Countdown to Nunavut
Abuse funding is on the table
NNSL (Dec 21/98) - Nearly one year after the federal government committed $350 million to redress the abuse suffered by Canada's aboriginal population at residential schools, the funding is on the table.
Earlier this month in Ottawa, Georges Erasmus, the chair of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, announced that the money that was set aside last January to pay for the treatment and healing strategies undertaken by Inuit, First Nations and Metis communities and individuals affected by the decades of sexual and physical abuse was ready to be allocated.
According to the Foundation's executive director Michael DeGagne, the 17-member board of directors would start the process by travelling across Canada and hosting a series of meetings in order to better explain how to access the money before they started to receive funding proposals.
"We've announced that we're going to begin the funding process and we're starting by doing 11 workshops across Canada to make sure people understand that process," said DeGagne, during the first of the 11 workshops held in Iqaluit two weeks ago.
Along with the information sessions, the Foundation also produced a program handbook that explained the five different categories of funding, the deadlines, eligibility requirements, and proposal guidelines and procedures. More information can be obtained through the Foundation's Ottawa office or on the Internet at www.ahf.ca.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is a non-profit organization formed by various healing and aboriginal groups after Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jane Stewart apologized on behalf of the federal government for their mistreatment of Canada's aboriginal residents.
The plot thickened over the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) power struggle last week when Nunavut's interim commissioner Jack Anawak announced that he was exploring the possibility of finding another corporation to provide electricity to Nunavut's 27 communities.
Anawak said he thought negotiations concerning NTPC were going well until the Western Coalition made a surprise announcement that they were pulling out of the deal.
"As far as we were concerned, we had an agreement in place and the (GNWT) was prepared to push the legislation forward. A day before, they pulled the legislation out because the Western Coalition had some problems with it," said Anawak.
Talks apparently became troubled after the west announced that they wanted a bigger share of the profits than had already been agreed upon. Anawak said that in the best interests of Nunavut residents, he thought he should investigate alternative sources of power in the event that an agreement could not be reached.
"That was an eleventh hour pull-back of something we were looking forward to finalizing and all we're doing is ensuring that if these kinds of things are going to occur, then we'd better have a contingency plan in place," said Anawak.
Negotiations over the NTPC will continue between the office of the interim commissioner, the GNWT, Nunavut Tunngavik and the Western Coalition in the hopes that an agreement allowing the two territories to share ownership for three years following division can be reached.
Beefing up education
Education Minister Charles Dent announced last week that a seven-member Forum on Schooling had been formed to travel to ten Nunavut and NWT communities to take a closer look at the educational system.
Dent said the committee would hear educators and the public's views on improving curriculum and activities in Kindergarten to Grade 12.
At the conclusion of the visits, the Forum will produce a report for each territory that will be used to update and form the territorial departments of education.
New president for QIA
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association has a new president and a new vice president.
Following the election that was held last Monday around the Baffin region, Qikiqtarjuaq's Pauloosie Keyootak was elected president and Kimmirut's Pudloo Mingeriak was voted in as vice president.
Keyootak beat out acting president Larry Audlaluk by just 55 votes but Mingeriak won his seat with the birthright organization by an overwhelming majority.
A total of 2,699 votes were cast of a possible 5,900. Iqaluit had the lowest percentage of people turn out to the poles with a dismal 15 per cent while Igloolik had the strongest showing with 115 per cent.
A significant event in history was played out last Tuesday in Iqaluit when the 19 writs of election for the first Nunavut election were officially signed.
Chief Electoral Officer David Hamilton and his Nunavut deputy Joshie Teemotee Mitsima were on hand for the short ceremony that signified that the election would officially kick off on January 1.
Brian Armstrong, the coordinator of training and information for Elections NWT said it made sense to actually sign the writs two weeks ahead of the election.
"The signing itself was basically a formality. The actual writ does occur on January 1, 1999 but it's a busy time of year so we decided to do it in advance of the holidays," said Armstrong.
He explained that the extra 16 days gave Elections NWT more time to get the message out that the election was just around the corner and would also permit the returning officers just to open their doors on Jan.1 without having to deal with paperwork.
"They'll be ready to go," said Armstrong, referring to the first day of January when the officers open the candidate's nomination period.
But until the writ is officially dropped and the 45-day campaign period starts, the returning officers will spend their days getting their offices set up and preparing to post the preliminary list of electors.
Armstrong said that list would be ready for public viewing and revision after the offices open on New Year's Day.