While curbing Aboriginal leadership in health governance, the Canadian Government is revising legislation to allow it to check Aboriginal economic and legal power. Meanwhile, the government is aggressively expediting exploitation of oil and minerals on lands claimed by Aboriginal groups.
“These cutbacks will severely reduce the ability of Inuit people to participate, even in a modest way, in the development of policies and programmes aimed at combating enormous health challenges”, says Mary Simon, president of the ITK. “This is particularly unfortunate in light of the attention given by Canadian courts in recent years as to the duty of the Crown to consult closely with Aboriginal peoples and to seek to accommodate our Aboriginal rights and interests.”
Simon notes that while the government imposes austerity measures on Inuit health programmes in the Arctic, Canada is increasing spending on military projects in the Arctic and promoting vast Arctic petroleum developments that will produce huge royalty streams for the government.