Government of Nunavut
Nunavut has a public government, which operates within the principles of Canadian parliamentary democracy. All residents of Nunavut are entitled to run for office and elect Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) on an individual rather than a party basis.
Following a general election, MLAs meet to select a Premier from among the elected members. Ministers are then selected, and the Premier assigns portfolios. Government priorities are established among the Ministers and the Members, based on the issues identified during the election.
A consensus government still requires majority support for measures it proposes. Ministers and the Premier are required to consistently account and respond to Members concerns as they work through the legislative and budget processes.
The system blends the principles of parliamentary democracy with the Aboriginal values of maximum cooperation, effective use of leadership resources and common accountability. Nunavut shares this system with the Northwest Territories, which also has a significant Aboriginal foundation for its public government.
Pinasuaqtavut : 2004-2009 “Our commitment to building Nunavut’s future”
Pinasuaqtavut is the statement of values and priorities that guides the conduct of government and identifies the common objectives of Members. It reconfirms our commitment to our four major goals and states that we will increasingly be guided by Inuit societal values to build a stronger cultural foundation and expand our economy.
There are four components of Pinasuaqtavut 2004-2009
1. Healthy Communitiesidentifies the need to ensure the overall health of Nunavut, encompassing all aspects of a community and its relationship to the land and its residents.
2. Simplicity and Unityrepresents a commitment to ensuring processes are kept accessible to the public, and encourages public participation in the government process.
3. Self-Reliancerecognizes the responsibility of individuals to themselves, to their family, and to their community.
4. Continuing Learning emphasizes the importance of a lifelong commitment to learning and development, and commits the Government to support such learning at the individual, community and territorial levels.
It reflects the desire of the government to respond to the priorities and needs of its residents in a manner that is open and encourages active public participation.
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)
The government is committed to Inuit Qaujimajatuqangitas a guiding principle of public government. IQ embodies Inuit traditional knowledge and values, and guides the government in framing decisions, policies and laws that reflect the key philosophies, attitudes and practices of Nunavut’s Inuit majority. Applying this principle in the day-to-day governance of Nunavut represents a considerable challenge; but the practice of IQ isa goal to which the GN remains deeply committed.
Nunavut encompasses nearly two million square kilometres, with close to 29,000 residents living in 26 communities ranging in population from five to almost 6,000.
Vast distances, a small but growing population, the high cost of materials and labour, and extreme climate make the provision ofadequate infrastructure one of Nunavut’s greatest challenges. A full compliment of community-based infrastructure must be provided to support the social, cultural, environmental and economic needs of the communities. Aging, inadequate and undersized health centres, schools, community halls and lack of the equipment needed to maintain these facilities is hindering progress at the community level in the social, cultural, environmental and economic development sectors. The Government of Nunavut is currently pursuing federal assistance for a number of key infrastructure projects and other initiatives to address these challenges, and provide communities with a firm foundation for self-reliance and social and economic development.
One of the first things a visitor to Nunavut will notice is the absence of roads. Within communities, most roads are unpaved. The Government is exploring potential linkages to southern Canada. Under consideration are an all weather road from the central Kivalliq region in Nunavut to Manitoba, as well as the Bathurst Inlet road and port project to access the mineral rich area of the western Kitikmeot region. Ports Although Nunavut has the longest shoreline of any province or territory in Canada, and all but one of its communities are on the coast, Nunavut has little marine infrastructure. This hinders the Territory’s ability to expand its economy, participate in a rich fishery, and strengthen its self-reliance. The Government is seeking federal funding in order to enhance commercial fishing, tourism, and mining opportunities through investment in marine infrastructure.
In the absence of roads and marine infrastructure, air links are Nunavut’s lifeline. Although each community has an airstrip, smaller communities are limited in the number and size of aircraft they can accommodate. With assistance from Canada, Nunavut is investing in airport infrastructure at community airports and exploring options for expanding the capacity of the Iqaluit airport, a key gateway to the Territory.
Water/Sewage Treatment/Waste Management
Clean water and effective waste management are essential for any healthy community. Most Nunavut communities rely on trucked water and sewage. Where waste management facilities exist, they are usually inadequate. The Government’s Five Year Capital construction plan reflects these priorities. Communities maintain open-pit garbage sites where waste is burned. An important goal for the Government of Nunavut is the establishment of safer, healthier water and waste management practices throughout the Territory, based on technologies that are effective in permafrost and Arctic conditions.
High-speed Communications Networks
Nunavut relies exclusively on satellite networks for its bandwidth needs. This is many times more expensive than land-based, fibre optic or microwave relay bandwidth. The high cost of operating satellite-based services means that Nunavummiut do not have affordable access to broadband. The social and economic developmentof Nunavut depends on a reliable, affordable high-speed telecommunications network that makes communications – reliable email capable of transferring large files between users, video-conferencing, and interactive applications – possible. The Government is already using innovative approaches in the use of high-speed communications. The Telehealth system is one example. Broadband access has been established in all Nunavut communities.
Nunavut (the Inuktitut word for “our land”) was created April 1, 1999 as a result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. For millennia a major Inuit homeland, Nunavut today is a growing society that blends the strength of its deep Inuit roots and traditions with a new spirit of diversity.
It is a territory that spans the two million square kilometres of Canada extending north and west of Hudson’s Bay, above the tree line to the North Pole. With landscapes that range from the flat muskeg of the Kivalliq to the towering mountain peaks and fiords of North Baffin, it is a Territory of extraordinary variety and breathtaking beauty.
With a median age of 22.1 years, Nunavut’s population is the youngest in Canada. It is also one of the fastest growing; the 2001 population of just under 29,000 represents an increase of eight per cent in only five years. Inuit represent about 85 percent of the population, and form the foundation of the Territory’s culture. Government, business and day-to-day life are shaped by Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, the traditional knowledge, values and wisdom of Nunavut’s founding people.
Our 26 communities range in size from tiny Bathurst Inlet (population 25) to Iqaluit, the capital (population almost 6,000). Grise Fiord, the northernmost settlement, lies at 78 degrees north: the hamlet of Sanikiluaq in the Belcher Islands is actually further south than Ontario’s northern border. None are accessible by road or rail; everything, from people to fuel to food, arrives by plane or sealift. This physical isolation accounts for the highest cost of living in Canada, reflected in prices throughout the Territory.
The largest employer in Nunavut is government – federal, territorial, and municipal. But new jobs are rapidly emerging in the mining and resource development sectors. Important growth is also occurring in the tourism sector, in fisheries, and in Inuit art such as carvings and prints.
The realization of Nunavut’s full economic potential will, in part, be contingent upon the improvement of the territory’s infrastructure. Existing housing, sewage and waste management, transportation and telecommunications systems are already stretched beyond their limits, and will come under even greater pressure from Nunavut’s growing population.
With four languages (Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French), an area one-fifth the size of Canada, and a population density of one person per 70 km sq., the creation of Nunavut has called for innovative approaches to the delivery of virtually every aspect of government programs and services.
From health to education, from justice to the structure of the Legislative Assembly, the institutions and structures that define Nunavut are designed to meet the needs of a unique people in a unique land.
The challenges are many; but in partnership with Canada, and building on the strength and energy of its people, Canada’s newest Territory looks to the future with confidence and hope.
For further information about Nunavut, please contact Government of Nunavut Communications (867) 975-6000