Transcript: The Shared Responsibility of Implementing the Inuit Nunangat Policy
[The CSPS logo appears on screen alongside text that reads "Webcast".]
[The screen fades to Mitch White in a video chat panel.]
Mitch White: [Speaks in Indigenous language]
Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Mitch White, originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut, and a senior communications adviser responsible for executive training at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. I am honoured and excited to serve as the moderator for today's event from the unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin in Ottawa.
I'd like to thank them for allowing us to live and carry out our important work on their unsurrendered lands, and I'd also like to ask participants today from wherever you might be joining to take some time to reflect on where you are joining from us and the traditional ties to those lands.
I would also like to thank the School for working with us to offer this session. ITK has been working with the school for about two years to develop Inuit-specific training, the shared goals identified by the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee.
In this session, public servants will learn about the vision behind the Inuit Nunangat Policy and how to implement the policy in your day-to-day work. I would like to welcome everyone watching today from across Canada and throughout Inuit Nunangat.
Before we begin, here are a few housekeeping items to keep in mind. So, during the event, you may submit any questions you have to the speakers by using the bubble chat icon located in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Even if you don't see your question appear, it gets to our talented group of moderators and screeners and then to me.
To optimize your viewing experience, we recommend you disconnect from your VPN or use a personal device to watch the session when possible. Please note that we do have French simultaneous interpretation, sign language, and live captioning CART services available for this event. Please refer to the reminder e-mail you received from the School on how to access these features.
Now, let's begin with an introduction to Inuit in Canada and Inuit Governance.
[A slideshow appears onscreen with the title "The Shared Responsibility of Implementing the Inuit Nunangat Policy – A Deliverable of the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee".]
If I could have the slideshow, please.
So, first, I always like to start by discussing ITK's logo, as you can see here in the title slide. So, the topic of today's conversation is the shared responsibility of implementing the Inuit Nunangat Policy and this is a deliverable from the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee.
And so, if you take a look at ITK's logo, I usually like to highlight this because it actually speaks to both Inuit and the organization, I do believe, and some people get a kick in some of the hidden features of it.
And so, if you look at the logo, you can see that there are four Inuit around the Canadian Maple Leaf, and so Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami means "Inuit are united in Canada" and so this is a representation of that. You can see the Canadian flag there in the centre, below that is an ulu, which is one of the most important tools in Inuit culture.
Two of the Inuit surrounding the Maple Leaf are female and two are male, and this is to show the importance that we place on equality in Inuit communities, and the four people also represent the four Inuit regions.
And so, yeah, most people don't see the Canadian... the Maple Leaf in the beginning, and yeah, so I do like to start with a bit of that description.
Next slide, please.
[The next slide is shown with the title "Introduction".]
And so, Inuit Nunangat is the Inuit homeland.
If I can just... I can't see the writing on the slide there very well. I don't know if I can... okay, there we go. I got it.
Okay, so, Inuit Nunangat is the Inuit homeland. It is approximately 40% of Canada's landmass, and here you can see in the map there, there are four Inuit regions in the Inuvialuit settlement region in the west, Nunavut, the territory which most people are familiar with, Nunavik in Northern Quebec, and Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador.
Inuit Nunangat has about 72% of Canada's coastline and over 70,500 Inuit live in Canada, most of whom live in 51 communities across Inuit Nunangat. A third of those residents live in communities of fewer than 500 people, and Inuit have the unique distinction of being the largest private landowners in Canada.
Next slide please.
[The next slide is shown with the title "Four Regions, One People".]
So, a bit more about Inuit Nunangat.
So, four regions, as I mentioned earlier, each with its own modern treaty or treaties and governing body, and so, all of these are modern treaties and it's a very different political landscape than First Nations and Métis. Again, we have Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut.
And so, currently, Nunatsiavut is the only region with self-government formed in 2005 and each of the other three regions is actively pursuing self-government agreements, including Nunavut. Many falsely believe that the territorial government is an Inuit government but in fact, it's a public government, and so, the Inuit within Nunavut are in the process of pursuing their own self-government as well.
Next slide please.
[The next slide is shown with the title "ITK and the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee".]
So, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is our organization, the representational body for Inuit in Canada. So, we have a board of directors and that's made up of the presidents of the four regional representational bodies that I touched on just a moment ago.
And so, the leaders of each of the regional land claims organizations are democratically elected and those leaders, along with regional delegates in turn, elect the president of ITK, who you'll meet in just a little while.
And also, on the board of directors, we have non-voting members and those are the Pauktuuit Inuit Women of Canada, the National Inuit Youth Council, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada to ensure we have representation from all of the demographics in our communities.
Next slide please.
[The next slide is shown with the title "Inuit in Canada".]
So, a bit more about Inuit in Canada.
So, the Indian Act does not apply to Inuit. So, as I'm sure many of you know, it only applies to status Indians who live on reserve and does not historically recognize Métis and Inuit, and so as a result, we have not had the Indian status and the rights conferred by this status and so our situation is very unique with our modern treaties.
As I mentioned, Inuit are a distinct rights-holding people with our own history, identity, culture, language, and way of life, and so we, of course, are one of the three Indigenous groups in Canada but we actually have much more in common with other Inuit, globally, in Alaska, in Greenland, Denmark, and in Chukotka, Russia as well.
And what I think is beautiful is that even though we were each respectively colonized by some of the most powerful nations in the world, we have much more in common. We still have much in common with Inuit and other countries, including commonalities in language and culture that still exist and are shared to this day.
Self-government and self-determination to modern treaties, as I touched on earlier, and Inuktut is our most common language and is spoken widely throughout Inuit Nunangat in varying rates. You have higher rates in Nunavut, in Nunavik, and there are little lower out on in Nunatsiavut, in Inuvialuit, in the west and east coast because of their exposure to colonial entities and to settlers and to Westerners.
And so, Inuktut is commonly spoken in many households but it is under threat in certain regions and a lot of the older speakers are unfortunately dying off and the rates aren't as high as among young Inuit, and so that's a big priority of ours here at ITK.
Next slide please.
[The next slide is shown with the title "Inuit Today".]
So, a bit more comparing the population of Inuit Nunangat to all Canadians.
So, the median individual income in Inuit Nunangat is $23,485 and that's compared to 92,000 for non-Inuit in Inuit Nunangat. 52% of Inuit in Inuit Nunangat live in crowded homes versus the 9% of non-Inuit in Inuit Nunangat. 34% of Inuit have a high school diploma compared to 86% of all Canadians, and 70% of Inuit Nunangat households are food insecure compared to the 8% of all Canadians.
[The next slide is shown also with the title "Inuit Today".]
Next slide, please.
And in Inuit Nunangat, we'll continue with the comparison here. So, the physicians per capita, we have about 30 per 100,000 in Inuit Nunangat compared to the 119 per 100,000 amongst all Canadians. The employment rate in Inuit Nunangat is about 47.5% compared to the 60.2% of Canadians... amongst Canadians. The life expectancy of Inuit Nunangat is 72.4 years compared to the 82.9 years of most Canadians... or all Canadians, excuse me, and the infant mortality rate among Inuit is 12.3 per 100,000 compared to 4.4 per 100,000 in Canada.
And so, we just wanted to share some of these statistics to give you an idea of how we've come about our priorities and a bit about the sort of contemporary reality that Inuit live today and in relation to our Canadian counterparts.
And thank you very much for that.
And so next, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce our first speaker of the day, President Natan Obed, and he is joining us here from our Ottawa office, and President Obed will be sharing a bit about the Inuit Nunangat Policy's, history, and vision, and how it came to be and its importance.
So, I'd like to now welcome President Obed.
[Natan Obed appears in a separate video chat panel.]
Natan Obed: Nakurmiik.
Thanks, Mitch, really appreciate you giving that background on the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami governance and also a lot of the key socioeconomic indicators that we use to drive the conversations that we have with governments and with Canadians about the direction that we need to go together.
I've been President now here at ITK for seven years. I am originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut. I have also lived for ten years in Iqaluit, Nunavut. My two boys are 15 and 13 and they are still going to school and living and playing hockey there in Iqaluit.
So, I have connections to a few different Inuit Nunangat regions, and after university, I've only worked for Inuit. I started work here at ITK in 2002 and I've moved around a little bit since then but this national work has always been something that I'm proud and honoured to do. It also has given me a perspective from a senior technical level, from a senior manager level, and now from a political level, that I'm able to utilize in the way in which I undertake my work.
So, before I get into the Inuit Nunangat Policy, I'll start with a story and it's one of Wit Fraser's favorite stories. Wit is Governor General Mary Simon's husband and he was the Executive Director here at the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami when Jose Kusugak was the President. During Jose's time, we had the first opportunity in this modern era to work on reconciliation in a meaningful way with the Government of Canada. There was a process that Paul Martin initiated that was meant to close the gap between outcomes of Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada.
This all culminated in the Kelowna Accord and there was about 18 months to two years of work leading up to the Kelowna Accord, where we worked in a distinctions-based way, a First Nations, Inuit, and Métis way, where we could work specifically on the issues that mattered most to us with the government and create solutions.
But also during this time, we could have conversations with ministers and with the Prime Minister that we never could have before, and there was a particular meeting where Jose brought the issue of Inuit focus within the federal government to the table and he asked if the Prime Minister celebrated the multicultural diversity of this country.
And the Prime Minister at the time said, absolutely, yes, we are so proud of the multicultural nature of Canada, and Jose said, and you also then would be proud of the distinct Métis, First Nations, and Inuit cultures in this country as well, and Paul Martin responded, absolutely, yes, all of these cultures and languages and societies are incredibly important.
And then Jose's next line was the salient point which was, then why does your government have a melting pot when it comes to the work it does on Indigenous issues?
At the time, there wasn't a single person within the federal government that focused on Inuit-specific issues. Many of the federal programs didn't have Inuit specificity within them. At the time, there was no language within federal governments that was specific to Inuit and at that time, Aboriginal was the precursor to Indigenous but Aboriginal often meant First Nations on reserve.
Paul Martin, to his credit, recognized that deficiency and did his part to try to figure out how to create Inuit specificity within the mechanisms of government. The Inuit Relations Secretariat, which was a long-time secretariat within Indian and Northern Affairs, was the product of that particular conversation.
Also, in 2010, I believe, there was the creation of a focal point within Health Canada, the Office of Inuit Health and both of these particular agencies were meant to bring some Inuit specificity within the public service.
Unfortunately, those early efforts for distinctions-based approaches were not as successful as we would have liked, and as passionate and competent as the people were that worked in these particular places, the larger system often consumed or, in many cases, did not recognize the work of these particular places because they weren't directly linked to ministerial offices or to deputy ministers. The reporting was diffused within lower levels of management and ultimately didn't allow for the systems change to happen that we so desperately have wanted.
All that is to say that since the early 2000s, we have been looking for a willing partner within the federal government to practically implement the distinctions-based approach, a recognition of the Crown's relationship with Inuit and the specific realities that Inuit face that are very different from First nations and Métis.
Not necessarily in the cultural space, much of our culture and much of our shared values and much of our social socioeconomic status is relatively similar, but the way in which we have been colonized, the way in which Supreme Court rulings, federal government legislation, and programs and policies are developed is categorically different depending upon the type of Indigenous person you are in this country.
The federal government has had more clarity around the Indian Act and First Nations on reserve and therefore, has often imagined its response in that policy space first and other policy spaces for other forms of Indigenous relationships second.
So, the reason why we have tried to advance an Inuit Nunangat Policy in the last seven years has been because of the lingering negative effects that we have in doing business with the federal government and with the public service when there are such massive differences in application of our rights and also implementation of programs and services for our communities in relation to First Nations and to Métis.
Also, Inuit are relatively small in number. There's about 65,000 Inuit in Canada and our communities are very remote. Not many Canadians would ever visit Inuit Nunangat unless you're going for work, or perhaps some of the more adventurous Canadians would go to see national parks or river systems or to go fishing but those are very, very targeted focal points where you have to be an expert in your field or you have to be very passionate about a certain issue to come to our homelands. Nobody's passing through.
The links are all North-South when it comes to infrastructure for travel and to go to even Iqaluit from Ottawa is about $2500 return, and that's on a good day. That's a three-hour direct flight from Ottawa. So, you see how exponential the costs are to come and visit Inuit Nunangat as a Canadian.
That then leads to a level of ignorance that Canadians have about Inuit Nunangat and the realities of Inuit, and I use the term ignorance not in a negative sense, just in that most Canadians haven't learned anything about us in school and the federal government has not operated largely with a lens for Inuit, especially in departments beyond Saranac Indigenous Services and perhaps Health Canada or Public Health Agency.
So, when I would be talking to federal ministers or to senior officials in my current role, often I would have to ensure that I would say Inuit do not fall under the Indian Act, or that we are a distinct rights-holding peoples under the Constitution, under Section 35, or that all Inuit regions have modern treaties.
We have broad co-management relationships with the Government of Canada within our territories, and so that number that Mitch had said at the outset, 40% of Canada's landmass, the entirety of that space is either co-managed or directly owned by Inuit. It's a very different structure of governance than what exists in southern Canada in relation to First Nations or to Métis, also that our Inuktut language is still the mother tongue for the majority of our population.
And so, for public policy within Inuit Nunangat, the consideration that our language is not a threatened language or it is not a language that is of the majority, is of great significance to the way in which services are delivered, especially by the federal government. So, I would have to introduce Inuit to the people that I would be interacting with and the same would happen for the different senior technical levels or senior manager levels.
And this is just a reality that we've had to live with when we work on Inuit issues with the federal government since the time that I started in the early 2000s.
So, an Inuit Nunangat Policy would disrupt the systemic ignorance that the federal government has towards the way in which it can work with Inuit and respect Inuit rights and also the way in which it interacts with any piece of legislation, any program or service or policy that is intended for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.
Too often, we also would have to intervene and to course correct with federal government departments who were trying their best to implement a program or a service or piece of legislation but was not effectively including Inuit within these processes.
To this day, we still have a vast difference of relationships between federal departments. I think immediately of the positives and I think of First Nations and Inuit Health Branch and the relationship that we have had with FNIHB over the past 15 to 20 years. It really is a model for the way in which other federal departments can work with Inuit and respect Inuit land claim regions and Inuit rights that are separate and distinct from First Nations or from Métis.
We've been involved in senior management committees, we have taken seats in hiring committees for senior executives within FNIHB that focus on Inuit-specific issues, and we have a track record of implementing programs and services that explicitly target Inuit land claim regions and Inuit community members in a way that is, I think, more innovative than perhaps other departments have done.
We also have received funding now from the federal government, over the past three or four years, which recognizes Inuit self-determination within a number of different policy and program areas, things such as suicide prevention, research in relation to Inuit health and the funding of the National Inuit Health Survey, and the work that we're doing on tuberculosis.
These are all excellent examples of the way in which we would like to work with the federal government on policy areas or on system reform or on the implementation of Indigenous-specific areas of focus within the federal government.
We also have worked through the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee over the past six years to jointly identify shared priority areas and then create work plans to implement those priority areas.
The Inuit Nunangat Policy is a product of the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee. We had placed it as a joint priority area about four years ago and we have spent the last three years working towards its development and completion. In April of 2022, the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada reached an agreement with the Inuit about the content of the Inuit Nunangat Policy and the Prime Minister announced the adoption of the policy by the federal government at the end of one of our Inuit Crown Partnership Committee meetings here in Ottawa.
So, this policy, while drafted with Inuit, is a federal policy. It is meant to inform and focus the government of Canada's work in relation to Inuit-specific issues and it also is very helpful for us in describing Inuit to the federal government.
In its early pages, it talks about Inuit Nunangat, talks about Inuit land claim regions, talks about the composition of Canadian Inuit from a rights-based process and a relationship process with the federal government, and it also then focuses on different policy areas such as research or economic development or broader socioeconomic issues.
This policy will apply across the federal government and we hope to breathe life into this particular policy with the Government of Canada but we will need leadership from the public service and leadership from all levels of the public service in upholding the spirit and intent of this policy in its implementation.
Moving forward, any piece of legislation or program or policy that has Inuit specific considerations, immediately we hope that the Inuit Nunangat Policy will be applied to this space and that Inuit will be engaged accordingly. This is a hopefully an end-around to the challenges that we've always faced of a small organization here in Ottawa, representing Inuit at a national level, running around to 30 some odd departments, trying to tell these departments what it needs to consider after something has already been released.
So, in the implementation, there are two focal points in my mind that we need to focus on in the next two to three years. The first is in relation to what I was just mentioning, the Inuit-specific approach that federal governments can take and the practical steps to undertake the work in an Inuit-specific way.
We need to ensure that we have these conversations and that at the political, at the executive, and then at the senior technical level within the Government of Canada, there is an understanding and a shared understanding across departments about how to implement this policy effectively and in partnership with Inuit. We also will track the implementation of the Inuit specificity through the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee and we look forward to seeing how this policy can be adopted and how we can help with that implementation.
I think the second part is in relation to the upstream way in which this policy can be utilized. Think of the mechanisms that you do within your job and especially in relation to Indigenous-specific files, and think of how to apply the Inuit Nunangat Policy in the beginning of the work rather than trying to fit it in towards the end.
We think about Memorandum to Cabinet. We think of Treasury Board submissions. We think of business case development. These are all formal structures within government that most public servants have something to do with, and especially once you get into the executive level, it is a large part of what you do in your work. Infusing the Inuit Nunangat Policy into these particular spaces will allow for the shared intent of this policy to be fully realized.
We still have massive challenges within our communities. Mitch outlined some of these socioeconomic gaps in his outline, and these, in many cases, will be generational fixes. We also know that while the federal government is a very willing partner in this exercise, provinces and territories will take issue with some of the implementation of this policy over time, if not actively taking issue with it today.
Therefore, we need the support and the championing of our federal colleagues to push through some of these challenges to the status quo that we would like to see happen, that certain other partners within this process would not want to see happen.
So, I'll leave you with just that piece of advice, just to try to work with us to build a stronger Canada, to create better programs and services, a better sense of the upholding of Inuit human rights, and also to push back against systems that have ultimately failed Inuit to date.
We need to build a better Canada and we also need to build a better Inuit Nunangat, and we want to do that with you.
Nakurmiik, and I look forward to being a part of this later on when I may be able to answer some questions along with the other panelists.
Mitch White: Excellent. Thank you so much, President Obed.
And just a reminder that if folks do have questions for either President Obed or any of our panelists that will be joining us in just a little while, you can submit your questions to any of the speakers by using the bubble chat icon located in the top right hand corner of your screen.
And again, even if you don't see your question appear, it will make its way to me, and so please submit your questions for either President Obed or any of the panelists that are coming up.
And with that, thanks again to President Obed.
And next, I am going to invite Will David to join us, and Will David is the Director of Legal Affairs here at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He's joining us from our Ottawa office and we'll be discussing the technical components of the Inuit Nunangat Policy and how public servants like yourself can go about implementing it into your daily work.
And as I mentioned later, he'll be joined by Isabella Pain, Valerie Gideon, and Leah Beveridge for a panel discussion.
And so please welcome Will David.
[Will David appears in a separate video chat panel.]
Will David: Thanks a lot, very glad to be here.
[Speaks in Indigenous language]
I have worked the bulk of my career in either the Indigenous rights or the Indigenous policy space, and I only mention that because one of the conversations that I seem to get pulled into multiple times over the course of my career has been in recognition of the fact that rights exist, that there is Indigenous self-determination, or that there are these gaps. What are we as a government officials supposed to do about it?
And I'm not going to tell you that the Inuit Nunangat Policy is the complete solution to that question but I do think it's a monumental step forward.
So, I guess I'll just start off and just go on to the next slide.
[A slide appears onscreen with the text:
"ITK and the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee"
"Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee – Bilateral mechanism founded on the principle that an equal partnership between Inuit and the Crown is essential reconciliation"
"Inuit land claims implementation"
"Inuktut protection and promotion"
"reconciliation measures and MMIWG"
"education, early learning, and skills development"
"health and wellness"
"environment and climate change"
"sovereignty, defence, and security"
"economic development and procurement"
"monitoring and evaluation".]
So, as President Obed mentioned, the policy is one of the products of the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee. As you see here, there's a series of priorities that have been advanced through the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee. For those that are aware of the terminology, it's one of the three permanent bilateral mechanisms.
And just a note on this slide with these priorities, the way that the priorities themselves are developed is either Inuit leaders or federal leaders have the ability to propose some area for priorities. It's not necessarily just Inuit priorities that are reflected here. The federal government's capable and has proposed various priorities over the course of the ICPC, and the operation of the committee itself relies on consent from all parties.
So, everybody agrees that these are priorities worth pursuing through the Innuit Crown Partnership Committee and the work is affected, again, through joint work plans, work plan items, and joint work to bring proposals to advance any of these priorities back to the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee, which is comprised of both Inuit and federal leaders for endorsement.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"A Shared Path Forward"
"Inuit Nunangat Policy is the first-ever, overarching, whole-of-government policy co-developed with the federal government"
"February 2017 – Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC) founded"
"March 2020 – Inuit Nunangat Policy becomes an ICPC shared priority"
"April 2022 – Inuit Nunangat Policy announced by the Prime Minister and the ITK President following approval by federal and Inuit leaders"]
So, just to recognize sort of the timeframe that we're working on, the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee was formed after the joint endorsement of the Inuit Nunangat declaration in 2017. Development of this policy became an ICPC shared priority and in March 2020, after a fair amount of rigid work, I would say by both the Inuit and federal officials, the policy was provided and then tabled at the ICPC, endorsed by Inuit leaders and federal leaders, and subsequent to that, was announced as a policy by the Prime Minister.
To our knowledge, that makes the Inuit Nunangat Policy the first ever whole of government policy that was co-developed between the federal government and Indigenous peoples.
Next slide please.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"What does the Inuit Nunangat Policy Do?"
"Why an Inuit Nunangat Policy?"
"The Inuit Nunangat Policy applies to all new or renewed federal policies, programs, services or initiatives related to Inuit Nunangat and/or which benefit Inuit"
"Its purpose: Promote prosperity and support community and individual wellbeing to create socio-economic and cultural equity between Inuit and other Canadians"
"Promote Inuit self-determination".]
So, why an Inuit Nunangat Policy? Clearly, President Obed has articulated a number of challenges in the status quo. The purpose of the policy is not just to identify what those challenges are but to actually chart a path forward through them. So, we've picked out and selected some of the more difficult issues and then attempted to address them through specific policy direction.
In my mind, at least a lot of where the policy is focused, specifically on all policies, programs, services, initiatives is really on enhancing accessibility to Inuit of many of these policy program services which can be anything as simple as practical barriers, like linguistic barriers, to knowing about policies, programs, and services, to fairly technical barriers within terms and conditions, for instance, of funding or services which inadvertently serve to exclude Inuit treaty organizations or Inuit from benefiting from programs as well as maximizing impact.
So, the twin goals of enhancing accessibility and maximizing the impact of federal programing is really a couple of the core objectives of the policy, combined with the twin points listed here, which is promoting self-determination as well as prosperity, community, individual well-being, and socioeconomic and cultural equity.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"Inuit Nunangat Policy Commitments"
"Recognize Inuit as a distinct geographic, cultural, and political region"
"Improve coordination across entire federal government"
"Recognize Inuktut as the first language used in Inuit Nunangat"
"Ensure distinctions-based, Inuit-specific approaches"
"Uphold Indigenous rights"
"Ensure federal programs and policies do not disadvantage Inuit"
"Consider Inuit-specific funding"
"Implement the rights affirmed by the UNDRIP".]
Okay, thank you.
So, on this, you can see, on this slide, the commitments in terms of what the Inuit Nunangat Policy does. I'll pick a couple of very sort of simple but fairly salient points that come out of the policy.
So, for example, as my colleague Mitch stated, there are four Inuit treaty organizations and three permanent participants on ITK's board and that are named in the policy. The policy is the result is very clear about sort of the who in terms of the co-development and even provides direction in terms of when and how engagement should occur with Inuit treaty organizations or others.
This can save a lot of time for those that are actually seeking to engage with Inuit. It identifies and articulates specifically who the distinctions-based organizations are in terms of the co-development exercise. It suggests that, for instance, for the purposes of accessibility, the federal government should be encouraged, where possible, to support Inuktut.
It also encourages Inuit specific funding. It supports self-determination where Inuit are interested in taking on self-governance, where Inuit are not interested in taking on self-governance. It recognizes the importance of delegation.
Next slide, please.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"Inuit Nunangat Policy Commitments"
"What this new policy does NOT do"
"Create a new territory"
"Create legal obligations or supersede land claims"
"Compromise privacy or access to information laws"
"Commit to automatic prioritization of Inuit interests"
"Contemplate jurisdictional transfers"
"Undermine national security or defence".]
The policy does not create any kind of new territory or jurisdiction.
Not only does it not create legal obligations or supersede land claims but supports land claims implementation, nor does it commit to any kind of automatic prioritization for Inuit. The idea here is to ensure that Inuit are included within the scope of application, particularly with policies of general application, as well as those that are pan-Indigenous in effect.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"Where do we go from here?"
"$25 million over 5 years for its implementation"
"develop a governance framework"
"central agencies should play a critical leadership role"
"capacity-building for Inuit organizations"
"communication and education"
"Inuit promises include Inuktut, infrastructure and housing (ongoing)".]
So, where do we go from here?
At this point in time, I would suggest that we're really in the phase of enhancing awareness of the policy and commencing application of a policy in specific priority areas as well as on a whole of government basis.
I would say that we don't necessarily expect the policy to be fully implemented right away but we are interested and working with central agencies and others to ensure that the policy is actually applicable across departments and agencies that may not have a lot of experience working with Inuit or with Indigenous peoples.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"Onboarding The INP Into Your Daily Work"
"Past – Change is risk"
"Present – Status Quo is risk".]
As I said, we don't expect or anticipate change overnight in terms of the policy but I think one settled expectation from both Inuit and I would say probably from federal leaders as well, is that the current system or the historical system that we've had, the status quo, is simply not an acceptable path going forward.
And indeed, it's arguably, and in terms of the policy, it is riskier to just maintain organizational momentum in terms of, this is how we do business, this is how we should do business going forward. Rather, the purpose of this policy and the signal that it sends very clearly is that as the world is changing, as Inuit Nunangat is changing, as Canada is changing, the federal government really needs to change its operations and how it works, its culture as well.
And so, what the Inuit Nunangat Policy does very effectively is point the direction of change in a way that we feel is going to be beneficial both for Inuit and for Canadians overall.
[The next slide is shown with the text:
"Onboarding the Inuit Nunangat Policy into your daily work"
"The INP gives you policy leverages as a civil servant, but its meaningful implementation will be through your individual and collective actions"
"Upstream work related to the INP is critical to:
Business case development
Treasury Board submissions
Memoranda to Cabinet"
"Be an ally and leader. We need champions at all levels within government, including at the political, executive, technical and policy levels".]
Just something to point out is that while the policy doesn't necessarily direct action across a number of different items, it does provide guidance, particularly to federal civil servants that are interested in making the changes that are necessary to be made in order to ensure that Inuit are included within federal policies, programs, and initiatives.
The policy itself really requires action from federal civil servants such as yourselves to be successful. So, the point here is assuming that there is actually good will across departments and interest and willingness to advance social equity within Canada and across the Inuit Nunangat, the policy itself provides, at its current state, the guidance necessary to assist you in doing so.
And I would say that the implementation framework discussed two slides earlier is really there to provide assistance as central agencies, policy staff, program staff, researchers, and others are really thinking about how to incorporate an Inuit Nunangat Policy approach into their work.
[The next slide is shown with the text "Thank you".]
And I just, at this point, say thank you very much.
And with that, I'd like to introduce a panel of three presenters. We selected three different presenters for our panel that have three different kinds of experience with the development or the application of the policy.
Again, as with other presenters, if you feel like you want to ask a question, please use the bubble at the top of your screen and then we will vet it and answer it during the question and answer period.
Our panel is comprised of Valerie Gideon, Isabella Pain, and Leah Beveridge. I will introduce each of them in turn.
And I guess we will start with Valerie Gideon, Associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada.
Valerie Gideon: Thank you very much.
Well, I'd like to start by acknowledging that I'm on the traditional unceded unsurrendered Algonquin Nation territory.
[Valerie Gideon appears in a separate video chat panel.]
And I am the Associate [inaudible] but I'm also Mi'kmaq from Gesgapegiag First Nation and proud mother to two beautiful First Nation girls.
And it really is truly a privilege to be invited to be here.
I'm just thinking I have to slow down for the French translation.
So, I have about 10 minutes and I thought what I would do is just tell a little bit of the story of my professional and personal experience in working with Inuit leadership as a federal public servant and really as an executive, but I'd say my experience even predates that.
I actually had the privilege, when I worked at the Assembly of First Nations, of working on the Kelowna Accord process. President Obed was part of that as well, and so just a lot of what he shared with you around Prime Minister Paul Martin and the openness of provinces and territories at that time also was an opportunity that unfortunately did not fully materialize but it did establish some open doors within the federal government to start to create opportunities for change.
I'd say in 2011, for me, I decided to join the federal public service a couple of years earlier but I was very focused on First Nations health at that time by running regional operations in First Nations communities, but in 2011, I joined as Director General of Policy for the First Nations Inuit Health Branch.
And I had been advocating for the branch to change many aspects of its business through my work at the Assembly of First Nations and had strong collaboration with ITK at that time with the director of health as well, and I quickly started to see that a lot of the structures, the policies or processes, could be changed. They didn't all require Cabinet or funding decisions.
And at the time, we were under a different government agenda, Indigenous priorities was not necessarily top of mind, particularly in the area of health. So, I felt that this was actually time for federal public servants to really take a more active role in terms of advocating for change from inside.
There was really no point to sit there and be inactive and sort of feel paralyzed because the politics may not have been going in the direction that you were hoping for. There's still a lot that you can do by working in this system. So, we decided to launch the development of the first strategic plan of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Even though it existed for over 100 years, it had never had a strategic plan.
And instead of creating what the federal government often does, which is establish an engagement process that is of its own making, what we actually did is we asked if we could be invited to the governance mechanisms that already were established and existed within a First Nation and Inuit context.
So, we were invited to go to the National Inuit Committee on Health, and Gayle Turner was the chair, and then President Obed was the chair of NICoH at that time, and they hosted those discussions and structured those discussions with us, and we were listening and we also wanted to ensure that the pace of the process would be achievable for everyone.
I think that that strategic plan really created the momentum that was required in the branch for all employees, whether they were in a regional office or at headquarters, to see themselves as champions, to see that they could be empowered to do things differently, and so it was like giving them permission to be able to think about things differently.
So, an example that President Obed had mentioned was our senior management committee at the branch. So, while AFN and ITK were members of that committee, they were really not part of substantive decision-making because there was a side committee. So, there were two committees. There was the branch executive committee and the senior management committee, and the true decisions were being made at the senior management committee even though we were being invited at this other one.
And a lot of the presentations would actually be duplicated. It was quite hilarious at the time. People were not doing it intentionally to be insulting or tokenistic but they were not ready to get into a shared decision-making space.
And so one of the changes that the strategic plan drove is that we eliminated this other shadow process, and AFN and ITK were part of all the senior management conversations that we were having. When I eventually became Senior ADM in that branch, I can honestly tell you that I was not meeting separately with the executive team of the branch without AFN and ITK being present, and it was extremely important to me that they had access to the information at the same point in time.
The other aspect was engaging and involving Inuit representatives and First Nations representatives in key senior management staffing processes. So, when we staffed our Northern Regional Director, for example, we had President Obed, who was not the president at that time but made time for us. We had a representative of The Council of the Yukon First Nations and we had an ADM of the Yukon Territorial Government. That was the board.
So, you can just imagine that once you actually make a decision about who is going to exercise that important ambassadorship role in your branch, that person is already advantaged by the fact that they have been selected by core partners that they will have to work with. So, there's already a base of trust that's been established. We then went on to do bigger and better things, I would say. We established a partnership agreement with the National Inuit Committee on Health.
And I'll speak to this a little bit more, I know I don't have a lot of time, but I'll just say that before I move on to sort of the post-2016 context, which for sure has been a game changer, I would say that when I was taking my second maternity leave, I was nursing my baby and I wasn't really connecting to work but somebody happened to send me an article that President Obed wrote in Northern Journal about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and free prior informed consent.
I don't know if you recall that article but for me, there were examples stated there about the work that the First Nations Inuit Health Branch had done around the strategic plan as an early example of how we could build from that and actually look at the implementation of UNDRIP.
And I have to tell you, it was such an emotional moment for me because I thought, oh, my goodness. Like, of all the moments of my career, and I have been privileged to have many of them, that one is in the top five of something that I feel I was a part of. It was an incredible accomplishment, and I talked about that article for years after.
When I would go to orientation sessions for new public servants and particularly new Indigenous public servants or any type of forum, I would talk about that because I would always say you can't say, well, this is not a ministerial priority or this is not, that we didn't get money in the budget, and that's the end of the conversation. We have a role, an important stewardship role that is now a role that everybody recognizes as to also advance reconciliation. So, we have to do everything that we can to ensure that the system is responsive to that.
And here we have an example that is like the flagship gold star tool and framework that has been endorsed by the Prime Minister and ministers, that Inuit leaders are gifting to us to say, here is how you can do it, right? It's a gift. We don't have to sort it out. We don't have to figure it out. All we need to do is operationalize that within our contexts.
So, just to end, I'll give a couple of examples. In Budget 2017, we were successful in obtaining a significant amount of investment for health programs that had not been rebased in many years. It was really important to ensure that the funding that would be distinct for Inuit would actually address their priorities and would be able to be implemented by Inuit land claim organizations or other partners.
There was no time between the budget announcement and the Treasury Board submission to actually do a fulsome process with the National Inuit Committee on Health. So, I negotiated with the Secretariat, Treasury Board Secretariat, to do two TB submissions, to do an initial submission, to release the first year of the five-year funding, and then to work with Inuit and NICoH to do a second one that would detail all the plans.
Because we often, through the system, are rushed to make decisions and we say, well, we had no choice. So, we go in and we put all of these details and then we engage and then we find out that what we pitched is not going to be workable. So, what do we do? Do we force compromise? Often we do, but they don't have to do it that way.
There is a way that you can have a conversation with partners to say, would this work for you? And in this case, that was the approach that was mutually agreed to, and it was more successful to maximize the opportunities of those investments.
My final piece of advice is we often will design an initiative or ministers will come up with the idea or it'll come out through another process of an initiative, and then we will have a distinctions-based envelope or process within that context.
But the other way of doing it is to actually accept a piece of work that has been done by an Inuit organization or government or leadership, such the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, such as the elimination of tuberculosis, such as the National Inuit Health Survey. All of these are examples where we actually advocated for the initiative that Inuit had designed to access funding.
We didn't tag it on to something else. We didn't say, we need a big national strategy and this will be the Inuit part of it. We said, this is a strategy that should be funded, and the system responded to that. It responded to that.
So, I would say sometimes we also need to think about the fact that we don't need to design. We don't need to directly engage on our own or through a separate process. We can actually listen. We can be responsive in a different way. We can take a back seat to that leadership and then fulfill our role in the system to be able to make these things happen.
So again, thank you so much for this opportunity. It's really a privilege and humbling for me, and I'm happy to answer any questions.
Will David:Thank you very much, Valerie.
Next up is Isabella Pain, she's the Deputy Minister for the Nunatsiavut Secretariat and Secretariat of the Executive Council for the Nunatsiavut government, and she's joining us from Nain, Nunatsiavut with a slightly different perspective on the policy and the importance of flexibility and government work.
[Isabella Pain appears in a separate video chat panel.]
Isabella Pain: Nakurmiik, Will, and thank you for having me here today.
I'm really pleased to be here with you today to share a little bit about why the Inuit Nunangat Policy is significant for Inuit in Canada and to briefly discuss what I think we all must do to ensure that it is implemented.
I'm going to use some examples from Nunatsiavut to explain how, in the past, there were gaps in federal policy which resulted in Nunatsiavut falling through those policy gaps and which we hope will be fixed through the implementation of the Inuit Nunangat Policy we have all in front of us today.
So, just a little background, Nunatsiavut was created as a result of the Labrador New Land claim that was signed by the Government of Canada, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Labrador Inuit in 2005. We are in a province and we are south of 60.
Those two things have often meant that for many years, that NG and all of our beneficiaries have been left out of certain federal programs and initiatives as a result of certain federal programs and initiatives as a result, especially as it related to federal funding programs. Some of those programs are initiatives, primarily targeted Inuit from other regions, such as those who resided in the territories north of 60 and/or were for First Nations on reserve.
We believe that if the Inuit Nunangat Policy is implemented correctly, this should change this systematically through a whole of government approach rather than incrementally, that is program by program.
I first want to use the example of housing to illustrate what I mean. Federal housing programs were often for provinces, territories, or for First Nations on reserves. NG was not eligible for any of this funding as we are south of 60 and in a province, although we did receive one-time funding at one point from CMHC, but it was required that it had to flow through provincial government. There was no way that the federal government could allow that funding to flow directly to the Nunatsiavut Government to provide housing to our beneficiaries.
NG raised this issue with the Office of the Auditor General in 2014, and in the 2015 Auditor General's report, it was recommended that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, in cooperation with NG and the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and other federal entities such as CMHC, should identify a solution to address the lack of federal housing programs for Inuit south of the 60th parallel.
This never really went anywhere but we have started to see some changes to this and we were able to receive direct funding from the Government of Canada in the 2016 budget, and we have since seen other funding flows directed to NG because ITK and the four Inuit regions together have been working to have Inuit-specific funding allocations.
We believe that by using an Inuit Nunangat approach to things like housing funding, we won't have to keep trying to fit in program by program or initiative by initiative, but our concerns and issues will be considered and developed as programs and policies are being developed. We will think about the differences between regions and we will make accommodations for those differences in program and policy design.
We see this as really good news as Inuit-specific approaches tend to result in more direct benefits on the ground in our communities. We know where the needs are and how best to go about using the limited resources to meet those needs as opposed to going through provinces or other third parties with the intent that provinces or third parties sometimes have to provide the necessary supports for Labrador Inuit communities.
The approach that has been previously used was not in keeping with the principle of Inuit self-determination.
Another example in relation to Inuit-specific funding is infrastructure and the example I want to use here is the Nain Airstrip, something many of you may not know very much about but which has been an issue of priority for the Nunatsiavut Government for a number of years as the current runway has no lights, which means that no flights can come in after dark. No lights will be added because it's seen as being unsafe to add those lights here. So, there is no ability to land in the night.
We have been working for years with agencies and departments such as ACOA and Transport Canada, and we have finally been able to do the work to get to the feasibility stage for a new location for a new airstrip. By allocating funding directly to the Nunatsiavut Government rather than to the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, we have been able to move forward on this urgent project.
And it's urgent due to climate change as the current air runway is actually eroding as sea levels rise, and we are at the stage, initial stage of the Nain Airstrip, having the funding flow directly to us was able to lever funding from the provincial government, something we hadn't been successful in doing but once we were accessing direct federal funding, the federal government was able to work with the province as well to lever provincial funding for this feasibility study, and they have also started to play a more constructive role with us.
The Inuit Nunangat Policy can expand this type of approach across the whole of government, supporting Inuit priorities more directly through land claims and treaty signatories rather than third parties, and ultimately creating a scenario where other levels of government are more directly supportive of Inuit communities and Inuit priorities.
The Inuit Nunangat Policy asks policymakers to think of all four Inuit regions in Inuit Nunangat when designing policies, programs, services, and initiatives, including those of general application.
So, IMP, at its core, is about asking federal civil servants to prioritize Inuit self-determination, to give Inuit an opportunity to work directly with the federal government on theirs or our shared priority issues, and to work in partnership with us early on to design policies, programs, services, initiatives accordingly, and through a well-implemented whole of government shift to meaningful policy implementation, accelerate progress on these issues and deliver better value for Inuit and for all Canadians.
Thank you for the time.
Will David: Thank you very much.
And rounding out our panel is Leah Beveridge. She's a Policy Adviser in the Office of the Director General at the Reconciliation Secretariat who has experience with development of the IMP itself.
Leah Beveridge: Thank you very much. It's really an honor to be here. I'm incredibly humbled to be here with President Obed and Isabella and Valerie, as well as you, Will.
As mentioned, my name is Leah Beveridge.
[Valerie Gideon appears in a separate video chat panel.]
And while I'm not currently working on the policy itself, I was the lead analyst on its co-development. I was brought in shortly after Inuit provided us, the federal government, with the first draft of the policy.
Personally, I thought it was fabulous, you saved me a whole bunch of work, but it also really gave us something to focus our conversations around when we were having these co-development conversations. When I felt like we were having the most productive conversations, though, was when we focused on why? Why are we trying to include this text rather than focusing on the specific words we were using?
Because once we had a common understanding of what the issues were that we were trying to address, what we were really trying to achieve, it became a lot easier to negotiate text between us that achieved both the goals of Inuit but also in a way that was feasible from the federal perspective.
As mentioned, this policy applies to absolutely everybody, which meant that everybody had to be engaged. One of the things that I found incredibly interesting throughout the process was the feedback that I would receive from other departments on the drafts of the policy. There were lots of common questions and suggestions and concerns that we anticipated but there were also so many unique considerations that I never would have come up with on my own.
And this feedback was absolutely essential to allowing us to co-develop a policy that really could be applied in every scenario. The trade-off, though, of course, was that in order to capture everybody, we had to go a little lighter on the details and that's why you don't see the specifics about how to implement the policy, within the policy itself. It was going to look different depending on where you were.
What works and is needed in a child and family services context would probably be quite different from what you would need in the context of international defence and security strategies. Every department and program area has its own framework that it operates in and so implementation has to be designed on that case by case basis, and a lot of my time over co-development process was actually spent working with other federal departments to understand what the policy might look like for them.
And the conversations always started in the same place, you know, does the policy apply to me? And this was the easiest question to answer. Are you working on something that applies to all of Canada or all Canadians or all Indigenous peoples or even just some Inuit? Then yes, the policy applies to you, period.
And my advice from there was always the same, and we've heard it already, go talk to Inuit, go talk to them. That is the first piece of the policy, and I know from personal experience that that can feel very intimidating, especially from the level of an analyst or even a manager perhaps.
The first time I had to meet with Inuit organization, I was terrified. I was working on a research project at a university. I was on Arctic shipping, looking at surveillance systems, and it was not really something that you would typically do community engagement on and so it wasn't part of the project, but I was invited to present to the Inuvialuit Game Council and I went up and gave the presentation and was told exactly what I expected, and that's that I did not do the project properly.
I should have gone to communities, I should have talked to Inuit, and of course, I teared up a little bit. I was in my early twenties, but I said to the Game Council, I said, you're right, you are absolutely right, and I'm sorry, and I am going to ask you to please consider this day zero, not even day one, day zero, and I promise you, someday, I'm going to be back here and I'll do it properly, I have no idea how I can possibly commit to that today but I'm going to do it.
And today, I'm doing my Ph.D. in full and complete partnership with the Game Council, focused on their interests.
And I tell you this to reassure you that you don't have to be perfect. You just have to be human. This is something that I've really learned, have compassion, be humble, and admit when things aren't being done properly, even if it's not your fault, even if you're brand new to the file that you're working on.
Now, I recognize that, again, at the working level, it's not necessarily up to us. We may not be permitted, for all sorts of reasons, to simply go out and talk to Inuit but there's still so much that you can do. In my current position, I'm an advisor to a DG. I don't work on anything that I would reach out to Inuit about but I still can implement the policy by simply asking the question, you know, what about Inuit? What about Inuit Nunangat?
Every time that I'm reviewing something, are Inuit being engaged? Were they engaged in the development of whatever you're putting forward to the DG? Are shipping seasons and the high cost of living and limited connectivity and the climate considered? Are all four regions of Inuit Nunangat and the land claims agreements, are they accounted for?
And it's my job that if I don't feel that the policy is being reflected in whatever's before me, that I point that out to the DG or whoever it is that I'm advising. I don't make decisions. I don't even come up with options on programs or services or policies anymore but I still have a role and a responsibility, partly because, yes, I'm a public servant, but partly also because I'm a person in Canada and I believe in having a better relationship with Inuit.
And that was something that I truly feel like many of the people, if not all the people that I spoke to over the two years of co-development, believed in. There was unanimous support for what the policy was trying to do.
We're not going to transform the system overnight, I don't even think that's going to happen in a year or two, but you don't need to transform the system to start thinking differently, and to me, in my day to day, that's what the policy is asking us to do.
And so, my advice to everybody out there, no matter where you fall in the system, is simply to ask yourself, what does what I'm working on look like in Inuit Nunangat? And as President Obed pointed out, you may have no idea, and that's okay. You're not necessarily supposed to.
As mentioned, you probably have never been to Inuit Nunangat. You may not know anyone who is Inuit, but that's not justification to just not consider Inuit or Inuit Nunangat. It means you have to go figure it out. You have to go ask questions. Go to Google, go to the ITK website, ask colleagues. The policy to me, it's about asking you to be creative, to think outside the box because what's in the box, the way we've been doing things, obviously hasn't been working.
Valerie mentioned that the policy is a gift, and to me, it's an empowering tool. It's supposed to empower you to get excited and to come up with new ideas.
We think of the policy as this big historic and important document, and it is, but the policy really means nothing if it isn't implemented. The co-development process was exciting. It was fun, it was challenging, and it is a time of my life and career I will never forget.
But to me, the really exciting work is what's before us now because now, we actually get to come up and solve the puzzles and figure out how to do things differently, and the role of the policy is meant to guide you to do that.
Like I said, I'm humbled and honoured to be here, and I'm happy to answer any further questions during the Q&A.
Thank you so much.
Mitch White: Excellent. Thank you so much, Leah Beveridge, and thank you as well to Valerie Gideon and Isabella Pain for agreeing to be a part of this panel and some incredible insight there and a wide range of perspectives, which I think is really important in this conversation because it is a partnership.
And thank you so much to Will for moderating that panel.
And so, one thing I do want to mention before we get to the questions here, and again, a reminder that if you do have any questions, please don't hesitate to submit them by using the bubble chat icon located on the top right hand corner of your screen.
And just before we get to the questions here, I do want to mention that we're going to try to dig up the article that Valerie referenced earlier and see if we can work with CSPS to share it to the webcast participants.
And with that, we'll get right into to the questions that we have.
And so, first, we have a question, and this one is going to be put to the President Obed and to Valerie, and it is, what advice do you have for those of us that are met with resistance or are waiting for additional direction when it comes to implementing the Inuit Nunangat Policy from a whole of government approach?
And I'll throw that to President Obed first.
Natan Obed: Thanks, Mitch.
Yeah, no matter what, there's a space that each federal public servant works within. There are terms and conditions. There are policies. There are set rules that engage your interaction with your peers and also with external organizations. The flexibility that you may have is not always apparent but certainly now, the Inuit Nunangat Policy and the adoption of that policy by the federal government gives any public servant an additional tool to use to be flexible in the way in which they undertake their duties and responsibilities, whatever file they may hold.
So, there may be official rulings or specific considerations about terms and conditions that you might not be able to change but the way in which you work, now, you have additional tools to defend the ability to figure out how to do the best possible job in relation to Inuit issues with the best possible respect for Inuit governance and Inuit self-determination.
And also, just in reflecting on what Valerie had said, I greatly appreciate those kind words that you have not only given me, Valerie, but also to ITK in the process, and Valerie is one of these people that I've worked with since literally the first month or two that I showed up here in Ottawa, and it's wonderful to be on a same path with such a strong First Nations woman.
Because even though we're talking about Inuit specificity here, we also have such, I think, a solidarity amongst Indigenous peoples who are working in this field that transcends just the organizations that we work for, and we're so lucky to have Indigenous peoples who are senior managers within the public service.
Another aside, there's always some hand-wringing, I know, from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, who think about a job in government and worry about what that means for them in their communities and whether or not they can rest easy at night, but doing this kind of work and using systems to better implement self-determination for Indigenous peoples is really what is possible when we put our expertise, our experience, and our communities into the work that we do.
So, Nakurmiik, Valerie, for all that you've done in partnership with us.
Valerie Gideon:Thanks so much.
I was just going to... is it okay, Mitch, if I add a few things?
Mitch White: Yes, please, continue. The same question to you.
Valerie Gideon: So, I would say President Obed is absolutely correct about the whole context of being a public servant and it definitely depends on the level that you're in.
Unfortunately, the public service is very hierarchical still and that's a big frustration certainly of mine and I'm sure many others, but I do think that if there's opportunities that you have in your department to kind advocate for, for example, the training component... we had all of our senior management committee present and to take the training that ITK offered which is essentially a much extended program that presents some of the information that you've been able to receive today.
But that could really open up some understanding and some interest and the importance of doing this work. If you're part of a network within your department, for example, even in the context of GBA plus, and bringing in Inuit Nunangat Policy framework at that context because it's about intersectionality, like even within whatever level of the organization that you are in, what are the channels that you have to kind of covertly try to bring people in there with you in terms of raising this as a priority of the public service?
Because really what you would be doing is sharing information that has been mandated by the Prime Minister and ministers, but sometimes, you know, departments, whatever is happening, whatever the priorities of the day are, they might not be focused on this yet, but let's help our colleagues both in and outside government to use the channels that we have available to us, to be able to promote this and to champion it.
Mitch White: Excellent. Thank you so much for that.
And a question now for Isabella. How can federal partners support and manage the provincial-territorial relationship? Any advice on that?
Isabella Pain:Thanks for the question. That's a really difficult one and I can mostly, I think, only speak to the province of Newfoundland & Labrador which is where I live and where I work most closely with the province.
I think, from my perspective, what you can do is when you're meeting with your colleagues in the provincial government or if your ministers are meeting with ministers, always put the Inuit Nunangat Policy first, make sure it's there, make sure you're talking about these issues with your counterparts.
And I think also using your federal power, in terms of spending, ensuring that if you're having financing discussions that you consider and raise the issues about having a distinctions-based allocation directly to Inuit.
I have to say that when we were having housing discussions with the federal government and they were first starting to discuss with NG the possibility of giving us direct housing dollars, the federal minister wanted to have some comfort that the provincial government wouldn't be upset by this because normally money would go to the province who would allocate it however they wanted to, not necessarily to Inuit or Indigenous people but throughout the province.
And our provincial government was actually very happy to write that letter of support for us when they understood what the benefits were for Inuit in this province, and so I think having those conversations is a really good starting point.
Mitch White: Excellent. Thank you so much for that, Isabella.
And now, we have a question for Will David. Does the policy extend to the marine environment?
Will David:Yes. As my colleague Leah stated, the scope of the policy is quite broad and so, I mean, in my own view, the policy really applies in almost all circumstances in which the government is contemplating, particularly any kind of application, like general application or territorial application, that could touch on Inuit Nunangat.
So, I'd definitely say not only is that the case but I would also go so far as to suggest that the policy similarly is very clear in supporting self-determination by suggesting, when you're talking about the marine environment, these are the specific Inuit organizations, [inaudible] organizations, ITK and potentially ICC Canada, which should be should be engaged going forward.
Mitch White:Excellent. Thank you so much, Will.
And now we have a question for Leah. Leah, do you have any advice on how employees outside of ISC and CIRNAC can have an influence on the implementation of this policy?
Leah Beveridge: Absolutely. To me, those are actually the departments where the most exciting work lays because you don't necessarily have the Valerie Gideons with so much experience and background on this kind of work.
So, like I mentioned, just asking yourself, what does my initiative look like in Inuit Nunangat? If it's infrastructure, what does it look like to build in Inuit Nunangat? If you're looking at defence strategies, what does it look like to implement these kinds of things in Inuit Nunangat. Just to build off of the marine context, the land claims agreements include marine waters and the policy applies within those areas. So, if you're working on transportation, what does transportation look like in Inuit Nunangat?
So, it's really just about asking questions and relying on your colleagues across the federal government who may have experience, reaching out to those at ISC or at CIRNAC and saying I know that you've worked with the Inuit in the past, can you help me brainstorm some ideas, learning from both positive examples and sometimes just total misses, you know, what went wrong. It's important to learn from those opportunities too.
Mitch White:Excellent, excellent. Thank you so much for that.
And thank you so much to each of the panelists for joining us here today, and to President Obed, to Valerie Gideon, Isabella Pain, and William David who did such a great job moderating that panel there.
So, before we wrap up here, I do want to mention that if anybody does... I gave a bit of an overview in Inuit 101 there at the beginning and if anybody does want an expanded training session on Inuit realities and Inuit history and context, you can get in touch with us here at ITK. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we do arrange sessions for groups within the federal government and other groups as well. So, please do get in touch if you wanted to arrange a session to learn more about Inuit.
And yeah, so with that, again, I want to thank everybody for their help here today. I want to thank each of the panelists and I also want to thank the Canadian School of Public Service for the incredible relationship that we do have and for giving us platform to be able to discuss the Inuit Nunangat Policy.
And on behalf of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Canadian School of Public Service, I'd like to thank all of you across the country and from across Inuit Nunangat for joining us and for being a part of today's discussion. I hope that you've enjoyed today's event.
Like I said, if you want to learn more about Inuit, you can get in touch with us for that, and of course, your feedback is very important to us and we invite you to complete the electronic evaluation that you will receive in the coming days.
And yeah, with that, thank you so much, everybody.
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