Breaking rock in Igloolik
Prospector's association formed

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IGLOOLIK (Jan 11/99) - Harry Iyerak didn't want the residents of his community to be on the outside looking in when the time came for a mining company to break ground in the Igloolik area.

As an increasingly serious prospector, Iyerak decided to write a few letters and talk with other like-minded people and almost one year later, he's in the process of turning his part-time hobby into a soon-to-be registered organization known as the Kasuk Society.

"This summer the prospectors got concerned about protecting our area and we decided we wanted to form an association," said Iyerak.

That led to an invitation to Mike Hine, the mineral manager of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, to come to Igloolik at the end of October to help the group of about 20 people officially move forward on creating the society.

Hine said he jumped at the chance of lending assistance to the first association of its kind in the Baffin region. Along with giving him the opportunity to see the positive benefits past Q.C.-hosted prospecting courses have had in Igloolik, Hine said he supported community initiatives that gave local residents more control over their resources.

"The nice thing about the community-based prospecting associations, if they can control the process of development of that resource, they have a say in how it is developed," said Hine.

"I expect the community will have greater comfort knowing there's local people involved in this thing and not a crew of outsiders."

Iyerak noted that the group was pleased to receive Hine's technical support and had since followed through with its plans and sought out funding from the department of resources, wildlife and economic development to form a non-profit society. By not going the profit route, Iyerak explained that they would be able to secure lower prices on prospecting equipment and could speak as more of a united voice to politicians and to mining companies.

And with good showings of copper in the area and excellent potential for gold and platinum, Iyerak said it was important to be educated and ready when outside companies did start to show interest.

"We learned that if mining companies do come in, we have to be involved. Why not get something going rather than wait for somebody to do it," said Iyerak.

Once the Kasuk Society has been legally registered and has established its board of directors, Iyerak said they might seek out the mining companies themselves in an effort to generate employment and training opportunities.

"One thing we have to look for is something to create jobs for the future. Something for the students, the kids to get into."

Iyerak said Kasuk had plans to specifically target and educate youth in an effort to develop the number of Inuit scientists, geologists and engineers that are available.

"Nobody is working towards that and it's important to us. We can't just have Inuk leaders and no scientists."