Mayors to decide fate of pilot project
Jose Kusugak says NTI made the decision not to support the community empowerment project because of poor timing

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Mar 11/98) - Keewatin mayors must decide if the Keewatin Pilot Project will go ahead despite strong opposition from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Jose Kusugak, who says it should be sidelined until division.

Kusugak said last week that NTI made the decision not to support the community empowerment project at its board meeting in Cambridge Bay at the end of February because of poor timing.

"NTI never said we were opposed to the idea," he said. "It's the timing. We want to make the residents of the Keewatin understand what this means before we say yes to it."

Kusugak argued the project, which would transfer some decision-making authorities from the territorial government to the community level, is being pushed through without proper community consultation and little emphasis on it will affect the Nunavut government.

"I would want to make sure that the Nunavut government wanted it and all the communities wanted it," he said.

Furthermore, the face of community empowerment as its proposed in the KPP creates another level of government, a direct contradiction to Footprints 2, which states there should be only two, added Kusugak.

"It's not difficult to compare it to the Keewatin Regional Council or the Baffin Regional Council and they both folded because no one wanted it," he said.

Shawn Maley, municipal and community affairs superintendent for the Keewatin, said that mayors will discuss the issue further when they meet in Arviat in April. "It's in the mayors' court -- I'm just the messenger," he said. "That will be the date that they will review it."