Tungasuvvingat Inuit – Underserved Inuit in Ontario continue to be Marginalized
On July 8th, 2019, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett announced changes and additional funding for a Federal Labour Program now known as the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program (ISET). The program was formerly known as the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Program and has been in existence in various forms for almost three decades. Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) has delivered highly effective frontline programs and services for more than thirty years. However, as a result of the lack of additional funding, TI will be underserving the already marginalized Inuit community in Ontario.
The updated name and funding for ISET will continue to offer federal funding to help Indigenous people develop and enhance skills that will ultimately improven opportunities for finding employment or starting new businesses. Of the $2 billion over five years identified in the 2018 budget, $161.2 million over five years has been earmarked for Inuit specific ISET programs. The Inuit agencies previously identified as recipients of the program funding include Kativik Regional Government, Nunatsiavut Government, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Kakivak Association, Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Kivalliq Inuit Association and Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) in Ottawa.
TI Executive Director, Jason LeBlanc stated, “this is a positive announcement and investment in our Inuit communities. This further investment will provide many new opportunities and TI celebrates our continued partnerships with the north. TI has successfully implemented programs such as iSisters Technology Mentoring programs, construction programs, landscaping among others. “
LeBlanc went on to say, “The news is exciting however, clarification on funding allocation is required for full transparency. Tungasuvvingat Inuit will not receive a single dollar of new money from this additional funding. As the population continues to leave Inuit Nunangat and relocate into the Ottawa and Ontario region, it is very clear that our current base funding is completely inadequate to support the current population of Ontario Inuit. As data collection on the Inuit population in the south continues, we are talking upwards of 40% of the total Inuit population in Canada that now reside in the south. The fact that no additional monies will be allocated to TI means we cannot serve the community in Ottawa and Ontario that requires this muchneeded funding.”
Once the five-year term is completed, the government stated that there is a promise of ongoing funding of $32.6 million per year for Inuit specific programs. All funding is locked in for ten years. Which means as the Inuit population increases in the south, there will be no new money to service the skills and training needs. Inuit living away from communities are already vulnerable and TI provides many of the services and programs they use in Ontario. The lack of direct funding will further marginalize the Inuit of Ontario.
LeBlanc added he is grateful for the continued partnerships with the north, “Some of our partners in the north do see the value and need for continued investment in their beneficiaries living away from home. We are thankful to Kakivak Association and Kitikmeot Inuit Association for committing funds that will support beneficiaries that
have relocated to Ontario away from their home region.