February 14, 2017
I have the pleasure, today, of announcing that on February 9, 2017, Nunavut’s newest gold mine, TMAC Resources’ Hope Bay project, successfully poured its first bar of gold.
TMAC’s operation is Nunavut’s third operating mine, after Baffinland’s Mary River iron ore mine and Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine. Hope Bay is located in Nunavut’s western region, known also as the Kitikmeot region, on Victoria Island in the Coronation Gulf. I had the good fortune of visiting there just last week where I took part in the Kitikmeot Trade Show.
Many of you know that since my appointment to the Senate in 2009, I have always been a fierce supporter of responsible development as a means of providing economic opportunities to Inuit and Nunavummiut. It has been my belief that Inuit should be allowed to reap the maximum benefit of the lands they own and manage, and Crown lands; adapting the economy to balance strong economic growth with environmental protection. Jobs are what Nunavut needs to support its growing population and the revenue from these economic opportunities and business ventures will go on to fund important social and cultural programs in the territory.
The Kitikmeot has been a shining example of what can be achieved with strong and visionary leadership. At the trade show, I was given the opportunity to speak at their gala dinner, and I used that opportunity to laud the achievements of Kitikmeot Inuit Association President, Stanley Anablak, Nunavut Resources Corporation President Dr. Charlie Evalik, Charlie Lyall and many other regional leaders who have consistently displayed a committed and innovative approach to economic growth.
I also lauded their success in negotiating an impressive Inuit Impacts Benefits Agreement with TMAC Resources, including securing an ownership stake in the company in addition to the regular royalty payments.
In Nunavut, we see a unique example of what a true relationship between the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the government can look like. This project, like all projects in Nunavut, was subject to scrutiny under Nunavut’s important and Inuit-driven regulatory regime.
The leaders who implemented the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement envisioned critical Institutions of Public Government, independent quasi-judicial regulatory boards, working together with the lands department of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), the entity that ensures the land claim is properly implemented in Nunavut.
This achievements comes at an important time for Nunavut. According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, Nunavut has the highest unemployment rate out of all three territories with 12.5% of able-bodied Nunavummiut out of work. To put that number into perspective, the national average as of January 2017 is 6.8%. 49% of Nunavut residents receive welfare, 70% of households are considered food insecure and over half the population lives in social housing. Senators – the need to create well-paying, steady jobs is of vital importance to my home territory.
Colleagues, I am thrilled that TMAC has completed construction of their mill and has been able to pour their first brick. I would like to congratulate TMAC’s leadership, CEO Catherine Farrow, President Gord Morrison, and to the entire Hope Bay team for achieving this while always being mindful and respectful of the Inuit and their lands. Developments such as this are what will make Nunavut and Canada stronger, bringing much needed jobs, prosperity and independence to a remote yet thriving region in our great country.