The Canadian and Nunavut governments are working with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) to launch an innovative pilot project aimed at training Inuit for potential employment in the public service in Nunavut.
The role of the NTI is to ensure the federal and territorial governments fulfill their promises made under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) to the Inuit. The Canadian government’s alleged failure to comply with Article 23, which includes provisions on Inuit employment in government, played a major role in NTI’s $1 billion lawsuit filed in December 2006 against the Government of Canada for not fulfilling their obligations under the NLCA. According to a report by PriceWaterhouseCooper, Inuit lost an estimated $123 million annually in total salaries and benefits, because the government had not upheld its end of the bargain in the land claim, and the federal government continued to import a Southern workforce. The lawsuit awaits trial this year. Since 2006, NTI has filed four legal motions related to that lawsuit before the Nunavut Court of Justice. NTI has won all four; most recently, it was awarded $14.8 million in damages in June 2012 for the Government of Canada’s failure to create a Nunavut General Monitoring Plan as required by the NLCA.
The Inuit Learning and Development Pilot (ILDP) project is a new step in the right direction to making amends with the indigenous in Nunavut.
The pilot project, which will start this May in Iqaluit, will offer 16 Inuit NLCA beneficiaries who hold a high school diploma or the equivalent, with 16-month training spots for public service positions, reported NunatsiaqOnline.ca. The participants will rotate different positions, serving four four-month paid work assignments. As part of the program’s culturally appropriate support systems, a mentor will personally guide Inuit throughout the training process, and an on-the-job coach will assist participants in their work. The program will also involve classroom learning and structured coaching and skills training.
At the conclusion of the 16-month program, successful participants will be placed in an inventory for possible consideration for jobs within the governments of Canada, Nunavut or NTI.
“Wherever possible participants will be matched with work assignments that match their career aspirations,” said Leona Aglukkaq, the minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, when announcing the new program at a news conference on February 8.
The program is financed by the hosting organizations, which will pay participants at entry-level wage rates plus northern allowances.
“It’s really the first time that the three partners have come together to look at how we can recruit more of our beneficiaries into the public service,” Aglukkaq said.
The project aims to introduce NCLA beneficiaries, who previously may have not considered or been able to work in public service, an opportunity to learn about and gain experience in the public sector, thus equipping them with the skill sets necessary for future employment in public service.
“Inuit must be employed in government at a level that is representative of the population of Nunavut, which means a minimum of 85 per cent of the jobs within government must be held by Inuit,” said NTI vice-president Jack Anawak at the news conference. “By taking this targeting approach involving training, the three partners anticipate that Inuit employment numbers will increase and stabilize,” he added.
Peter Taptuna, Nunavut’s deputy premier, hopes the program will prove effective in Iqaluit and be replicated throughout the whole Nunavut territory.