Indigenous Group: Inuit: Eastern Arctic: Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIT)
Business: Oil and Gas exploration
Issue: This is the final year of a five-year moratorium on Arctic offshore energy development, which is to be reconsidered in 2020.
Comment: May 12, 2019: Globe and Mail – An Inuit land-claim group is asking the federal government to permanently protect large sections of the Eastern Arctic from any industrial development. The request is part of a huge effort to map out how and where oil, gas and mining should go ahead on land and water around Baffin Island and how they can co-exist with traditional Inuit life.“There isn’t enough known about the impacts of such development to allow any of it.” P. J. Akeeagok, President QIT
Latest Updates: May 13, 2019: Canadian Press – A report, delivered to the federal Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs department, doesn’t draw lines on a map. But the area in question is in the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait region, where three Norwegian companies attempted to do seismic tests for oil and gas in 2015. It’s not part of any marine protected area currently under federal consideration. Communities along the Baffin coast, with the territorial government and environmental groups, opposed the seismic work. The issue eventually went to the Supreme Court, which ruled local people hadn’t been adequately consulted, and the tests never went ahead.
The Inuit are also asking Ottawa for seasonal bans on marine transport when important animals such as narwhal, walrus and seals are calving. “Inuit, being coastal people, we heavily rely on wildlife,” said Akeeagok.
The association’s report comes after extensive consultations in seven communities on Baffin and Ellesmere islands. They were held as part of a strategic environmental assessment led by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The board is considering economic, environmental and social factors to create a blueprint for how development should proceed. The Eastern Arctic is thought to hold large deposits of oil and gas. There are 20 significant discovery licences for the Arctic islands and one off the southern tip of Baffin Island.
The association has a list of demands before any moratorium is lifted.
- It wants the federal government to create a dedicated research institute for Arctic oil and gas as well as a permanent advisory body to ensure traditional knowledge is taken into account in decision-making.
- It also wants governments to look at alternative ways, such as fisheries and tourism, to develop the area’s economy. Benefits and job opportunities must be part of any new projects, said Akeeagok