Nunavut man’s petition gets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention

Kathleen Martens
APTN Investigates
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown interest in learning more about the Inuit who live in unheated, wooden shacks in Iqaluit, Nu,.

Trudeau said his Indigenous and Northern Affairs staff would be in touch after APTN Investigates asked him to join a reporter in touring the shacks and meeting with people who live there.

It’s what Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau, an Inuit man from Iqaluit, has been working for since he started a petition about unemployment in the territory last year.

Inuqtaqau and the shacks were featured in the recent APTN Investigates report, entitled #Article 23.

Article 23 was written into the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement for one reason, to ensure that Nunavummiut had a chance at jobs …

The shacks on the shores of Frobisher Bay – and other places in Nunavut – are home to working Inuit who don’t qualify for subsidized housing like imported southern workers do, as well as unemployed Inuit.

Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau
Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau shows APTN Investigates the inside of an unheated shack in Iqaluit. Photo: Holly Moore/APTN Investigates

Inuqtaqau estimates there are about 100 shacks around Iqaluit that have no electricity or running water and are heated by the use of camping stoves.

He says they show how Inuit are discriminated against in their own territory that was formed in 1999 to preserve Inuit language and culture.

His petition on Inuit rights and Article 23 has attracted more than 2,000 signatures so far.

Article 23 is a clause in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement that promotes an Inuit majority in public and private sector workplaces.

But Inuqtaqau alleges the clause is being ignored by employers who import workers from southern Canada instead of training and hiring locals. And, he says, those southern workers receive food and housing subsidies to offset the sky-high cost of northern living that Inuit don’t get.

The result, he added, is Inuit living in shacks while southerners buy and rent homes and apartments, further squeezing Inuit out of the local economy.

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14 thoughts on “Nunavut man’s petition gets Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention

  1. “3rd world” conditions is where we’re living in. Crowded houses, expensive food, etc. Hope the PM does sumthin’.

  2. If there is a more desperate need for warm housing in Canada, I’ll eat my toque.
    A very wrong situation.
    Fix it

  3. okay I just had finish reading a book called ”We Call it Survival by Abraham Okpik” and I’m pretty sure I myself had caught in a situation that if wasn’t for the ”White Priest” to come with the ”Americans, Russians” to trade, well i’m sure it was the only way for surviving with foods etc. right? but with the whites having to do their best to take our tradition away with the culture and take the lives of many to school to be lined up to be shot, left with illness and or what ever you may seem to know what it was like in the olden days… That is my point of view, I just don’t see on why they won’t use that rehabilitation center that they used a long ago for the ones that lived in shacks. I don’t know!!… i’m saying, it’s just sad. Even some inuits in the south are having trouble with life.

  4. Article 23 deals with Inuit employment in the government. This article does not mention where this individual is employed. Most likely it is private enterprise since it is a very common exercise for construction companies, restaurants/hotels, and mechanical and maintenance shops to fly up southern hire, and shove them in overcrowded staff housing (the conditions of which are appalling and unregulated). NTI should be addressing the issue of unregulated private enterprise first before assuming all is the governments responsibility. Iqaluit has become a city and private enterprise is often not looked at with great scrutiny – but it is often getting away with doing the most damage to our economy and environment. This has nothing to do with Article 23. The inuit orgs need to seriously look at the quickly growing private market that is taking over Nunavut and start work to regulate that.

  5. While Government housing units are sitting empty, waiting for the next southern hire, the permanent residents are homeless. The picture does not look good.

  6. It is about time the plight of out Northern people are recognized. Climate change is affecting these people and not in a good way. With animals dying off, their ability to feed themselves goes with these animals and the breaking of the treaty by not having these people work as it promised is further sending them deeper into poverty. There are many of us from the south sending up food and clothes as so many of the children are going to school with missed meals. This affects their learning and ability to help their family survive. Food prices are so high that that must be a priority and some families are lucky to eat every 2nd day even with a job.
    Something needs to be done as we done south are also facing price increases and this affects how much help we can give. We are not a cure but a stop gap measure, much like a bathtub filling one drip at a time. They are desperate and require government help to at lest get some of their needs met so they themselves can get back on their feet.
    It gets cold there and no insulation in weather that is 60 below does not do much to keep people warm. No food in the belly does not help people keep warm as well. These are seniors and they are freezing to death in these conditions. How many more need to die before the Government feels it is time to step in and help them.
    I help through a Facebook Group named. Helping Our Northern Neighbors. Any help, big or small is welcome and the group administrator’s can get you putting the help where it is needed most at the time. Thanks to these people we are aware of the problems and get a chance to help. Lots of drops of water will eventually fill the bathtub but please get them the help before more die, form the cold and from the starvation.

    1. Sad but true. I work in mental health and many times I give food to my clients for exactly the reasons you list. Somehow people from the south think that these people live fairly well on government money which once we get her is not at all the case. Social determinates have to be addressed before you can help people care enough to help themselves.

    1. Can’t make an igloo with the improper snow amount we have. And not all Inuit know how to make one.


  8. The ones who need it the most are pushed aside . Keep on posting this unacceptable show the world the truth

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