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INNOVATION, INVESTMENT, INFRASTRUCTURE: Good Governance in Canada’s North – Part One in a Series

6 minute read

By: Toby Fyfe, President, Institute on Governance

For the past five years, the IOG has been working in Nunavut to develop capacity among Inuit public servants in leadership and policy development. On February 4, we entered into a partnership with Arctic360 to support a Forum for Arctic Infrastructure Innovation.

Arctic360 works with Indigenous development corporations, Northern governments, the private sector, the federal government, Arctic leaders, and other stakeholders to help promote and attract Canadian and global investment in the North American Arctic.

Arctic360 has set itself ambitious, laudable and critically important goals. It wants to increase investment and opportunity in the Arctic in order to improve the quality of life of northerners and promote Canada’s leadership in the world. As a start, it is focusing on bringing together Bay Street, Tech, Arctic leaders, industry and other experts to promote a 21stcentury infrastructure program in the North.

To get there, however, it will be critical to navigate the complex 21stcentury governance issues in the region.

What do I mean by governance? Good governance tells us who has power, who makes decisions, how players are heard, and how account is rendered.

Good governance is context-based; that is, it reflects social realities. If you have good governance in place, the chances are that decisions reached are by and large accepted by citizens, partners and sectors. This is a fundamental criterion for social stability and thus economic growth; without good governance, public decision-making structures are at risk and the institutions engaged in those decisions may be ignored or, at worst, discredited.

All this matters because the expectations of those living, and engaged, in the North, are changing rapidly. This has an impact on what good governance of the North is.

Historically, Canadians saw the North as one big cold, empty space. It was a wilderness, an Indigenous homeland, a rich resource, and a bulwark of defence.

Successive Canadian governments saw the North as an area to be managed and exploited to serve the greater population to the South. It was governed from Ottawa and overseen by southerners and their institutions. Federal approaches reflected the policy concerns of the day, often with disastrous consequences for the local population. They rarely offered a long-term, coherent and holistic view of the North that included both national priorities and the needs and aspirations of those living there.

The fact is, Canada’s North is many things: yes, it is a wilderness, an Indigenous homeland, and a rich resource. It is also many contradictory things: isolated and connected; traditional and modern; potentially rich and disproportionately poor.

Perhaps above all, it is an area of future strategic importance with huge opportunity for economic development and progress – if we can just get it right.

Our goal must be to work in partnership with those who live in the North to, as Sean Boyd of Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. has said, “build opportunity” for the communities, the region and the country; and drive social and economic development through respect and collaboration.

To do so, we will need to reflect on the four most critical changing governance realities of the North, the drivers that have an impact on how decisions are made and how account is rendered: climate change; growing international interest in Canada’s North; Indigenous demands for participation in developing their future; and the role of the federal government.

Climate change

Canada’s North is warming more quickly than just about anywhere else in the world. The Nunavut Climate Change Centre notes that “almost every part of life in the region will be touched by climate change.” In the National Inuit Climate Change Strategy, Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) – the organization which represents the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada – warns governments and partners that climate change action in the North must be based “on Inuit rights and the governance structures defined in our land claims agreements,” possibly referring to the social disruption that melting permafrost and flooding will have on Northern communities.

Growing international interest in Canada’s North

The Arctic Council’s eight members (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, US and Sweden), including representation from Indigenous people, reflect the reality that the North and its future involves more than just one entity and one interest. But now, there are 13 states which have observer status (including China, Poland, India and Korea). Why? Because they understand the increasing geo-political importance of the region, notably if the Northwest Passage becomes fully navigable due to climate change.

Indigenous demands for participation in developing their future

Apart from formal public governance structures (such as federal, territorial and municipal governments), local communities, self-governing Indigenous groups and land claim implementation corporations are active in discussions over development

Take an example of changing governance in this area: The ITK is advocating for federal policy approaches that are responsive to all of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland made up of 51 communities across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Northwest Territories), Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Québec), and Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). Inuit Nunangat makes up nearly one third of Canada’s land mass and 50 percent of its coastline. This concept, despite being endorsed by the federal government in the December Throne Speech, has yet to play out in relation to governance and decision-making in Canada’s North.

Federal government role

The federal government continues to have a huge and complex role to play in the governance of the North. Through multiple departments, including Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to name just four, the government is engaged in most aspects of Northerners’ lives, either directly or indirectly. And one could add that systemically, these contributions are probably not as coordinated and focused as they could be.

Devolution in Canada’s North is underway. The Northwest Territories signed a devolution agreement with the federal government to manage resources and land, Yukon has signed one as well, and Nunavut has an agreement in principle.

Through co-management boards, the federal government, the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit organization Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), share decision-making and accountability for the management of wildlife, water and land planning. In short, there are multiple institutions and mechanisms for shared governance that exist and the governance challenge is to ensure that their efforts are better coordinated to produce more effective outcomes for citizens of the North, the sanctity of the land and the prosperity of all of Canada.

At the end of the day, we are aiming for a 21stcentury infrastructure program. To get there, I think there is a 21stcentury Northern governance message: there are many players in the various decision-making processes. Some work better together than others. And the landscape is ever-changing. So, it will be critical to ensure that the various players and processes governing Canada’s north are responsive to challenges of developing a 21st century infrastructure program, and that that program is, in turn, responsive to the needs of all Northerners.

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5 minute read

The IOG has had significant international presence since its inception in 1990. As we celebrate 30 years, we begin a series on just where in the world the IOG has contributed to the aims of good governance, sometimes in trying circumstances.

In this edition, we look at the work of the IOG in Iraq.

“The IOG has been active in Iraq since 2011,” says IOG President, Toby Fyfe. “We have been focusing our efforts on three areas: (1) helping modernize the executive cadre of Iraq’s public service; (2) encouraging the development of fiscal federalism; and (3) working with civil society organizations to better organize for more civil engagement in local development plans.”

Working with the UN Development Program (UNDP), the IOG supported both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government in developing a Senior Executive Service (SES) Program in each jurisdiction. This involved building senior leadership in the public service based on the principles of fairness, transparency and merit, and through collective input to serve the public and support the whole-of-government.

Fyfe elaborates: “In practice, the SES Program is a sophisticated human resource management system, which aims to select and motivate leaders in a public service to serve its citizens.”

An important element of the system is the individualized performance of participants in the program. This is carefully monitored and appraised according to pre-established performance plans and agreements.

“The SES Program focuses especially on setting up the right criteria for selecting, training and developing individuals who have the qualities to lead and be successful at the senior level in the public service,” says Fyfe.

IOG expertise led to a broad system re-design of the Senior Executive Service that was finished in late 2014. Broadly, this produced a competency-based framework for the Iraqi Public Service to create a modern, representative, merit-based leadership group with clear selection criteria established for potential applicants. This framework included a robust Performance Management Framework.

The Fiscal Decentralization and Resiliency Building Project has also been a key element of IOG’s presence in Iraq since 2015, thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada. Fyfe says that this project was required if Iraq is to become, in the long-term, a stable, federal democracy with sustainable economic growth.

As part of IOG support to Iraq with regards to encouraging the development of fiscal federalism, we focused on two key legislative priorities: amending one law to enhance decentralization and another to modernize an existing federal finance law.

First, since the fall of 2011 to Spring 2013, IOG projects in Iraq have concentrated on fiscal decentralization. Funded by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and UNDP, the projects involved missions to Baghdad and Erbil and the hosting of missions to Canada from both the Federal and Regional governments of Iraq.

The main focus of the work was drafting amendments to Law 21, the goal of which, says Fyfe, is decentralization: “It sets its purpose on the improvement of services to citizens, with decentralization as the main tool to get there.”

This allows accountabilities to be put in place for governorates (e.g. citizen satisfaction; number of service initiatives launched) and the federal government (e.g. ensure appropriate administrative and fiscal authorities and capacities are transferred).

Second,in late 2017, IOG provided support to the Iraqi Parliament to modernize the federal Financial Management Law (FML). That support was provided through series of workshops, revisions and coaching, a study mission to Ottawa, and redrafting of the law, which was approved by the parliament in May 2019.

“This new law is a key foundational piece that is needed to provide a sound legislative basis for modern government and decentralization in Iraq,” says Fyfe.

Initially, the draft FML was sent from the Executive Branch to the Parliamentary Committee on Finance for their consideration and to propose any amendments. At the Committee’s request, the IOG worked closely with them to revise the draft bill in order to make it applicable to a modern, federal state. This was achieved through an additional series of workshops, along with individual meetings in Baghdad and Suli, and missions to Ottawa during 2017 and 2018. This work started again after the formation of the new parliament in May 2018 and continues until the bill is adopted.

“Despite the geopolitical chaos we’ve seen in the region through the media in recent months,” Fyfe adds, “Iraqi governments – and their public servants – have been working quietly and diligently behind the scenes with world aid organizations, international development agencies, and even foreign governments, including those of Canada and the United States, to design, implement, and manage fiscal transfer programs that support even more rapid decentralization.”

While working on the above projects, the IOG’s presence in Iraq came to the attention of the German International Development Agency (GIZ), which approached the IOG to help them carry out some development work in the provinces of Wassit and Babil.

Over a twelve-month period beginning in September 2018, the IOG worked with GIZ to help foster a culture of what Fyfe calls “social accountability.” This was made though implementing a project known as “Engaging Civil Society in Local Development Plans,” which has three objectives: (1) improvement in basic government activities; (2) civil society auditing of the performance of government activities, with the collaboration of the Federal Board of Supreme Audit in Iraq; and (3) establishment of an effective, broad-based and inclusive civil society platform of about 25 representatives of NGOs, academia, unions, youth, tribal leaders and other community leaders and influencers in both provinces.

“The ultimate outcome of this project,” says Fyfe, “is the improvement of government activities for citizens in the governorates of Wassit and Babel, and their increased engagement in local development.”

As Steve Tierney, IOG’s Baghdad-based Executive Director, Modernizing Governance, writes elsewhere in this edition of Spotlight on Governance(“Good governance and long-term stability in Iraq”[link]), “The current unrest [in the region] is troubling and makes work on the ground difficult. And while the future is uncertain, it is clear that [for Iraq] to develop into a fully functioning state that is responsive to the needs of its citizens, significant capacity-building work remains to be done.”

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Iog Partners With Arctic360 To Create The Forum For Arctic Infrastructure Innovation

2 minute read

The Institute on Governance (IOG) is partnering with Arctic360 to create the Forum for Arctic Infrastructure Innovation that will, over the next two years, convene institutional investors, venture capital, the technology industry, transportation companies, Arctic leaders, policy experts, and Northern industry to explore the research, development and investment required for Canada to realize its Arctic potential.

“There has been growing discussion over the past few years about Canada’s role in the Arctic and specifically, how Canada can re-establish its international role as a political and economic leader in the region,” said IOG President Toby Fyfe. “There is no doubt that, to do so, will require the development of 21stCentury infrastructure and innovative technologies that will also create the means for building sustainable and prosperous Arctic communities.”

The IOG’s expertise in 21stCentury governance challenges and its extensive knowledge of government policy, innovation and infrastructure will build on Arctic360’s ongoing policy initiatives that help promote and attract Canadian and global investment in the North American Arctic in order to create a more prosperous future for Canada’s Arctic.

“To date, there has been a lack of necessary public sector capital investment required to close the infrastructure gap in Canada’s North,” said Fyfe. “We need to be smarter and better, and we need to be innovative, if we are going to find solutions to fill this gap; the Forum for Arctic Infrastructure Innovation will help us do that.”

The Institute on Governance is a Canada-based global practitioner in the field of governance. Since its inception in 1990, the IOG has advanced better understanding and practice of good governance with federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments, and not-for-profit organizations in Canada, as well as with similar organizations and governments in some 35 countries around the world. It provides leading-edge research, expertise and thinking on emerging governance trends, as well as options for meeting them, and it incorporates these findings directly into its classrooms and advisory work.

Arctic360 works with Indigenous development corporations, Northern governments, the private sector, the federal government, Arctic leaders, and other stakeholders to help promote and attract Canadian and global investment in the North American Arctic.

For more information, contact:

Toby Fyfe, IOG President


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The Maple Leaf Forever: our flag at 55

3 minute read

By: Karl Salgo, Executive Director, Public Governance

The 15th of February will mark the 55th birthday of Canada’s beloved national flag, our red and white maple leaf. (Enter Michael Bublé crooning “The Maple Leaf Forever”.)

Perhaps I should say “moderately” beloved, for in characteristic Canadian fashion, we don’t really exhibit intemperate devotion to this piece of polyester fabric. It has yet to inspire either rockets-red-glare, symbol-of-our-nation’s-resilience verse, or the mandatory recitation of a daily pledge by politically innocent school kids. Conversely, neither has it been the object of incendiary protests by arguably less innocent flower children. No, the Maple Leaf waves over Parliament Hill as an agreeable symbol of our reasonable pride in our sensible nation.

As such, the flag has what governance nerds (mea culpa) would call legitimacy. Legitimacy is an important concept in governance. It means, among other things, that we accept certain things even if we don’t necessarily agree with them – like Supreme Court rulings, parliamentary enactments, and certain winners of the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.

In like manner, our flag is more or less universally accepted as a symbol of nationhood by Canadians, including those who rarely see an actual maple tree, who might wonder whether red is associated with any particular political party, or who, for any number of reasons, might believe that they could have come up with something better themselves.

It was not always thus. The 1964 parliamentary debate on a replacement for the Red Ensign, which was adapted from the British Union Jack and had officially been our national flag since 1945, raged on for six months and was one of the most acrimonious in our history. Conservative Leader John Diefenbaker, recently ousted as prime minister and not one to recover quickly from such a slight, fought with thunderous, Old Testament fury for a flag reflective “of Canada’s founding races.” Just whom John George was speaking of, and whether he was being sufficiently inclusive, I set aside for another discussion, but suffice it to say that he wanted to give the canton of honour (the top left-hand corner) to the Union Jack.

In the end, the selection process was turned over to an all-party committee of 15 parliamentarians, who were given six weeks to choose from among 5,000 contenders. They agreed unanimously but almost by accident: Diefenbaker’s Conservatives reportedly voted for what became our flag in part because it hadn’t been Prime Minister Pearson’s first choice, and they assumed that the Liberal members would vote against it.

Would such a decision-making process have legitimacy today?

Those 15 MPs were mostly men with substantial representation from Mr. Diefenbaker’s “founding races”: there was one woman, Margaret Konantz, who was Métis and from Manitoba. To a considerable extent, the flag was a product of its times, and more specifically of the desire to move beyond historic colonial linkages. But as no one who has conspicuously sported it while traipsing in foreign lands can deny, it tells the world we are who we are.

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THE IOG PERSPECTIVE: Good governance and long-term stability in Iraq

2 minute read

By: Steve Tierney, Executive Director, Modernizing Governance

The world continues to watch to see how things will play out in the Middle East after the US killing of Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian downing of Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 that killed 176 people, including 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada.

These incidents are having significant impact on neighbouring Iraq, where the IOG has been supporting the building of good fiscal and civic governance for most of the past decade. One may remember that Iraq has also been facing demonstrations in Baghdad and most southern provinces, which began in October 2019 and have continued through this January. The demonstrators are young and non-sectarian; many are women. They view the government as corrupt and are seeking a fundamental change to the political system in Iraq. In particular, the government has failed to deliver basic services to its citizens and to create employment opportunities for the young.

In short, the population is demanding more responsive citizen-focused service delivery and good governance.

Citizen-focused service delivery builds on the concept of subsidiarity, the notion that the most effective service delivery is delivered by the most local civic unit.

In this context, “good governance” refers to the ongoing and productive engagement of Iraqi civil society in ensuring effective service delivery and transparent decision-making.

Both are dependent on effective processes that ensure accountability for decisions made and services delivered.

The IOG’s team in Baghdad and Erbil, supported by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), has been working closely with civil society, provincial governments and the federal government in Iraq, to establish practical governance arrangements that include fiscal measures and effective processes for engaging civil society in supporting transparent decision-making and efficient service delivery.

Over the last few years, the IOG has earned the respect of Iraq federal and provincial governments, as well as civil society groups themselves, as it has worked to bring these groups together using the principles of good governance. All of this has been to give citizens a voice in making decisions and improving service delivery.

The current unrest is troubling and makes work on the ground difficult. And while the future is uncertain, it is clear that to develop into a fully functioning state that is responsive to the needs of its citizens, significant capacity-building work remains to be done. IOG intends to be there to help in this work.

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VULNERABILITY = STRENGTH: The RCMP Commissioner on authentic leadership

2 minute read

“I am exactly where I need to be for my organization right now,” said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki at an event on January 8 at the IOG, noting that the most important thing for public organizations is to be ready to adapt to the inevitable change of the 21stCentury; the RCMP is no exception.

“The public sector cannot afford to be slow and static,” she said. “It must be ready to make dynamic adjustments to keep pace with the rapidly-changing world.”

Speaking to participants in the IOG’s signature Executive Leadership Development Program, as well as colleagues from Stepping into the Executive Cadre, Commissioner Lucki added a quote she heard during a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations: “You can’t drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror.”

However, remembering the past is important, she noted. “The Government of Canada has a troubled past with Canada’s Indigenous peoples,” she said. “And the RCMP was often the purveyor of that trouble.” She reminded her audience that the RCMP was also one of the last police forces in the world to include women in its ranks. “These realities shape the context in which the RCMP operates, but they must not be dwelled upon without simultaneous reconciliatory progress.”

The Commissioner also reflected on some other issues that have impacted her organization. “The RCMP has learned that it must be better at dealing with internal conflict,” she admitted. “Many public sector organizations, including the RCMP, do good external work that is in the public interest, but they fail to effectively manage their own internal issues.”

She said that this inhibits possible change within an organization, something she demonstrated with a powerful exercise. She began by asking everyone present to stand; then she went through various demographic factors such as gender, age, marital status, ethnicity, until everyone was seated. Based on these factors, nobody in the room would have been eligible to serve in the RCMP some 50 years ago, compared with today, where almost everyone in that room would be eligible to serve. “This shows that the public sector is capable of change,” and as we saw, “that change is already occurring.”

Born and raised in Edmonton, Commissioner Lucki joined the RCMP in August 1986. Throughout her career, she served all across Canada and internationally, contributing to various parts of the RCMP, such as: federal policing, undercover criminal investigations, peacekeeping, traffic services, and community policing. She also served on the United Nations Protection Force, and was an instructor at the RCMP Training Academy where, in 2016, she was named Commanding Officer. On March 9, 2018 it was announced that she would become Canada’s 24thRCMP Commissioner, and the first female to hold the position.

Commissioner Lucki has learned that, ultimately, a leader should strive to accomplish three things: (1) make a workplace better than it was when you arrive; (2) take care of yourself so that you can (3) take care of others.

“Vulnerability is a strength,” she said. “A leader should be authentic and open to criticism: it improves both their own character and the overall strength of the organization.”

She left those current and future public service leaders in the room with a positive takeaway: the RCMP – and the public service as a whole – must look ahead with optimism while remembering the context in which it works. This seems to be something Commander Lucki has lived by her whole career.

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A Journey to the North: ELP 23 Travels to Nunavut

11 minute read

By: Rebecca Hollett, Marketing Analyst

ELP 23 Hiking Through Sylvia Grinnel Park

It is late November 2019 and the 23rd Cohort of IOG’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP) has traveled to Iqaluit for a week-long study tour to experience Inuit culture, to see first-hand the unique governance circumstance of the territory, to listen, to learn, and to grow as leaders and Canadians. Many ELP alumni describe this trip, a fundamental feature of ELP, as “a revolutionizing experience” that changes the way they lead and work in Canada’s public service. Here’s why.

Iqaluit is a growing city of over 8,000 people who are experiencing, as we are to hear many times throughout our visit, “a construction boom.” A beautiful, icy city that sits on Frobisher Bay on Nunavut’s Baffin Island, it is home to the world’s second largest tide and is Canada’s youngest provincial/territorial capital.

Enjoying Nunavut’s Capital City: Iqaluit

Iqaluit is also home to a unique governance scenario in Canada as the process of devolution continues to evolve through the interactions of the Government of Canada (GC), the Government of Nunavut (GN) and the Inuit organization, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI).

This study tour to Nunavut is a hallmark of the IOG’s leadership program, giving participants the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges and innovations in this vast territory through a line-up of incredible speakers, leadership exercises, and learning events.

On the day of our arrival, we witness Nunavut’s first televised legislative hearing: a session with the Legislative Education Committee, the President of NTI and the GN Minister of Education. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement(NLCA) creates a unique governance dynamic between NTI and the GN where NTI represents Inuit, who, under Article 32, must be consulted on social or cultural policies. We are able to see first-hand what this consultation looks like. The main point of the discussion today is the preservation of Inuit culture and language in the grade school curriculum. Sitting in the stunning legislature building and watching this hearing is an incredible way to start our week.

Day Two and our learning continues with two speakers: Terri Dobbin from the Nunavut Chamber of Mines, and David Rochette, Regional Director General with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Mr. Dobbin speaks to the state of the mining industry as well as the recruitment of Inuit into mining jobs. Mr. Rochette discusses the role of the Government of Canada in the governance of Nunavut, as well as the challenges of meeting the needs of Article 23 in the NLCA which states that government staffing must reflect the percentage of the Inuit population in Nunavut. Despite the Article 23 commitment that public staffing must proportionately represent the number of Inuit people living in Nunavut (85%), both the GC and the GN continue to struggle to meet this stretching standard for a number of reasons, including unequal access to opportunities, lower levels of education, insufficient skilled workers, and trying to apply a southern model onto a northern culture (Ex: The GN adopted the GC’s Human Resources Framework instead of developing their own model). Clearly, this is a very dynamic and complex policy challenge that can only be addressed through multiple policy approaches.

Day 2 included a presentation from Terri Dobbin from the Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Another day, another line-up of amazing speakers who bring the many challenges of governing Nunavut into sharp relief. Joining us today: Madeleine Redfern, former Mayor of Iqaluit; Hannah Uniuqsaraq, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated; Jack Anawak, former federal MP for Nunavut, former Minister for Nunavut, Inuit Leader and Elder; and Amanda Jones, Chief Superintendent and Commanding Officer, V Division, RCMP.

Ms. Redfern gives a passionate presentation on the governance challenges being faced in Nunavut and its capital city of Iqaluit. She talks about infrastructure, immigration, food security, youth pregnancy, adoption, and housing. And she leaves us with this fundamental question: “How do you get good governance if you don’t have good governance?” Ms. Redfern describes the housing challenges experienced in Iqaluit and Nunavut—she uses the term “hidden homelessness”: hidden because it’s too cold to live on the streets, yet many people are still without a place to call their own. “Hidden homelessness” results in the over-crowding of homes, with multiple generations of families living in two-bedroom apartments. The housing challenge, Ms. Redfern tells us, also contributes significantly to challenges in education, social tension, health, and mental health throughout the territory.

Madeleine Erdfern, former Mayor of Iqaluit

Ms. Uniuqsaraq poignantly shares some of her life story and then segues into explaining the role of NTI as “the guardian of Inuit interests” in the NLCA, telling us how they work in the interest of the beneficiaries, Inuit of Nunavut. She emphasizes Article 32, which addresses the need to consult with Inuit on social and cultural policy, and Article 23, which addresses Inuit representation in government. She says that the GN and the GC are struggling to meet the requirements of both articles, as we heard in the Education Act hearings on our first day. Ms. Uniuqsaraq finishes by highlighting some of NTI’s other priorities, including infrastructure, making Inuktitut the primary language in the workplace and in schools, as well as NTI’s consultation role with the GN and the GC.

Next up is the RCMP’s Chief Jones who, with her genuine optimism, compassion, and obvious love of her work, shares with us the RCMP’s role in the North. We listen intently as she discusses her career journey, her life in Nunavut, the role of constables in rural and remote communities, and recruitment challenges.

Hannah Uniuqsaraq discussing the role of NTI in Nunavut

Jack Anawak is the last in our roster of outstanding speakers and he brings a larger than life presence to our session. He talks about how his life experiences, including his time spent in a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet—a hamlet located on the western shore of Hudson Bay in Nunavut—and in a public school in Churchill, Manitoba, led him to the remarkable roles that he eventually played in the establishment of Nunavut and thus the evolution of Canada. He gives us first-hand insights into the creation of Nunavut and the functioning of a consensus government, observing that the consensus model adopted in Nunavut “can be like having 22 parties represented in the Legislature” – with all the challenges and possibilities that brings. A great way to end our visit!

In the middle of a week punctuated with diverse and dynamic speakers, we also have the good fortune to actually experience Inuit culture. We visit the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, a beautiful and warm space that showcases Inuit culture with paintings, sculptures, jewellery, and stories. We spend an afternoon exploring and appreciating the people, art, history, geography, and wildlife of Nunavut. We also get an up-close opportunity to look out onto the (almost) frozen Frobisher Bay. For people who come from coastline communities in the south—I’m from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador—it is a shock to see a full bay frozen in time, inaccessible to ships.

ELPers outside the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in front of the mostly-frozen Frobisher Bay
Gerard Etienne, ELP 23 Lead Facilitator, enjoying the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum

Then we’re off for our day “on the land”: a leadership exercise hosted by Arctic Kingdom, an Iqaluit-based tour operator specializing in Arctic adventures. We start with a hike through Sylvia Grinnel Park with our guide who leads us through a stunning, wide-open landscape, sharing with us the traditional Inuit way of life. It is an experience that no-one will soon forget: the vast, white land; happy sled dogs eating their lunch; a beautiful and unique environment; and an uphill hike in knee-deep snow (with a quickly-developing expertise in avoiding deep holes).

Our hike through Sylvia Grinnel Park

During our visit, the weather is unseasonably warm with the temperature most days ranging between +1 degree and -5 degrees Celsius—the normal average temperature for Iqaluit at the end of November is between -8 and -15 degrees. On our hike we learn of the impact this temperature change is having on the way of life for the people living in the North, including hunting, travelling, and fishing. We also see first-hand what the stark and real consequences of a changing climate can look like in Canada, a country reliant on its natural resources and weather as we lead our day-to-day lives. The equally unusual wet, icy snow storm that starts during our hike feels like a sharp “climate change” ice pick, constantly stabbing us unlucky few without sunglasses right in the eyes.

Francois of Arctic Kingdom answers group questions

After our hike, we are thankful to arrive at the pleasant and welcoming NuBrew, Nunavut’s first microbrewery, where we are treated to a fantastic Caribou Stew and watch two young Inuit women share their music and their personal life stories. Our leadership day ends with a guide who teaches us how to assemble a qamutiq, the traditional Inuit sled. James shows us the traditional ways to tie together the qamutiq so that it can last for years (thankfully, we have a few engineers in our cohort who help us to fully appreciate this extraordinary workmanship). This exercise brings the team together and adds another layer to both leading and working as a team.

NuBrew Microbrewery
Qamutiq Building
Qamutiq Building, led by instructor James
Qamutiq Building

The learning adventures we experience this week are a critical and integral component of the ELP and we look forward to bringing our next cohort back here in spring 2020. Members of ELP 23, like every cohort before, come home with a more nuanced understanding of Canada’s North and an increased appreciation of the contribution of Inuit to Canada, its evolution and its culture. The ELP group has learned about Nunavut’s unique governance system and experienced some of the wonders of Canada’s beautiful Arctic territory.

If you are interested in learning more about our Executive Leadership Program, click here.