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Government employment for Inuit in Nunavut stalled to tune of $1.28 billion in lost wages

“The absence of Inuit representation in government undermines the underlying Nunavut Vision of enhanced Inuit self-determination, and the building of government programs and services fully attuned to Inuit language and culture." NTI President Aluki Kotierk

“This is unacceptable.  We need a radical shift in political attention and will”, said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) President Aluki Kotierk.

She was referring to a report that NTI released Sept. 12 that stated there are enormous economic implications from the shortage of Inuit in federal and territorial government work forces in Nunavut.

The report estimates lost wages to Nunavut Inuit involved in government work will be $1.284 billion from 2017-2023.   Those lost wages result in unnecessary costs to governments over the same period of $519 million, the report states.

Inuit representative territorial government should be at 85 per cent across all occupational groupings and grade levels, yet the Government of Nunavut work force is stalled at a 50 per cent Inuit participation rate, concentrated at lower pay grades. Inuit participation in the federal government work force is at even lower levels, the report states.

“The lack of Inuit representation in government work forces is arguably the single biggest impairment to the ongoing economic well-being of Nunavut Inuit,” said Kotierk.

Full implementation of Article 23 was an important part of litigation brought by NTI in 2006 and resulted in the out of court settlement in 2015.   The settlement provided compensation for lack of Article 23 implementation up until 2015.

“The absence of Inuit representation in government undermines the underlying Nunavut Vision of enhanced Inuit self-determination, and the building of government programs and services fully attuned to Inuit language and culture,” said Kotierk.

“No other part of Canada would accept a situation where, for example, 70 per cent of our teachers have to be recruited from outside of Nunavut, and are not expected to have Inuit language skills, values and community insights.”

NTI expressed frustration, in a press statement, that a full set of Inuit employment plans, with targets and timelines for expanded Inuit employment, were supposed to have been completed for each federal and territorial department by 1996.  These, said Kotierk, are not yet completed.

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