As many of you already know, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association has won a recent arbitration case against Baffinland Iron Mines, which operates the Mary River Project.
The Arbitration Panel made a unanimous ruling, stating that Baffinland owes QIA $7.3 million.
The Panel was asked to make a decision on the proper interpretation of the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement (IIBA) for the Mary River Project. They also had to decide how much Advance Payments Baffinland was required to pay QIA according to that signed agreement.
This $7.3 million is Inuit money, negotiated under the IIBA. It is one of the benefits that Inuit in Qikiqtani receive from development on Inuit land.
Now, many Inuit are asking what QIA will do with this money.
This past year QIA spent a lot of time developing a transparent Revenue Policy.
This policy explains what happens to money that comes to QIA from various sources such as the Mary River Project.
Our new Revenue Policy created two new funds for QIA, the Legacy Fund and the Benefits Fund: the Legacy Fund is designed to invest money for the future and the Benefits Fund is used to deliver programs to Inuit.
This $7.3 million, like many other one-time lumps of money that QIA receives from development in Qikiqtani, will be invested in the Legacy Fund. The annual interest from the investment will go to the Benefits Fund and get used for delivering programs to Inuit.
By saving through the Legacy Fund, QIA is investing in the future. With the hope to always provide stable benefits to Inuit, even when revenue streams are lower or run out. The policy also helps reduce Inuit’s reliance on outside funding over time by creating monies directly for Inuit benefits and programs.
In their written decision, the arbitration panel acknowledged the role of this revenue policy in creating stable funds and programs for Inuit.
“The QIA Benefits Fund is used to support various social programs including language and cultural activities, counsellor training programs, local and internet distribution of Inuit media, traditional skills workshops, elder and youth programs and community hunts,” stated the panel in their decision. “The manner in which Advance Payments are disbursed to the QIA Benefits Fund ensures that these monies will benefit the Inuit in perpetuity.”
This past May, the QIA Board of Directors passed a resolution approving the QIA Benefits Fund Policy, which is a document that guides QIA’s management of how monies set aside for Inuit benefits and programs under the Revenue Policy. The Benefits Fund Policy requires QIA to openly consult communities on where to spend the money and ultimately it is the QIA Board who has the responsibility to decide on the themes that are eligible for spending.
This spring QIA conducted extensive community consultations in all 13 Qikiqtani communities. These consultations provided the QIA board with feedback on what programs were needed in the Region. At their last meeting in Arctic Bay, the QIA board reviewed the report on these community consultations and selected two themes for programs that had come up over and over again the consultations: : cultural activities, and, Daycare and Early Childhood Learning.
In the next few months, QIA staff will be working on developing new programs for all 13 Qikiqtani communities based on these themes.
Starting this fiscal year QIA will spend $1 million under the Benefits Fund for programs across Qikiqtani. This arbitration award means that next fiscal year, starting April 1st 2018, QIA will be able to increase the amount of money spent under the Benefits Fund. The specific amount of money that will be allocated for spending under the Benefits Fund for the next fiscal year will be announced by QIA at the upcoming October Board meeting.
These key QIA programs stem from our new revenue policy, which created the Legacy Fund and the Benefits Fund. As the Legacy Fund grows its revenues go to the Benefits Fund to increase programs for Inuit.