Policy and Inuit livelihoods

Labour market policy and Inuit livelihoods in Nunavut

Project Leader: Joshua Gladstone, PhD candidate, School of Public Policy and Administration
Carleton University (gladstone.joshua@gmail.com)

Research Supervisor:  Frances Abele, Professor at Carleton University

Partners: This project is undertaken with the support of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Cambridge Bay Wellness Centre, and the Kitikmeot Heritage Society.

Project timelines:  2011 to 2018

Project Updates

2017

Joshua is currently writing his dissertation and expects to defend in spring 2018. He also plans to return to Cambridge Bay to present his research there.

Preliminary findings:

An analysis of the three policy areas (support policies, labour market, country food distribution policies) suggests they demonstrate contradictory objectives, weak coordination among governing institutions, and a lack of monitoring and evaluation that would feed into overall improvements to the policy area as a whole. They also raise questions about the political commitment to subsistence livelihoods at the Inuit, territorial and federal levels of politics and administration. But this lack of coherence masks an underlying and historical systematization that exposes Inuit harvesters, their families, and their communities to the destabilizing effects of labour and commodity markets. As I explore in my dissertation, the effects of this policy regime are felt by individuals, families, and communities who continue to struggle to remain connected to the land and produce country food as a source of sustenance and wellbeing.

2016

As part of the ReSDA workshop held in Ottawa in October 26-28, 2016, Joshua gave a presentation on his research. You can read the abstract provided that summarizes the current status of the project.

In March, Joshua gave a presentation, Modern treaty citizenship and harvester support policies under neoliberalism, at Modern treaties and citizenship: The next forty years, an event held at Carleton University.

2014

Joshua published an article in the Globe and Mail titled Only bold action will end food insecurity in the North. You can read it here.

2013

Joshua presented a paper, Harvesting ideas: Policy paradigms and harvester support policies in northern Canada, to the Canadian Political Science Association Conference, in Victoria BC on June 2013.


Project Proposal Details

Summary

Since the 1960’s, Inuit in the Eastern Arctic have been largely successful in achieving their demands for collective political and economic recognition. Building on the concept of the mixed economy, this research examines how labour market policy has changed in the wake of multi-level political and economic restructuring, and how these changes have been experienced by those most affected. This research focuses on the idea of the Indigenous “mixed economy”: how it is lived, how it became influential as a way of identifying the diversity of economic forms and social systems that exist in many northern indigenous communities, and how it has evolved more less comfortably with state policies and structures. This work will be done with the community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Policies aimed at Indigenous harvesters and their families are an ill-defined category with a diversity of goals. They are also an under-researched area of policy despite their implications for Indigenous harvesters, their families, and their communities, many of whom rely on them for material support and security. This research examines the collection of subnational (territorial and Inuit) policies directed toward Inuit harvesters and their families that were in operation in Nunavut in 2013 in order to understand their origins and the impact they have on the people they are intended to support. The three policy areas I explore in most detail are producer support policies, labour market policies (including income assistance), and country food distribution policies.

Research Purpose

The purpose of this proposed research is to explain social policy reforms in the eastern Arctic during the period 1973 – 2012 and to explore how Inuit in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, have experienced them. Specifically, this project will examine the trajectories of change and interactions among three areas of social policy in Nunavut – harvester support, income support, and employment insurance (EI) programs – and their relationship to Inuit livelihoods. Income support and EI programs provide income assistance to the unemployed across Canada, while harvester support programs are measures that support Indigenous harvesting activities in many parts of northern Canada. Although these programs are an important part of the institutional framework within and around which many northern Indigenous people construct their livelihoods, little is known about the way they interact and the experiences of those who rely on them.

Methodology

In order to understand the policies that compose Nunavut’s harvester support regime, a literature review was conducted to find out what had already been written about it.  At the same time, I collected policy documents from government and Inuit organization websites and government archives in order to learn the details of their design and administration, including eligibility requirements, decision processes, and benefits. I also travelled to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in 2013 to interview community members about their experiences with these programs and the role they played in their decisions about harvesting. Interviews with policy officials in Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, and Iqaluit were also conducted to clarify the details of specific policies and programs and collect additional documentation.

Timeline

Funding

Preliminary Findings

An analysis of the three policy areas (support policies, labour market, country food distribution policies) suggests they demonstrate contradictory objectives, weak coordination among governing institutions, and a lack of monitoring and evaluation that would feed into overall improvements to the policy area as a whole. They also raise questions about the political commitment to subsistence livelihoods at the Inuit, territorial and federal levels of politics and administration. But this lack of coherence masks an underlying and historical systematization that exposes Inuit harvesters, their families, and their communities to the destabilizing effects of labour and commodity markets. As I explore in my dissertation, the effects of this policy regime are felt by individuals, families, and communities who continue to struggle to remain connected to the land and produce country food as a source of sustenance and wellbeing.

Publications

Publications

Gladstone, J. (2014). Only bold action will end food insecurity in the North. The Globe and Mail. December 14, 2014

Papers and Presentations

Land claims and subsistence harvesting. Presentation to the Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic workshop, Ottawa ON, October 2016.

Modern treaty citizenship and harvester support policies under neoliberalism. Presentation at the  Modern treaties and citizenship: The next forty years conference held at Carleton University. March 2016.

Harvesting ideas: Policy paradigms and harvester support policies in northern Canada. Paper presented to the Canadian Political Science Association Conference, Victoria BC, June 2013.

For more information contact:
Joshua Gladstone
PhD Candidate and Research Assistant
Carleton University
E-mail: gladstone.joshua@gmail.com

Frances Abele
Professor at Carleton University
5209 River Building
School of Public Policy & Administration
Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
613-520-2600 (ext. 2553)
E-mail: frances_abele@carleton.ca