Trudeau signs Inuit-to-Crown partnership declaration during Iqaluit visit
Document sets promised Inuit-to-Crown partnership in motion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed a declaration with Inuit leaders in Iqaluit Thursday, setting a promised Inuit-to-Crown partnership in motion during his first visit to the territories since his 2015 election victory.
Trudeau, along with federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, and Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, landed in Nunavut's capital late Thursday morning.
The group went straight from the airport to meet with leaders from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada's Inuit population, on a new Inuit-to-Crown partnership, which was announced in December.
During the meeting, Trudeau signed the declaration along with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed and other Inuit leaders.
In his opening remarks, Trudeau called the meeting "an important step in the partnership that I know needs to exist between the Crown and the Inuit.
"We have many challenges ahead," he said, "but many opportunities as well."
The group will meet three times a year — once with the prime minister — and will include a rotating group of four federal ministers, presidents of Inuit organizations including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Tunngavik, and representatives from the Nunatsiavut government, Makivik Corporation, and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
Trudeau asked about Trump, Arctic drilling
After the signing, Trudeau answered questions from the media at Obed's home in Iqaluit, where he was asked by reporters about an upcoming meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. It was announced today that Trudeau would meet with Trump in person for the first time on Monday.
Trudeau was asked whether he would raise the controversial U.S. travel ban with Trump, which affects people from seven majority-Muslim countries, as well as all refugees.
"As everyone in Canada knows, I have two important responsibilities that stand out in the way we engage our neighbours to the south. The first is, of course, to highlight Canadian values and principles and the things that keep our country strong," he said.
"The second responsibility that I have, which we will very much be engaged in, is creating jobs and opportunity for Canadian citizens through the continued close integration on both sides of the border."
The prime minister was also asked about a federal government decision to stop issuing licences for oil and gas drilling in Arctic waters for the next five years. The decision has been slammed by premiers from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, who say they were not consulted in the decision making process.
Without directly addressing the consultation that went into the ban, Trudeau said that "Canadians in the North and elsewhere understand how important it is that our Arctic is protected," before saying that his government is working with territorial governments to establish guidelines to review the ban every five years.
"We're happy to move forward collaboratively," he said.
Trudeau then met with Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna before helping to deliver supplies to a local women's shelter, an impromptu detour before a planned public event at Inuksuk High School.
After visiting Iqaluit, Trudeau is scheduled to fly to Yellowknife Thursday evening. On Friday, he will hold a town hall event at the city's Multiplex Arena.
Live blog replay
with files from Nick Murray, Canadian Press