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QIA continues to grow as an organization, says president

Important to have representation in wildlife dicussions, says QIA president
Qikiqtani Inuit Association President Olayuk Akesuk and QIA Vice-President Levi Barnabas listen to budget details at the outset of QIA’s board of directors meeting on March 29. (Trevor Wright/NNSL)

Trevor Wright

Nunavut News

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) in Nunavut continues to expand, it was noted during the organization’s board of directors meeting.

The meeting took place at Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre from March 29 to 30.

“Over the past few years our organization has grown a lot, including the marine and wildlife department. We have an Inuit knowledge (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) department and we have other departments that are there in which they’re continuing to grow,” said QIA President Olayuk Akesuk, on a break during QIA’s 2023-24 budget discussion, adding this is a trend the organization wants to continue.

“That’s what we want to do, to make sure we represent our people in a political area where we want to be heard.”

The growing role of QIA’s Marine and Wildlife Department is an example of this, with a growing list of Nauttiqsuqtiit Land Guardians being employed and sought by QIA in Grise Fiord, Clyde River, Resolute Bay, Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.

Last June, QIA purchased the old Co-Op Hotel in Resolute Bay to convert it into a multi-use facility for Nauttiqsuqtiit Land Guardians with similar initiatives underway in other communities.

The Nauttiqsuqtiit stewards are the caretakers of the Tallurutiup Imanga Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement of the Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area from Resolute to east of Bylot and Devon Island. They monitor sea ice conditions and keep an eye on the environment in their region.

The Nunavut Wildlife Board and Qikiqtani Wildlife Board are the main instruments of wildlife management in the Qikiqtani region, with the decisions of those two organizations having the potential to impact the lives of Qikiqtani Inuit.

“It’s important to have a wildlife department to ensure that we represent our people in that field,” Akesuk said, whether it’s input on caribou herds, narwhal populations and other animals. “We want to be a part of the decisions or discussions in the future which might impact our people in our region on a living day-to-day basis.”

Collecting traditional knowledge also has a role to play when it comes to presenting information and talking about wildlife management in Qikiqtani.

“The Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Department, we also collect (knowledge) from our people, we take that so we can use it during discussions on wildlife. This is the information that we got, now we have (the details) written and recorded to make sure these are the accurate answers, or what our people have seen over the last 5,000 years of living in our territory.”