“It puts in place measures to ensure the land is protected and developed in accordance to our values.”
He said the new legislation not only protects the environment and gives a framework for the assessment of projects, but it also gives a framework for development on Labrador Inuit lands.
With regards to protection of the environment, the proposed legislation outlines how the government would move ahead with research and environmental education.
“It also shows how we protect water bodies in Labrador Inuit Land,” he said.
An example of this protection is a regulation that would forbid project development within 50 metres of a body of water.
The difference between this legislation and the already existing provincial and federal environmental assessment process is that this process takes an Inuit perspective.
“Neither one of those takes into account the Inuit perspective and the Inuit knowledge if the land and how we value the environment,” he said. “This is what this legislation does.”
He said the Nunatsiavut Environmental Assessments would be carried out in harmonization with the other Environmental Assessment processes.
Mr. Shiwak said the government does not see the new legislation as a hindrance to development.
“We just want to put a framework in place that allows for development and protects the environment in a way that the Inuit value.”
The new bill has been worked on for more than a year by Nunatsiavut government and employees.
After it passed its first reading in the Nunatsiavut assembly, a committee was struck that includes Mr. Shiwak and Tom Sheldon, the Nunatsiavut Director of Environment, who are co-chairs of the committee, William Barbour, the ordinary member for Nain and former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and the AngajukKâk for Postville, Dianne Gear.
“We just want to put a framework in place that allows for development and protects the environment in a way that the Inuit value.” -
The mandate of the committee is to travel to the Inuit communities and do extensive consultations with the people on the new proposed legislation.
“We will provide information and ask for feedback from the communities on how they view this legislation and if they see it as meeting the needs of Inuit in Nunatsiavut for environmental protection and assessment.”
“We want people to be aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it.”
Once the process is finished the committee has to put a report together to present to the assembly.
The committee has a deadline of January 31, 2011 for the consultation process.
The bill will then go to a second reading where, if it passes, it will become legislation.
At the moment the Nunatsiavut government has a moratorium on Uranium miming on their land. The moratorium will be reviewed in March of 2011.
Mr. Shiwak said if the moratorium is lifted and the proposed development went through an Environmental Assessment process, then this new legislation would be utilized.
“That process would have to incorporate our environmental assessment legislation.”
The Nunatsiavut government would have the power to halt a development only on Labrador Inuit land and not in the settlement