Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Article 32 of the NLCA and the function of "Regional Boards"

A recent editorial by Jim Bell of Nunatsiaq News (NunatsiaqOnline): made me think quite a bit about how to bring the weight of Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to bear upon Nunavut Association of Municipalities' recent resolution to re-instate the Regional Health Boards though I saw no such explicit mention of Article 32 in the resolution.

I think NAM would have been better served to present their case by referring to Article 32 of the NLCA as a general rule of process to follow in actualizing the obligations of  'Governments' referred to in the Article, to help come up with a structure to implement Inuit consultation requirements on government program and policy development; and, to where community groups may access services such as hiring from an approved list of candidates and provide a central depository where they can present their needs; a central place to provide dedicated analytical tools to fulfil policy and program development requirements for each individual case in discussion.

These and other issues can and should be addressed by the technicians from both the Inuit Org.s and Governments, to provide core funding jointly by the parties. Though the translation services are much welcomed, they are not in themselves to be considered in any way as "consultations" - it is the ability to follow the contents of discussion, not the means thereof, that is, ultimately, at issue here.

What every rightful elected official should expect are well-organized and well-drafted briefs and discussion/option papers on pertinent programs and policy files in Inuktitut on hand. The general social policy and programs development discourse should, over time, acquire organicity and compatibility with the Inuit stake-holders where not only the notion of justice/law is learned but just habits are cultivated to guide one's contribution to the discourse. Right and timely information is key to understanding and inputting into the process.

There are also, contrary to intuition, demonstrable benchmarks for Inuit participation, such as reasonable fit and compatibility to set criteria and qualifying points and accountable expenditure of funds dedicated therein. These exercises' in policy and program development should be measured by and accountable for lapses and short-falls as well as in meeting funding and needs assessments at both levels of Government. The Inuit engagement should be easily trackable through mail traffic (both electronic and traditional) and file- and book-keeping where one may tally those outcomes that went in favour of Inuit vs beaucratic expediency.

Most of these files that NAM reminisces of in their resolution require a coordinated and commensurately deliberated responses which feed back into the evaluation and disbursement of any particular policy or program. A properly and strictly mandated and funded/staffed 'regional' entity(ies) that is (are) Article 32 and requisite political direction compliant is a desirable thing for Inuit interests in Nunavut. The selfsame core-funded initiative should be pursued by the NSDC-functioning unit of the Inuit party a vehicle to provide the much-needed and identifiable unifying political direction in exchanges on-record between Governments and Inuit of Nunavut.

Article 32 has not been but is very capable of being operationalized and roles and responsibilities clarified in a centralized (perhaps) regional body and respository to represent the political and fiduciary interests of the Inuit communities as and from one and unified voice.

This is what I found lacking in the Editor's perspective in his on-line piece.


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