The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SPRING 2002

PAGE 3

OUTFIT 108
 

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In this issue

Front Page

Expeditions

Environment

Spring Packet

Canoesworthy

From the Editor

Canoelit

Excerpt

 

 

 

Drench River in next issue. It's called the French but we called it the Drench River on an early May outing down the lower stretches of this historic voyageur route heading into Georgian Bay. Fortunately the sun was shining when we paddled into the Old Voyageurs Channel — at very high water — and we'll show you the sunnier side of things in Outfit 109.

N

unavik and Quebec signed a major package deal on economic development this week that will see at least $900 million of Quebec City's money flow into Nunavik over the next 25 years.

Beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement will vote within the coming month on the deal in a Nunavik-wide referendum.

Nunavik leaders describe the pact as a renewal of the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement that finally implements the James Bay Land Claim’s vision for northern Quebec.

Bernard Landry, Quebec’s premier, described the deal as a mark of Quebec’s absolute respect for Inuit and a sign of the trust between Québécois and Inuit. He said an inukshuk erected near Quebec’s parliament building will symbolize the friendship between Quebec and Nunavik.

The deal is intended to speed up development of the region’s hydroelectric, mining and tourism potential.

In it, Quebec and Nunavik agree how to share the financial benefits of this development, and the residents of Nunavik get better public services and improved infrastructure.

The agreement’s 14-page preamble defines it as a "nation-to-nation" agreement, strengthening political, economic and social relations between Quebec and the Inuit of Nunavik.

About 30 per cent of Quebec’s native peoples have struck similar deals with the separatist Parti Québécois government. But Landry said the Nunavik agreement differs from the $3.5-billion mega-deal that Quebec signed in February with the James Bay Cree.

There’s a big difference, because with the Crees there was a quarrel, so we called it ‘a peace,’ Landry said during a stopover in Kuujjuaq. Here, it’s a partnership, an agreement.

Some delegates to the signing wondered whether their aboriginal rights could be diminished by the deal, and expressed worries about the environmental impact of hydroelectric projects on marine and animal life.

But the overall reaction was positive. Delegates gave members a standing ovation in recognition of their negotiation efforts. The new deal is scheduled to be formally approved by summer.

A

crucial season of exploration, which will help determine whether the Coronation Gulf region hosts profitable diamond deposits, 

is now underway.

Preliminary results from the region are comparable to early diamond counts from the Lac de Gras area of the Northwest Territories, where diamond mines are now in production or under development.

Meanwhile, the promising results have touched off a staking rush. More than 2,500 claims covering about 5.9-million acres have been staked south of Coronation Gulf. Leading the search are Kennecott Canada (in partnership with Tahera Corporation), Ashton Mining, and Rhonda Corporation, which all made significant diamond discoveries on their properties last year before winter weather closed in on the region. Collectively, the trio is expected to spend an estimated $10 million in 2002.

Kennecott, a division of multinational Rio Tinto, is already drilling the diamond-bearing Anuri kimberlites on Tahera’s Rockinghorse property and will test another 15-20 kimberlites as part of a $1.5-million program.

Meanwhile, the partners will continue work on the more advanced Jericho diamond project, which — although too small at this stage — could develop into Nunavut’s first diamond mine if more resources can be found.

Rhonda is awaiting results of a nine-tonne sample taken from the Knife pipe last spring by joint- venture partner De Beers. The junior recently raised $1.8 million to explore the adjoining Inulik property, where it is currently flying a geophysical survey to generate kimberlite targets for drilling.

But despite the frantic land grab, a patchwork of about 1.7 million acres of ground within Coronation Gulf remains untouched: This is Inuit-owned land, 36 distinct parcels on which Inuit hold mineral rights. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) is currently revamping its standard agreement for companies that want to explore there.

"Our ground is sitting like islands in the middle of a sea of staking," says Wayne Johnson, senior advisor on minerals and oil and gas for NTI’s lands and resources department. "We may have missed some of the fever, but people who are serious about finding diamonds will be talking to us."

The standard agreement for companies exploring Inuit-owned lands includes small payments and work commitments plus a 12 per cent net profit royalty on any future production.

In the Coronation Gulf region, where the demand for ground is high, NTI will revise the agreement so that the Inuit corporation retains a carried interest in the properties.

T

ourism, a key economic activity in Nunavut, has the potential to play an even greater role in strengthening Nunavut’s economy and 

creating jobs. Nunavut Tourism says the big challenge now is to make three things happen in the tourism industry at the same time — destination marketing, product development, and training.

Nunavut’s tourism industry has set itself a full agenda for the next few years.

Additional priorities include developing industry standards, and increasing revenue and product development in most types of tourism.

A growing specialized market is the cruise ship industry. Ships currently visit communities like Pond Inlet, Cape Dorset, Kimmirut and Pangnirtung.

The Conference Board of Canada, in its Nunavut Economic Outlook published last year, found that at each community visited, passengers spend about $5,000 on arts and crafts, and food and interpretive events. Nunavut Tourism is working on a management plan to develop an infrastructure to increase these revenues.

On the horizon is the completion of the Canada’s North Tourism Partnership, an agreement between Nunavut Tourism and the Yukon and NWT tourism organizations.

The partnership would work on joint projects, including joint marketing promotions, and shared contracting for trade shows and advertising.

The relationship would not stop Nunavut from working in other jurisdictions and with other partners.

S

everal years on, talks are still continuing at several levels on the proposed Nunavut-Manitoba road. Money from Ottawa may be forthcoming once Nunavut meets several conditions. One of the two key items Ottawa is looking for before committing funds, that of a letter of support passed by Nunavut’s cabinet, is expected to be issued very soon.

Ottawa’s other requirement is the backing of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. The Nunavut-Manitoba road is one of three routes the Nunavut government views as current priorities — the other two being the Bathurst Inlet road and a proposed road from Iqaluit to Kimmirut. The Bathurst Inlet project is seen as a model to follow.

The Manitoba government views a road linking it with its northern neighbour as no less than nation building, calling the projected $20-million cost for a winter road, together with an estimated $7 million in annual maintenance "very cost effective nation building."

All Manitoba communities are now connected by winter road. "Winter roads are a permanent feature for Manitoba," Ashton said, adding that it’s good planning to adopt the same route for a winter road as for an all-weather road.

Two of the five proposed routes link Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Arviat to Churchill and Gillam, connecting at Gillam to Manitoba’s highway network.

The other three routes swing further west to hook up with the provincial highway system at Lynn Lake. Extensions of the road from Rankin Inlet to Chesterfield Inlet and Baker Lake are also envisioned, as well as a possible ice road from Churchill along the west coast of Hudson Bay.

T

hree years ago, much to the alarm of local residents, several houses located in the far northern Quebec village of Salluit’s new

suburb started to slide. Since then, all 20 houses have been relocated to new places, on more stable land within the community.

Taking a cue from this incident, Quebec has been making plans to move buildings in other Nunavik communities where melting permafrost may cause havoc.

Provincial authorities say nine communities in Nunavik have structures built on a deep layer of permanently frozen clay or mud that is at risk of thawing.

Quebec wants to identify alternative sites and put plans in place if it’s necessary to move buildings in the future, as the permafrost’s temperature has already increased by two degrees which has been called "substantial."

When permafrost melts, it’s likely to cause anything built on it to move in a kind of slow motion. The life of people doesn’t change, but the structure does. It could take one or two weeks, so we would have time to react.

S

ince 1978, a body called the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, or COSEWIC, has kept lists of wildlife and plant

species they believe to be in danger of extinction in Canada.

Right now the committee has no legal mandate. But under Ottawa’s species at risk bill the committee would get its direction from a new federal-provincial ministers’ body called the Canadian Endangered Species Council.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami fears that if the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk is not provided for under the new act, then Inuit and other aboriginal people may have little say about how wildlife species are listed.

Here are their current lists of most major Nunavut and Nunavik species.

Species on the "endangered" list.

• Bowhead whale (Eastern Arctic): April, 1980

• Bowhead whale (Western Arctic): April, 1986

• Beluga (Southeast Baffin-Cumberland Sound):  

     April, 1988

• Beluga (Ungava Bay) April, 1988

• Peary Caribou (High Arctic)

Species on the "threatened" list

• Beluga (Eastern Hudson Bay): April, 1988

• Peary Caribou (Low Arctic): April, 1991

• Peregrine Falcon: May, 2000

Species on the "special concern" list

• Beluga (Eastern High Arctic-Baffin Bay): April,

     1992

• Polar Bear: April, 1999

• Grizzly Bear: April, 1991

A

road to Bathurst Inlet would provide greater access to mineral-rich areas in the Kitikmeot area and spark the development of numerous 

mining projects. The project’s organizers envision building an 180-mile all-weather road from Bathurst Inlet to the winter road on Contwoyto Lake and continuing on to the Izok Lake deposit, southeast of Kugluktuk (Coppermine).

A deep-water port, located at Bathurst Inlet, is the second component. The port will be complete with a wharf, a dock for barges and a storage facility.

Together, the road and port will give mining companies cheaper and easier access to the mineral-rich land. The Lupin, Diavik, Ekati, Jericho and Hope Bay mines are all potential users of the proposed all-weather road and deepwater port.

Inmet Mining Corp., owner of the Izok Lake property 250 kilometres southeast of Kugluktuk, is banking on the Bathurst Inlet road and port. The infrastructure would give the mining company a sure route to Izok Lake.

Next on the list is an environmental impact statement, which Keen said will likely be ready by December 2002. Construction on the $215-million road and port is slated to begin in mid-2004 and that it could be operating by mid-2006.

The groups behind the Bathurst Inlet project — Kitikmeot Corporation, territorial and federal government departments, and Inmet Mining — have put $6 million into studying the possibility of building a road and port.

Some wildlife groups have said construction of a road and a port could negatively affect the caribou that calve and migrate in the area. But Keen said protecting wildlife and the environment are a top priority.

 

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