(An unemployed Inuk in his shack in Iqaluit. Photo: Holly Moore/APTN Investigates)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown interest in learning more about the Inuit who live in unheated, wooden shacks in Iqaluit, Nu,.
Trudeau said his Indigenous and Northern Affairs staff would be in touch after APTN Investigates asked him to join a reporter in touring the shacks and meeting with people who live there.
It’s what Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau, an Inuit man from Iqaluit, has been working for since he started a petition about unemployment in the territory last year.
Inuqtaqau and the shacks were featured in the recent APTN Investigates report, entitled #Article 23.
Article 23 was written into the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement for one reason, to ensure that Nunavummiut had a chance at jobs …
The shacks on the shores of Frobisher Bay – and other places in Nunavut – are home to working Inuit who don’t qualify for subsidized housing like imported southern workers do, as well as unemployed Inuit.
Inuqtaqau estimates there are about 100 shacks around Iqaluit that have no electricity or running water and are heated by the use of camping stoves.
He says they show how Inuit are discriminated against in their own territory that was formed in 1999 to preserve Inuit language and culture.
His petition on Inuit rights and Article 23 has attracted more than 2,000 signatures so far.
Article 23 is a clause in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement that promotes an Inuit majority in public and private sector workplaces.
But Inuqtaqau alleges the clause is being ignored by employers who import workers from southern Canada instead of training and hiring locals. And, he says, those southern workers receive food and housing subsidies to offset the sky-high cost of northern living that Inuit don’t get.
The result, he added, is Inuit living in shacks while southerners buy and rent homes and apartments, further squeezing Inuit out of the local economy.