It was a priority during the last election campaign and in his speech at last fall's Leadership Forum to select Nunavut's new premier.

Now Peter Taptuna wants to make sure it's at the top of the priorities list at the territory's upcoming cabinet retreat.

"We're hoping that we're going to have a mandate that is workable, achievable and one of the things that we do want to accomplish is better education for our people,” he said in a speech at the Northern Lights Conference in Ottawa yesterday.

“It's got to be key, and I know it's not going to happen in the short term but we hope to lay the foundation down going into the future."

Taptuna says education is key to making sure Nunavummiut are the ones who benefit from all the opportunities and jobs related to economic development, in areas like mining and fishing.

He wants the government to set clear objectives to improve the education system in the territory.

He also says a territory-wide training program is needed to make sure Nunavummiut are able to access jobs and other opportunities that come with development.

“There could be funds available through a program from the Federal government,” he says. “One of the key ways is trying to access that funding in partnership with our sister territories."

Calls for infrastructure at conference

This year’s Northern Lights Conference drew more than 1,200 people, a record number.  

The annual conference and trade show highlights businesses and trade opportunities in Canada's North and Eastern Arctic. It's being organized by the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce and the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce in Nunavut.

At least one northern company used the opportunity to draw attention to the need for new infrastructure in the North.

Suzanne Paquin is the CEO of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping.

She says the lack of infrastructure is a major impediment to economic growth.

Paquin says sealift customers keep demanding more goods, but without proper areas to unload them, a two-day job can take up to two-weeks and lead to uncertainty around schedules.

Taptuna said the federal government and the private sector will have to pitch in funds for barges and docks.