“Are we where we hoped to be when we signed the IIBA? We’re not.” The Qikiqtani Inuit Association wants to see progress on implementation of the 2013 Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement that’s supposed to ensure Inuit in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region benefit from the Mary River mine on north Baffin.
But negotiators from the Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. have not been interested — until recently — in implementing the IIBA. That’s what Stephen Williamson-Bathory, director of major projects for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, told the QIA’s board of directors on Feb. 18 at their meeting in Iqaluit.
“Are we where we hoped to be when we signed the IIBA? We’re not,” Williamson-Bathory said in a presentation to the board.
Among other things, the IIBA calls for co-operation between Baffinland and QIA on various committees, whose members decide on implementation policies — and then make sure there’s a process in place to carry these through.
Yet, until a recent shakeup at Baffinland, which brought in new top management, Williamson-Bathory said little was happening.
“Now Baffinland is committed to developing processes [to implement the IIBA] — we haven’t had that before,” he said.
Olayuk Akesuk, the board member from Cape Dorset, who also works on the IIBA implementation portfolio, told board members that communication has improved recently.
That now means monthly conference calls between the QIA and mining company representatives.
“The commitment from [Baffinland] is way better than before,” Akesuk said.
But the five communities most affected by the mine — Clyde River, Arctic Bay, Hall Beach, Igloolik and Pond Inlet — haven’t taken full advantage of the IIBA yet either, Akesuk said.
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