Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 10 - Evidence - September 23, 2009 - Afternoon meeting


INUVIK, Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 1:02 p.m. to study issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans (topic: matters related to the Canadian Coast Guard and fisheries in the Western Arctic).

Senator Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: I call this meeting to order. Our first witness this afternoon is Mr. Duane Smith of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

We heard from Mr. Smith in Ottawa, but it does not hurt to go into more depth and hear from him here, so we are looking forward to his presentation. Then we will have some questions.

Duane, please, over to you.

Duane Smith, Vice-Chair, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, you have heard from me in the past in my other capacity, that is, as President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada. I hope you have been provided with my presentation. I am also the Vice Chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation which represents the Inuvialuit of this region.

First of all, I would like to welcome you to Inuvik. If you are not sure what the name means, in my dialect it means roughly ``the place of men,'' although it has different terminologies.

I am going to provide you with a little bit of background so you get some sense of where I am coming from. First, the Inuvialuit have lived in this area for a millennium. In 1984, the Inuvialuit and the Government of Canada signed what is now commonly referred to as the IFA or the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

Some of the background data that was used to complete the IFA was the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Report which was completed in 1977. This report demonstrated the Inuit — not only the Inuvialuit but the whole Inuit region — attachment and relationship to both the land and to the fresh waters and the ocean.

Although they are very hard to come by now because of when they were done, I would strongly recommend that this committee obtain a copy of this report for your own reference and review, as the present day use and occupancy of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region by the Inuvialuit is fairly similar today.

If you are able to obtain this report, you will see that the researcher went house to house and asked individuals ``where do you travel, for what purpose, how long do you go out for and where are you going,'' et cetera. If you look at the maps in this report, they will show vast areas and the scales of geography within this region. It is not uncommon for people to travel ranges of anywhere from 200 to 400 kilometres on a regular basis, for going to their traditional camps or for going out hunting for marine species such as polar bears, or for whatever reason. It will also show you the amount of use of the ice within this region as well. I emphasize that because, not only for the Inuvialuit in this region but for Inuit across the country, our relationship to the ice is crucial to who we are as a people.

Under the IFA, various co-management bodies were created to ensure both scientific and traditional knowledge were part of research and management decisions, with sustainability being the primary condition. We also have similar bodies to address environmental screening and review concerns.

In consideration of the Inuvialuit view of the importance of ensuring a sustained ecosystem of which we see ourselves as a part, a national park, the Ivvavik National Park, was established with the signing of the IFA, a first for Canada. Since then, there have been two other national parks established, along with five bird sanctuaries and a national historic site that recognizes and signifies the Inuvialuit contribution to the Canadian identity. This area is known as Kittigaryuit and is a 600-year-old whaling community that continues to be seasonally utilized. There is an even older site further upstream within the Mackenzie Delta as well.

The Inuvialuit took it upon themselves to establish bylaws requiring ourselves to harvest beluga humanely and to reduce stroke-loss ratios to a minuscule amount. The Inuvialuit also established beluga marine protected areas to ensure beluga habitat was sustained as best as it can be. Understandings were also reached with industry to respect these areas, and they continue to do so today.

I have provided this background information in order for you to gather some understanding of the Inuvialuit, our role within Canada and our respect for the environment around us and to stress how we can develop mutually beneficial processes to meet our needs.

I just want to point out that these three national parks within this region are roughly about 50,000 square kilometres.

Now I will try to address some of the inquiries you have forwarded on to us. You have asked us to comment on the role of the Coast Guard. Obviously the Coast Guard plays a crucial role in the much ignored and forgotten Arctic Ocean. It is the only body that provides navigation and safety for marine-going vessels in the Arctic. The Coast Guard also demonstrates sovereignty in Canada's Arctic.

There are areas where there needs to be an improved presence of the Coast Guard. First, providing ice condition reports on the regional CBC weather advisories would benefit communities and local individuals who may be travelling. Environment Canada's weather forecasting within this region was enhanced after they came up and consulted with people in the region. It would only make sense for ice condition reports to be provided in a similar manner.

Second, increased coastal patrols towards the Canada-U.S. border would demonstrate use and occupancy. I do not think I need to point out the dispute about the border issue — which way the line should be going, if it follows one line or another. I want to point out that Inuvialuit continue to travel back and forth, both summertime and in winter, to our cousins in Alaska and vice versa. They do continue to travel back and forth visiting each other periodically. We are demonstrating our use of that area. I understand Canada and the U.S.A. for a couple of years now have been working jointly to map the far offshore in regards to our UN Law of the Sea obligations. Canada needs to enhance its own personal presence within that area for other purposes as well.

Third, re-establish initial spill containment equipment in various communities to ensure the Coast Guard can meet its requirements for containment and clean-up of such spills. As you may know, and you probably heard in the Central and Eastern Arctic, most communities are isolated and can only be accessed either by air or by ship during the summertime. Most communities are provided with their supplies, including fuel, building supplies and staple foods, by ship during the short summer seasons.

The reason I am pointing this out is because in the past, the Coast Guard had some clean-up containers as they are called strategically located in certain communities throughout Canada's Arctic. In some places the containers are still there, but the status and the quality of the equipment is uncertain because no one has been maintaining or inspecting them on a regular basis.

Fourth, coordinate with other government agencies to provide consistent training of personnel and volunteers in communities to contain such spills, as they are the initial responders. This is at the community level where the various government agencies used to work with each other to provide training of the local people to contain the spill, depending on the magnitude, so that the Coast Guard can get better quality equipment in to clean up the rest of the spill.

This has not been done on a regular basis. It is not a fault of the Coast Guard only, but they are one of the agencies responsible for this issue. It is the fault of all levels of government, municipal, regional, territorial and federal, of course.

Fifth, work in coordination with other government agencies to monitor the water quality and quantity of Canada's largest river and delta. The Mackenzie River has the potential to be contaminated by various development activities in its upper watershed. Some that come to mind are the tar sands, the pulp mills and the mines around Yellowknife with all the arsenic that is stored in them. The federal government spends close to $200 million annually just to contain the arsenic within the abandoned gold mines in the Yellowknife area, which may seep or leak into the Mackenzie River watershed.

B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and the N.W.T. have a body called the Mackenzie Basin Watershed Agreement. It is basically just a gentlemen's understanding that they would let each other know what their water use is. This is a very soft understanding even though most of our water is dependent on the quality and the quantity of the water coming down from this watershed.

If you look at the geography of most of the communities within the Northwest Territories, you will see a lot of the communities are along the rivers, and that is where their water supply comes from. So it is crucial for us to ensure that quantity and quality is maintained.

I will go a little further just to elaborate. It was around 1996 when the Bennett Dam had a leak. They had to relieve the pressure by dropping the level of the lake six feet. This was in October and they did not inform anybody that this amount of water was coming down this system. To date, I think there are two communities in Alberta that are still taking them to court over the issue of the flooding.

When that amount of water reached the Mackenzie Delta, the delta was already frozen. It broke up all the ice. You know our system in the winter: some of the communities are dependent on the creation of what we call ice roads, so transportation and supplies are provided to those communities over the ice. If not, then the cost of living is unreal, basically. So there needs to be a better process within this agreement.

The next point is to ensure and inspect industries' ability to provide adequate equipment to contain potential spills from their transportation vessels or drilling ships. It is a requirement to have some equipment on their ships, but who knows what the quality or the training is for the staff that are on those vessels.

Next, to work with industry and others and conduct mock exercises. Again, different scales and levels of training are required, both of local personnel and regional response mechanisms to address those issues.

Enhance Canada's commitment to research through its Arctic by utilizing the Coast Guard's ability to transport equipment to areas that require further data collection. I will elaborate a little further as I go on to research issues that you have requested responses about.

Canada's Northern Strategy that came out recently is still fairly vague. From the Inuvialuit IRC perspective, we would like to focus on two specific vision statements. First, ``self-reliant individuals living in healthy, vibrant communities, managing their own affairs and shaping their destinies.'' The IRC has worked with others in the development of sustainable development plans for the region, communities and individuals that address social, cultural and economic impacts from resource development. These include the following: Beaufort Delta Agenda, the Mackenzie Gas Project Social Impact Fund and the Integrated Ocean Management Plan.

Second, ``the northern tradition of respect for the land and the environment is paramount and principles of responsible and sustainable development that anchor all decision making and actions.'' Proposals and plans to conduct research prior to major offshore development occurring have not been fully supported. The research is essential to identify and address gaps and ensure proper baseline information is established, so management boards and agencies can make sound decisions to address exploration and development.

Over the past five years, three major proposals have been drafted. These are the Beaufort Sea Strategic Plan of Action, a multi-stakeholder plan that provides a list of actions necessary to ensure negative impacts are minimized and to prepare for Beaufort Sea resource development. Current proposals to conduct a Beaufort Regional Environment Assessment, commonly referred to in this area as BREA, should be supported so the appropriate research and environmental assessment is conducted to properly determine the pace and scale of offshore development in the Beaufort Sea.

An Integrated Ocean Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea has been recently completed and work plans are currently being developed for its full implementation. Its implementation will greatly assist in the sustainability of the Large Ocean Management Area, LOMA Beaufort Sea, and address many of the concerns of the Inuvialuit as the primary users of the ocean resources.

I reemphasize this because in my view, the United States is basically trying to do what we have already done in this regard and playing catch-up. The processes and systems they have in place conflict with each other in some ways and do not adequately address what we are trying to identify here. It is not to say that our system is any better, but the system we have is already in place. It just needs the resources and the capacity to fill in the gaps so we can get a better understanding of the ecosystem within this region.

Under the Arctic Council as well, the Beaufort Sea is identified as one of the three primary areas that the Arctic Council would focus on in regards to trying to address ecosystem research as a pilot.

I understand that the Inuvialuit Game Council has also registered to speak before you. They have a representative here and some of their staff and I apologize to them if I touch on some of their issues, but I have been asked to speak in regards to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, so if some points are reiterated by them, then I apologize, but it would emphasize the importance of it.

The IFA recognizes the extensive association with and traditional use by the Inuvialuit of the land and waters within the settlement region. With this recognition, IFA provides the Inuvialuit with preferential or exclusive right to harvest all species of wildlife except certain migratory birds throughout the lands and waters of the settlement region. The IFA established wildlife and fisheries co-management structures, the membership being equally designated by government and the Inuvialuit. They are commonly referred to as co-management bodies.

Similar international agreements and national measures have been successfully developed and implemented by the Inuvialuit Game Council and the IFA co-management bodies such as the Canada/Alaska Polar Bear Agreement, which is a little over 20 years old and was renewed some years ago. Again, it is an information sharing and research coordination of polar bears within the Beaufort Sea.

The Beaufort Sea Beluga Management Plan is a similar process is in place between our Alaska colleagues and ourselves within this area.

The FJMC in concert with the Inuvialuit Game Council and IRC, is currently discussing a collective position with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on moves by American interest groups to establish a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Canadian Beaufort Sea comparable to that in the Alaska Beaufort.

Currently, there are no offshore commercial fish quotas in the Canadian Beaufort Sea area. The FJMC and IGC would be fully involved in all aspects of the establishment of such quotas if some were to be considered.

Climate change in this region has brought significant changes to the ISR. These include: rising ocean water levels, coastal erosion, Mackenzie River and delta erosion, all contributing to increased levels of mercury both in the freshwater and ocean water watersheds; thawing permafrost creating ground heaves and slumpage which have affected community infrastructure; unpredictable weather patterns; dangerous ice conditions; unreliable wildlife migratory patterns; invasive predatory species, including new insects in the North as well; and the receding ice pack, allowing for bigger storms from the ocean.

There are new and emerging diseases as well. Under the Arctic Council, there is a body led by Dr. Alan Parkinson. He is based in Anchorage as the chair of this monitoring body that shares information with health organizations throughout the circumpolar Arctic to monitor new and emerging diseases.

Climate change has also provided the opportunity for increased shipping and tourism, new mineral and oil and gas exploration and eventual development. These may not all be negative if they are conducted in a restrained manner that allows for step by step development and ensures the people primarily affected are meaningfully involved and benefit from the activity as well.

Virtually all research is related to international or academic interests. Very little funding is provided to support marine renewable resource research, and that is what I was getting at earlier, to try to fill in some of those gaps. There needs to be more resources provided to support marine resource within this region and other fields of regional interest as outlined in the documents that I previously referred to. Your clerk has been provided with those, or a majority of them.

Increasing levels of research under these would greatly contribute to the understanding of the Beaufort Sea ecosystem and demonstrate Canada's further sovereignty to the region.

Improved communication and the development of research priorities with the communities is essential, as well as providing annual results to the regions for their benefit and review. This is a process that has been adopted by the ArcticNet. I am not sure if everybody around here is familiar with ArcticNet, but it is a body under the National Centre of Excellence that conducts various research projects throughout Canada's Arctic. It has a multitude of representatives including industry, Inuit, academia and government agencies sitting on that board.

One of the ArcticNet board's commitments was to go back to the regions to present the results, but the board has yet to conduct that activity, and they are in their seventh year now.

You had asked about the Mackenzie Gas Project and offshore development. The Mackenzie Gas Project is important, not so much in itself but in that it heralds the opening of a new hydrocarbon development and production base. While important from this perspective, it is largely a land-based natural gas project, and although there will be associated issues for inland waters and fisheries, it will have limited immediate impact upon the larger Beaufort Sea environment.

The main issue of concern relates to the unprecedented offshore hydrocarbon exploration commitments in recent years. Imperial Oil Limited has committed nearly $600 million for exploration within the Beaufort. British Petroleum has committed roughly $1.2 billion, indicating major interest by multinational oil companies to identify additional oil reserves in politically friendly areas.

A significant impediment to the development of the hydrocarbon resources in this region is the absence of a serviced deep-water port anywhere along the entire length of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Offshore exploration and development requires an array of support and specialized deep-water vessels. Such vessels require a deep-water port to avoid the economically impractical and inefficient entry into and removal from the region every summer season.

The community of Tuktoyaktuk is geographically centred to fill this void, but will require intervention by the federal government and other parties to address the entry silting problem of recent years.

Several issues of major concern such as oil spill prevention and response that need to be researched and addressed prior to development of offshore hydrocarbon resources have been identified in recent marine planning processes carried out by IOM, BSStRPA and BREA. Yet there is little sense of urgency by government in identifying the required financial resources to advance the redress of these issues.

I am not sure how familiar the committee is, but there are roughly 500 million barrels of oil in known reserves sitting offshore in the Beaufort Sea already. It is just a matter of time if and when they get developed. It is in Canada's interest to see those resources developed, of course, but it is also in Canada's interest to ensure that the potential negative impacts of the development of those resources are minimized to the greatest extent possible.

My summary and conclusions are that there is a consistent political message from the federal government that northerners need to be fully involved and benefit from the sustainable development of the North's resources. Despite this political refrain, there is little recognition of the associated need to ensure that the threats to the northern environment and lifestyle from such developments are fully understood and either avoided or mitigated in advance of the development occurring.

Again I note, the social impacts of the Mackenzie Gas Project will be addressed through the MGP Impact Fund but the expansion into the offshore environment has yet to garner practical political attention.

Currently, there are huge gaps in our collective knowledge of the Beaufort Sea environment and the impacts major offshore developments would have on this environment and the people who have depended on it for countless generations. This gap needs to be addressed.

Meaningful visionary commitments need to be made for Canada's Arctic in order for Canada to address adequately such issues as offshore exploration and development, mining, large-scale commercial fishing, shipping and fisheries. We also need to increase our knowledge of the environment, the ecosystem, and most importantly, work together with the people who live in Canada's Arctic to achieve each other's needs.

There is a limited knowledge base for government decision making, a lack of engagement with northern Aboriginal people and the need to develop policies for the North by the North, not in isolation of the people who are most affected. A long-term process to ensure minimal impacts on the environment while improving northerners' living standards is required as well. Respect the Arctic, its environment and its people as a unique region.

I have provided the staff and chair with some additional documents that show the four Inuit regions and communities of Canada as well as the potential trade and transportation routes through Canada's Arctic. This one was taken from the recent Arctic Council Arctic marine shipping assessment. I have also provided a circumpolar map from the Arctic Council circumpolar oil and gas assessment, which shows you the scale and magnitude of development that may occur within Canada's Arctic as well. I apologize for the poor quality of those copies. The actual documents themselves are available in the reports that I referred to.

Although the Inuvialuit are strong, vibrant people who will continue to adapt, we as Canadians need to ensure the diversity as we pride ourselves on continues well into the future. Quyanainni. Thank you very much.

Senator Cook: Thank you for your presentation. You mention in your presentation the disputed line in the Beaufort Sea between the United States and Canada. I would like you to elaborate a bit on that. What should Canada be doing? Finally, how important is it to the people who live here?

Mr. Smith: I can only go on my own understanding and assessment of the situation.

My understanding is the United States says the line should go in this direction, while Canada says it should just follow the latitude-longitude lines. It is about a 5,000 square mile area that is in dispute.

Of course, the primary reason there is a large dispute is because industry has identified that area as potentially having large oil and gas reserves. Both countries in the past have opened those areas for exploration by multinational companies without any actual exploration taking place, because whenever one country does it, the other country files a dispute saying that is not their jurisdiction to allow that. The oil companies primarily and the gas companies are handcuffed in that situation and nothing actually happens.

When you come down to how this affects the people of this area, first of all, you have these large vessels travelling back and forth in the Beaufort with the potential to have a negative impact on the environment which we depend so much on. The Inuvialuit as other indigenous people, not only within Canada, see ourselves as a part of the ecosystem. Anything that affects that ecosystem will affect us as well.

If there is going to be any development in the offshore, and more specifically in that area, which is a sensitive area for beluga and bowhead whales and various fish species, then it can have a negative impact on those species and our way of life within this region. As well, in the wintertime, some of these large vessels are parked periodically right offshore of a national park, the Ivvavik National Park to which I made reference, as well as an international UN site and a territorial park, the Herschel Island Park. So it does not give a good sense of comfort when you allow these types of things to be taking place right beside the parks.

Senator Cook: If I understand what you are saying, it is really important for the people who live here to have input into that line that Canada will eventually agree on with the United States. Have you had any input into it up to this point?

Mr. Smith: As far as I know, the only dialogue that has taken place is at the very high diplomatic level between the two countries, between Ottawa and Washington primarily.

Leaving that aside, Canada and the U.S. have a long-standing working relationship to conduct activities, the most recent one being that the Louis S. St. Laurent and the U.S. vessel have been conducting offshore mapping of the North American basin.

As an example, if you were able to travel to that area, you would see a post about this high, and that is Canada's pillar to say this is Canada, and then you go a few feet down and you have got this skyscraper, basically, saying this is the United States now. It kind of symbolizes this Big Brother sort of mentality, and if Canada wants to demonstrate a stronger sovereignty, then we need to go out there and maintain these facilities. As I stated earlier, we need to show a presence out there more often, not beating our chest or announcing military activities but just going about it quietly and saying that we have conducted this or that within that area and once it is concluded, going about our business. We need to be more active within the region.

Senator Cook: You say there is a large reserve of oil and gas in that disputed area. So conceivably, there would be no licence issued for drilling exploration. Who would issue the licence? That will be the first test, will not it?

Mr. Smith: Well, that is the heart of the dispute. I cannot say there are known reserves. As far as I know, unproven reserves is what they call them.

There has been a lot of past seismic activity taking place with ships in that area. That has been allowed, but once it comes time to allow drilling, then that is where it stops. There has not been any drilling allowed within that area.

Senator Cook: Do you feel you should be part of that process that brings that about?

Mr. Smith: If there is to be any activity within that area, our final agreement allows us to be involved through our screening and review process. It is not exclusive to the Inuvialuit, but it is a thing we have negotiated and agreed upon with the Government of Canada, to be meaningfully involved in that process.

The screening and review process has an obligation to come back to the communities to allow organizations such as my own as well as individuals to express their views and opinions on that issue, if and when that were to occur.

The Chair: Let us be clear. In the disputed area, you feel you have the right to be consulted and to exercise some influence over what happens in that disputed area?

Mr. Smith: Yes, I do, primarily because we have the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. The Government of Canada recognizes our traditional use and occupancy of that area. Again, the final agreement has various processes such as the Fisheries Joint Management Committee, the Environmental Screening Committee, and if it went that far, the Environmental Impact Review Board, which are all under the IFA, that involves us, yes.

The Chair: Now, we have only got about 10 minutes left so if we could keep our questions and answers succinct, that would be good.

Senator Hubley: Thank you very much, Mr. Smith, for your presentation. In the interest of time, on your summary and conclusions, I would just like you to comment and perhaps expand on a couple of these and share with us what you feel the solution would be.

Under the second bullet, and I will just read it, you said that currently there are huge gaps in our collective knowledge of the Beaufort Sea environment and the impacts major offshore developments would have on this environment, et cetera. You also said there was limited knowledge base for government decision making and a lack of engagement with northern Aboriginal people. The last bullet is develop policies for the North by the North, not in isolation from the people who are most impacted.

Those are really strong recommendations and I sense that there is something troubling here, perhaps the exclusion of northern people in decision making.

We hear that there is scientific research taking place. How is that filtering through the system? Does it mean that there has to be more cooperation between the agencies in the North or the agencies within government? I am wondering if you might comment on that for me.

Mr. Smith: Where shall I begin?

Senator Hubley: I do not know. Perhaps I should go back. Maybe that is too broad.

I think the gaps are what we are looking at specifically.

Mr. Smith: I will try to address most of your questions. In regards to the huge gaps to which I referred, I am focusing on the research carried out right now by the Fisheries Joint Management Committee and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on marine species within this region. Most of the research is conducted on near shore-species and/or large species, again such as the bowhead, the beluga and seals. Then there is some marine research that is conducted on species that migrate up various water bodies to overwinter, spawn, et cetera.

There is no research on the potential shellfish or the herring or the cod that are primarily located far out in the ocean all year around. These species have been identified by exploratory fishing agencies who want to try and come up here to conduct fisheries. This should have been a warning flag to say, we do not have enough information, therefore we cannot issue an exploratory licence to you until we know more about it.

The FJMC since then has developed a process with DFO to establish a step-by-step process. If there is to be any exploratory fishery, they have to go through this, harvest a very small amount, provide samples to DFO so that they can get the age, the quality of the species, et cetera, before they can allocate larger amounts of quota. They are taking a very precautionary approach to it. Again, we have to wait and see until there is an exploratory fishery licence given out, which there is not so far. We should be more proactive in identifying those areas and doing that research now ourselves.

Most of Canada's Arctic, leaving aside the Beaufort, is not even mapped on the offshore. If we want to say the Northwest Passage is internal to Canada, we do not even know how to navigate or the depths of the waters for most of that area ourselves. Our own shipping companies do know those and most of those are very shallow waters.

If the ice continues to recede the way it is doing, then you will have multinational companies saying, well, let us knock off 5,000 miles and go through the Northwest Passage. Then they may run aground because there are no maps or information on the offshore. That is the type of research we need to gather, and it also demonstrates that we know that information and it is our area.

The Chair: We should remember that we had testimony earlier this week that, at the present rate, if we do not get more resources, it will take 50 years to complete the hydrography of the Northwest Passage.

Senator Hubley: I am going to leave my question there but I would like to thank you for articulating so clearly the changes that environmental changes are going to bring to your community. I would also like to comment on the fact that you have suggested your strong relationship to ice, not as a barrier but as an integral part of your lifestyle. It is something that we may take for granted but it is very important to you in the North.

Mr. Smith: Thank you for pointing that out. I just make a point that I did put out a report last year as part of the Arctic Council which is called The Sea Ice is Our Highway. It is a very condensed report focused just on Canada, although it was done on behalf of the Inuit Circumpolar Council as a whole.

Senator Raine: Thank you very much for being here. I wonder if you could give me a bit more information on the arsenic and the mines over in Yellowknife. How much money did you say the federal government is spending to contain that arsenic?

Mr. Smith: During the 40 years that there were gold mines in the Yellowknife area, arsenic was built up and stored in abandoned caverns within the mines. The mines have shut down since then and are filling up with water from seepage, drainage, rainwater, et cetera. The federal government, INAC in this case, is now required to ensure that water does not fill up these mines. They have been spending close to $200 million a year to ensure that these mines do not fill up with water, as well as doing research to come up with new storage techniques.

Freezing the ground on a permanent basis is the latest technology they are looking at, with what they call thermistors. You will see thermistors in the community around here. They are long poles that are sticking out of the ground that do not look like they are doing anything, but are there to control the temperature under the ground so that it stays frozen. That is how we are trying to address infrastructure issues as well, where we have communities such as this that live on permafrost.

Senator Raine: It is kind of mind-boggling to think that they would have to keep spending that kind of money because of a waste product left behind because the mine did not look after their wastes as they were going along.

Mr. Smith: That is why I say we need to develop the technology and have adequate resources in place prior to allowing various types of mining, oil and gas development to take place within the Arctic, which is a very fragile environment to begin with.

Senator Raine: Have you had any indication at this point that the tar sands development is impacting the quality of the Mackenzie River?

Mr. Smith: Again, water monitoring is conducted in a few places along the Mackenzie River system. I am not sure if they monitor it for specific chemicals or items that may be coming from the tar sands specifically. However, as I stated earlier, the mercury levels coming down from the Mackenzie River have skyrocketed, to put it simply. The source is not known. It has been identified as partly due to erosion with mercury coming naturally out of the ground, but that does not explain why the levels have risen so much in such a short period.

As for the tar sands, you would have to look at the drainage agreement to see where all the water drains. It may not necessarily all come down the Mackenzie River. It can go down other water systems into the Northwest Territories and as far away as Saskatchewan as well.

Senator Raine: The Coast Guard has a Coast Guard auxiliary, and my understanding is that they can help in initial containment and things like that because they are located in the communities. Do communities in your area have Coast Guard auxiliary people?

Mr. Smith: No, they do not. They have an office here that opens in the spring and shuts in the fall. They have containers in the area but the status of those containers and clean up equipment is unknown. I do not know how often they inspect it. They may inspect it on a regular basis but they are not providing any training or information to the communities or comfort to the region as a whole in that regard.

Senator Raine: Actually, I may be wrong about the Coast Guard auxiliary. Are they involved in environmental response or search and rescue? Primarily search and rescue, I think.

Okay, so we will put that in our report, I guess then, that that is an issue with you. Because if those containers are there and they are not being properly maintained, that is a real shame.

Mr. Smith: There is one in the community of Paulatuk, which is the one for this region. As far as I know, there is one in Gjoa Haven as well. I am not sure of their status.

Senator Raine: There is nothing in Tuktoyaktuk?

Mr. Smith: There used to be. I do not know the status of that either. That is what I mean. There needs to be some comfort given to the people of that community and the region saying that we have this equipment and it is up to date, it is easily available and training is provided. That is the sort of thing that needs to be done.

The Chair: Mr. Smith, what is your relationship with BP and Exxon?

Mr. Smith: My relationship?

The Chair: No, not yours, but your organization's.

Mr. Smith: Well, through the Mackenzie Gas Project primarily. We have an understanding with Imperial Oil to address negative social impact issues, to provide training to us, to provide us with a very small amount of funding to put towards scholarships as well as to rent our land. That is because, if and when this Mackenzie Gas Project were to happen, the pipeline would be crossing Inuvialuit private land. As well, under our IFA, it says we shall be a meaningful part of the northern economy and we have negotiated with them an access and benefits agreement for the project itself.

The Chair: So that is in place?

Mr. Smith: Yes.

The Chair: With both companies?

Mr. Smith: With Imperial. BP is not a part of the Mackenzie Gas Project.

The Chair: Okay, no but BP is offshore.

Mr. Smith: Yes.

The Chair: Do you have a relationship with BP?

Mr. Smith: That is specific area of concern because we have tried to stress that we have MOUs or have had MOUs with other offshore exploration companies.

Ironically, it is Imperial Oil that we have the dispute with, and the federal government does not recognize our right in this regard. It is an issue that we continue to have dialogue with all parties on, stressing that we need to have some comfort level.

As I stated in my presentation, prior to any meaningful development that takes place offshore, we should be trying to clarify how the people of this region will be benefiting, not just facing all of the negative impacts that will take place.

The Chair: Senators, we have run out of time but there are other groups and I am sure that we will have questions for them.

Mr. Smith, thank you. You have been very helpful. You have given us a lot of good information and we appreciate it.

We are going to hear now from Mr. Billy Storr of the Inuvialuit Game Council.

Mr. Storr, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your organization.

Billy Storr, Inuvialuit Game Council: Good afternoon. I am here representing the Inuvialuit Game Council. The Inuvialuit Game Council is responsible for the collective Inuvialuit interest in wildlife and environment. It is made up of directors from all six Inuvialuit communities, local hunters and trappers associations.

The IGC only recently became aware of this session and has not had time to prepare a comprehensive submission. Your committee's focus is on the Canadian Coast Guard and so that will be the IGC focus.

As there is no ``response organization'' in the Canadian Arctic, the Canadian Coast Guard ``Levels of Service and Service Standards'' document provides that the Canadian Coast Guard must provide a primary response capacity North of 60 degrees north latitude. In recent years, there has been a growing concern within our region that there is no credible response to an offshore oil spill in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, and this is a concern which probably extends to Nunavut and clear across the Arctic.

Several factors have led to this increasing concern, including lack of an industry response organization, increased shipping as a result of diminishing sea ice extent and thickness, current lack of offshore-capable equipment and trained personnel within the region, and current seismic exploration and industry drilling interests in the deep water off the Beaufort offshore.

Over a decade ago, the Canadian Coast Guard established regional advisory councils as vehicles for public communication. These councils are now the responsibility of Transport Canada.

This region has requested numerous times over the past few years via the Arctic Regional Advisory Council to know the type, status, disposition and mobilization and deployment times for Arctic offshore-capable oil spill fighting equipment. To date, we have received no response to this request, nor, we understand, has the ARAC.

We further understand that most of this type of equipment is stored in Ontario. This does not bolster our confidence with respect to an offshore spill being dealt with appropriately or in a timely way.

We also understand that the National Advisory Council of Transport Canada, made up of regional advisory council presidents, has requested a full independent public review of Canada's oil spill response regime. We hope this will take place sooner rather than later, particularly if the pace of offshore development quickens in this region.

If the Canadian Coast Guard requires additional resources to fulfill this part of its mandate, serious consideration should be given to providing it to them on a priority basis.

The Canadian Coast Guard has container packs of offshore spill fighting equipment in some communities to deal with, for example, ship-to-shore fuel transfers. As the communities are considered first responders, Canadian Coast Guard has undertaken community-level training, but in recent years, this seems to have ceased.

There is still a need for trained responders at the community level, and once again, if this is a lack of Canadian Coast Guard resources, it should be addressed on a priority basis.

Senator Cochrane: I know that you have dealt mostly with other things like the oil spills and so on but tell me a little bit about climate change, would you? What have you seen in regards to climate change in this area?

Mr. Storr: Climate change has probably changed a lot of the ways people hunt now. In the past, we learned traditionally how to hunt. With climate change now being a factor, what our ancestors and people told us how to get to our hunting grounds is not how we can get there any more. Our modes of travel have been different, the timing has been different, for all our harvesting needs.

An example is, there are places where we used to harvest geese. We used to go on ice in the spring and now it is no longer safe. It is really unpredictable. The thickness is not there any more so it makes it harder to travel, more difficult and dangerous.

Senator Cochrane: We just heard about levels of mercury possibly from erosion within the Mackenzie River, and the possibility of new and emerging diseases. Have you got any recent information on that?

Mr. Storr: I am not sure if we have or not. Not to my knowledge.

Senator Cochrane: This is something the previous gentleman was talking about.

Tell me about the oil spills. You do not have the fighting equipment so on, but if there is an oil spill, does industry not take care of it?

Mr. Storr: Only if industry is in the area, but seismic drilling is not industry. Industry is not involved with fuel transfers, which happen because a lot of the coastal communities have their fuel barged in. The response time that we would like to see is not there.

Senator Cochrane: How long? What is the response time?

Mr. Storr: There is nothing in place for a major spill in the Arctic. The closest response would be from Ontario, I believe, and that would probably take a week.

Senator Cochrane: This is something new, though.

Senator Raine: Yesterday we visited the Coast Guard facility in Hay River and saw where they store their oil spill recovery equipment. It is very well organized, very well catalogued, and they have a program if there is a spill.

I was very satisfied that they knew exactly who was nearby in terms of industrial people involved with the spill, what they could do and what they needed and they would be on their way. They talked about cascading, so that the next wave of equipment then would come from Sarnia. It would come at the same time but it would arrive in a cascading effect.

I was satisfied that they had pretty good plans in place. Obviously you cannot have equipment all over the place because there are just not enough resources to go around, but if you have a method of getting equipment quickly to the spill site —

Mr. Storr: I do not know if our ``quickly'' is the same as their ``quickly,'' because Hay River is a long way away from here. It is an even longer way to Paulatuk or someplace farther in the far reaches of our region.

Senator Raine: It is interesting because there are so many calls on everybody's resources, there are so many different issues that need resources that in some form there has to be a way of saying what comes first. You could spend millions and millions of dollars having caches of equipment all along the coast that never got used.

Mr. Storr: That is right.

Senator Raine: Then the thing is to have them somewhere where they can be taken quickly.

Anyway, it would be interesting to put you in touch with the people at Hay River so that you can see what they do have.

Mr. Storr: Yes.

Senator Raine: Is there a Coast Guard auxiliary here in this area?

Mr. Storr: There is one in Inuvik. For the response, the first responders they used to have were local people, but those have since gone and ceased, and anybody that you brought in now would be all from the South.

With the weather conditions we have, not everything works smoothly, you know. Usually the cause of something is the rough weather or the harsh conditions that equipment is working in.

Senator Raine: I guess to me, one of the hard things is to be living in the fear of what happens if, and not being sure in your mind that you are prepared.

Mr. Storr: Yes, that is a concern that we have as the game council.

Senator Raine: I can see that. Thank you.

The Chair: Just to follow up though, we did hear, you are right, in Hay River that the equipment was there and there was a method for getting it on site and also that there would be people in the community targeted to initially deal with the response. We heard that the Coast Guard auxiliary and the Rangers — I mean there are only so many people in the community and usually they are a part of either organization — but the indication was that there certainly were people in the community who were targeted to start the response.

Now, mind you, they have got to have equipment. If there is no equipment in the community, you cannot start till the equipment gets there.

Mr. Storr: That is right.

The Chair: That was our understanding from Hay River yesterday, and I am surprised. So what was the answer about the Coast Guard auxiliary? What did you say about that?

Mr. Storr: I am not sure.

Senator Hubley: He said there was one in Inuvik.

Senator Raine: I think we were getting confused. Coast Guard auxiliary were to be doing search and rescue.

The Chair: Yes, but we did hear in Hay River that there were people ready. The hydro people might be the first line, but there have to be people in the community who begin the response but they cannot obviously start it without equipment.

Senator Cook: What I heard in Hay River was that there were people contracted so there are linkages between Hay River and the sites where the spills might occur. If they had a plan in place with local contractors or someone, the first responder was in place. The first responder is the person who spills and does not start cleaning up, right?

Senator Raine: Looking at my notes from yesterday, I distinctly remember one gentleman say his biggest challenge is correcting the public perception that they can be there overnight.

The Chair: Would it be helpful if we invited the Coast Guard to the table?

Senator Raine: Of course.

The Chair: Okay. Would somebody like to? No? Well, are there further questions?

Senator Cook: Climate change is going to have an increased impact, increased because of the Northwest Passage traffic and more people. Do you see a time when you will no longer be able to live off the land as a hunter or a trapper?

Mr. Storr: It is getting more and more difficult to live off the land. There are still a lot of people who do live off the land. With increasing industry in the area, fewer and fewer people do this but there are always people that live off the land part time. You cannot really do so full time.

Senator Cook: As industry comes to this land with all its challenges, do you see your people losing the skill, the ability to live off the land other than on a part-time basis or for sport or whatever? Reliance on the land will not be there, I think that is a given.

Mr. Storr: Yes.

Senator Cook: How do you mitigate that change?

Mr. Storr: We try to keep as many people as possible on the land.

Senator Cook: Our young people are less likely to become hunters and trappers, right? There will be an influx of people from the South when the boom comes to the river or to the oil and gas and the exploration, all that goes with it. How do you manage to change from one era to the other is the big concern that I have.

Mr. Storr: I guess industry has a big impact on the number of people that go out on the land. There are fewer and fewer people to train the young people in the skills they need to survive and to harvest on the land and maintain a traditional way of life.

Senator Cook: Managing change is a challenge, is it not?

Mr. Storr: It is.

The Chair: Thank you very much for being here. You have been very helpful to us. You have raised some problems, you have answered some questions. Thanks for coming.

I now welcome Ethel Blondin-Andrew, chairperson of the Sahtu Secretariat, who is a former colleague of mine from the House of Commons. We served together there for some years. We had some good experiences together and I am very pleased to see that she is back involved in community service. With her is Howard Townsend, Lands Advisor to the Sahtu Secretariat. We are going to hear from them now and then we will have some questions.

Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Chairperson, Sahtu Secretariat: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I feel like Yogi Berra; it is déjà vu all over again.

I am really pleased to be here with colleagues from the Senate. I do not know if I have ever been before a Senate committee, maybe once or twice in the 17 years I was in Parliament. I am really pleased to be here. I feel very strongly about the issues that you are talking about.

Now, we are off the Beaufort Sea area, we are in the Sahtu region, but we are on the river system. We live near one of the biggest lakes in the world, Great Bear Lake, and we also live along the Mackenzie River.

Mr. Townsend works with our organization. I am the chairperson for the Sahtu Secretariat Inc. It is a land claims organization like the Gwich'in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. We each have our separate regional claims and they are comprehensive and we have an organization that is responsible for doing the implementation and monitoring.

Nellie Cournoyea is the chairperson for the IRC and Richard Nerysoo is the chairperson for the Gwich'in Tribal Council and I am the one for the Sahtu region. I have come full circle. I have come back to the communities I am from after being in Parliament and in cabinet for 12 years out of those 17 years. I am really pleased to see you.

People ask me if I miss Parliament and I now tell them that I work very hard at not missing it, because it is really a part of your inner being when you have been there. It becomes part of you. It is hard to go outside the walls and not relate to it. I have worked really hard at being busy working for my people and I think it has been quite satisfying to see what we do in Parliament and what we do in the Senate and how it actually relates on the ground.

Dealing with the business of today, you asked us to consider the role of the Coast Guard, Canada's Northern Strategy, climate change, fisheries co-management, the integrated management, scientific research and the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project. I like to take the instructions I am given and try to be true to the invitation that we got.

You also wanted to know more about our organizations, I just touched on that a bit, and how we interact. I should let you know the GTC, IRC and SSI, our regional organizations, meet together as leaders with the territorial government and the federal government on certain issues. We have a northern leaders' forum with them to discuss fundamental issues, so we interact in that way.

If something special comes up about wildlife management, such as caribou or something, we have our representatives that also meet one another in different areas, different disciplines.

Our successes and our challenges related to fisheries are related to many different things, including some of the issues that you mentioned before.

This slide of my Power Point presentation shows some of the scenery you see in the Sahtu region. This is the Great Bear River that flows from the Great Bear Lake into the Mackenzie River. We have quite an expansive watershed and all the rivers flow from different sources. It is quite unique.

The Coast Guard never goes up this river, but my father was a riverboat pilot for the Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL), which is now owned by the Inuvialuit. He did a lot of the ore carrying to the mine up in Great Bear Lake which you will see later on, on a ship like this, the Radium Franklin. Then the ore comes from the mine down the river up the Mackenzie and down into waterways, but it changed over the years.

So this is a very special place on the water route. The Dene consider this the place of creation. That mountain is called Bear Rock and it is on the Mackenzie River. On the other side are three beaver pelts and some of the symbols important to the people. I think it is on the protected area list as well. The people are really strong in their beliefs about their culture and their sacred places and that is one of them.

Regarding the role of the Coast Guard, I have a very strong affinity for the Coast Guard outside of my professional views. There was a slide in this Power Point presentation that seems to be missing. I had something on the amount of money that was dedicated to the role of the Coast Guard and I was going to speak to that. There are numbers on there and there are a number of issues. I wanted to talk about the decommissioning of the Louis St. Laurent.

My late brother Charlie worked on the Louis S. St. Laurent. He worked for the Coast Guard for many years, and he spent many Christmases out on the ocean either on the Macdonald, the CGS Eider or the Louis S. St. Laurent. He worked in the engine room and they would be gone for huge long stretches of time. It is a unique role for a young Dene man, a really different situation. He worked with the Coast Guard, he worked with many French speaking members. Some of his best friends retired from the Coast Guard, so I have a very strong concern about what happens to the Coast Guard because I really believe in learning from people's personal context of what the Coast Guard is about.

I am a big supporter of the recapitalization of the Coast Guard. I think we need lots of money for the Coast Guard. I think their role is integral to what happens on climate change, what happens on northern scientific research, and also on the issue of sovereignty and security. I think they basically would provide a good foundation for other departments to work from or integrate with. So I have a very strong feeling about that.

It is no secret that successive governments have each had their own designs for the recapitalization of the Coast Guard. I think that is an ongoing issue. I think every government struggled with that and I think now even more with climate change and even more with the opening of the Northwest Passage, that is really needed.

On the Northern Strategy, I came to Inuvik in 1958 to attend residential school and the navy was here then. It was a very booming, bustling centre with the military presence. You would not believe the kind of influence and the kind of role that the military plays wherever they go. I thought it was quite a positive one. It was good for sports, it was good for community service clubs. It was good for providing the presence of Canada in this area. I believe there is nothing like the presence of the military to reinvigorate a sense of Canada; that and sports, I guess, and the Coast Guard.

Where I live now is Norman Wells, and we are talking about maybe looking at a reinvigoration of Inuvik. I always wanted Inuvik to have a centre of excellence on climate change. That was my view and I will be very honest about it. I had talked to Ms. Cournoyea about it many times because they were always vigilant about having their northern Arctic scientific research station here and I really wanted that.

Now we have the slide I was missing earlier. I believe these figures come from the Northern Strategy. There is $720 million for a new Polar class icebreakers to replace the Louis S. St. Laurent. I would like to go to the decommissioning in 2017, but who knows where I will be? It shows $20 million over the next two years to carry out the mapping of Canada's sea-bed. I think that is so important. I understand from the people I spoke to in the field that that is happening now, they are actually doing some of that work.

Looking at the management of fisheries, this is mostly in Nunavut. I cannot speak for Nunavut but we have some commercial fishing in our part of the North. It has not been a total failure and it has not been a total success. There have been challenges with the way it is set up. The prices are regulated in Winnipeg or someplace and there are always challenges with that.

I am sure my colleague, Senator Rompkey, is well aware of this issue, as a former Minister of Fisheries. We struggle with that constantly. If we ever go to any kind of commercialization of the fisheries on Great Bear Lake, I think we really need to develop a closer consultation to develop a proper process for pricing starting from ground zero with the people that live in that area.

This slide talks about the northern residents' deduction of 10 per cent. Well, you know, this is a real issue. I was once told that it could be done easily and it is still not done. I think people are going to struggle with this one like they do with food mail. The northern residency deduction I think is really hard to calculate because there is such a variance in the cost of living between one community and the other.

We suffer from lack of infrastructure. We do not have a Mackenzie Highway. Inuvik is different because it has the Dempster, but off season, it is difficult. I really believe that there has to be a very concentrated and calculated study on the northern residency deduction in order to calculate what is needed in different places, not just one blanket statement about the North, because it is really not like that.

I would be surprised if we got anything, because every dollar that you calculate into the deduction applies to the different regions and I think it would be quite complicated to do.

The Chair: Just for information purposes, northern residents' deduction is a tax deduction and it applies all across Northern Canada, and it started off applying really to housing and transport. It applies to everybody now and it has been available for some years and it has just been increased.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Has it?

The Chair: It was increased in the last Parliament. This may be another increase but it was increased in the last Parliament, I know.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: It is not that easy to do actually. It is a tax issue.

The Chair: It is a tax deduction, yes.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Those are never easy to do. I guess the thing with this is that it depends on where you live. They do these surveys they are quite complicated. Like if you live in a place with roads or you live in Yellowknife or you live in Colville Lake or Deline on Great Bear Lake or Paulatuk, it varies, like your residency status varies.

The Chair: It depends on the degree of isolation.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Exactly. That and food mail are the two things that bedevilled me as a politician and are still issues.

Next, $34 million over the next two years for geological mapping. I think that is so important, especially since part of my role is to on the Tulita District Land Corporation. We are the landowners' group. With Mr. Townsend's help, we determine whether we give access to different groups. We do the access. The Tulita district, the district boards, and the local land corporations do the benefits themselves. It is kind of an interesting thing.

The mapping is really important. We believe that we are far, far behind on seismic work and a lot of geologic work. At one point when I was in Parliament, they said we were 100 years behind in the North. I do not know if there is enough money to turn the situation around but I know every penny that is spent on this is money well spent. I tend to be a bit hawkish on this. I would like to see more work in that area.

An extension of the 15 per cent mineral tax credit. Anything to aid and assist exploration I think is good, considering that there is proper consultation.

Climate change is no stranger to the Mackenzie Valley. I lived in Tuktoyaktuk for many years and erosion is a major problem there. We now have such variance in the weather. It is unpredictable. It really affects the lifestyle of our people. There is a greater degree of caution when you are on the land because there are so many different things that we have to account for. On climate change, we also need to be aware that when there is exploration being done, that it is done with due caution.

I look at this one picture here and I am thinking about the way in which the land is used. There is a real fever about getting quads on the land, using four-wheelers for access, and this is lichen that the caribou eat. In one part of our territory, over at Mile 222 on the Canol Highway, where the caribou feed and graze, four-wheelers come over the mountain from Yellowknife or Whitehorse, Alberta and B.C. They trample the ground and destroy the habitat of the caribou.

This is really a difficult issue to deal with and we believe that our renewable resource councils are the ones to deal with it. We have not just the ongoing issue of climate change and adaptation in a broader sense but in reality, what happens on the land right where we live is really important to us as well.

I guess you could say the climate is warming faster in the N.W.T. than most parts of the world. In the sub-Arctic, there is earlier loss of snow cover in the spring and earlier break-up. What happens to some of our caribou and moose is that we have rain when we never had rain before and that freezes, and then we have snow and then we have rain and that freezes, and then we have snow again. You get this really hard crust that the caribou cannot go through to get to their food. It affects the animals and it affects the people as well.

People do not believe this but we really depend on country foods for survival. Many people that live in the south would not be able to survive at the prices we survive at in isolated communities.

So I think in the Beaufort Sea, the main impact of climate change is the degradation of sea ice and the negative impact for ice-dependent species like polar bears. I know when we were in Iqaluit, we were told by one of the scientists that at a certain weight polar bears will have two or three cubs. Drop the weight a bit and they will have only two. At a lower weight they will have one cub, and then at a specific weight, they will no longer produce. That is very problematic. That has a lot to do with getting caught off their regular feeding areas, so I know that there is a great deal of impact on animal species with climate change.

Permafrost affects construction. It affects a lot of what happens in the communities.

In my area, we have a water system that we depend on for travel as well as for hunting and traditional activities and there is real concern about contaminants. We have had uranium contamination on Great Bear Lake and through the river route as well.

The forests could be affected by changing water levels. You see a lot of erosion and a lot of thawing of the permafrost. When you travel by boat along the Mackenzie River, much of the bank will be falling into the river. There is a lot of erosion, and that affects most of what we have in terms of climate change.

You get more forest fires and more insect infestation because the weather is affected in a way that the forest fires just destroy the trees and you get infestation.

These are the things that everybody has to adapt to. You have heard so much about that, I want to go on to the next step.

When it comes to fisheries co-management, the government has to work with the people to set up something that works for them. That is not easy to do because you already have boards that you are supposed to have representatives on. Sometimes you get into a political squeezebox and you feel unable to represent the people you do represent. You may not feel you can go out there and state your views because they do not fit into the prescribed process. I think that is the case with our fisheries up here now.

I am kind of biased; I like to buy fish locally. When you go to Yellowknife, you can buy a lot of fish on the street from the actual fishermen. I like to see the sale and the use of those species work for the people who are actually the harvesters and the fishers that live in the communities.

So a co-management regime is a good thing. On the salmon commission, you get people from the East Coast and the West Coast, but up here, we are a little bit further away. We participate, I believe, Mr. Townsend, in a couple of things. We do scientific studies, we are involved in that, and there one other thing. I cannot remember what that was.

Howard Townsend, Lands Advisor, Sahtu Secretariat: Scientific research through IPI as well.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Yes, so we have some spotty efforts, but it is not a comprehensive thing. We are not big into commercial fisheries. Nunavut is, I know, and on Great Slave Lake, but Great Bear Lake has never been a commercial fishery. It has always been for harvesting traditionally. We used to have a co-op that bought and sold fish locally, but that is not a big burning issue here.

The people on Great Bear Lake have done what is called the Great Bear Lake Management Plan and they did a study called ``The Heart of the Lake, Fish Water Heart'', and it talks about fisheries from a very traditional perspective.

I read the report and I was quite astounded. I have lived in Deline in that fishing village and my mother was from there and I never realized just what a traditional knowledge framework they had. They have a specific view of the role that fish plays in that community and on that whole lake and how the lake is integrated with that. It is a really fantastic report. I think we could probably furnish the committee with that report.

Mr. Townsend: At a later date.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Yes, we will make sure you get that because that speaks to a lot of the issues that they might present if they go into a co-managed situation.

They put forward their Great Bear Lake management plan to promote a protected area strategy for the land use plan to get a protected area, and it did not get funding. It is kind of unfortunate, but they are not giving up on it. The leadership said they are going to pursue it anyways.

This is in Colville Lake. This is an old style way of preserving food. They use permafrost, and even that is probably affected now. It is not as effective. I was at our bush camp just recently and revisited where my parents buried all their food. It is all eroded and the permafrost is all gone. So it becomes even more difficult.

Each of these headings, climate change, co-management and all of the issues I have talked about, I guess are integrated issues. None of them are separate, they do not stand on their own. What you need to deal with much of this is an integrated management process that makes sense. It is more efficient and more effective. You spend less money than when you are operating in silos. I think that is important to always think about when you are doing some of the work that needs to be done at the community level.

When you consider it at a higher level to develop policy and programs and respond to current issues of the day, you have to remember that the integrated approach is probably the best one. Eventually, you miss something and they will say you have to deal with that and start all over there, but I think you need to really look at an integrated approach when dealing with some of the issues that we talked about.

I am the kind of a politician or a person that never wanted to speak about things that did not resonate with me or that I did not feel strongly about. I feel very strongly about scientific research. I felt the Beaufort Delta, for instance, and I am a big supporter, always had an edge because they had the Polar continental shelf and they had the Aurora Research Institute. I should know that because I sit on the board of governors of Aurora College. I always felt that you had people who were steeped in commitment and knowledge to do that kind of work here.

I really believe that the Coast Guard can play an enormous service. Other countries send out ships and do that sort of thing too, but I think one of the roles that the Coast Guard can play is to help us boost our scientific research for the purpose of maintaining sovereignty.

The mapping of the sea-bed I think plays into that. I really believe that the more that we have presence, the better. The Russians are doing that. When Mr. Smith and I went to Russia, Mr. Chilingarov, who is deemed to be one of the great explorers in Russia, was there. He said he would like to work with the Aboriginal groups across Canada. I was really taken aback by that and thought it a great approach. Then, the month after we left, he was planting a flag in the bottom of the Arctic Ocean claiming it. What do you believe when you are offered a generous hand? I am not so sure, but I really believe that they think that if they have got an edge on scientific research and they have presence, that their case is stronger.

I think we are known for doing good scientific research. We are known for having all of these international protocols. We have signed a number of different protocols regarding polar bears, caribou, various species, so we need to continue that work.

We need to continue to do the ice study work with regard to climate change. That is really important. I think International Polar Year is very helpful in doing this as well. I think we need to continue on that. We need more money for scientific research.

I sit on the board for the University of Alberta and we really cannot say enough about how much International Polar Year has boosted the work of different groups in the North. I think we need to continue that. I think that is one really good solid way of non-aggressively substantiating our role in terms of occupancy and in terms of use of the land and presence is by scientific research.

I think we can talk about adaptation. Someone said to me recently that I really am nervous when you talk about climate change and adaptation. That means you cannot fix it so you have to learn to live with it. In some cases, that is the truth.

I think you have heard enough. You probably have a great deal of expertise that has talked to you about this. When you are dealing with climate change and you are dealing with the issue of adaptation, I think consultation is important. I think traditional knowledge has to have an equal role in determining what is needed, what the situation is.

We have a lot of people in our communities who have lived on the land for generations and they know the land, the water, the conditions intimately. They have traditional knowledge, and they are ignored.

You know, when they are building a pipeline, many times they will go to the people and say, where is the best place to put the crossing, where is the best place to have the compressor stations. If industry needs to go there, I think that there needs to be the kind of consultation and role for traditional knowledge that is in all the work that happens in the North on climate change, on resource development.

In our area, our Sahtu Land and Water Board will not allow anyone to take on a project in the region without doing a traditional knowledge study.

On traditional knowledge, when you talk about weather, when you talk about the conditions on the land, when you speak about animal habitat, when you talk about the growth of vegetation, these are all things that people have had to live with over the years and they are pretty well learned in. We do incorporate it into a lot of the resource development that takes place.

People have to bid. You have to put the best proposal together to do the traditional knowledge work, so it is a huge thing. In fact, at the university, that has come to be one big area that we are working on. So it is not just at the local level, it is at a higher level as well, and does not involve some parochial group. It involves industry, governments and universities and institutes. I think it has a role that has to be recognized.

Senator Cochrane: This has been interesting. Do you see your people, the younger people now coming up, more or less involved in the fishing and hunting traditional ways? Or are they not as involved as probably we would like to see them involved with the elders and being taught the older ways of fishing and hunting and staying with them? Maybe some of them are just going out with mining and other things happening where the money is probably much better, maybe they are leaning away from that. Do you see anything like that happening?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Well, I see a little bit of everything. I see our people going for a wage economy, with development, going to the mines and going to work for oil and gas and construction, whatever, and then some professional careers like teaching, social work and all that.

The interesting thing is, some of the most educated people I know lead a dual life. They have very professional careers. My husband and I both harvest food all the time. Part of the reason I could not come yesterday is because I was busy harvesting moose. I had to do that before the meat spoiled and I spent three or four hours making dry meat yesterday. Who would suspect that? You know, it is hard on the manicure but it is good for your culture and it is good for your diet.

For lot of the young people in Deline, Tulita, Norman Wells, Good Hope and Colville Lake, we emphasize a spring hunt and a fall hunt. We really encourage all of the people in the community to participate.

It is a practical thing as well. The price of beef, chicken or pork in the stores is unbelievable. It is not cheap to go out and hunt, but it is leaner food, it is healthier for you, and you get more volume so it is more affordable.

It is not inexpensive. You have to have money to get there. The cost of gas is high and a new Ski-Doo is at least $7,000, going up to $15,000. If you want to buy a jet boat to take people up the river to do a big hunt, those are $40,000. I feel really bad for the people who do not have the equipment and the infrastructure to go there, but I guess your question is, do you see a movement one way or the other.

What I see is a combination. I see people really respecting and using their traditional practices to augment their modern lifestyle and their wage economy. I think people need to go out on the land for their own spiritual and cultural well-being.

Senator Cochrane: That is good. In regard to climate change, we have spoken to some elders who feel that this is just a cycle. What do you have to say about that?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: There are two schools of thought. One is that the world, the Earth, is always changing. That is true. I am not enough steeped in traditional knowledge to be able to make a comment on what an elder has said. I respect the role that they play. That is probably true.

Who has the magic bullet or who has the magic answer? Stand up and show it to us. I do not know.

I know that there has been degradation of the environment. I know that there are certain things that have not helped. If we were to say it is all man-made, I am not sure that is true either. So I think we need to think about that.

Senator Raine: It is a pleasure to meet you and to hear from you.

There is a new economic development agency for the North and I am just wondering, because you have experience in Ottawa, if you have been briefed on the CanNor Agency. How do you think that will affect the various communities in the Mackenzie Delta area, the whole Mackenzie Valley area.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: It is a pleasure to meet you as well. I do not know if you know about this but this is sort of the community of champions for cross-country skiing.

Senator Raine: I know.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: A lot of good skiers came out of Inuvik. The Firth twins, I think they are from the Inuvik region.

Senator Raine: Aklavik and Nanisivik.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I just wanted to say that because I think it is a honour to meet you.

Senator Raine: Actually, just on that subject, I was pleased to hear that Shirley Firth is back now, with her husband, and both she and Sharon Firth are contributing to the youth in the territories, so that is great.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Totally. I see them everywhere.

We have worked years and years and years to try to get something equivalent to Western Diversification for the North. We have famous ACOA in the Atlantic, and I FORDQ in Quebec and FedNor. So we have all these different economic agencies across the country.

Most of them are matching programs. I believe this is a matching one. The one problem I see is times are pretty tough these days. You do not see that much development happening up here right now so people are not flush with money. The territorial government would not be in the best position to probably match funds.

I know it is still headquartered in Indian Affairs. I have been briefed on it, probably not as extensively as I would have been if I were in Parliament. I am looking forward to having someone come to the SSI to meet with the executive and to meet with the board to have us briefed on that program.

We have been offered a briefing, we just have not had the time. I think it is a good opportunity. It is going to be a good thing. The only thing is the matching sometimes is a challenge. It is tougher where there is no program at all. If you do not have one, it is worse than having one that you might have a few issues with, but I think it is a great opportunity. There are those for whom it would work very well.

Senator Raine: Do you call it an agency?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Yes, an agency.

Senator Raine: I do not know if it has got its mandate finalized, but it seems to me that we are in the early stages of some development here where you are needing research for baseline scientific information. It would be maybe great if that agency could take that on as part of its mandate, especially if it is done on an ecosystem basis type research.

We have heard testimony that there is a kind of a scattered approach and some of the research being done is being driven by what the researchers want to learn about, not by what the communities need.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I think there is an opportunity for that but to say that that is where it should be housed might be a bit presumptuous on my part.

I think we need to talk to people at the community level to determine that. I am just one leader. You need to talk to all the presidents. Each of the land claims group has an economic arm so we need to talk to them as well and see how they integrate into the system that is being developed.

I am hoping that consultation will be proper consultation and not just telling people what is happening. I am hoping to work together and cooperate on this kind of program.

We have heard about it and it has long been sought. The North was the only area that did not have an agency. So it is going to be interesting to see how that works. I think it is a good thing.

Senator Hubley: It is just great to see you again, Ethel. It has also been a pleasure to meet other leaders from the North, female leaders, and we noted that this morning.

Some of the presenters mentioned gaps they are experiencing. I am wondering if from your perspective, having been on both the community level and from the government side, you understand these gaps. Are you able to identify any in your work as well?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: In almost everything I mentioned, there is the issue of capacity, community capacity. That is a major one. To have the human and financial resources to be able to do what we need to do. In self-government, we need it, in land claims implementation, we need it. For anything to do with governing our communities and our people, we need the capacity to do that.

Capacity means getting an education or getting the skills you need to do certain functions and to do them adequately enough to be profitable if you are in business, to be functional if you are in government. So there is that.

Also we really suffer from lack of infrastructure. We do not have the kind of infrastructure that makes it easier to do business, to carry out certain roles and certain activities and functions as you would even in small-town Canada.

We have a really high cost of living. The cost of energy is one of the highest things that we have to deal with, energy to heat our homes, energy to have power and electricity.

The Chair: Before I go to Senator Cook, I just wondered if there is somebody in the room who wants to make a presentation as an individual. We had set time aside for that and if there is, would you raise your hand and let me know if you are there?

If not, we will continue with Ethel and use that time. So seeing no hands, I will continue with Senator Cook.

Senator Cook: Like my other colleagues at the table, it is a pleasure to see you again. I think your report has been very comprehensive and very practical. It is easy to see the gaps and easy to see the challenges. I think you and your other leaders are up for that, but how can we help you with your priorities?

You must have a dream list. How can the Senate help you move forward and bring your people with you? If we do not bring the people with us, we will have failed. So if you had a wish, what would it be?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I think you need more resources. Almost everything I spoke to speaks to that.

Let us start on the big stuff, the recapitalization of the Coast Guard. I think that is really important for Canada.

Our leadership is not an insular, single focus leadership. Our leadership travels extensively. Right now, Ms. Cournoyea is in Halifax. Other leaders like Mr. Smith have travelled all over the world. We have been everywhere, we have seen a lot. We look outward. I am from Sahtu but I lived in Tuktoyaktuk when I was a young teacher. I am really interested in what is happening to the people in the Beaufort area and to the whole of the North.

I really want to see the recapitalization of the Coast Guard to make sure that we have enough infrastructure and enough equipment to be able to do what we have to do on scientific research. So we need money for that. I am a big supporter of that.

We need more money for scientific research, and it has to be applied as well. As Senator Raine indicated, that we need to make sure it is useful, not just intrinsic knowledge for the sake of one individual, but something that will useful.

We need to get it right on security and sovereignty. That is part of our obligation as Canadians. We figure into that. This is our territory. My belief is the Inuit have occupied for so many years in an area that no one else would and that they play a huge role in sovereignty. They live there, that is their territory and nothing speaks louder than that.

On the climate change, we need money for adaptation. If you see the erosion that happens in Tuktoyaktuk, it is almost getting to the point that some places that used to be at the end of the spit where we lived are gone.

We need to look at practical programming for adaptation purposes. I still believe that Inuvik should have been the centre of excellence for climate change and the section on sovereignty and security. They should have put something in Sachs Harbour because at one point in Sachs Harbour, there is a point at which you can see in both directions. It would be a great lookout point for either ships or some kind of capacity.

I think it is really important. People in Sahtu may call me crazy, but I really feel strongly I am not just from the Sahtu. I am from the Sahtu and I am dedicated to that but I am also Canadian and I feel strongly that the Arctic has to be well represented.

So those are some of the things. Inuvik needs some kind of a presence. We need to be on the map here to help the Beaufort Delta on scientific research, climate change, security, sovereignty. There are lots of things that can happen here.

Senator Cook: Do you have any interaction with the National Research Council of Canada?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Personally?

Senator Cook: No, the area and your leaders. So it could look at a centre of excellence and might do a pilot project.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I do not know how we would do it but I have always been a big supporter. I am not saying that because I am in Inuvik now. I am saying that because that was one of the objectives I had when I was a politician.

Now I am representing the Sahtu and my Canadian political view is that we will meet with whoever. For the Beaufort Delta, Ms. Cournoyea and her cohorts would meet with whoever. I would like to support that, that they meet with whoever they have to.

Senator Cook: I will close with just the simple statement that we are in tough economic times and the federal government does have a lot of programs in place that you can tap into to make your vision a reality.

The Senate just finished a report putting out a prototype for public health across the nation, and we chose the lead person to do that from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. That person was just sitting there, was glad to pick that up and do it. If you look, you just might find something in the existing structures, which are all over the place, that could do that.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Well, that is the problem with capacity. We could do that if we had the human resources. That is a major job. People think it is easy to find money. You need people who are dedicated to funding those resources and that takes time. That takes person-years and it is really hard to come up with the individuals that are doing their work during the day, whatever they are assigned to do, plus doing double duty trying to find funding. Ask Mr. Townsend, he is constantly being asked to do things for us. It is a real challenge. That is the issue.

There are answers out there. There is money out there. There are programs out there.

Senator Cook: Yes, and you can tap into it. The obvious department would have been Statistics Canada, but we kind of looked outside the box and went to the Canadian Institute For Health Information.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I am going to have to look up that report.

Senator Cook: The report is out. I can send you one if you give me your card.

The Chair: Could you comment about the Mackenzie gas pipeline? Another thing it would be useful to talk about is the disputed zone in the Beaufort Sea, although that is probably more in the province of the Inuvialuit, and the presence of BP and Imperial.

The third question is about what we heard about today: integration. We could not get our heads around how all of the programs and the efforts and the research projects were coordinated. We heard testimony that in fact, they were uncoordinated. Students were coming up doing whatever they wanted to do for their master's degree and not necessarily what people wanted to learn about here. So the real question is, how is it all going to be integrated? Because it seems to be scatter-gun and it is all over the place, and how do we bring it all together? So that is the third question.

Maybe we could start with the Mackenzie gas pipeline.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: The Mackenzie gas pipeline. This slide shows Norman Wells. When I was a young girl living there, in the 1950s, there were no islands there. You see these islands here? Those are man-made islands. Those man- made islands are put there to get the oil and gas from the bottom, to do inter-directional drilling, it is called, under the water and to put the pumps there to take the gas and the resources out of the ground.

Norman Wells is where I live and that is supposed to be one of the main choke points for a Mackenzie gas pipeline.

I have helped over the last three years since I have been out of Parliament working on a $64-million socioeconomic study out of a $500 million fund that we have for mitigating impacts of the Mackenzie Valley. We negotiated that.

In order to get a pipeline to go through, the leadership in each village on the route had to sign an access agreement. The ones that signed the access agreement managed to get as a condition of their approval $500 million, and the Sahtu portion was $64-million.

So we finished that report. The Inuvialuit have a section, the Gwich'in, the Dehcho, the Sahtu, were are all doing a section of that $500 million.

Now, having said that, those agreements have been signed. We have agreed. The last group to agree that I know of to get their access ratified was Fort Good Hope, and they have done that. We have done what we have to do. Now the rest is up to somebody else.

The access agreement with the producers is there. What is next is the joint review panel. The joint review panel is still reviewing the application and everything else that goes along with it, and we do not know when they are going to be finished. We have no idea.

We will find out when they put out their report, I heard that may be in December, hopefully earlier. Then we take the next step, where we go from here.

The Chair: What is your next step?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: If this thing does not happen pretty soon, our agreements are going to expire. That is a whole new kettle of fish. So what we probably need to do is renegotiate and that is a major undertaking.

Once a joint review panel is put, then it goes to the regulatory boards and they do their work on it. They do their work on all the reports. It is supposed to receive something like 5,000 pages or something like that, and then it goes to the NEB.

It is a complicated process. We will see what happens. We are just one group in there. There are others that have considerations.

The Chair: Are you satisfied you have enough control and influence?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: On what?

The Chair: On the pipeline, if the pipeline is going to go ahead.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Well, we believe we did the best we could for our area in terms of the mitigation process under the terms of the conditions of our access agreements. Those are between ourselves and the proponents, so that is not for public, so I cannot speak about that. We feel as a leadership, the work that was done is as good as it gets.

You do not want to undersell or undercut your people. You want to do the best work for them, so we are happy with that. The problem is, there are things that are out of our control. We have no control over what happens with the joint review panel. They are masters of their own destiny. They have to do their work and that is where it is at.

Senator Cochrane: What communities will benefit the most?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I think all communities can benefit, but there are certain things that have to happen. We have to have the capacity. We have to have the training. We have to have the ability to get people to get that first job.

You know, once it goes past, it is over. You have to make sure that our businesses are registered and prequalified and that if there are major players, that we have partnerships that are going to work to the advantage of the region.

We are a different group than when this pipeline was first proposed. There is a level of sophistication and understanding of business that was not there before. As well, we own about 30 per cent of the pipeline through the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. So there is an equity stake in this pipeline as well.

Senator Cochrane: Are the businesses and the people and the groups thinking about that? Are they getting prepared for all this? Are they prepared now?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: We have not let up. We continue to develop our area and our businesses.

We have a joint advisory committee. They met in Deline yesterday in our region. Each region has its own advisory group. They met with representatives of Imperial Oil yesterday, I do not know what they said. I used to sit on it but I have too many other things so someone else from our group represents our area.

They continue to meet and continue to report on progress or lack thereof.

Senator Cochrane: Hopefully they will be ready.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I think it depends on what we do with our people. We have to train our people. We have to be very deliberate. If we want people to work as welders, plumbers and technicians, we have to red seal them now. We have to train them now to get them red sealed and get them ticketed.

If we want them to be chemical engineers, we have to be deliberate about the career counselling we give young people and get people into areas that are important to the development of that pipeline.

Senator Raine: I would like to know more about Colville Lake, the community where Bern Will Brown was involved.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I was in Colville Lake just recently, we had an SSI meeting there.

This picture is of Tulita, my home town. That picture is Deline. When I first lived in those communities, we did not even have that for a band office. It was like a little cubbyhole. The nursing station was probably half the size of this, would fit into this table here.

There is Colville Lake. That is Bern Will Brown's place, the mission he built. It is very interesting.

The Chair: Can you tell us something about him.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Bern Will Brown is an author and artist, an extremely talented individual. He is American and came up North as a priest. He eventually left the priesthood but never left Colville Lake. He is married to Margaret Steen from Tuktoyaktuk or from Inuvik. They live there and they work there and he continues his art. He is a very good artist and a very good author.

It is very small, very isolated community. They have a lot of anomalies out there for gas and Paramount worked out there quite a bit, as did Apache. They have had a lot of interesting opportunities to develop in that area.

The Chair: Talk to us about integration and if there is a scatter-gun approach now. There are all sorts of government departments. There are all sorts of Aboriginal organizations. There are all sorts of issues, science, training. There are projects going on. How is it all going to be drawn together?

Now, INAC is supposed to be the lead. The evidence is that it is still scattered and that there really is not much integration. Just an idea, would a Department of the Arctic make any sense or not?

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: That is supposed to be Northern Development.

There has been talk a lot over the years about the role of the North but that has changed. Look at the major issues that hang over the North, sovereignty, security, transportation.

I remember when I wanted to talk about the northern foreign policy but I think I spoke too much. On the northern foreign policy that Lloyd Axworthy did, he said there were two underpinnings of good northern foreign policy. One was proper transportation infrastructure and communications.

I think that still holds but has changed. We were not dealing as much with sovereignty and security then. Now those are the main issues, along with climate change and other things that are piling up on the northern agenda.

The Northern Strategy is for the circumpolar regions and how they are working together. From a Canadian government perspective, I think you are supposed to pool all of these main planks and then organize something strategically under that, under the northern foreign policy as well.

It is not magic. It does not just happen. You have to have the capacity. You have to be able to take what is there now and integrate that with what the main framework of that big effort policy work is.

How do you do that? How do you merge the two?

We tried to take a program at HRDC and create to do a single access window, a ``guichet unique'', and it does not work because people want to hang on to their thing. ``This is my program, this is your program. We developed it this way and it does not work if it is thrown in with everything else.'' I am not so sure. I have been pretty selfish about things I have worked on in the past, not wanting to let go.

So getting people to change is difficult. As for integration, if they mean it, they will make it happen, but somebody is going to have to make some decisions that are going to rub people the wrong way. It makes a smooth transition harder. It is difficult. It is not easy.

The Chair: Well, that really brings us to the end of the day. It has been a fascinating day. Thanks very much for being here. It has been tremendous and we have learned a lot and you have given us a lot of information, a lot of food for thought, a lot of perspectives. Thanks for coming.

Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Thank you very much. I am happy to be here. I am glad we were able to put something together. If we had more resources, more capacity, I am sure we would be able to wow you better.

(The committee adjourned.)