QIA moves on development initiatives after concluding board of directors meeting

Several resolutions, including a $15-million approval of construction funds for completion of five Nauttiqsuqtiit centres and approval to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the City of Iqaluit, were passed.

The Nauttiqsuqtiit centres are part of ongoing efforts to provide Inuit employment through environmental stewardship/on-the-land programs as well as "a foundation for mentorship, training and economic development." The centres will also provide North Baffin communities with additional meeting and office space.

“QIA has actually been building a sustainable conservation economy for some time, which is basically to create Inuit land-based employment in the High Arctic, and we’re hoping to expand that throughout the region as we negotiate and explore more opportunities," said Navarana Beveridge, senior director of strategic planning for QIA.

“Part of that initiative is... to build five Nauttiqsuqtiit centres," she added. "We have been struggling, like everyone else, with the increasing cost of construction... We requested an additional $15 million from our board to be able to complete the construction of the Nauttiqsuqtiit centres.”

As part of the resolutions from the meeting, the additional funds — which will go towards the building of the additional three centres in the communities in Pond Inlet, Grise Fiord, and Clyde River — were granted, and the buildings should be completed by mid-to-late 2026.

Completion of the interior of the centres in Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet is expected by next month, however.

The Nauttiqsuqtiit centres “will be buildings that offer... office and garage space for our Nauttiqsuqtiit employees, and they’ll also have some rental space available for the communities that they’re in, which will help offset our operational costs," said Beveridge. "They are some larger spaces there as well that can be used [as] meeting spaces and conference-type space that can be used for cultural programming. Our Nauttiqsuqtiit centre employees do that kind of programming, but we’ll also be able to rent that space out to others who want to offer programming or who need space in the community.”

MOU with city

During land claims negotiations, the QIA retained some Inuit-owned lands (IOL) on Federal Road, within Iqaluit's boundaries.

“The purpose of that land on the Federal Road was to foster business and economic opportunities for Inuit," Beveridge remarked.

The City of Iqaluit is currently looking to develop its own parcel of land adjacent to the IOL, which would require the cooperation and development of the IOL parcel.

“We’re now having discussions to have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on how we are going to work together, between QIA, as well as the City of Iqaluit to develop those lands so that they can be used for projects and individuals to be leased out. We might include some land disposal agreement to allow Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) to block lease the municipal lands and then make them available for lease,” Beveridge explained.

However, before any of that can happen, there must be feasibility studies to “assess the economic and environmental technical viability of the different development options. There will also be a comprehensive infrastructure plan, and, of course, there is going to be public engagement sessions where we talk to everyone — Inuit especially — with respect to the development of that land,” she noted.

The use of the land and development in partnership with QC will be determined by the public engagement process.

“There’s already been a lot of interest that’s been expressed,” said Beveridge. Possibilities include the development of the Inuit Heritage Centre, an Elders long-term care facility and city emergency services.

“Commercial services would be key, as well as maybe some housing development,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing that can be discussed during the public engagement process... QIA is working very closely with QC [which is] largely overseeing and managing the development.”

The projected timeline for development would have initial blasting work on the land parcel begin this summer, however lots would not be available “at the earliest” until the end of 2025.

“We won’t be doing any development work at all on the municipal lands until an MOU has been agreed upon and a development agreement is in place,” Beveridge said.

Kira Wronska Dorward, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunavut News