Katimajiit Conference - Nunavik to benefit from announcements at the first day of the Katimajiit Conference



    KUUJJUAQ, QC, Aug. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Katimajiit Conference, the major
intergovernmental meeting between the Inuit of Nunavik and the Governments of
Quebec and Canada, concluded its first day with important announcements
affecting regional economic development and measures to address the high cost
of living in this territory north of the 55th parallel in Quebec.
    An amount of $27.5 M earmarked for economic and community development was
announced by Benoit Pelletier, Quebec minister responsible for Native Affairs,
as the Nunavik component of the Aboriginal Initiatives Fund. This 5-year fund
will have two aspects: $13.5 M targeted towards economic development fund and
$14 M for local community infrastructure projects. Both components will be
administered by the Kativik Regional Government. "Access to capital has been a
continuing problem for Nunavik's businesses and local organizations", states
Kativik Regional Government chairman and Katimajiit Conference co-chair Maggie
Emudluk. "This fund not only provides some funding for these employment
creating initiatives, but will lever further investment from other
governmental programs".
    Nunavik's elders are the recipient of funding announced by Quebec's
Minister Responsible for Seniors, Marguerite Blais. Over a five-year period,
an amount of $595,000 will be provided to the Kativik Regional Government for
adapting services and infrastructure for the region's elderly.
    Having no road or rail links to the south of Canada, Nunavik relies
solely on expensive air and sea transportation. As a consequence, the cost of
living in Nunavik is substantially higher than elsewhere in Canada, with food
costs averaging 57% more than in the south of Quebec due to the cost of
shipping goods north. To help address this situation, a 3-year $9 M fund was
announced by Quebec Transport Minister Julie Boulet to help lower the high
cost of transportation. The fund, beginning this year, will be administered by
the Region with the exact method of implementation to be determined later this
fall. As well, the $500,000 envelope contained in the 2007-08 Quebec budget to
help offset the high cost of living and mainly the high cost of gasoline in
the region has been increased to $1.2 M for the next two years.
    Again addressing transportation issues, Mme. Boulet announced a major
investment into a project to expand the logistically important airstrip at
Puvirnituq in the form of an $8 M contribution. This represents 40% of the
total project costs with the balance to come from Canada. "In the future one
of our regionally-owned carriers, Air Inuit, will be able to offer jet service
to the Hudson Coast through this community", informs Makivik Corporation
President and Katimajiit co-chair Pita Aatami. "Medical evacuations will be
more efficient and will provide a safer environment to the population of
Hudson Coast Inuit".
    The marine infrastructure in each of Nunavik's 14 communities will
benefit from a $200,000 annual contribution earmarked for maintenance from
Transport Quebec for the years 2007 through 2009. It should be remembered that
these facilities are not only essential for the annual sealift of goods and
materials, but are used by local community members in their subsistence
hunting activities, and thereby an important element in the food supply
system.
    Fiscal measures have also been announced by Quebec which will provide
some relief to Nunavik residents who are subject, in the most part, to the
same tax regimes as southern residents while at the same time facing much
higher prices for the necessities of life. Quebec Minister of Municipal
Affairs and Regions Nathalie Normandeau will sign a memorandum of
understanding with the Kativik Regional Government stipulating a
$500,000 grant aiming at the implementation of measures to reduce the cost of
living for the residents of Nunavik.
    Katimajiit delegates were informed by Quebec that the one fiscal measure
tailored just for Nunavimmiut and residents of remote regions, the refundable
tax credit for Northern Residents , will be increased by 50 % retroactively to
2006. Through this means, lower income earners will be able to derive the full
benefit from this measure to which they were hitherto prevented.
    "There has also been commitments made during this day, both from Quebec
and Canada, to work with Nunavik on a number of outstanding issues in the area
of regional development", notes Ms. Emudluk. "In particular, we sense a strong
will on the part of all levels of government to address issues affecting
elders, job development among youth, land transportation and climate change
after the Katimajiit Conference has concluded."

    The meeting continues tomorrow and is being broadcast live on Taqramiut
Nipingat Incorporated, Nunavik's regional radio network.

    Kativik Regional Government (KRG) is a non-ethnic public organization
created in 1978, under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, whose
jurisdiction covers nearly the entire territory of Quebec north of the 55th
parallel. KRG administers the affairs of Nunavik in the areas of municipal
affairs, transportation, environment, police, employment, manpower training,
income security, childcare services, renewable resources, land-use management,
civil security and economic development.

    Makivik Corporation is the Inuit owned economic development company
created following the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
(JBNQA) in 1975. It has the mandate to represent the 9,800 Inuit of Nunavik at
the political level, and to administer the funds of the Agreement accorded to
the Inuit ($90-million has been received over a 20 year period). Makivik owns
subsidiary companies such as Air Inuit, First Air, Nunavik Arctic Foods,
Nunavik Creations, Halutik Fuels, Cruise North, and jointly owns with other
Inuit regional corporations Pan Arctic Inuit Logistics (PAIL).




For further information:

For further information: Julie Grenier, Communications Coordinator,
Kativik Regional Government, (819) 964-2961 ext. 2317, jgrenier@krg.ca,
www.krg.ca; Michel St-Germain, Communications Officer, Makivik Corporation,
(514) 895-3871, www.makivik.org, www.nunavik.ca/katimajiit


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