"Promises made - Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike focuses attention on the Crown's not keeping faith with the first nations that entered into historic treaties with the Crown (First Nations Bringing Treaty-Rights Challenge To The Courts – Jan. 8).
Unfortunately, the track record of broken promises continues in relation to aboriginal peoples who are partners with the Crown in modern treaties that cover Arctic and sub-Arctic Canada. For example, in 2006, Nunavut Inuit were forced to sue the Crown for numerous fundamental breaches of the 1993 Nunavut Agreement. These breaches involve, among other things, denial of economic opportunities, inadequate pre-employment training, and lack of environmental monitoring – all critical to Nunavut Inuit achieving greater self-sufficiency, a central objective the agreement. Inuit brought this lawsuit after the Crown unilaterally withdrew from negotiations, rejected offers to arbitrate, and refused to respond to the recommendations of an outside conciliator. We have won a summary judgment on one specific breach of our agreement, and our litigation continues.
In our experience of broken promises under our modern treaty, Nunavut Inuit are far from alone. Such problems are so prevalent, a coalition uniting all modern treaty groups has been established precisely for the purpose of having those treaties appropriately honoured. It is time to learn from history, rather than repeat its mistakes. Promises made must be promises kept."
Cathy Towtongie, president, Nunavut Tunngavik