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Reconciliation Efforts Welcomed By Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
As an Indigenous people, Inuvialuit have long held a special relationship with the Crown. This relationship has not always been a positive one, such as the moratorium; but, lately, it has begun to improve. Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) Chair and Chief Executive Officer Duane Ningaqsiq Smith welcomes the federal government’s efforts to forge a direct working relationship with Inuvialuit.
In particular, Smith applauds the refreshing approach the federal government has taken when it comes to Inuit and Crown relations. As part of the Inuit leadership team involved in the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, he appreciates the renewed relationship and expects the collaboration to help tackle critical issues in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) and across Inuit Nunangat.
“The Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC) encourages reconciliation by establishing shared priority areas between Inuit and Canada and allows work to be completed jointly to pursue positive outcomes,” Smith said. “Having a separate space for Inuit Nunangat-specific policy to be discussed, and implemented, will strengthen self-determination and advance reconciliation for all Inuit.”
One specific issue that has been designated a priority area through the ICPC is the development of innovative approaches to deliver on the housing needs of Inuit. IRC has already proven to be a trailblazer for this initiative, demonstrated by the present construction of a six-plex in Inuvik and a four-plex in Tuktoyaktuk – completed through funding provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and in partnership with Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Several additional builds in the remaining Inuvialuit communities are in the design phase and will be constructed over the next year.
“Working together to deliver culturally-relevant community infrastructure helps support our beneficiaries both socially and economically. Affordable housing options help address the high housing needs in our region and the utilization of local companies helps support local businesses and grow capacity throughout the ISR,” Smith said.
IRC has long been a leader in collaborating between governments to positively enhance specified objectives of regional importance. One such example is Project Jewel – an on-the-land wellness program that relies on the natural healing that comes from participants being immersed in a culturally-significant setting. Utilizing funding from Health Canada and the territorial government, Project Jewel is administered by IRC and assists those beginning or continuing their healing journey as they learn to manage stress, grief, trauma, or any other emotions that may be present.
“The impact that Project Jewel has on people in our region is profound. It has benefitted everyone from youth, adults, couples, and entire families – not to mention the secondary connections that each of them have,” Smith said. “It is an excellent example of the success that can come from programs that co-exist across multiple levels of government with an overall purpose that is clearly defined.”
“By working directly with us, we are able to create culturally-relevant opportunities for beneficiaries, stimulate our economy, improve local program delivery and ensure accountability for the use of federal funds,” says Smith. “The Inuvialuit Final Agreement belongs to all of us and this is a positive approach to the implementation of its objectives.”
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