Remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Iqaluit, Nunavut
February 9, 2017
Good afternoon, everyone. What a pleasure it is to be here!
I want to thank Natan Obed, President of ITK for welcoming us to his home, literally on his balcony, but also to beautiful Iqaluit. It’s great to be back here. The last time here was during the campaign and I was fortunate enough to have Sophie and my youngest son Hadrian along with me to experience this very special part of our country.
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with Natan and the board members of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. This meeting was part of the commitment I made in December to hold annual discussions with the leadership of the ITK, of the Assembly of First Nations and of the Métis Nation in order to identify priorities and co-developed policies.
Today, we established a historic new permanent bilateral process with the Inuit, an Inuit to Crown Partnership Committee. This new Committee will meet once a year with me and several times throughout the year to identify and address the unique needs of the Inuit as identified by the community. I’ve often talked about the need for a renewed Inuit to Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, cooperation, respect and partnership. And I think this new process will do that by providing a whole of government forum where Canada can actively engage with the ITK and its governing members.
We know that there’s a lot of work ahead of us, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. To get tangible results, we need the help and know-how of Inuit leaders, who know better than anyone else what their community needs most. So we used this meeting today to map out the way forward.
Working together in the spirit that guided the Kelowna Accord, we focused our discussions on land claims, social development, economic development and other concrete steps to advance reconciliation efforts.
And on that last note, I am pleased to announce that our government will be taking concrete steps to address historical grievances including the way the federal government managed tuberculosis-infected patients during the 40s to 60s. How we deal with our past, no matter how painful, will determine our ability to heal together. And by taking action, we will shine a light on a dark chapter of our history – a chapter we must acknowledge and confront in order to move forward.
This is a positive step along the road to true reconciliation and as I have stated before, reconciliation isn’t just an indigenous issue. It’s a Canadian issue.
Our government is determined to renew and strengthen the relationship between the Inuit and the Crown, and meetings like this one will help to guide our efforts and report on the progress made in these important files.