This conference has been successfully completed.
We would like to say “thank you” again to all the sponsors, speakers and participants, including the students and staff of Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) as our special guests.
The Territory of Nunavut came into existence on April 1, 1999 amid much fanfare and international publicity. Thomas Berger famously called it the “Nunavut Project.” Fifteen years have passed. Looking back, can we call the Nunavut Project a success? Or a qualified success?
Nunavut can celebrate many proud achievements in the past fifteen years: a trail-blazing Inuit Language Protection Act, the first of its kind in Canadian history; a wildlife legislation that fully embraces Inuit/Aboriginal traditional knowledge, another first in Canada; an Education Act that promises a bilingual education for its future generations; and the ground breaking of a new airport in the Territory’s capital, one of the largest government infrastructure projects north of 60 in decades, just to name a few. On the other hand, it has been said that Nunavut is at a crossroads, facing many serious political, social and economic challenges that include, for example, serious infrastructure deficit, severe housing shortages, an unsustainable level of poverty and food insecurity, the highest suicide rate in the country, the lowest high school graduation rate in Canada, and the potential loss of Inuit languages and traditions. Nunavut has to choose its path. Will Nunavut be able to choose its path wisely so as to guide itself to success and prosperity?
This conference took stock and provides a comprehensive assessment of the Nunavut Project, including the accomplishments and failures of Nunavut in the past 15 years and its challenges and prospects in the coming decade. A tough question was asked throughout the conference: Are we better off now than we were 15 years ago?
Our expert speakers at the conference included elected leaders, top officials, advisors and lawyers from governments and Inuit organizations as well as leading academics and researchers.