Strategy seeks to boost Inuit mining employment in Quebec

Eilís QuinnEye on the Arctic,CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Mining has become an increasing important part of the economy in Nunavik, the Inuit self-governing region of northern Quebec.

But the local Inuit population is still under-represented in the work force. Most jobs are still filled by workers from southern Canada.

When the local Kativik regional government did a survey in 2011, it found that Inuit represented only 15 percent of the workforce in mines.

Barriers to Inuit participation in the lucrative mining industry include lack of education, an unfamiliar culture, and the long periods that need to be spent away on remote mining sites.

But a new mining strategy supported by industry, local government and schools aims to change that.

Part of the strategy includes bolstering education, a focus not just on hiring but on retention and promotion of Inuit and exploring ways to provide support services for Inuit at mining sites.

Nunavut and Northwest Territories employment increases

Employment was up in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut and the neighboring Northwest Territories in December 2013, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

Two hundred more people were working in Nunavut compared to December 2012.

The average weekly earnings were up for Nunavut workers too. Employees earned just over Canadian $1,109 (U.S. $1,000), up 15 percent from December 2012.

Workers in the Northwest Territories made an average of C$1,355 (US $1,222) a week, up 6.2 percent from December 2012, while in Yukon, the average weekly earnings remained steady at $1,007 (US $908) per week.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.