The Government of Canada will pay Nunavut Inuit about $255 million in an out-of-court settlement that ends a 9-year-old legal dispute.

Most of that money will be used to fund training for Inuit to enter the territory's civil service.

"Once their skills are developed, the Government of Nunavut will have an administration that has an Inuit workforce that's competent, capable," said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Cathy Towtongie. 

Nunavut has never come close to the same percentage of Inuit in government jobs as they are in the general population, as was promised in Article 23 of the land claim. While Inuit make up about 85 per cent of the territory's population, Inuit only make up about half of the government workforce.

NTI, which oversees the land claim, argued that the disparity was caused by ongoing underfunding of Inuit education.

Valcourt Towtongie

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, left, Nunavut Tunngavik President Cathy Towtongie, and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

A conciliator agreed, saying in 2005 that Ottawa should spend another $20 million a year on Inuit education.

When Ottawa didn't follow the conciliator's report, NTI filed the lawsuit, claiming $1 billion in damages. That was based on wages the group said the Inuit could have earned from their share of government jobs if they'd been educated well enough to fill them.

Instead, NTI settled for $256 million.

$175M for education, training

At a gathering in Iqaluit this morning, Nunavut Tunngavik officials said they would spend $175 million on initiatives related to education and training through a newly created Nunavut Inuit Training Corporation, that will be jointly run with the Nunavut government. 

NTI will invest the remaining $80.5 million.

Within the next six years, an independent review will occur to see that Article 23 is being implemented.  

The settlement also includes an extra $50 million for eight years of training initiatives.

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna were also present to sign the deal in Iqaluit this morning.

They called it a historic day — one that renews the relationship between Inuit and the rest of Canada.


With files from The Canadian Press