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Inuit business owners slam policy meant to help them

Inuit business owners slam policy meant to help them

CBC News
Nunavut's policy to give Inuit-owned and northern businesses an advantage came under fire this week, with business people calling it confusing and ineffective.

The policy, called Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI), is designed to give these businesses a leg up when bidding for government contracts. The policy was made by the Nunavut government and the Nunavut land claims organization, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI).

It's largely meant to encourage Inuit participation in government contracts to reflect the population of the territory.Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement makes this advantage a law.

But at a meeting in Iqaluit this week, many of those who are supposed to benefit from the program criticized it as confusing and ineffective.

"NTI and the Nunavut government have failed miserably, miserably in implementing the NNI policy and article 24 of the Nunavut land claims agreement," said Sam Alagalak, a contractor from Arviat.

One of the criticisms of the program is that it's often not clear if a company is Inuit-owned or not.

Louis Bruce, who owns Sudliq Developments in Coral Harbour, recently lost a fuel contract in the community. He said he wants NTI to review the registry of Inuit firms to see if there are non-Inuit or non-northern people and companies taking advantage of the policy.

Mark McCullough, the manager of procurement and contracts for the Government of Nunavut, said he and his department take NTI's Article 24, which deals with government contracting, and the NNI policy very seriously. But he stopped short on taking action to resolve the problem.

"There are issues with the NNI policy that need to be fixed, and fixing the NNI policy is not my job," he said.

Business owners at the meeting say they will continue to push for change.

The NNI policy has been in effect since 2000.

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