Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
Add search criteria
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Mr. Chairman, I hope this is not a case where you use your word of the day.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for the hard work you guys are doing, especially on this very important piece of legislation. I'm here just briefly, as I committed to you yesterday, Mr. Chairman, to speak to the amendment I've proposed for Bill C-55.
The ultimate goal of this amendment is to reduce and directly address any procedural ambiguity regarding the ministerial decision-making process of the marine protected areas in areas where there are established land claims agreements. I'm putting this in the context of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, but there are also other land claim agreements across the north, including Labrador, northern Quebec, and the Northwest Territories. It's understood in those agreements, and accepted as part of the agreements, that nothing should happen to our lands or to our waters without the input and involvement of Inuit. I think this applies to all facets of decision-making, any activities, as well as the management of those areas.
I feel that the proposed amendment makes this distinction very clear in the particular case of marine protected area designation. I spoke to Inuit back home, and to representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the belief is that the proposed amendment would help ensure that the federal government is living up to its obligations under ratified and approved land claims agreements, especially the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. I believe the acceptance of this amendment would not only substantiate the Inuit-to-crown partnership, but it would also further highlight the government's commitment to honouring the appropriate consultation process with the indigenous people of this country.
I know that this is something we heard in the House from all parties, so I'm looking forward to support for this. I think it also shows that this government is serious and is committed to honouring its obligations under land claims agreements.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thirty seconds is not enough time, but I look forward to more time, hopefully.
Thank you, committee members, for giving me the chance.
Thank you, Minister LeBlanc, for being here.
I know there have been some concerns about the bill's potential conflict with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. As we all know, Inuit have constitutionally protected rights regarding access to wildlife and conservation area development within the Nunavut settlement area.
I'm just wondering, if any of these issues do arise, how you would plan to resolve them with NTI, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Jordan.
Minister, as you know, the Inuit are a coastal people, and we rely on the waters and the life in them to survive. On this piece of legislation, I know there have been some suggestions made in the House and in our legislative assembly about the lack of consultation and the importance of indigenous consultation in general.
Although I'm confident that appropriate consultations will take place, the Government of Nunavut is concerned with the interim protection provision of the act. From their perspective, any decision made without consulting the Government of Nunavut could potentially have a drastic impact on future devolution talks and economic benefits from which Nunavummiut will benefit. I just want to know what assurances the Government of Nunavut can have that they will be consulted prior to any interim protected MPA.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll start off by saying that this is a little less nerve-racking than the last time I appeared before this committee.
[Witness speaks in Inuktitut]
Good morning. Thank you for allowing me to speak about the seal harvest, and in particular about the act respecting national seal products day
I would personally like to thank committee members, and Mr. Simms for his work in supporting this act, and for inviting me to be here to speak with you today. I would also like to take this time to thank the many members of Parliament, including some who are on this committee, who have spoken out continually in support of this act in the House of Commons.
Last, but definitely not least, I would like to thank former senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, who championed this initiative in the Senate in 2014, and whose hard work has led us here to this stage of the process today. Thank you.
The seal harvest is a crucial aspect of Canada's Inuit culture and livelihood, and it has been for thousands of years. The sad truth is that very few people truly understand the importance of this issue to Inuit. Many southern Canadians are aware of the seal fur market, and can understand how this could be beneficial from an economic standpoint. What people have difficulty grasping is the necessity of this harvest for sustenance for our communities.
Although the nutrition north program is well-intentioned, it's insufficient, and broken by the way. On that, I would like to say that I look forward to some positive changes coming soon.
Food insecurity is one of the biggest issues in Nunavut, where nearly 50% of the households experience it. What's worse than that, and deeply concerning, is that 60% of children are living in food-insecure households. Inuit rely on the seal for food. When a hunter returns to his community with a harvested seal, the food feeds his family and several others members of the community. It provides much-needed protein and vitamins, and allows the communities to survive. It also brings the community together, and this is the way it has always been.
Beyond the immediate use of seal as a food source, seal furs have traditionally been used as clothing to keep us warm in the winter months. Over the years, furs have become a commodity used to trade with merchants who travel the north, generating much-needed income for northern communities. The sale of seal products like fur, and the international commercialization of seal products led over time to economic sustainability, which allowed Inuit to continue to harvest seals and enjoy food security.
However, with the United States' Marine Mammal Protection Act, enacted in 1972, and later, the European Union's ban on seal products, the market for seal products has slowly declined. As a result, the cost of and demand for our products has been driven down, diminishing profits from trade, and making the market non-viable.
This industry is small. It's important that we work together to ensure its success.
There are exemptions in the European Union ban that allow for the trade of seal products produced by Inuit in Nunavut. However, Inuit in several other regions of Canada, particularly those in northern Quebec and Labrador, are so far not part of this exemption. I would really encourage new partnering approaches from sealing organizations with those in these regions, in an effort to include them as well in taking advantage of and maximizing the indigenous exemption in the ban.
By limiting our ability to trade and sell products in an international market, a crucial revenue stream has been diminished, and Inuit now struggle to afford being able to go harvest seals. Harvesting seals is expensive. You have to buy equipment, fuel for snowmobiles and boats, and ammunition for your firearms. It's not cheap, especially in the north. With these harvesting costs and the increased costs of living in Nunavut, the need to generate income from the seal fur industry is needed now more than ever.
European animal activists groups initiated the mission to end the seal fur trade, and in doing so, a major source of economic growth was lost. To this day, they present false information regarding seal populations and the harvesting of baby seals.
This is very upsetting because this fraudulent sales pitch is done in an effort to gain monthly donations and is currently being used now even in China, a potential market for seal products. In reality, the seal population, as we've heard, has tripled over the last 30 years, and the current population of between eight and nine million could double by 2030. Also, the harvesting of baby whitecoat seals, as we all know, is illegal and hasn't been practised for almost 30 years.
There is also a European seal cull that surprisingly continues. They like to keep that one quiet. Over several years thousands of seals have been killed off the coast of the United Kingdom in an attempt to protect their fish stocks. This cull is much different than what Inuit and Canadian harvesters practise because the seals are not harvested. They're just killed, left in the water, and wasted. As you can imagine, this is frustrating for Inuit and Canadian harvesters to hear as European activists, some from Britain, initiated the anti-sealing hunt movement. I find it somewhat ironic and completely hypocritical that this cull is done with the intention of preserving a food source.
On this topic, I feel it's important that government continue to conduct research on aquatic populations, and science-based approaches must be practised to ensure that an increasing seal population doesn't deplete cod, salmon, and shrimp populations in Canadian waters.
To close, I think it's extremely important that Canada support this bill to promote seal products and reverse the current negative mentality towards this market. Enacting national seal products day will reinforce Canada's support for its cultural coastal communities. Speaking on behalf of the people of Nunavut and as a person who is aware of the industry in eastern Canada, this recognition is extremely important. It will strengthen the relationship between Canada and Inuit. It can contribute to the revival of a much-needed source of income for the Inuvialuit and those who have relied on it on the east coast.
With that, thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you for the question.
You know that old saying, “ignorance is bliss”. In this case, with these groups, it's not. Mr. Sopuck said they're not nice people; they're not funny. They're not. One thing they are, though, is ignorant. One thing that I always detest is people taking advantage of other people's ignorance, and that's what these organizations are doing in putting false, fraudulent information out there to get money from them, to take advantage of them, to take money. To me, that's fraud.
If you look at the Europeans, you see that they killed off everything over there in Europe. Now, they'll say, “Well, we have to save something so we'll come over here where there's still something to save”, without realizing the impact of it. It's the same with the Americans, with the whalers. They're the ones who came up and they were big on whaling, and they left garbage behind. They just took the oil; they left the bones. In 1999, if you remember, there were some whalebone marionettes that were sent to the States to get looked at by a professional puppeteer. They were confiscated at the border. Stuff that they would leave behind as garbage wouldn't even be let back into this country. I think it's important.
It's bills like this and folks like us that educate people to the reality of it, and not the myth that's being portrayed out there.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I think that's something the government made very clear during the campaign, and I think it's falling under a review from the INAN standing committee. It took a program that's meant to provide affordable food to northerners.... The change from the food mail program to the nutrition north program is just not working. Fewer things are being subsidized. As a result, the other things that used to be subsidized aren't anymore, so the cost of buying stuff that you need actually goes up and not down.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
It's just a matter of being able to afford to go out and harvest. A lot of people in Nunavut right now can't afford the equipment or the ammunition. They're more worried about having to spend what little resources they have just trying to buy the food they need. They can't afford to buy the equipment, gas, ammunition, and other stuff to go out and harvest.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
That's the problem in the north. There's very little economic opportunity. The decline in the ability to pursue the fur market took away a source of income that people had to generate to afford to live.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
It all has an impact. Earlier the suicide rates were mentioned. Our suicide rates are extremely high. We heard in the INAN standing committee that a loss of culture and identity leads to that. Many people can't maintain and continue the seal harvest, so they lose their identity, they lose their culture. That's why it's so important. It affects so much.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
For the north, for Nunavut specifically, I think it's a matter of just recognizing the uniqueness of it and the challenges that are faced, and looking at new ways, outside the box, of addressing those issues. It's as plain and simple as that. The same old, same old isn't working. Things aren't going to change. We have to take a look at a new way of dealing with those issues.
Results: 1 - 15 of 73 | Page: 1 of 5

1
2
3
4
5
>
>|