The Human Disaster in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut – by Colin Alexander

Author Colin Alexander was the former publisher of News of the North in Yellowknife, N.W.T., and was the senior consultant on education for the Ontario Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. Currently living in Ottawa, he is also a retired trader, broker, and systems developer, and author of Streetsmart Guide to Timing the Stock Market. His most recent book, Timing Techniques for Commodity Futures Markets, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2007, and is available here at

As Canada’s Nunavut territory approaches its tenth anniversary on April 1, we should look at the mismatch between resource investment and the Inuit human capital, and consider these points:

* Employers need skilled and motivated workers. But where in their own land are the Inuit geologists and mining engineers, doctors and marine biologists? Where are the electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators and chefs?

* The Inuit population almost doubled between 1981 and 2006, and unemployment is very high despite considerable over-manning in administration. However, there are far more jobs in Arctic and sub-Arctic Canada than there are Indians and Inuit of employable age. Xstrata’s Raglan nickel mine in Quebec’s Nunavik region has 500 jobs onsite, with just 16% filled by Inuit.

* Resource-related jobs mostly require real qualifications, not the preferential hiring of the unqualified. As a shift boss at the Giant gold mine in Yellowknife once told me, “Any time I give someone a break who doesn’t deserve it, I risk having an accident that kills us all.”

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