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Civil Society & Government – Re-thinking the Relationship in a Time of Significant Change

3 minute read

Author: Laura Edgar, Vice President Board and Organizational Governance

Civil society’s impact on governance is being felt in Canada and around the world. The rise of populism, a declining trust in governments, the changing role of (and trust in) media as a neutral, fact-based intermediary, and the impact of technologies on both organizational form and engagement, all suggest that the role of civil society in governance in Canada has, and will continue, to evolve.

Civil society works to meet identified needs within communities – whether social or geographic. In many cases it also plays an important intermediary role in identifying and communicating the concerns and needs of citizens to governments. In addition, some components of civil society – notably the not for profit sector – are increasingly being utilized by governments to support the delivery of services to citizens. The continued health of civil society, and of the government – civil society relationship, is therefore essential. But is Canadian civil society healthy?

Canadian civil society is large and complex, which can make defining the sector and its overall health difficult. Civil society is facing a range of challenges, including how to fund its work, and how to govern and manage its efforts in ways that support effective decision-making, efficient service delivery, and being an effective voice for those it represents. Civil society is becoming increasingly sophisticated and media savvy, and is driven to innovate to support sustainability and deliver on mandate. New organizational forms, including shared service organizations, social enterprises and more, are taking root and driving both consolidation and change in the sector.

Civil society is also facing challenges with its interface with governments, including understanding how to best advocate, inform policy development, and partner with governments to provide public services. While many equate civil society with the not for profit sector there is in reality also wide range of unincorporated civil society groups and movements – large and small – that are trying to make their voices heard. Add to this the complexity and diversity of Canadian civil society – urban and rural, francophone, anglophone and allophone, Indigenous peoples, ethnocultural diversity, LBGTQI2S etc. – and the vast range of issues, perspectives and demands – often competing – that strive for attention, and the complexity of civil society, and those that wish to engage with them, become clear.

So why is this all important? Civil society is a reflection, and voice, of society’s wants, needs, priority issues and concerns. Civil society has the ability to both disrupt and bring together. For governments, effectively anticipating and responding to the diversity and complexity of civil society in Canada, and the changes that are occurring in the sector, will be critical to understanding the issues important to Canadians and developing policies and programs to address them. Governments are increasingly recognizing the importance of moving beyond ‘consultation’ to more effectively engaging with civil society on aspects of policy, service delivery, data gathering and more. To make this transition to a more effective, engaged and collaborative approach, governments need to gain insight into the different interests, capacities, forms and drivers that make up Canadian civil society. In the longer term, improved understanding of civil society and the consistent implementation of more collaborative approaches of engagement should lead to more trust, and support greater social cohesion.

The IOG will be exploring these and other issues as part of its upcoming “Civil Society and Governance in Canada – Rebuilding Trust and Supporting Collaboration.” The 4-session dialogue series, which begins on March 27, 2019 has two goals. First, the IOG, in dialogue with civil society and government representatives, wants explore what is happening within the civil society ecosystem, as well as its relationship with governments. We want the dialogue series itself to support an improved understanding of civil society and start the rebuilding of that critical piece in any relationship – trust. Second, as a result of the dialogue series, we are going to prepare a discussion paper that will inform a broader audience of the challenges and opportunities facing civil society and government, and some ideas for making this critical relationship work better. Click here to learn more.

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What Comes After Digital Government? Looking to the Future (Forum)

4 minute read

Author: Mark Robbins, Senior Researcher

Government has had challenges keeping up with technology for decades, but over the past few years government’s troubled relationship with technology has come to a head and has catalysed action. In 2016, we became aware of the ongoing fiasco that is the Phoenix , and perhaps more importantly, the public became aware of how far government has fallen behind. With these circumstances turning into a public embarrassment, the modernization of public administration became a political issue. This, combined with the ongoing Blueprint 2020 initiative, has proved to be a powerful spur to action.

By 2017, Canada had launched the Canadian Digital Service and a number of related modernization initiatives, which can be viewed in many ways as a remedy to government’s long-standing technological backwardness. By 2018, Canada had its first minister of digital government. While this was not a stand-alone position held by someone other than the president of the Treasury Board, who was the minister of digital government, this new cabinet position has also been a welcome sign of progress. But now it is 2019 and we need to start thinking of where to go next if we are to expect continuous progress.

With an upcoming fall election, 2019 is not an ideal year for more planning and machinery changes; 2019 is a year for demonstrating results and for developing a new long-term vision for the future of government. Some might argue that we have that new vision already: digital government. I would like to make the case that this is not good enough. In 2019, digital government is an operational necessity, not a strategic vision. As our own Ryan Androsoff noted recently in Policy Options, today every policy issue is a digital issue. From a conceptual standpoint this makes the pursuit of digital government somewhat problematic. We seek “digital government” as opposed to what exactly? “Analog government” has not been a viable option or a vision for modernization in over 20 years.

To be sure, we still need operational follow-through with existing initiatives. Kent Aitken has pointed out that much of our recent progress in this area has been siloed, isolated, and dependant on working-level champions. While not ideal, this could conceivably continue indefinitely with high-level policy cover, assuming of course that Government of Canada staff stay in existing positions and policy cover continues indefinitely. While this cannot be taken for granted in the best of circumstances, relying on these conditions while entering an election year would be downright foolhardy.

So, what to do?

Some will be in a position to hunker down and power through 2019, taking measured risks and keeping disparate initiatives afloat under trying circumstances. If you are reading this as one of those people, high fives all around. Those outside of the strictly operational level will have a different challenge entirely: to continue modernizing the vision for 21stcentury government, finding new objectives to stride toward, and contributing to a new and timely paradigm.

When the IOG first launched its Digital Governance Forum conference in 2015, it was forward-thinking and ahead of its time to talk about digital government. In 2019, we are giving this initiative a reboot in keeping with our assessment of the landscape, keeping a close eye on changing circumstances and the imperative to continue looking further into the future. Our new Future Forum conference being held this May 6th and 7th continues in the IOG’s long standing tradition of focusing on questions specific to operational implementation of digital government but has added consideration for emerging technologies (such as AI and biotech) and formalized its mission to generate insights that are always ahead of the curve.

In an age where the economy and society are increasingly driven by information technology, we think that the future of government is increasingly dependent on the ability to be meaningfully and intelligently open. As such, this year’s Future Forum will be digging deep into questions of how open government might work, what the challenges will be, and the degree to which it might help offer a guiding vision for government in the 21stcentury. Our themes, panelists and format have been selected with these objectives in mind. The Future Forum conference has also been designed to help build Canadian expertise in the immediate lead-up to Ottawa’s hosting of the global Open Government Partnership summit later in May since it’s part of the IOG’s reason for being to help ensure that the Canadian Public Service can always put its best foot forward.

I’d like to conclude by sharing a short anecdote. A friend and recent immigrant to Canada once told me that part of the reason they chose Canada as their new home is that in this day and age, Canada is one of the few places left where people are able to still look to the future and can reasonably expect it to be better. In an era where much of global politics is smothered by present disharmony, or worse still, remains fixated on the past, the ability to keep looking forward to the future is increasingly a competitive advantage for Canada. We hope to do our part at this year’s Future Forum. Hope to see you there.

Future Forum Cover Art
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Improving the Lives of the Most Vulnerable Through International Development: An Interview with Federal Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau

6 minute read

Author: Jaclyn Legge, Social Media Coordinator and Communications Student
Interviewer: The Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin, Senior Project Manager

The following interview with Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau was conducted by the IOG’s Hon. Marie Poulin and took place during what turned out to be her final week as Minister of International Development. In this interview, Minister Bibeau highlights progress made since she was first sworn in and offers her thoughts on Canada’s role in the international development sector. She is now Canada’s first female Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Foods.

Marie-Claude Bibeau sits down with the IOG’s Hon. Marie Poulin at a homey wooden table in her office. When asked if she would like a photo taken at her desk, she chuckles warmly to herself. She doesn’t sit here very much, she admits; her work as Minister of International Development and La Francophonie often takes her not only out of office, but out of country.

The office of Minister Bibeau tells the story that its often-absent owner is busy living. The walls are dotted with photographs of Canadian landscapes and locales resemblant of her hometown of Sherbrooke, including what appears to be the University of Sherbrooke, where she obtained her BA in Economics and MA in Environmental Management. There’s a map of Compton-Stanstead district where she was elected to represent in the House of Commons in 2015; Compton is also where she ran a successful tourism business for 15 years. Most notably, the office walls feature a selection of art from abroad (no doubt from the many countries she’s visited throughout her career), and photos of the Minister surrounded by the smiling faces of those she has kept at the heart of her work: women and girls in developing countries.

Madame la ministre,” Marie Poulin begins. “How does your experience in international development contribute to your success as Minister now responsible for the good governance of Canada’s development agency?”

“Well when I was sworn in, I was back in CIDA more or less.” Minister Bibeau recalls how quickly and comfortably her experience at the Canadian International Development Agency returned to her as she took on the responsibilities of Minister. “I think I had a longueur d’avance. I felt very comfortable going ‘back’ to this department.”

Of course, the new position came with new tasks. For the first time in her career, she was working directly with crisis-affected countries facing significant issues of security and violence. In her mandate, she was tasked with recentering the focus of Canada’s efforts onto those who are the most vulnerable; on the job, she says it became clear to her that this meant women and girls.

So, when Marie asks about her mandate-given responsibility to champion the values of inclusive and accountable governance, the Minister is happy to share what it means to her: “We decided to put women and girls at the heart of the policy.”

She is referring to the complete review of the international assistance policy, which took into account a consultation of over 15 000 participants in 65 countries. By the consultation’s end, it led to the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

“We came to this conclusion: if we want to end poverty, we need 100% of the population to contribute to their community. We have to empower women so they can develop their full potential and contribute as the men do, to their communities and the economy of their country.”

For Minister Bibeau, whose work keeps her in dialogue with many women whose lives are impacted and limited by lack of opportunity, the need for special attention towards gender-based issues is impossible to deny.

“We have to empower girls socially, economically, politically, and we have to work on girls’ education as well. Not only schools and teachers, but the barriers.” And the barriers are extensive; between the obligation to care for the home, early child and forced marriages, early pregnancies, and gender-based violence, there are a myriad of reasons why girls in a crisis-affected country often stop attending school by the age of 12.

In practice, Minister Bibeau believes the key to inclusive governance is working from both ends. “We support the local government and build the capacities of grassroots organizations so they can communicate.” Providing technical assistance for governments – assisting countries in making better laws, programs, and policies – is only the half of it; initiatives like Women’s Voice and Leadership strengthen women’s grassroots organizations so that they can be effective drivers of change in issues ranging from access to politics to female genital mutilation.

According to Bibeau, it is this mindful, long-term approach to inclusive governance that has made Canada consistently effective in the international development sector. “I think we have l’art et la manière to transfer our knowledge. We are recognized for taking the time to understand the local situation and not trying to impose our way of doing things, but finding a way to adapt and to use our knowledge and capacities so it can benefit the host country.”

When asked to name her biggest source of influence as a public servant, the Minister fondly cites her husband, Bernard Sévigny, recognizing his strong and sincere commitment to the public service.

“Sometimes we talk about public service like it is only for the public servant, les fonctionnaires, but being a politician, we’re there to serve the public. We are under pressure from various interests and stakeholders and at the end of the day, we have to make decisions for the greater good. Not for those who have the biggest or loudest voice.”

To wrap up, Minister Bibeau offers her thoughts on working in, and in cooperation with, the international development sector. She likes to believe that everyone in international development, like her, is driven by a strong passion and dedication toward improving the lives of others. After all, her own strength in this career came from letting the work move her.

“When we look at the world sometimes, it can be discouraging. But when we look at where we are doing work, we really are making big changes in the lives of these people. I did not know I was a feminist three years ago, and now I am one of the loudest voices of feminism for Canada in other countries and the UN. But it’s all these conversations I’ve had with women in the field that gives me the strength, the conviction, and the confidence to be bold and talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to work so passionately to break the barriers that girls face. It’s not a job, it’s a vocation.”

The Hon. Marie Poulin contacted Minister Bibeau following the cabinet shuffle on Friday. The new Minister of Agriculture responded with the following:

“I am particularly pleased to begin working in this new portfolio as Minister of Agriculture, and I am very proud to be Canada’s first woman Minister of Agriculture. We all know this sector plays a vital role in Canada, and we all understand the ‎importance of the safety of the food we eat. I have a great team in the department and I look forward to working with them on building a bright future for this great industry.”

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Leadership in Government: A Change in Thinking

6 minute read

Author: Toby Fyfe, President


As a federal public servant, you are part of an elite. You have an interesting job, steady pay (mostly) and a good pension.

But increasingly it must seem that you are working and living in a messed-up world. Democracy appears to be at risk, threatened by populism, fake news and a post-truth world. The old conventions that have held the Westminster system together are collapsing: Theresa May’s refusal to resign after her government’s defeat January 14; the centralization of power in PMO; the trivialization of Question Period.

And of course, the workplace itself is changing. Digital technologies are turning the hierarchical, cautious and risk-averse public service on its head, putting the world of centrally-based decision-making at risk as multiple truths impede on fact-based discussions and decision-making.

An IOG/Environics research project tells us that half of Canadians think the federal government is not working well while three quarters of those who believe it is broken say it is due to wasteful spending (75%) and/or not responsive to citizen needs (75%). 50% indicate lack of leadership as a cause of this malaise.

The former Clerk of the Privy Council, Kevin Lynch, sums it up this way: [there is a] ‘growing gap between the scale, scope and speed of … transformations and the capacity of government to implement timely and effective policy changes.’

What does it mean?

According to the World Economic Forum, the biggest challenge facing governments today is to remain relevant.

Government is relevant if citizens trust its ability to do the job better than anyone else.

The role of public service leadership, then, is to build citizen trust in government so that it remains relevant to them. It is more than just offering fearless advice and loyal implementation. It is about taking responsibility for contributing to the sustainability of the public sector. That means providing services efficiently, operating transparently, convening different viewpoints fairly and openly, adding value to society and the economy, and above all, helping citizens prepare for, and respond to, change.

Here are 12 key 21st century competencies for public sector leaders:

  • RETHINK YOUR NOTIONS OF LEADERSHIP. It’s not about being a leader, it’s about leadership. Leadership is contextual, involves others, and has nothing to do with your position or title. Leadership is not to be confused with authority. ‘The myth of leadership is the myth of the lone warrior, the solitary individual whose heroism and brilliance enable him to lead the way. The strategic challenge is to give work back to people without abandoning them’ (Heifitz).
  • UNDERSTAND THE CHANGING SCOPE OF PUBLIC SECTOR GOVERNANCE.The changing world around you is having an impact on traditional views of the public sector governance principles of legitimacy, responsibility, accountability, risk and trust. We are in a post-industrial economy – what Klaus Schwab calls the 4thindustrial revolution – with institutions, structures and processes still rooted in the industrial age. Distributed and multi-lateral governance are the order for the day and will have an impact on decision-making.
  • USE SYSTEMS THINKING.The world is moving from structural hierarchy to an interconnected set of elements that work in an ecosystem to achieve an outcome, and from simple cause and effect chains to multiple relationships, interests and feedback loops. Yes, your structures and decision-making processes are linear and hierarchical; unfortunately, they do not reflect the new reality.
  • UNDERSTAND THAT MOST OF TODAY’S BIG POLICY ISSUES ARE COMPLEX. A complex problem involves many players, each of whom will have a legitimate view on, and stake in, defining it and what is needed to solve it. In a world where opinions can be amplified by social media and confirmation bias, the process of finding a common, middle ground – the traditional goal of governments, by the way – is necessary even if it is time-consuming, expensive and often frustrating. Explore new ways of policy-making such as behavioral economics, ensure policies can be implemented and evaluate them regularly for timeliness and relevance.
  • RESPOND TO THEREALISSUE; DON’T BE CAPTURED BY YESTERDAY’S PARADIGM.In Ottawa, the City’s first reaction to Uber was to ban it because it did not meet the regulatory criteria put in place for the taxi age. The taxi service was inefficient and the City was essentially captured in an old regulatory paradigm that stifled innovative thinking.
  • FOCUS ON CITIZENS, NOT INSTITUTIONS.See Uber study above. The determination of the company to continue in the face of clear citizen demand forced the City to change its view on the issue. Ask yourself: how relevant to their needs do you think citizens thought their civic government was?
  • THINK LIKE A POLITICIAN.We work in a political world, offering up solutions, strategies and approaches to our political masters. We like to think that politicians are driven by informed decision-making. Work by the late Gilles Paquet of the Ottawa University Centre on Governance lists five criteria that drive a political decision: the solution must be technically realistic (doable); socially acceptable (not too far out in front of public opinion); politically aligned; operationally implementable (can actually be accomplished, is affordable, etc.); and is publicly understandable (can be sold). Note that data is not on the list.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR BIASES.As noted, earlier, you are part of the elite and an institution that is risk averse, hierarchical, slow, and not very collaborative. Be aware of three biases that often capture public servants: confirmation bias, where evidence that confirms a pre-determined view is overly weighted; group think, where the majority view rules for the sake of consensus; and escalating commitment which makes it almost impossible to ask, do we still need (to do) this?
  • DON’T BE HAPPY WITH THE STATUS QUO.Always ask: do we have do it this way?
  • THINK BIG PICTURE.Do not fall into the trap of just doing your day job, for that will turn you into just one more technocrat. Allow yourself to move from the daily grind of the ‘dance floor’ to the ‘balcony’ where you can stop, look around, and rethink your assumptions. Work with others to achieve outcomes with a chef-d’orchestre approach to leadership that builds on their knowledge and skills.
  • PREPARE CITIZENS FOR THE FUTURE.Government has many roles: policy development, social programming, service delivery, regulation development and implementation, security – the list is endless. Citizens interact with governments in three ways: as a taxpayer, as a citizen, and as a client, all of which matter. But in this world of change and uncertainty, as traditional jobs disappear, the precariat increases and new demographics impact the workplace, a principle role of government – and therefore public service leaders – should be to help citizens prepare for the future.
  • DEVELOP A SENSE OF URGENCY.Jack Welch, former GE CEO, said: ‘If the rate of change on the outside is greater than that on the inside, then the end is near.’ The events of the past few years have indicated that government is not keeping up with the rapid change around it. Quite simply, it must adapt to the disruptive changes that it faces or risk becoming increasingly irrelevant. Public servant leaders need to take on this challenge by driving real change so that government maintains the trust of citizens today and in the years to come.
12 Leadership
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Youth and Civil Society in Iraq

2 minute read

Author: Mike Fleet, Senior Researcher

There is something interesting happening in Iraq, and if you’re not paying attention to it then you are going to fundamentally misunderstand the country in 10 years. Right now, from Baghdad to Mosul, the youth of Iraq are creating new start-ups, businesses, radio headquarters, and other new outlets to work for themselves. In a country where 60% of the population are youth, the potential for change is massive. As an Arab News article noted, areas like The Station and Mosul Space are helping these new graduates and young professionals to learn new skills and establish themselves and their start-ups. Some have noted that at a radio station in Mosul the young owners have openly celebrated their history of ancient Assyria by incorporating ancient architectural styles in their workspace more so than ever before.

While I was visiting Iraq, colleagues and friends Ali Albawi and Ali Ihsan showed me around to some of their own ventures, as well as those of other youth. First was the IQ Peace Center, a volunteer-run organization that brings together hundreds of youth during the year to focus on the arts and community involvement while running the annual Baghdad City of Peace Carnival. Located in a house near Karrada, everything inside the Center is handmade by its members, and it even includes a soundproofed room for local musicians to practice music.

One of the former leaders of the Center went on to create his own business, Al-Faisaliya, a resto-cafe that hosts and supports local musicians and serves as one of the city’s prime hangout spots for young professionals. Looking around you’ll quickly see other businesses owned by young professionals that have small booths located in other hubs like The Station. Many young, educated, and driven young professionals end up here to relax or work with some tea and/or smoking sheesha. The owner noted to me that many of the city’s kids of prominent politicians or militia leaders pay visits. As the city changes and the youth seek to change their country, these new business and political leaders will be the ones who chart the path forward.

Other former leaders of the IQPeace Center went on to create ;Doinc, a start-up incubator helping new business owners learn skills and access a network of likeminded individuals while providing a workspace for them from which to operate. Helped by Inno4Dev, a UNDP-funded program, the start-up hub is helping fellow creative minds to learn the skills necessary to bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.

This Iraqi youth are the ones who will be driving the changes in Iraq in the years to come since the Iraqi government (which is currently the chief employer in Iraq) is currently bloated to the point where it cannot hire too many more employees. Iraqi university graduates and skilled labour force are seeking other options.

Iraq is in a massive transition, and in the incoming 10-15 years many of the heads of political parties or politicos operating in the background will either move away from politics or pass away. In addition, further attention to those entering politics or the (grand)sons and (grand)daughters of prominent businessmen and women and politicians are at the age where they are also starting their own careers. These networks and how they function, as well as the views of these youth, will set the stage for Iraq’s future. The Iraqi government would do well to pay close attention.

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ELP is in the ‘How’ of Everyday – An alumni shares her Experiences with the IOGs Executive Leadership Program

2 minute read

Author: Rebecca Hollett, Marketing and Communications

Fourth Quarter is often when employees in the federal public service turn their thoughts to that of continued education, and the IOG’s Executive Leadership Program plays an important role at this time. With leadership training in mind, we are delighted to take this opportunity to share with you the experience of Magda Hovjacky, Director General for Ministerial Services and Access to Information at Public Services and Procurement Canada, and one of the program’s alumna, as she describes how the ELP has impacted her career and leadership capability.

As public servants we often frame leadership from an output-oriented perspective. We focus on what we have delivered in the past and stay in our comfort zone in looking ahead.

I felt tremendously blessed to be part of the IOG’s Executive Leadership Program 14thCohort. The Institute’s reach into government and access to subject matter experts provided us with a unique window into public policy issues. This enabled us to step out of the siloes of our department’s operations and think more broadly as public sector leaders.

However, establishing a relationship with a cohort of peers from across government was fundamental to my learning journey at the IOG. Whether we were exchanging views on policy or sharing experiences from our careers thus far, I benefited tremendously from an incredible group of dedicated public servants who quickly became friends.

My time at the IOG has forever shaped how I approach leadership in the public service. It’s in the ‘how’ of everyday: How I approach issues critically and ask the right questions before taking action;how I am empowered to leverage the authorities of my position to make decisions; how I delegate to my team and challenge them to demonstrate their value-added each and every day.

As Director General for Ministerial Services and Access to Information at Public Services and Procurement Canada, this approach to leadership not only allows me to succeed in the day-to-day, but to shape and inspire the public service leaders of the future.

The Executive Leadership Program, Public Sector Governance and Leadership in a Complex World, is designed for executives at the EX-1 level or equivalent who are committed to public service excellence and who desire to continue improving their leadership skills and abilities. The participants spend eleven months participating in three modules (Public Sector Leadership in a Digital World, Evolving Public Sector Governance, and Toward Better Public-Sector Leadership: Responding to Change), listening to relevant guest speakers, travelling to Northern Canada on a study tour, and accessing our large library of leadership tools and resources.

The ELP has been a staple of our leadership training as well as a valued asset in the new executive training toolkit for Canadian governments. We are preparing to launch our 22ndcohort this March; the graduates of this cohort will join over 300 alumni of the program. These 300 graduates represent about 10% of the Ex-1’s in the federal public service.

At the IOG, we say that the ELP is an investment not just in the individual participant, but also in the future of the public service; we prepare leaders to respond to drivers of change that all governments are facing; and we give our participants the tools to respond to a complex and changing world. The next cohort launches on March 25th—Registration Deadline is March 15th.

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The Territory of Nunavut at 20

3 minute read

Author: Catherine Waters, Learning Lab Manager

April 1 of this year, now less than a month away, marks an important date in Canada’s history and nation-building project. On that day, the Territory of Nunavut will turn 20 years of age, and, as often with big birthdays, embarks on celebrations and also some introspection. Of course, for many Nunavummiut, the date of April 1, 1999, was less of a landmark than July 9, 1993, when the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) and Nunavut Act were adopted by the Parliament of Canada and received Royal Assent. The NLCA, now often referred to as the Nunavut Agreement, marked the huge achievement of Inuit in negotiating not only a substantial land claim, to include 18% of the land mass of Nunavut and the most promising known natural resource deposits, but also the creation of a new territory in the Eastern Arctic. July 9 is Nunavut Day in the territory and it is important to remember that the NLCA came first.

The achievement of the creation of Nunavut was recognized within Canada and all around the world as a great step forward for Indigenous self-determination and novel governance structures. Nunavut and Canada were justifiably proud of what John Amagoalik, one of the Inuit negotiators, called “changing the face of Canada.” Nation-building in a modern form.

Twenty years later, however, Nunavut’s leaders and thinkers are taking a hard look at the track record of the territory. Inuit leaders point to a rising frustration among the people about the way the Nunavut dream has taken shape. The distinction between public government, the model that Nunavut now has, and self-government, points to a significant gap between the vision that Inuit conceived of during the negotiations and the outcomes as they look today.

It is important for Inuit to believe in their government and in their own central and unique voice in what the government does and how it does it. As Ann Meekijut Hanson, a former Commissioner of Nunavut, said to a recent audience: “We are the government and the government is us.” Indeed, some of the key areas in which Inuit will measure their next 20 years are in the reflection and depth of Inuit culture and worldview in their government. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is Inuktitut for Inuit Knowledge, the knowledge, perspectives and principles that spring from a history many thousands of years old; of kinship, community and lifestyle in the Arctic. How Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is applied to government processes, systems and institutions, as well as to policy outcomes, is a matter of great concern to Inuit and to the non-Inuit who serve in the Government of Nunavut and other organizations in Nunavut.

Another area of great concern to Inuit is the survival and integrity of their language. Outside of Iqaluit, Inuit languages are still widely used. The smaller communities are of great importance to Nunavummiut as guardians of a lifestyle and culture closer to Inuit tradition. In Iqaluit, many people are learning and teaching traditional skills, such as hunting, sewing, druming and throat singing, to protect Inuit identity and tradition. However, the reality is that Inuit languages are in decline and it is a matter of great concern to Inuit to protect their languages, through the education of their children and the operation of government.

Finally, there is concern about the number of Inuit employed in government jobs. Article 23 of the NLCA set as a goal the number of Inuit in government positions to be commensurate with the portion of Inuit in the population of the territory, that is, 85%. However, the number of Inuit as a percentage of total employment in the Government of Nunavut is stalled at approximately 50% and Inuit are over-represented in administrative and lower level positions. The Government of Nunavut has made Inuit employment a central part of its human resource strategy and, with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), have dedicated funds to improving training for Inuit to be able to take on bigger and leading roles in government.

Nunavut is an extraordinary community full of aspiration and inspiration. Happy Birthday to all Nunavummiut and the homeland of the Inuit. The IOG wishes continued progress toward achieving the Nunavut dream in the next 20 years.