. After the
ice thinned out we are not able to fish for as long. Many of the fishers had to quit that fishing because they lost their
equipment. It is an expensive venture. They need the camping gear and the expensive gear to fish, and many people lost
their equipment because of the uncertainty of ice. We fished that turbot fishery in the winter. A few people attempted
to fish this winter, but not nearly as many are participating as before.
We also tested turbot fishing by small craft in the summertime, but the turbot move around. In the summer, they are
gone elsewhere so we cannot fish turbot with a small craft and we are no longer able to fish in the winter on the ice.
What we would like to see is an increase the turbot fishery somehow, but that depends on the ice.
Senator Hubley: I was impressed with your presentation and the fact that you have identified your fishery as the one
industry that is adjacent; it makes sense; it is working for this community.
We had the pleasure, I think, of visiting the fish plant this morning and there are important pieces of infrastructure
needed in that plant, and each piece of infrastructure that is put in place seems to expand the possibilities of the
industry that much more.
There was a suggestion also of a summer fishery for turbot, and also exploring other species and the need for
scientific evidence and funds for research and development for that exploration.
From your perspective, as the local government, and knowing the importance of this fish plant to the community,
how do you see that the fish plant might be expanded to provide more opportunities for employment, and to meet
perhaps some of the challenges of climate change head-on? In other words, how do you prepare for the inevitable
changes, and how do you view your fishing industry here and the fish plant — which I think you are lucky to have?
Mr. Komoartok: We are proud of our fish plant, and we are glad we have a fish plant. We are one of the few
communities anywhere in the North that has a fish plant. I believe the people who are presenting behind us will make
presentations on the fish plant and the turbot allocation; how the fish plant has been in operation for the last so many
years, and how it has evolved from five years ago to date. The next presenter will elaborate on that plant, I believe.
At the same time, our community, as is the case for most of the smallest Nunavut communities, is pretty much based
upon government jobs; Government of Nunavut and particularly, Parks Canada have an outfit here also. The only real
private employer is the fish plant, which employs a large number of people; I would say 20 to 50. That plant is an
important component to our local economy.
Having said that, it is operational only five or six months a year whereas it could go 9 months or 10 months, then
have a small break. It could help the local economy big time if we had enough fish to process. If it was our fish, we
would be operational 10 months a year, but they keep telling us it is their fish. They keep giving it away to someone else
so that is their problem. We do not have much say in that. They do not even ask us if we want a shot at this fishery.
They do not. However, that is the way it goes.
We have to fight for every pound of turbot that goes into the plant here. I sympathize with the people that have
worked there. They have done their homework trying to obtain as much fish here as possible to provide local
employment. They are fighting all the way to this committee and also to the Department of Fisheries to have that
The only way we can sustain ourselves as a small community is to develop and expand these existing economic
opportunities. Also, we would welcome anything else that we can find out in Cumberland Sound, because everything
we can process through the fish plant here will provide jobs.
As mentioned, the fishery is a new thing up here, so we are in the process of developing and identifying what can be
done within the Cumberland Sound and also Davis Strait.
Senator Robichaud: You say in your brief that you need to do some research for additional markets for shrimp,
scallops, clams and cod. Are there scallops and clams in the area here?
Mr. Komoartok: Yes, we have clams along the shoreline. Everywhere here, it is practically the same thing, the next
community, as well. They have clams all along the shoreline. We have scallops right at the mouth of the fjord. It is
shallow in that area. We have turbot and scallops at the mouth of the fjord eight miles away. They only need to be
Senator Robichaud: Is anybody doing any kind of fishing or is this fish only for the consumption of the locals?
Mr. Komoartok: If anybody had enough money to invest in a small vessel to start it, it is there, but it takes a little
investment to start it. The fish have been harvested before and they are still there. It is only a matter of putting it
The Chair: We thank you for having us in your beautiful community. We all got up this morning and said, ``Wow.''
Then we met Mr. Mongeau who has been here for over 20 years and he tells me that he gets up every morning and says,
``Wow,'' and then he has a cup of coffee. I am not sure which comes first. Maybe the coffee comes before the wow. It is
a beautiful community, and we thank you for allowing us to be here and share it. We hope that in our small way
perhaps we can help to make living here economically better for you, because we understand your possibilities and also
Senators, our next witness is Leopa Akpalialuk of the Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Organization.
Welcome. If you will speak to us for about 10 minutes or so, then we will have questions to ask you. Please proceed
in whatever language you want.
Leopa Akpalialuk, Vice-Chairman, Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Organization: Senators, on behalf of the
Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Organization, we are concerned that we need docking facilities. It will be useful to
have that proposed harbour built in our community. It will serve the hunters, fishers and ships that are coming and
going. For the fishers, fishermen can offload their catch. They can offload in Canada rather than go to a foreign
country. They can offload from division 0B. What is the advantage? The advantage is that we will be able to offload in
Canada. We are happy with the Pangnirtung harbour that is being proposed.
Again, one of the concerns of hunters is that as full-time hunters and harvesters, we have a difficult time with the
high cost of living. We expect the price of gas to rise again. That increase impacts us as hunters. I would like the
government to be aware that with the cost of gas going up, we need to be subsidized or be given tax relief so that we can
continue to harvest to feed our families. You may be worried about the high cost of gas in your communities when it is
going up, but it is still cheap compared to what we pay today.
I foresee that gas will continue to rise. We northerners will need tax relief or gas relief to continue our livelihoods.
Now to go to the beluga whale in Cumberland Sound and cruise ships, there is an area that is a birthing place for
whales. The ships pass that area and it will affect the birthing grounds. If cruise ships go through those birthing areas,
it will affect the stock. We want the cruise ships to stay away from the birthing grounds and the natural habitats of the
beluga whales. There has already been interference in the birthing grounds that has affected them. If the cruise ships
tour the birthing grounds in the vicinity, if cruise ships go through there and go to the birthing grounds, it will affect
the whales and we do not want that. I stress to you again, we do not want them near the birthing grounds.
As well, now I go to the bears. With the ice-free zones being expected and the loss of ice, we know that climate
change affects some areas more than others, especially the bays. The fiords freeze earlier. Open water where there are
no islands is the last to freeze and the first to break up. I think as long as the sun does not change too much and it does
not warm up too much, the fiords will continue to freeze, but we are worried that the open water, the deep water area,
will be affected.
I go back to the polar bear issue again. The Americans want the polar bears protected because they may be
threatened. We Inuit say the opposite. We have way too many polar bears now. In the 1960s, and even before the
1960s, I have hunted on the land for years away from the communities and I would sight few polar bears. We never
feared being attacked by polar bears because there were not that many. Nowadays, when we go out fox trapping or we
bring a seal as bait for fox, the minute we catch the seals, which we want to use for bait, the polar bears immediately
take them away. We now have polar bears coming into the communities and disrupting the community because the
Americans have put the polar bear on a threatened species listing.
I tell you again there is no consultation when it comes to the people who live here when decisions are made about
our environment and our wildlife. We are excluded when it comes to making decisions and regulations about our
wildlife and marine life, and right offhand they are listed worldwide. We have office people and researchers sitting in
their cushy offices in the South who know it all and who are making all the decisions that concern our lives and our
When they say that the polar bears are decreasing, and that the polar bears will become extinct, I say to you, if the
global warming becomes worse yet the polar bears will adapt to survive. Instead of using snow for denning and
hibernation, they will simply burrow into the sand. Polar bears are adaptable. Black bears are not from the Arctic.
They also need den, maybe in the sand or rocks. Polar bears will adapt.
When white people say that we will no longer have winter, we will have an ice-free ocean, and we also fear that if we
become ice-free year-round in the fiords, we know that the fiords and base will still freeze because they freeze in the
cold. The seals will continue to produce. Whales will continue to produce. I can tell you that this moment, we have way
too many polar bears. They are increasing. Polar bears live in the ocean in the summertime. There have been many
times that we have sighted a white object, and thinking it was an ice pack, we have gone to see them in the middle of the
ocean and it turned out to be a polar bear that was swimming.
I have other concerns. When you said that the knowledge of the elders is important, yes, I agree with you. We do not
give enough credibility to traditional knowledge, the knowledge of the elders. Yes, we need to involve the elders
because we do not lack the traditional-knowledge holders. We make some bad, ill-informed decisions such as listing
polar bears among the species at risk. Perhaps if we included the traditional knowledge, and incorporated it into your
scientific knowledge, we could make better decisions.
We Inuit conserve. It is the non-Inuit that have come in and slaughtered species, and I am talking about bullhead
whales. That was not the Inuit. Nowadays, it is easy to blame Inuit for depletion. We have quotas. We always honour
the quotas. We practice conservation. That is our livelihood, and what keeps us alive. Of course, we use our marine life
wisely and we use conservation strategies. It is the people who have no quotas around the world that slaughter and
deplete species. We have always honoured quotas where quotas have been imposed.
Regarding area 0B, the quota that was recently freed by a foreign or southern company was passed on to another
southern company. It should have gone to the Inuit fishermen. It is better if you would think and consult, and you
continue to exclude us. Your minister of DFO makes decisions forgetting that we Inuit live in the area adjacent to
division 0A and should have priority in tapping and obtaining the allocation.
In the future, I urge that you consult more with the adjacent communities and those affected by the resources
leaving their waters. We are not happy with the recent quota that became free and was given to a southern fishing
company. You know that people in the Baffin were interested in obtaining that quota.
I will leave it at that and I will be here to answer your questions.
Senator Robichaud: Thank you for your interesting presentation.
You say that in Cumberland Sound, there is an area where the whales congregate at a certain time of the year, and
that the cruise ships are not warned that they should not go there. Is this area well known to the people here?
Mr. Akpalialuk: We know the birthing ground. It is at Clearwater Fjord. There will be a lot of people in the
Clearwater Fjord area because the whales are birthing there in the summertime. We leave it alone during birthing
season and we monitor it.
Senator Robichaud: In New Brunswick, in the Bay of Fundy, there is a zone where a certain type of whale, at a
certain time in the summer, tends to congregate. They come together there, and there have been notices to shipping not
to go through that area for the simple reason that they would somehow hurt the whales that are there. Have you made
any representations to DFO or the Canadian Coast Guard in that respect, that the zone should be excluded from
marine traffic at that time of the year?
Mr. Akpalialuk: There has been an interest in taking the cruise ships to Clearwater Fjord, and we have said no
because it would disturb the birthing grounds. The community was adamant that cruise ships stay away from
Clearwater Fjord because it is a birthing ground and must be protected. It is hands- off because belugas stay there in
Senator Adams: Thank you for coming. I was supposed to have some frozen caribou with you, but I am sorry I did
not make it.
You have whales in your waters, and I understand that DFO imposed a quota.
Mr. Akpalialuk: DFO told us that because we were depleting the whales, they imposed a quota on us. I will not even
tell you how many we are allowed to catch. You can look it up. Pangnirtung never asked for a quota, but we were told
we were depleting the whales, so DFO imposed a quota on us. The hunters never saw the need for a quota because they
did not feel that it was required at the time. There was no fiord depletion, and DFO told us that they would try out the
quota for a while and it would be removed within a short time. Now it is a full-time quota that we cannot backtrack
on, and remove, because if we go over the quota, some people have ended up in court.
Senator Adams: When Peter Kilabuk was here, I said that I believe DFO scientists conducted a study in Cumberland
Sound about a year ago. They thought 25,000 whales were accounted for in Cumberland Sound. DFO came up with
this estimate. Did they ever relay that information to you?
Mr. Akpalialuk: Yes, there are ongoing studies by DFO. I do not think they did any air surveys last year, but the
elders say that there is more than one stock, or more than one school of whales in our sea. There are others that go to
another birthing place past Cumberland Sound. There is more than one birthing area. They are counted as one stock,
but there are other stocks that elders know of that never make it to the fiord. They go elsewhere around Cumberland
Sound. They may have counted one stock and not the other. We do not know.
Senator Adams: Do you have narwhals?
Mr. Akpalialuk: Yes, we have narwhals annually. We always see them in our waters. When I lived in an outpost
camp away from the community, past Cumberland Sound, we had many different kinds of mammals. We would have a
lot of seals at one time, and less another time because marine life migrates because of the feeding grounds or whatever.
At certain times, we have a lot of fish and then they move on elsewhere. Marine life is not stationary. We know that if
DFO came at a time when there were no fish, they would assume immediately we were depleting the stock and they
would put on a moratorium or a quota because they do not know the movement, or even appreciate the movement, of
different marine life. We all know that marine life move around. They have no boundaries. They have their own
birthing and feeding grounds, and it is annual and changes with the seasons.
Senator Adams: Regarding turbot in your waters, some of your fishers were on the ice. Did they catch full-grown,
Mr. Akpalialuk: Now that we no longer have ice to sustain ice fishing because of the late freeze-up and early melt, I
want you to think about how Pangnirtung can develop other economic activities because the ice turbot fishery, which
was successful at the time, is no longer viable because of ice conditions or lack thereof. Few fishers are still trying to
fish turbot. They have simply gone to a lower, shallower ground because they cannot travel far anymore into the open
area. We have different names for turbot. We used to call them nataarnaq, but nowadays turbot is called qaliralik.
Now, with the high cost of gas and all the equipment and hunting gear when we go out turbot fishing to sell, the cost
of living is rising rapidly. Yet, what we are paid by the pound for Arctic char and other fish, we have never had an
increase. We are still paid the same price as 10 years or 20 years ago. We should have been given an increase in line with
the cost of living today.
Senator Hubley: For your Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Organization, what has been the economic loss with
the U.S. declaring the moratorium on hunting? Would that moratorium have affected the hunters and trappers
personally, as guides and things of that nature? What was the overall effect for the community?
Mr. Akpalialuk: It has had a huge effect in our community, especially on seal pelts that we use to make money.
When there is a proposed banning on sealskins or products, it has a huge effect on the community, and a negative
impact on us. You, as a government, should know that Inuit use pelts for livelihood, and they would use whatever they
make for hunting for gas and their equipment. They would use the money they make from the seal pelts or crafts for
their hunting and also for survival, for food. We hunt animals to feed our communities. I want you to know; I want to
be clear that is how it works up here.
Senator Hubley: Is that the same for the polar bear?
Mr. Akpalialuk: Yes, it is exactly the same. We also face many difficulties because of a proposed banning of polar
bear hunting. This new proposed regulation will have a huge negative impact on us. The polar bear hunters usually
make a little bit of money from pelts when they hunt. It will have a negative impact on hunters. We foresee negative
impacts for the hunters.
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Akpalialuk, I want to talk about cruise ships. We have heard that it is predicted there will be
an increase in the number of cruise ships that you will see in the future. You have said that cruise ships should stay
away from the birthing ground and from the mammals and so on. What do you see in the future for cruise ships? Will
they be an advantage or a disadvantage to the industry?
Mr. Akpalialuk: For us Inuit, I will tell you my experience. Once they come to the community here, they help us
because of the arts and crafts we sell in our communities. It is good for arts and crafts in the community because they
make a little bit of money out of that. An increase in cruise ships coming to the communities will also have a negative
impact especially on sea mammals, especially in the area where there are calving grounds. The negative impact is bigger
to the marine mammals and the environment. The negative impact is bigger than the positive.
Senator Cochrane: What do you suggest we do?
Mr. Akpalialuk: The cruise ships will not stop, first of all, and probably will increase because of climate change. You
know that because you already have questions about climate change. Of course, because of that, cruise ships will come
up here in the North, and they are already, from all over the world. They are interested in coming up North to explore,
to visit, et cetera.
When icebreakers break the ice, it moves everywhere and the ice packs move everywhere. The open water has a lot
of packed ice once they have broken the ice. Once the icebreakers break the multi-year ice, it becomes open water. The
open water becomes bigger and it affects the ice formation and freeze-up.
The Chair: Thank you very much for being with us and sharing your unique perspective. We are grateful to hear
from somebody who is on the frontline. Everything that you have said has been recorded and our researchers have
made notes. You can be sure that we will reflect on this information. You have been helpful to us, and thank you very
much for coming.
Mr. Akpalialuk: Thank you for inviting me to talk to you about our community concerns.
The Chair: I now call on Don Cunningham, who is the General Manager of the Pangnirtung Fisheries. He is
formerly of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, now happily living in Pangnirtung.
We had some time with Don this morning. We were able to go through the plant, and to spend a half an hour to
three-quarters of an hour asking Don detailed questions, which he answered in a detailed, knowledgeable way so we
learned a lot this morning.
Perhaps you can keep your presentation short so we can ask questions that we probably did not ask this morning.
Will you please first introduce the people you have with you?
Don Cunningham, General Manager, Pangnirtung Fisheries: Yes, thank you, chair and senators.
The gentleman to my immediate left that some of you had a chance to meet this morning is Manasa Evic. He is
Chairman of the Board of Pangnirtung Fisheries. The gentleman on my far left is Joopa Gowdluapik, Chairman of the
Board of Cumberland Sound Fisheries, which is our 49 per cent owner. I asked them to join me here because they may
be able to answer some of the questions you have for us.
You had the opportunity to visit us this morning, which we welcomed. It was a good opportunity to hear some of
your concerns and questions, and they were good questions.
Again, I want to take the opportunity to welcome you here to Pangnirtung, as I am sure many others have. I have
found it a friendly community. They make everyone welcome that comes here.
I want to give a little background on Pangnirtung Fisheries. This plant was built in the early 1990s here in the
community, the plant that exists there now. It is owned 51 per cent by the Nunavut Development Corporation, which
is an arm of the Government of Nunavut; and it is owned 49 per cent by Cumberland Sound Fisheries Ltd., which is a
wholly owned Inuit company here in the community. Almost all its shareholders are right here in the community.
As I said this morning, we process turbot mainly, but we also process Arctic char. Turbot is our big volume fish, but
Arctic char is becoming more and more important to us.
As some of the other speakers have mentioned, we are a big part of the economy of this area. We buy all the local
commercial landings of turbot and Arctic char. Those fish are the ones that are caught by the local fishermen and are
landed here in Pangnirtung; both turbot caught through the ice and char caught both in the summer and in the winter
The other big volume of fish that we buy is what we call frozen-at-sea turbot. It is caught using factory freezer
trawlers in deeper water of Davis Strait, between Greenland and Baffin Island. We buy a lot of that fish. That is our
volume fish really. The trawlers are working mainly on quotas that they have developed, they have of their own, or
they have obtained from Cumberland Sound Fisheries. The way it works is, they buy quota and they fish, and then we
buy back some of the fish.
We employ generally 30 local people in our plant for about eight months of the year, processing turbot mostly, but
the char comes into the picture from season to season. We buy, as I said, about 300 tonnes to 400 tonnes of turbot from
the offshore that is landed here in Pangnirtung. We also buy approximately up to 10 metric tonnes of Arctic char every
year. We buy up to about 40 tonnes of turbot every year. Again, as some of the other speakers have indicated, the ice
conditions determine in a big way how much fish we land here.
The fish plant is becoming closer and closer every year to sustained profitability. We are profitable one year, and
then we lose a bit in another year. There are two or three challenges we need to solve, and I am confident that we will
solve them over the years to come.
I want to touch on three main things with you, and some of these things have been talked about by other speakers.
My first issue is the Pangnirtung wharf and harbour facility. I think you have had a chance to walk by it or drive by it,
at least, and see what we have there now. As you all know, $8 million was recently approved in the federal budget for
improving the wharf and harbour facilities here. That is good news.
As an aside, Alan Kathan, who is the gentleman with Small Craft Harbours, is handling that project, and he asked
me to apologize to the committee because his schedule did not allow him to be here. He would like to have been here
today to help answer questions. He is coming to the community, I think, in the next couple of weeks with other staff to
talk to the community about the final design and plans for the facility.
I am talking now from the perspective of Pang Fisheries. We are looking for basically three things. We want a
harbour that is accessible 24 hours per day, so that is, all levels of the tide. We need a mooring area that can handle up
to 75 small boats, and probably up to six larger boats that we hope to start bringing into this fishery to try to develop it
here. We also want it to be able to handle the 65- metre boats that fish offshore for us and land the fish here in the
harbour, which, at the present time, must be carried ashore in small boats, one pallet at a time. The wharf needs to be
equipped with an electric derrick so that we can handle at least up to 25 pounds of weight coming out of the water, so
that we can unload all those boats, every one of them.
If we had a wharf that meets those conditions, or a basin and wharf that meets those conditions, we would be
perfectly fine as far as Pangnirtung Fisheries goes. However, as you have heard from other representatives of the
community in particular, they have other items on their agenda that they would like to incorporate.
The second item is the quota issue. Several speakers have already touched on this item so I will not spend too much
time on it. I have attached a letter that was written recently by the Nunavut Minister of the Environment to Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn, about the issue of quotas, and the complaint this community, the whole Territory
of Nunavut, has with the way we are being treated with regard to issuing quota.
I will not spend a lot of time on that item. It is enough to say that we have a problem. The Territory of Nunavut
does not have as much fish off its shores compared to the percentage that southern communities have off their shores,
and it is a real issue for us. The federal government said basically, buy some boats and they will give Nunavut a quota.
They have bought boats — the bigger boats I am talking about now — but now they are not getting enough quota to
make the boats economically viable, so they are in a catch-22 situation there. Again, there is a speaker coming later, I
am sure, that will touch on this item as well.
I will not spend a lot of time on quotas. I will only say that we need more quota. The fish plant needs quota. We are
a fish plant without quota, which is not a good place to be. However, we are fortunate in that one of our owners, who
is Cumberland Sound Fisheries, provides quota to us, which we buy from them and then we, in turn, use it to obtain
fish for the fish plant. We are fortunate to have both our owners, who are community minded, trying to ensure that this
fish plant not only can become profitable but also can become a serious employer in the community, with local people.
The third item I will talk on, which, again, some of you have mentioned in your questions with other speakers, is this
summer turbot fishery. You have heard from several people about how the winter turbot fishing is suffering, especially
because of ice conditions. The fishermen cannot reach the same areas that they used to be able to reach. Because of loss
of gear, a lot of them are fishing much anymore. Only a few hardy souls who either did not lose gear or who can afford
to re-gear are still going out fishing. However, the number goes down every year and it hurts the fish plant because we
do not receive a supply of fish.
What we are attempting to do here, and we plan to start this summer, is to have the summer fishery going as well as
the winter fishery used to be. To do that, we need to have access to one or two larger boats to fish in deeper water. The
small boats that this community owns are not capable of fishing in the water, in the depths where we think the turbot
are; where we think they go in the summertime. We need larger boats, but they need to be boats that, down the road,
are economically possible for community members or local fishermen to purchase so that they can own these boats
eventually, and do the fishing themselves. That is the goal of the fish plant. We do not want to be in the fishing, the
harvesting side; we want to buy from fishermen. We are the middle man between the market and the harvester, so we
want them to harvest. We are trying to take the lead here in developing this fishery because not too many others are
either able or willing to develop it. A lot of groups are willing to support us so we are fortunate in that regard. That is
what we are hoping for.
There is no doubt that this fishery has a huge impact on this community. That 500 tonnes of quota that is out there
available — that is the community quota — has over a million dollar value in the wharf price to us. That is a million
dollars, or the potential of a million dollars, going to local fishermen. It is a tremendous impact. It means the plant can
work for probably three additional months per year. Wages go to the local people here, and at the end of the day we
sell that fish and hopefully make a profit on it. Everybody benefits here if we can make this plant work. However, we
have some challenges. As I said, we need to find the funding for a boat and then we need to find fish, because no one
yet knows where that fish may be. We have some good ideas, and that is where local community people are valuable to
me. A lot of them are almost certain they know where the fish are so we will use a lot of their knowledge and skills to
help us find that fish. We have the benefit of a couple of early explorations that were done by DFO and, I think,
economic development people out of Nunavut. Back in the late 1990s, a couple of significant surveys were done, and
they found fish but the stocks were not extensive. We want to do it so that we can prove it is economical.
Those are the three issues I wanted to bring up to the committee. I am sure there are many more, and you will hear a
lot from community members. I want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and I hope that some of these
issues will be issues coming through Parliament, like the new Fisheries Act, which you people will have your hands on
eventually. We appreciate anything that this committee can do to ensure that the Territory of Nunavut is protected,
especially in obtaining more quota, and that it is not all given away before we are allowed a chance to fish it.
That concludes my comments. I know my two friends here, the chairmen of both our boards, would be happy to
help answer any questions.
The Chair: You are right; the Fisheries Act will be coming up and we will have a chance eventually to look at it. It is
useful for us to have contacts in various parts of the country, in particular the Arctic, so that we can obtain useful
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Cunningham, I heard what you said about the $8 million that was approved to construct a
wharf and harbour facilities. The project is under the control of Alan Kathan, who is the regional director of Small
Craft Harbours. What discussions have you had with him in regards to your demands, like those three issues that you
Mr. Cunningham: I became aware of him here only recently. I had a call from Public Works and Government
Services Canada in Halifax. They had been tasked with the job of finalizing the details of the design, and they probably
will build the wharf. I think it will be Public Works and Government Services Canada that will do it. When he called,
he did not say in so many words, but I sensed he was talking about something different than what I visualized here. I
finally obtained Mr. Kathan's name and called him. He was good to talk with. He is supportive of the facility here. As
far as the fish plant goes, what he proposes, I think, will be suitable. Mind you, we will not have it for about three years
but over time it will get there. I have had, I think, two or three conversations and a few e-mails exchanged with him. He
mentioned he is coming here in the next couple of weeks and they want to finalize what they will do, making sure that
they are on the same page as the community.
For your interest, I included a diagram of what they are proposing at the moment, or what is on the table. It is in
our submission to the committee. It is a coloured drawing in the back. That is something they developed over several
consultations with the community here two or three years ago. They are still on that plan, but I think they are open to
changes if the community holds strong views about revisions.
Senator Cochrane: That was my next question. Will the community people be involved? There is no point in building
a wharf unless it is built to the needs of this area, to the needs of the people of the area. Will they have input?
Mr. Cunningham: Yes, and they already have had input. There have been at least two consultations, I think, here in
the community within the last two or three years. That is where they developed the details of this plan.
You have to be aware that Small Craft Harbours look after fishing interests. They are not in the business of
commercial harbours. They have tried to design this harbour to meet the needs of all the fishing interests that use it. At
the moment, that is up to a 65-metre vessel. That design would automatically incorporate the smaller vessels that we
are interested in, and the bigger ones that deliver our fish. The design does not make allowance to bring in what we call
the sealift vessels, the 400-foot vessels out of Montreal that bring cars, vehicles, machinery and everything else up here.
Those vessels would not be able to enter the harbour that Small Craft Harbours proposes.
I am guessing the community will try to expand on their plan. I think Mr. Kathan has already indicated that he is
open to that suggestion if groups want to involve other federal departments who are willing to put in funds. They are
more than happy to expand it. But $8 million will not build a facility that will allow these 400-foot vessels to come here
or to land.
Senator Cochrane: That is my point. Once we put something in here it has to be worthwhile, and it has to be for the
use of the people.
Mr. Cunningham: Yes, that was my concern. I was concerned they would spend it all on consultations or the people
in Halifax doing a design. That is what I was worried about.
Senator Cochrane: We are all on the same page, are we not?
We had a tour of your plant and we are grateful for that. For the record, tell us about the employment within your
plant. We are looking mostly at the employment of the residents of the area. Who do you employ? Is there a need to
employ more, or are there more people you can employ, and so on and so forth?
The Chair: If any of the three witnesses want to participate at any time, feel free to do so.
Mr. Cunningham: I guess I probably can handle this one because I am heavily involved with it.
We employ probably about 30 people, up to 30 people full-time, in the eight months that we process offshore turbot,
and lesser numbers when we process char and our winter turbot because the volumes are not there, or we employ that
many but not for every day of the week. However, the winter turbot, that volume fish is five days a week, up to 30
people. These employees are all local community people. There are only two employees in that plant who are not from
Pangnirtung. I am one of them, and our production manager is another.
I do not know if I mentioned it this morning but my goal is — and I hope it will be in my lifetime too — that my job
is taken over by somebody from this community. My goal is that we can bring some people up and they will do my job
Senator Cochrane: Do you see an opportunity to employ more local people?
Mr. Cunningham: Yes, I think I mentioned that this morning too. We should have another 15 to 20 employees in
that plant to make it run as efficiently as it can be run. It is like any production line; if we have a missing link in the
chain, the whole chain does not work. We need more employees there. Yes, we are finding difficulties, especially in
recruiting younger people, men and women. However, we have some ideas. The Department of Education handles the
income support funding here in the community. I have been in discussions with them, and we all have some ideas that
we want to look at over the next few months; things like job fairs, maybe a breakfast program for everyone at the
plant, or a daycare facility. Whatever will work to bring the employees there to start, and then to keep them there after
they do start. I think that issue is an important one that we need to solve.
Senator Adams: Perhaps we have not talked about it, but when you plan things, you need to satisfy your
shareholders. You need to satisfy the real needs and the expected needs of the operation.
When you were talking about the fish plants, when you prepare your work plans, are you envisioning the market?
How does that affect you given that you are only a 49-per-cent shareholder? Does being a 49-per-cent shareholder
impact on the flow of cash that goes to the community? The 51-per-cent owner, being the Government of Nunavut,
stands to make more money. How does that ownership affect you as an enterprise? Can you ever foresee a time when
you will be the 100- per-cent owner and buy out the Nunavut government's 51 per cent? Is that in your strategic plan?
Joopa Gowdluapik, Chairman of the Board, Cumberland Sound Fisheries: Being a 49-per-cent shareholder, our share
in the Cumberland Sound Fisheries does not affect me as it is now. We work well together with the Nunavut
Development Corporation, the 51-per-cent shareholder. We are not worried about making a profit. Our problem, and
what we strive for, is to keep the plant afloat and operational. If we were looking at profits, we would be millionaires.
The co-op and the hunters and trappers would be millionaires if we were looking at making money only. However, we
want to create employment. It is a social-economic initiative, not a profit one. If the shareholders were to make a
percentage of 49 per cent, although we are only 49-per-cent shareholders, it does not affect us. Yes, in the future we
hope to own it 100 per cent, but at the moment we are not active and operating full time.
We are now worried about the new allocation policy that will come into effect. We are looking at how we might tap
into that new quota allocation if we receive a quota under the new policy. Yes, we can increase the 49 per cent. That is
what we are waiting for at the moment, the new allocation policy.
In 2009, when the new policy comes into effect it will affect us, so we must study it and determine how we can benefit
I hope I responded to you properly, Senator Adams.
Senator Adams: When we toured the fish plant this morning, we were told the bigger boats, as they become more
available, turbot and other fish might be more accessible and create more employment in the fish plant because
Nunavut Development Corporation has 51 per cent at the moment. Do you think the 51 per cent and the 49 per cent
shareholders will sit down together and prepare a strategic plan?
Mr. Gowdluapik: I cannot respond to you at this point how we will prepare our strategic plan. The Nunavut
Development Corporation meets in Rankin Inlet today. As to how they will come up with a proposal in our
partnership, we do not know. We do not know what our other partners plan to do. They may have their own ideas.
Senator Hubley: We learned many things by visiting the fish plant this morning, but there are two that I came away
with. The first one is that you need an improved infrastructure at the harbour. There is a need for a wharf to be built.
Two, sealift is a way of life in your community. It is an absolute essential. To do that more efficiently and effectively
I see the need, when you consider putting in a wharf infrastructure, that it addresses that reality as well. I think that
argument can be made from a social and also from an economical viewpoint. I would, I think, urge you to explore
other financing so that when you put in your wharf it will address the needs of your community. Can you comment
quickly on that?
Mr. Cunningham: That would be my first priority, because it makes sense, if we put in $8 million, possibly another
$5 million, $6 million, $7 million or $8 million would give us the exact wharf that we want. It makes sense to do it all as
a package as opposed to building half now and then another half in 10 year's time. There is a lot to be said for that
The problem, I guess, for me, is that I can speak only on the fisheries aspect, but I am sure that is one of the issues
that the hamlet of Pangnirtung and other interested parties here in Pangnirtung will explore with Mr. Kathan when he
arrives here in June. I think this document I have attached to the presentation is the first a lot of people are seeing of
what they think is the final design.
I think a lot of people expected that we would get a wharf out to the edge of the deep water, with a rock-fill wharf all
the way out there; sort of an extension of what we have now. However, my understanding from Mr. Kathan is that the
plan is to improve what we have here, dig the channel out to allow the 65-metre vessels in, and allow them to dock, turn
and unload. That is great for the fish plant, but it does not do anything for those sealift vessels and possibly some of the
You are exactly right; it is the right time to do it. While the ball is starting to roll, maybe we can all get behind it and
entice the Department of Transport to come in on it, and that we want a commercial wharf here.
Senator Hubley: I encourage that, because I think your situation here in the North is unique. The Small Craft
Harbours suit Prince Edward Island very well because that is exactly what we need. It addresses the community
fisheries we have, but we do not have that extra need of a sealift. I do not think one-size-fits-all plays well here in the
North, and I think there must be some understanding within government that there are issues here that can be
addressed and should be addressed together.
Mr. Cunningham: I think perhaps Manasa Evic would like to respond. Manasa, by the way, was our former mayor
so he is well versed in the needs of this community.
Manasa Evic, Chairman of the Board, Pangnirtung Fisheries: For two years I was a mayor. I worked hard as a mayor
for the fish plant. Because we live in Pangnirtung, it is a homeland. When we started turbot fisheries, we have high
winds in the fall, and when we have wind we cannot go out hunting. When it comes to sealift or offloading small craft
boats it is dangerous in high winds. I knew that we needed a safe harbour. I would like to see the harbour
accommodate all the needs in the community: sealift, small craft vessels and fishing boats. The only way we can have a
real harbour that works for us is if it is a multi-purpose harbour. People in Pangnirtung would welcome a harbour
because we hunt, we rely on sealift, and we would like to move into bigger fishing vessels.
Last year, I was grateful when the announcement came that there was an $8 million fund for the harbour. I was
extremely pleased. I am happy.
The Chair: I want to know more about Cumberland Sound Fisheries. Maybe you can tell me a bit about the
company, its shareholders and how the whole community benefits? I am interested in the arrangement.
Mr. Gowdluapik: I may not respond appropriately, but I will try. I am the chairman of the company that is a 49-per-
cent shareholder. Because I am a shareholder and chair, I am not there on a day-to-day operational basis.
Cumberland Sound Fisheries has been in existence for 20 years before my time. I have been involved in fisheries for
10 years. I consider myself a fairly new member. It has been a short time because we have been busy.
In 1985 or 1986, before we went into turbot ice fishing, we opened our membership and invited shareholders. Each
membership was $10. If they bought 10 shares, they could become a member. Forty-eight of us started the
membership. The Co-op joined us as a shareholder as well as the Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Association.
There are two other entities, Co-op and Hunters and Trappers. We are a limited company and we limit it to 50
members, according to the advice from our lawyers.
I hope that answered your question. If you do not have anymore questions, I want to make a statement about the
The Chair: No, I was interested. It seems like a creative way to do it, to me, and it is very much community based. I
congratulate you on the arrangement. Please proceed.
Mr. Gowdluapik: While we are talking about fisheries, we have other quotas. Cumberland Sound Fisheries also has
a shrimp quota of 1,200 metric tonnes but we do not shrimp because it is not viable for us. Baffin Fisheries Coalition
fish our quota for us. They do a great job of turbot fishing for us, but when it comes to a shrimp fishery it is not feasible
because the price of shrimp is too low to make it feasible. It is a big quota, but it is really a loss. I think the allocation of
1,000 tonnes is too much. If we paid the license fee it is more expensive to pay the license fee than what we would take
in after selling the shrimp. Because the price is so low, shrimp fishing is not worth it at the moment with the price of
shrimp. I would like to see the license fee removed or lowered so that it becomes more feasible, so that people in
Pangnirtung can make money if they were to shrimp-fish. The license fee is too expensive and the cost should be
lowered for that license.
The Chair: I do not think we heard that before, and I hope we can take note of that and see what can be done. You
have never fished the shrimp quota, is that right? Because all along the coast, in divisions 2J, 3K and 3L, a number of
shrimp enterprises are fishing quotas like yours, and some of them are fishing deep sea, some of them are landing and
so on. I understand the price situation but eventually prices change, and it can be a lucrative fishery. So I hope that
something can be done to bring you into the shrimp fishery.
Senator Adams: You have a shrimp quota. Do you know how much per tonne the shrimp are worth at the moment?
Mr. Gowdluapik: Can you repeat the question?
Senator Adams: When you received the quota for shrimp, what was the price per tonne at the time you were awarded
the quota? You have had the quota for 10 years. How much decline has there been in the quota per tonne?
Mr. Gowdluapik: When I started at Cumberland Sound Fisheries, it seemed the only thing that was fished at the
time was shrimp and everybody was into the shrimp fishery. Within a short time, in a month's time, they could make a
lot of money and they brought a lot of cash home. The price of shrimp was high and very good. However, later on
when we went into turbot fishing, turbot was not popular at the time. Now it is reversed. The price of turbot has gone
up and shrimp has gone done. Because the price of shrimp is too low, and because of the area where we must fish, areas
1, 2, 0B and 0A, we do not know if there is a lot of shrimp in those areas to make the trip worthwhile. Also, the fee is
too expensive, too high. Therefore, I cannot tell you how much per tonne shrimp is at the moment. However, it is not
feasible to fish in division 0A or division 0B for shrimp, plus the license fee is expensive.
Senator Robichaud: You say that you not been fishing the shrimp. How long can you keep that quota if you do not
fish the quota?
Mr. Gowdluapik: Thank you, Senator Robichaud. I met you when I appeared before the Senate years ago.
I cannot answer that. We were not fishing at the time that Nunavut Wildlife Management Board gave us the shrimp
quota. The NWMB has been generous with us and they gave it to us. I do not know how the new allocation policy,
when it comes into effect, will change our situation in area 1. We have had that quota only for the last five years, and
the quota for area 2 we have had maybe 8 years or 10, I forget. We already had those quotas when I came to the
company 10 years ago. I believe NWMB, who allocates those quotas, can give you the details as to when and how long
we have had those quotas, and their rationale for giving them to us.
Senator Robichaud: The port facilities that are planned here will give you facilities for a certain draft of boats, and a
channel will be dredged to the deep water. I heard this morning that it is gravel out there. You have high winds and
high currents. This means that every so often, you will need to dredge the channel. It is the same along the coast of New
Brunswick. It is not gravel, it is sand. If there is a storm, it fills up and they need to bring in the dredge for $100,000 or
If they were to build the wharf to go to the deep water, would that not eliminate that kind of situation?
Mr. Cunningham: You are exactly right. That is my concern. I think the money they will spend on dredging would be
better spent on building a rock-fill wharf all the way to the outside, because a dredged harbour will be difficult to
maintain. It is even worse up here because they can only bring a dredge here at certain times of the year, and it will be
My wish would be an extension of the existing wharf. That structure is good and solid. It could be a little bit wider
maybe, but it is a good, solid structure. If that wharf was extended to the outside, out to the deep water, we could land
any vessel here that we wanted. For me, it is more cost effective to build the full wharf than it is to try to dig that
Senator Robichaud: It was mentioned that there were other resources out there, like clams and scallops. Have you
given any consideration to looking for other resources and processing them at your plant?
Mr. Cunningham: Certainly, we want to look at that. For both clams and scallops, as you may be aware, there are
some health hazard issues that require a laboratory to check for contamination. Of course, we have no lab facilities in
this area so they probably need to go to Toronto or Winnipeg. That is an issue.
However, there are scallops, I have seen them, but they generally tend to be the size of what, in the South, they call
bay scallops. They are small. The meat is about the size of your thumb. They are not a large scallop. We might even
need to work around the regulations for scallop size. As you know, there is a minimum meat count on scallops.
Senator Robichaud: Per pound.
Mr. Cunningham: That is right, the number of scallops per pound, unless we receive special dispensation to work
around this regulation. They remind me of the farm scallops in the South, where the shell grows about that large and
they are sold in restaurants like mussels almost, right in the shell. That is what they remind me of. However, they are a
good scallop, and there seems to be a fair number of them there. I am not sure how they are harvesting them now.
There a couple of little drags here that people have used. That is one of the reasons I want a little bit larger boat here
that could serve several purposes; to look for other species of fish and shellfish. That is where I see the value of having
our own boat.
Mr. Evic: When we talked about when we go clam digging, we wait until low tide and we dig for the clams along the
shore. When it comes to clams they are small. I do not think relying on clams as another product would be feasible
because they are fairly small and we rely on the low tide or paddle waves once a month or twice a month to dig them.
The Chair: I want to thank all of you for coming here today. You have been helpful. We learned more about things
we heard this morning, but we learned some new things too this afternoon.
We are impressed with the way the plant is run, with how it looks, and also with the way the company is structured.
We congratulate you on that and we wish you well. If there is anything we can do, we will do it. We are not the
government, of course, we are the Senate. We cannot take decisions, but we can encourage people to make the right
ones, we will do that.
Senators, we now welcome Johnny Mike of the Baffin Fisheries Coalition.
Johnny, if you will give us a presentation for 10 minutes or however long you feel you need, then we will have
questions. Please proceed.
Johnny Mike, Director, Baffin Fisheries Coalition: Mr. Chair, honourable senators, ladies and gentlemen, welcome
to Nunavut, and in particular, to my home town of Pangnirtung. My name is Johnny Mike, and I am Director of the
Baffin Fisheries Coalition, BFC, and Chairman of Niqitaq Fisheries Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of BFC with
Inuit firm status.
Unfortunately, both the chair of BFC, Jacopie Maniapik, and CEO Jerry Ward, are travelling and cannot be here
with us today.
On behalf of BFC, I thank your committee for the opportunity to make this presentation on BFC's role in the
development of Nunavut's fishery.
My presentation today will concentrate on the following four points: first, background and organizational structure
of BFC and its subsidiary company, Niqitaq Fisheries Limited; second, results achieved by BFC since its formation in
2001; third, allocation of fishery resources in Nunavut's adjacent waters to non-adjacent southern companies, and the
continued marginalization of our fishery; and four, issues and priorities for the future development of Nunavut's
In terms of the background of the BFC and its organizational structure, BFC is a not-for-profit company that was
formed in 2001. It is a coalition of nine Inuit- owned companies. Its major role is to develop Nunavut's offshore turbot
fishery sector and to maximize benefits to Nunavummuit. The organization of BFC gave Nunavut the needed critical
mass to purchase and operate its own fishing vessels. In 2003, BFC formed Niqitaq Fisheries Limited, a wholly owned
subsidiary of BFC, to own and operate fishing vessels. Appendix 1 of our presentation provides a more detailed
explanation of our organizational structure.
The objectives of the coalition are as follows: exploratory fishing; development of new inshore fisheries and
emerging fisheries, if that can happen; development of offshore fisheries; recruitment and training for current and new
jobs in the offshore fishing industry, for example by ship; investment in Nunavut fishing vessels — this was successful;
lobbying to increase Nunavut's share of its adjacent fishery allocations in Nunavut waters; encouraging scientific
research, and that we be involved in that research at times; and administration of the initiative including preparing calls
for proposals, especially for fishing.
By combining our effort through the coalition, I wish to report that we have been successful in meeting our overall
objectives identified in our business plans, and I will outline specifically to your committee some of these results.
In terms of results achieved by the coalition since its formation, we completed and implemented a long-term
business plan that set the course for the orderly development of the division 0A offshore turbot fishery, and the success
that we have achieved to date.
We have been successful in increasing our harvest of division 0A turbot from 2,600 tonnes in 2001 to 5,200 in 2007.
Overall, the industry now harvests its full 6,500 tonnes of division 0A turbot. The quotas have been increased.
We have diversified our harvest mix from 100-per-cent trawler-caught fish in 2001 to 50-per-cent fixed gear and 50-
per-cent mobile gear in 2007.
It is important that I explain how the revenues generated from BFC's harvesting activities have benefited Nunavut
In terms of vessel acquisition, we have almost $2,000,000 in equity for the two vessels with freezers. For the
exploratory fishery, $820,000 of direct investment has been leveraged to over $4 million to conduct exploratory and
project work, in particular for the division 0A turbot surveys. As a result of the division 0A turbot survey work, the
overall turbot allocation was increased from 3,500 tonnes to 6,500 tonnes today.
We work with the Cumberland Sound Fisheries company, as the previous speakers said. Together with their quota,
almost 2,000 tonnes of turbot have been offloaded at the Pangnirtung plant by BFC since 2001 at a direct cost to BFC
of $3.5 million. As a result, the overall production and employment has increased in the fish plant.
We have been involved in organizing and implementing fisheries training plans. I am pleased to let you know that
we spent $860,000 in training programs. The money we received from division 0A has gone to training and as a result,
we have leveraged another $5 million for overall fishery training programs. Since 2002, some 21 fisheries-related
training courses have occurred. Some 229 Inuit have taken these courses, with a passing rate of 71 per cent, so the
retention is good. We are now entering the next stage of training through the Nunavut Fishery Training Consortium,
and the objective is to move Inuit from the factory floor of the fishing vessels into more technical and managerial
The committee heard from the membership of the hunters and trappers association and the Baffin Sound fisheries.
As we work closely with participating members in revenue sharing from Pangnirtung to Kimmirut-Lake Harbour,
which included the last two speakers, revenue-sharing has been $2.4 million, which has gone back to the communities.
Because the hunters and trappers in Pangnirtung are members, they were able to acquire a boat with this revenue
sharing. This revenue sharing is how we are assisting the communities.
In terms of lobbying efforts and advocacy efforts, you have heard about quotas and how they should be directed to
Nunavut. This quota allocation is something we have been pushing forever. We have needed lobbying efforts,
especially in division 0B. We have lobbied hard to represent Inuit interests at industry meetings and with DFO.
I want to go now to the unfairness of historical and current fishery allocations in Nunavut's adjacent waters.
Nunavut's share of its adjacent resources has increased from 19 per cent in 2001 to 45 per cent today. We must
continue to lobby hard until we have the same share of our adjacent fishery resources as enjoyed by our southern
neighbours of the fishery resource in their adjacent waters, from 80 per cent to 100 per cent, especially in division 0B. A
detailed analysis of Nunavut's share of its adjacent resources is attached for your review.
Chair and committee members, why has this situation happened? Other jurisdictions would not accept resources
within their own adjacent waters being allocated to outside jurisdictions. Imagine the uproar if 66 per cent of
Newfoundland's crab and shrimp went to Nova Scotia or if 66 per cent of P.E.I.'s lobsters were allocated to
Newfoundland. Why does this situation happen in Nunavut? It is happening today as we speak. We have only 27 per
cent of the quota in division 0B. That allocation would never happen in the adjacent waters of Newfoundland and
Labrador, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.
I also bring to your attention several recent decisions made by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that continue to
show disregard for Nunavut. We know that the minister continues to ignore Nunavut interests and their resources. He
does not care about Nunavut and the resources we have. We have struggled to be treated fairly in the development of
its adjacent fisheries.
The first decision was the approval by the minister to allow Seafreeze to transfer permanently 1,900 tonnes of its
division 0B turbot allocation. Nunavut was not even consulted on the matter. If they had been allocated to Nunavut,
we would have been told we need to obtain our own vessel, we need training and we need to have a fish processing
plant. The department ties all those conditions to approving a little quota.
For Seafreeze, they gave them the quota and said, here you go, make money; we do not require any conditions. That
is exactly how it goes. I know they treat us differently. Nunavut was not even consulted on the matter. The minister
missed an opportunity to correct some of the injustice of prior allocations in Nunavut's adjacent waters, and to
increase Nunavut's overall allocation. Instead, quota went primarily to Clearwater Foods in Nova Scotia.
The second decision was the approval by the minister to implement enterprise allocations for the 600 tonnes of
division 0B mobile gear allocations. Despite the fact that Nunavut now has its own harvesting capacity, not one kilo of
the 600 tonnes went to any Nunavut stakeholders, but rather to non-adjacent southern entities again.
Whether we are going after new allocation, we are told to allocate $500,000 for training. We have to retain this
training fund at $500,000.
Despite the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Access Criteria, IPAC, completed in 2002, and the
minister's acceptance of the recommendations on November 8, 2002, we see a continued marginalization of Nunavut
stakeholders relating to Nunavut's adjacent resources. The recommendations of IPAC have not been honoured.
We go back now to issues and future priorities. The returns from the offshore will continue to be a catalyst to the
development of Nunavut's fishery, as identified in our objectives earlier.
Chair, committee members, ladies and gentlemen, Nunavut must take control of the development of its adjacent
fisheries. However, to do so, Nunavut must be treated fairly and provided with the tools to make our industry
economically viable, environmentally friendly, sustainable in the long term and conservation minded. Slowly and
surely, we are making progress.
For these reasons, we make the following recommendations. While we appreciate the announcement to invest in the
long overdue marine infrastructure in Pangnirtung, we urge the federal government to proceed much more quickly to
live up to their commitment to put marine facilities in six other Baffin-region communities. These facilities are essential
to the development of the inshore fisheries.
We recommend that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans live up to the recommendations of the report of the
Independent Panel on Access Criteria as it relates to allocations of fisheries resources in Nunavut's adjacent waters.
Any future allocation increases in Nunavut's adjacent waters must go to Nunavut until such time as Nunavut enjoys
the same percentage of allocations as our southern neighbours, for example, Newfoundland and Labrador, enjoy in
their adjacent waters. Furthermore, the minister must put in place a policy that ensures that in the future, Nunavut
stakeholders will have the right of first refusal to purchase at a competitive rate any allocations that are transferred or
sold in Nunavut's adjacent waters.
The federal government must make a commitment and a special case to carry out annual scientific surveys in the
North for turbot and shrimp, and to live up to their promises in the past.
Other people made presentations earlier. I have worked with those representatives for a long time, and other people
behind me have been very much involved. I have also been a chairperson. Once I know they are capable of doing their
jobs on their own, I usually move on to something else.
People were talking about shrimp, turbot and shellfish, but we do not operate like the system in Newfoundland and
Labrador. We do not overhunt. We have warned them that we are ready to change the quotas if any of those animals
or any fishing has declined.
There were questions about fishing. For example, there was a question about shrimp fishing. We are listening to our
knowledgeable elders on this subject. They did the same thing for fishing or hunting other mammals. We are not trying
to decrease any of the sea mammals.
I will finish my presentation because I do not think I will ever have another chance again with you. Fishing and
hunting has always been a traditional way of life for the Inuit.
With respect to DFO, they have failed. I think they have failed. We did not and we never will.
With turbot and shrimp, it will happen again. It will repeat. There are shrimp quotas.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Is that how you say it? We had a squeaky wheel here and everybody noticed that. So
DFO decided to give us a paper shrimp for area 1 and 2. They gave us a nice huge quota that was never meant to be
Senator Robichaud: Why do you say that?
Mr. Mike: It is worthless. Nobody will fish it. Nobody wants to lose their shirt. There is no money in that. For area
4, 5 and 6, yes it is different and it is lucrative because you can travel there in a day. You do not have to steam three
days to go there and three days back.
We will spend more money on training so we can bring our people up to par to work in fisheries. We will continue to
support the development of fisheries. Turbot is now the highest paid.
In closing, I want to talk about fishing and hunting. It has always been a traditional way of life for Inuit. However,
the commercialization of our offshore fisheries is relatively new to us. As we move into the commercial fishery we
realize how variables beyond our control such as the fluctuations in the Canadian dollar, and the escalating oil prices
can have major impact and implications on the viability of our business.
I go back to the bowhead whale hunting days. The residents of Pangnirtung have been involved in bowhead
commercial hunts. We are now moving to a new fishery with turbot fisheries.
In closing, we know that we cannot control a lot of things in the fisheries such as the fluctuations in the Canadians
dollar and the high cost of oil. Those factors are beyond our control. The Canadian dollar is doing well right now and
we are happy with that but it fluctuates.
We are happy to have allocations or quota awarded to us in division 0B or division 0A because the federal
government does not spend a cent in those areas whenever we catch. It is new money. It is new economy.
It is a new buck; it is a new dollar. It is not a handout from the government. Any renewable resource that is
commercialized is a new dollar for Nunavut. How can the minister keep giving away resources, creating a system of
more welfare in the whole Arctic?
Social studies and economic studies have been done about Inuit, their social and economic status, housing problems
and no jobs. Millions of dollars have been invested in a study that shows we are poor in almost everything, socially and
economically. How can the minister give away our rights in Nunavut waters when so many studies on the Inuit report
that we are not aiming towards glory?
Mr. Chair, to conclude my presentation, the bottom line is that we want a fishery that is controlled by Inuit, one
that provides meaningful employment for the people in our communities.
We want employment. We want economic development. We want self-sufficiency and self-determination. We want
to see our resources allocated to us. Keep that in mind. We also want a fishery that is environmentally friendly and
sustainable in the long term.
In closing, I thank you for this opportunity. The objective for the fisheries in our adjacent waters must be to
maximize the benefits to the Inuit of Nunavut.
Senator Adams: Thank you, Johnny Mike. Your presentation was excellent.
We were supposed to be here on Tuesday. We ended up going to Resolute Bay instead because of weather.
However, I understand that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs was able to make it.
Were you able to appear before them on your issues? Were you able to convey your concerns to the members of that
committee when they were here?
Mr. Mike: I had dinner with them. They toured the fish plant and we had dinner there. I relayed the same message
that I gave you today. I spoke to the chair and I spoke with Nancy Karetak-Lindell, our MP for Nunavut. Basically,
the same presentation was given to them. They will receive the same copy of the presentation this committee received in
Inuktitut, English and French.
Senator Adams: My next question is in regard to the money you spent on studies. Since I became a senator, DFO has
received an annual budget of about $200 million for all of Canada. Keeping that in mind, you have spent about
$800,000 when you could have received $4 million minus the training. How has DFO been able to assist you
Mr. Mike: We work well with DFO when it comes to studies and requesting money for studies. Nunavut Tunngavik
Incorporated, NTI, and Nunavut government have been supportive. They have given us funding. For the $4 million we
have spent so far in studies, we have been able to obtain funding from DFO, NTI and the Nunavut government. We
contribute our share. We do not receive 100-per-cent funding. Division 0A used to be smaller. There is a regulation
that if BFC and other members pay towards studies, then the quota goes to Nunavut residents. The studies about
quotas in division 0A have been Nunavut driven and we have paid for them. Between 2001 and 2002, DFO did some
studies in division 0A and division 0B. They looked at how the quotas should be allocated.
Senator Adams: Did they consult with you when you first started your enterprise? Did they include you in their fact-
finding? Did they invite you to participate?
Mr. Mike: It was a complex exercise. The chair of the Cumberland Sound Fisheries talked about the new allocation
policy and how it will be implemented. DFO is not the only one that determines where division 0A allocations go, or
how quotas increase, once we come to an agreement as partners. When we first met, when we formed the BFC we came
to an agreement as a coalition that they would increase our quota: more membership, more quota. That is why we
decided to pursue the coalition. It was not only one community that would benefit from a harbour; I think six
communities would benefit.
I envy Seafreeze. They must be making a lot of money that rightfully should go to Nunavut residents. We are not
too worried about that. If we receive a quota we try to divvy it equally. The revenue from our quota and catch we try to
divvy equally among members. We look at the inukshuk as a symbol. I would say Nunavut would like more quota.
Senator Adams: We are asking about the Arctic waters, the Davis Strait because it is adjacent to your community
and to Greenland. Since we signed our land claim agreement, I have been asking NTI as to their opinion how the
adjacency affects Canadians because the waters are also adjacent to Greenland. When we negotiated land claims, we
talked about a hundred-mile limit; that the adjacency should be extended within a 100-mile limit. It is not even 200
miles from Greenland at this point. What is your opinion on the adjacency because you are successfully fishing in
division 0A, off the adjacent waters? What are your concerns about the adjacency issue? We asked officials of the
DFO, the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada in Ottawa about the hundred-mile limit and the limitations
when it comes to adjacency. They said it was six to nine hours, which is a 12-mile limit from the shore, apparently.
What is your opinion on that limit?
Mr. Mike: Whenever I go to meetings on fisheries I have heard about this limit and I have heard discussions. This
winter when we had a shrimp conference in Newfoundland and Labrador, I started thinking perhaps they had the
boundary or the limit. We all have issues with our 12-mile limit or 100-mile limit.
Niqitaq has two ships, two vessels. I should be the first Inuit pirate to trespass other borders. I think we could do it.
Other countries are doing it. I know that the government would not appreciate it. We do not say much about that.
However, when we have an opportunity to talk about quota, we talk about it. We tried to abide by the regulations
imposed on us regarding Greenland and Northern Canada. We are told that the boundaries of division 0A and division
0B are closer to Greenland. I believe the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, is responsible now for the
management of that area.
We have not been involved in political issues like that. However, I envy Greenland Inuit fishers who can come and
go to division 0A. I believe Greenland has a quota of 11,000; we have a quota of 6,000. I believe they have more quota
in division 0B as well.
Regarding the mile limits, that is the limitation, yes, and it puts the Nunavummiut at a disadvantage. Greenland has
more to gain because of the area where it is located and the boundary.
Senator Cochrane: How many vessels did you say you had?
Mr. Mike: In the BFC?
Senator Cochrane: Yes.
Mr. Mike: For BFC alone we have two. The other member of BFC, which is Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, QC, has one
large factory vessel. It has one, so there are three.
Senator Cochrane: Are they all Canadian owned?
Mr. Mike: They are Canadian owned and registered in Nunavut.
Senator Cochrane: Are the people working on these vessels Inuit? Are they local people?
Mr. Mike: I am sorry?
Senator Cochrane: The people working on these vessels, are they local people? Are they Inuit people?
Mr. Mike: Yes; as I mentioned in my presentation, there is Inuit employment and training at the factory floor level.
We are looking forward to further our training or to advance our training policy to more of a technical and managerial
position within the vessel.
Senator Cochrane: BFC is a not-for-profit corporation, am I right?
Mr. Mike: That is correct.
Senator Cochrane: However, it also has a for-profit component?
Mr. Mike: Yes.
Senator Cochrane: It has two components: a not-for-profit and a for-profit?
Mr. Mike: Exactly.
Senator Cochrane: I cannot get my head around that, sorry.
Can you describe the structure? How can it be a for-profit and a not-for-profit? Describe that to me.
Mr. Mike: I will do my best to elaborate and answer the question. It is a good question.
BFC received the society status because it is a form of coalition that combines Pangnirtung Fisheries and
community hunters and trappers, three corporations. Different levels of status exist within the membership.
To protect the interest of BFC membership, we decided to create a for-profit organization, a corporation called
Niqitaq Fisheries Limited. It is to protect the BFC interest because Niqitaq operates the two vessels. It is a for-profit
organization similar to a Crown corporation. It is a different structure, but the general idea is to protect the interests of
BFC in a certain way.
Senator Cochrane: Let us look at the profit, then. The main company, BFC, makes a profit and does not make a
profit. Tell me about that.
Mr. Mike: Niqitaq handles all the profit and distributes it to BFC. BFC decides what to do in terms of the members,
which is to pay $600,000 a year in dividends to the members of BFC.
Senator Cochrane: To the members of BFC?
Mr. Mike: Yes.
Senator Cochrane: In total, how many members are there?
Mr. Mike: Nine.
Senator Cochrane: Do the profits go to these nine members?
Mr. Mike: Yes; it is not a profit, it is a dividend.
Senator Cochrane: How much of a dividend goes to these nine members?
Mr. Mike: In total for the nine members it is $600,000.
Senator Cochrane: Is that $600,000 for a year?
Mr. Mike: Yes.
Senator Cochrane: Is that the same every year?
Mr. Mike: Yes, that is because we signed a Partner Memorandum of Understanding, PMOU, to put it aside for the
training program, the exploratory vessel acquisition, and things like that. That is one of the components that the
members decided to do. The member of the Pangnirtung organization who talked earlier about buying a boat managed
to buy that boat for the community out of that dividend. Otherwise look at it. In division 0B, that 1,900 tonnes going
down south, I do not know what it is used for but if we had it, it would go back to the community. A simple little idea
such as having a community boat comes from our profit. If we have more, we can give more. That is the bottom line.
Senator Cochrane: It could become more than 600,000?
Mr. Mike: It could if we had more quota.
Senator Cochrane: Tell me about that other vessel.
Mr. Mike: The QC vessel?
Senator Cochrane: Yes.
Mr. Mike: That vessel belongs to Qiqiktaaluk Corporation, which is again a subsidiary for-profit corporation of
Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Senator Cochrane: Where does the profit go there?
Mr. Mike: I have no idea where it goes because they have their own corporation for their boat, and I do not know
where it goes from there. It does not go back to BFC or Niqitaq.
Senator Robichaud: In your chart, you say that all the organizations are Inuit owned. Whatever the outcome, the
money goes to the Inuit, does it not?
Mr. Mike: Yes.
Here is another thing you have to know. The people of Nunavut, mainly Inuit, voted to have a government. To me
that is an Inuit government.
Senator Hubley: From $820,000 in direct investment, you were able to lever over $4 million to conduct exploratory
and project work. I wonder if you might share with us who your partners in that project would have been.
Mr. Mike: I think I outlined that earlier. They are Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Government of Nunavut,
Department of Fisheries and Oceans and BFC. If we can find any other resources such as from Kakivak Association,
then that is part of that too. Also, we usually have funds from Nunavut Fisheries Training Consortium too if there is a
training involved, or skills development for Inuit.
Senator Hubley: It has been a good project in that you have increased your allocation substantially in division 0A.
The other question was on your revenue sharing with participant members, $2.4 million directly back to the
communities. Does that money go to individuals in the community, members in that organization, or to community
Mr. Mike: It is paid out to members and they will decide what to do with it. It does not go to individuals.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Mike, for coming here and being so helpful to us. We appreciate your insight.
Mr. Mike: Mr. Chair, I have a couple of things for you here. These are issues of the Nunatsiaq News printed last
week. My colleagues and I are in the picture. The DFO minister did not ask for the autograph, but I have put down my
signature. I have one for you and one for him.
The Chair: Thanks very much.
Senators, we will now move into our town hall portion of the meeting. A number of people have indicated that they
want to make presentations to us.
We ask you to make your presentation within three to five minutes so that we can fit everybody in.
I call Levi Evic first, please.
Levi Evic, as an individual: My presentation will be short. Your presence here in Pangnirtung is important to us.
I am also a fisherman. I represent other fishermen here. Since I was a young man, I have been a fisherman in salt
water, through ice and in the lakes. To date, I am a fisherman.
I have two points concerning supporting the fishermen here in the community. I know they need assistance because
we have a lot of barriers. I also did a study on my own on the lakes for Arctic char. I did this study because I like to
represent the community here well.
I was also given quotas by the minister. The quotas that were allocated to me had conditions. Therefore, I would
like you to understand more about Inuit. I also represent the Inuit here.
I have been working on this study for eight years, but there has been a huge misunderstanding about funding that
we need. When I do my studies, the funding given for studies is minimal. It is never enough to do a good job and to
finish the job. I would like our community to have a future in economic development through fisheries. Because you
are into the fisheries, I suggest, and I want you to know that, one possible employment we can look at is fisheries. I do
not speak English, but I work whenever I can. I am a traditional hunter. We can do our own studies. I work with Inuit
and sometimes we have someone from DFO to work with us and to participate in our studies.
When it comes to the quota we can still barter, steal quotas. Or we could give it to the fish plant so they can have
Hunters receive quotas. The hunters and trappers association receives quotas. However, what I have been working
on I have been doing for eight years. Sometimes I do not get funding. Some years I do. It puts me behind in my study
because the funding is not reliable. We are supposed to complete our studies in five years. If there is a time frame, then
they must guarantee funding for studies. If I have a quota, that would go towards research studies. Once I have done
my research, the quota would be turned over to the community, and fishermen would be able to fish the quota.
The younger people are quick to learn research techniques, and capable. The research I am doing is interesting, but
the funding given to us to conduct our study is too small. It is never enough. Because that research is being done by
Inuit for Inuit, they do not give us a lot of credibility because we do not have the certification that a scientist or a
researcher would have.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Winnipeg reviews my research. DFO in Iqaluit reviews my work, and I
work with them. Although I am licensed, the funding they allocate to us is too small. It could create employment and
the study could be done in half the time if we had adequate funding.
When it comes to fishing turbot on ice, it has been many years since I participated in that fishery because the ice was
becoming too thin and dangerous. I know, and I fully understand the work that we did in the winter ice fishing. It is a
technique that I am familiar with.
The Chair: Excuse me but I must ask you to conclude now because other people want to speak to us. Thank you
very much for appearing.
Senator Adams: Thank you for doing your own research. Researchers in the past have never involved the Inuit and
Regarding the research monies that you receive, you say it is never enough. DFO and the Freshwater Fish
Marketing Board in Winnipeg used to do a count and survey at the mouth of the rivers or in the lakes. I know that
your research will be somewhat cheaper because you do not rely on helicopters and all kinds of fancy equipment. You
move around on your own land.
Mr. Evic: Because the funding I receive is never enough to employ people, I need to do the study. The operational
budget for boats and ski-doos, for mobility, we do not receive that. We are told we must sell our catch to offset our
operational costs. It is not covered in the research.
Senator Adams: When you conduct your survey and count, do you send that information to the freshwater
organization in Winnipeg?
Mr. Evic: Yes, we look at different lakes, and we summarize which lakes we have studied or surveyed. That is the
only way. Once the studies in different lakes are completed, once they determine how much fish there are, then they
receive a quota.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I now call on Eric Joamie and Gita Laidler.
Gita Laidler, as an individual: I will keep my part short. I feel honoured to have the chance to be a part of this
meeting, and to be invited by Eric Joamie to speak with him here.
We wanted to follow-up on a previous comment made about a sea ice project that is been going on in Pangnirtung
for the past five years now. Eric and I have been working on that project together throughout the whole time. I am
currently at Carleton University.
As the focus of that project, we wanted to raise awareness about the sea ice. We are working closely with the elders
and hunters who are the experts on the sea ice. We are trying to characterize sea ice from Inuit perspectives to learn of
the importance and uses of the sea ice in the past, but even more, its importance today, and the changes that people
experience with the sea ice and how those changes influence the communities.
I wanted to highlight this project. We can direct you to more resources to find out about the results of this project.
We are doing our utmost to document and represent Inuit expertise and to convey this expertise accurately. From that
perspective, and listening to other discussions today, we had a few thoughts.
Eric wanted to talk about recommendations from the community perspective.
Eric Joamie, as an individual: I am from Pangnirtung and I live here. I have been working with this young lady for a
while in this community. We have been gathering information about ice conditions or changes in the ice with elders.
We have been studying how the ice has been changing over the years by utilizing elders' knowledge and working with
elders. We have been documenting elders' knowledge in this study.
We have also been documenting how these findings can be used in education, especially for our young people
including our own language. Because it is important that we do not lose our language especially, we are working with
the education group here in the community, and we will present these ideas to you this afternoon.
There has been mention of some of these issues or items. We do not really have any response to some of these issues,
or solutions, but there has been a lot of talk about today's ice conditions. This issue will not go away. There has been a
lot of discussion on it.
Looking at the climate change today and what we have been hearing from all over, of course there will be an impact,
especially on the hunters. Hunters will see a huge impact. That includes their hunting ways, our change of food.
Because of these burning issues, because there are unanswered questions, we would like to find out how the
Government of Canada can help us in terms of funding with our studies. For example, if they start imposing quotas on
whales and ring seals it will become extremely difficult. What we see when they start imposing quotas is that pretty
soon we will not be allowed to hunt them.
We want training monies. We would like the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to support us financially,
and to set up a network with us to study icebreakers and the Canadian Coast Guard. Since the Coast Guard has
experience in travelling our waters we would like to work with them on the studies to determine how the ice conditions
are changing. If the Coast Guard can participate and partner with us in studying the ice conditions, it would really help
the hunters in the long run to network with the Coast Guard.
The research that we are doing we have used satellite links with our computer and other technology. Because the
Coast Guard ships have all the technology in place, we could use those technologies. I believe it would be beneficial for
the residents of Nunavut, hunters especially, if the Coast Guard, with their technology and their experience could assist
us even if, for instance, they let us use their equipment two days a week to monitor.
The weather is now unpredictable and the ice movement is changing fast. We need to monitor where the ice goes and
it would not be for our community only; it would be for all the communities in Nunavut. If DFO could assist us in
that, it would benefit us.
We keep hearing the Canadian federal government say over and over that they own Northern Canada, that it
belongs to Canada. It is a sovereignty issue at this point. We believe the federal government should be more involved in
freeing research monies and monitoring in the Arctic.
I will conclude here because I have to catch a flight to Iqaluit.
Senator Adams: Researchers network and consult with governments, forgetting that there are residents who have the
knowledge and who should be involved. You are looking for research monies, and they bring researchers from the
South. They have all their equipment and they need all their technology to do their work. Let us remember, though,
that we have resources in our communities — the elders. They have traditional knowledge. Are you using the elders'
knowledge in your research?
Mr. Joamie: Inuit traditional knowledge is all that we have used in our studies. We have not had any support from
Western technology or researchers. We have not used any technology. We are looking at traditional knowledge, which
comes from my observation of and experiences with the elders. We try to incorporate a perspective from way back to
the present day. We use Inuit traditional knowledge only.
Yes, I know it would be beneficial to combine the technology of today with our traditional knowledge, but we were
given a camera and a compass. That is the extent of the support that we have been given when it comes to high-tech
assistance. Trent University and Carleton University have assisted us, but they cannot fund our project as we would
like them to.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I now call on Davidee Anankak.
I would remind everyone that the policy we agreed to before we left Ottawa was to have presentations of five
minutes without questions so that we could fit in as many people as possible. I would ask us all to abide by that, please.
Davidee Anankak: You are here to consult with people. I will not be rushing my presentation.
I am appearing before you because I am concerned about fisheries, and they are only starting. I have a son who
works in a fishing vessel. I have to force him to go out to work because he does not like to work in a fishing boat. When
people come together to work in a confined space, there are so many problems and inter-personal problems that
happen. They have to work with non-Inuit and there is a certain amount of perhaps discrimination or different
treatment because they are Inuit. Many people who start working in fishing vessels quit because of their different
treatments. I have asked my son when he goes to work in the fishing boats if he receives an orientation on working with
people and the rules that are in place to protect and treat each other fairly. There is none.
I think it is because they have trouble finding jobs. When they enter a workplace, especially in the boats, they are
treated differently. Fishers who work in fishing vessels, who own those fishing boats, need some obligation to have
fairness and equity in the workplace because too many Inuit quit in the fishing companies and fishing vessels.
That is all I had to say. We need to hold the fishing vessels accountable and make sure that they have equitable
employment practices and no discriminatory practices.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I now call on Noah Metiq.
Noah Metiq, as an individual: I am one of the fishers in Pangnirtung. When the ice was free, we used to go turbot
fishing on ice. However, because of the ice conditions right now we never know what the ice conditions are and
whether it is safe up to a certain time.
We have huge fishing gear and it is expensive. We have lost a lot of our fishing equipment many times, and we lose
money. I lost my fishing huts and all my gear. They were found floating around Resolution Island. I asked for
compensation from the Nunavut government. Once they allocated the funds, or it was not 100 per cent of the real costs
so it was not enough to buy the equipment again. Because the ice is changing and because we do not have the capital
cash upfront, it is difficult to operate as a fisher. We have lost equipment.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I know call on Jamesie Mike.
Jamesie Mike, as an individual: I am an elder in Pangnirtung. I am 80 years old. Thank you for coming to our
community. What I heard from the community is that it was impressive that nobody is fighting. People are voicing
I want to reiterate what you heard earlier. When we started turbot fishing, nobody talked about the Greenlanders
who came first to teach us how to fish for turbot. Two people came from Greenland many years ago to teach us how to
fish for turbot. One of them stayed with me. I thanked them, and this is before Canadians went into turbot fishing. We
had the Greenland Inuit show us how to fish.
In 1984, two Greenlanders came. We, the hunters and trappers, requested that we have Greenlanders come and
teach us how to fish for turbot. The government brought them in here to train us how to fish for turbot so I give those
two trainers, the first time trainers for turbot fishing, a lot of thanks. It was the initiative of the hunters and trappers
because we felt the need to look at turbot fishing. We requested assistance and who would be better to teach us than
our own people from a foreign country that had the experience. We need to acknowledge them.
I acknowledge that you are here and that you are genuinely concerned, and you are here to listen to our concerns. I
appreciate that and I thank you because I have to keep it short. I think my five minutes are up.
The Chair: Thank you very much indeed.
Senators, that brings us to the end of our hearings, but I want to thank a lot of people.
I want to thank the municipality for having us, and the staff of the municipality who have looked after us so well.
I want to thank the people who have appeared before us today, and thank them for their input and their insights.
We have been on the road now for a week, and although they are not here, I thank the other people who have
appeared before us as well.
I also want to thank our own staff who experienced some trying conditions, particularly with weather. We have been
making our trip in reverse. We were hoping to come to Pangnirtung first, and we are in Pangnirtung last. However,
some people say to save the best for the last, so it has worked out well.
To accomplish what we set out to do, a lot of manoeuvring and a lot of change needed to be made by our own staff,
and they did it extremely well and competently. We would not have been able to organize and do our job effectively if
they had not done that manoeuvring. I thank them profoundly, publicly and on the record, for what they have done.
I thank our researcher and our consultant for their input and their assistance. Without them we would not be able to
survive either, because they keep us on track and they tell us what we have said after we have said it, and help us to
formulate our thoughts.
I want to thank the people who organized the logistics for us, both those who stayed in Iqaluit and those who were
with us. I know the hours you have put in. I know the changes you have had to make, the stresses you have had to
endure, and you have done very, very well.
I want to thank our interpreters. This is the first time, as far as I know, that a Senate committee, or indeed any
parliamentary committee, has operated in Pangnirtung with Inuktitut interpretation. Committees have been here
before, but I do not think they have had formal hearings with Inuktitut interpretation. That has happened in Iqaluit,
but I do not think it has happened in Pangnirtung before.
Senator Robichaud: As well as French.
The Chair: Yes.
As Senator Robichaud said earlier, the Senate has taken a decision that we will use Inuktitut as a language in our
chamber. I do not know of anyone, except the Legislature of Nunavut, who is doing that in Canada at the present time.
We hope this practice will continue. It has passed the Senate; it has gone to committee for review; and it will come back
again to the Senate. I am confident that it will pass and that it will be the policy of the Senate to include Inuktitut as a
working language, as and when required, so that people like Senator Adams and Senator Watt can speak their
language in Parliament, express themselves clearly and be understood by all of us.
I thank the technicians who have worked so hard to put everything together for us, because without them we would
not be able to operate either.
Who did I not thank — the communications and media. I did not thank them, but they have not all written their
stories yet. I will withhold my thanks until I see the stories.
Senator Robichaud: And the hamlet.
The Chair: I mentioned Pangnirtung itself at the beginning, and the hospitality that we have been shown and the
procedures that we have been able to carry out in this community. Thank you all very much.
We will return to Ottawa to reflect on what we have heard, following which we will issue a report. I hope that those
of you who have presented will find yourself reflected in that report.
We will make recommendations to the government. The rules stipulate that when we send our recommendations to
the Government of Canada, they must reply within 100 days. They do not have to agree with us, and sometimes they
do not. We may not like the reply that we receive, but we will receive a reply. Even then, we can use that reply as
further ammunition to carry the matter further.
Thank you all very much. This brings our hearings to a conclusion.