Countdown to Nunavut
Axworthy and Stewart to attend the Arctic Council meeting

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Sep 14/98) - The first ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council will get under way in Iqaluit this week.

Drawing delegates from eight circumpolar countries and four non-governmental organizations, the event begins on September 17 and wraps up the next day.

During the conference, Canada will end its term as the first chair of the Council and a new chair will be announced. Federal ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Jane Stewart will attend the meeting of the council which was formed in Ottawa in 1996 in an attempt to improve communication between circumpolar countries.

Aboriginal health

Federal health dollars have recently been allocated to create an Aboriginal Health Institute and the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada wants it to have a specific centre for Inuit people.

According to Okalik Eegeesiak, ITC's president, such a centre in the North is crucial to the health of the Inuit and is possible with the $20 million handed over by the feds. ITC plans to meet with regional Inuit organizations and Pauktuutit this fall and after conferring with other Aboriginal groups, they hope to issue a joint document that will form the basis of the institute.

Elections training

By the time enumerators start knocking on doors next month, Nunavut's 19 returning officers will be in full swing thanks to the training efforts of a team of election officials that included David Hamilton, the chief electoral officer for the NWT.

"Our biggest challenge was not to overwhelm them with the mountain of stuff they had to do," said Hamilton.

Including hiring and educating deputies, he explained that the returning officers also had to hire enumerators, collect candidate nomination forms and be available on election day to troubleshoot glitches.

Brian Armstrong, also part of the training team, said that along with educating the officers, he had been busy planning a public information campaign set to kick off this month.

"We're getting brochures that will cover various backgrounds on the election campaign, posters, developing public service announcements for TV and radio, print ads for newspapers and the Web site," said Armstrong.

The first key event to be targeted by the information campaign is enumeration which begins on October 1.

Funding for FAS

If all goes well, Nunavut communities could have money in their hands for projects that prevent or deal with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects.

Announced in Nunavut last week by MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell as part of the national crime prevention centre's new initiative, the federal government has set aside $32 million to prevent crimes across Canada that stem from the birth defects. Application forms are available from her office in Ottawa and all communities are encouraged to apply.