PJ Akeeagok looks to Inuit for mandate

PJ Akeeagok, the president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, is encouraging beneficiaries to turn out to this week's public Board of Directors meeting. (CBC)

When the Qikiqtani Inuit Association opens its board meeting to the public this afternoon, president PJ Akeeagok says there will be some important topics up for discussion — including support for hunters and Inuit training programs.

Akeeagok will give an update on his recent community consultations but he says the "main topic" will be the budget. 

"The budget is what runs QIA in terms of where we're going to go and put our resources."

Since being elected, Akeeagok has been clear that he wants input from local Inuit for his mandate and he has held open houses in many of the region's communities since he took over as president.

"It's been amazing," he said of his recent trips. "It's definitely humbling. We've met close to 1,000 Inuit in the last year and that's just through the open houses." 

Mining, training on the agenda

Last year, QIA visited several communities to consult with Inuit about Baffinland's phase 2 proposal, a controversial plan to ship iron ore out of Milne Inlet 10 months per year. 

Akeeagok says that issue will be brought up again at this meeting, as well as another perennial topic of discussion: jobs.

"I think training's always been a very high priority that's been given in terms of the opportunities it comes with." 

The issue is already being addressed, according to Akeeagok, and the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation had its inaugural meeting this month. 

He also says QIA is making progress to ensure support for hunters.

"I think there's tangible things to look forward to in the coming year." 

The meetings begin at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. Thursday at Iqaluit's Frobisher Inn.