Thank you so much, members of the committee and my colleagues from the Government of Nunavut. We welcome the opportunity to make remarks here today.
I want to start by saying that land claims affect each and every Inuit across Inuit Nunangat, across our country. We grew up with these ideas of our organizations negotiating with the federal government and with provinces and territories about our rights and about our future. We grew up in a really unsettled time, and so my generation thinks of land claims in a very specific and personal way that immediately brings to mind the fact that our organizations weren't funded at all and we were basically borrowing money to negotiate land claims for, in many cases, 20 years, 25 years, or 30 years.
If we move forward to today, we have Inuit Nunangat settled land claims across our four regions. Nunatsiavut is a self-government in Newfoundland and Labrador. It's the third order of government. Then there is Nunavik in northern Quebec; Nunavut, of course, and the territories created out of the land claim agreement; and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in the Northwest Territories. Together they make up the sum total of Inuit Nunangat, our Inuit homeland. It's about 33% of Canada's land mass and over 50% of its coastline. It is a massive space co-managed by Inuit with governments, and it is a homogeneous policy space.
In thinking about not only the effect of land claims on Canada and on Canada's map, we also want to start thinking about land claims as changing the policy map, the way in which you think about how funding flows from the federal government to Canadians and, in this sense, to Inuit within Canada. We've been working very hard in the last couple of years to reimagine not only the way in which funding for essential services like housing or health care flows from the government to our Inuit jurisdictions but also the way in which Canadians think about the relationship between Inuit and the crown.
We still have tremendous challenges in implementing our land claim agreements. We still struggle with going from the provisions within our agreements into the reality that was imagined within them. Just like any piece of legislation that is passed, our land claim agreements have constitutional status in that they have a force of law, if you will, but there is also the 95% or 98% of the work that has to happen once the Canadian government has signed onto new legislation or a new land claim agreement to breathe life into it.
We have had challenges trying to work with the federal government and with the provinces and territories to just imagine what, let's say, co-management means with regard to decision-making in relation to wildlife or lands or waters; what procurement policies mean in the face of land claim agreements; the way in which economic development opportunities happen; the way in which education happens in the face of jurisdictional control; and the spirit and intent of the agreements, especially in relation to how to build Inuit workforces to take advantage of not only natural resource extraction but also opportunities within government.
We're still a long way away from creating the implementation scenario that we all imagined when we went on this nation-building exercise of settling comprehensive land claim agreements with Inuit. We still live in some of the worst socio-economic conditions in this country. We still have a life expectancy that is 10 years less than that for all other Canadians. There is a $60,000 median income gap between Inuit and non-Inuit who live in Inuit Nunangat, and we have very low levels of secondary and post-secondary attainment.
I'm not here to talk about the deficits of our population, but we have to recognize that there are those so as to galvanize our approach to create social equity in this country. Outside of the land claim implementation structures, there are these pieces of social equity that were never able to be negotiated within land claim agreements but that need to sit alongside of them in order for land claim agreements to be fully implemented. It's the idea of infrastructure and the fact that we still don't have broadband in Inuit Nunangat; we have insufficient ports, runways; we have insufficient subsidies for airline travel or other ways in which goods and services flow between southern Canada and Inuit Nunangat. Those are still essential pieces of the puzzle to ensure that land claim agreements and the honour of the crown are implemented within this country.
Our agreements are more than just a number of obligations. The idea that we have one provision, that you have to uphold the letter of the law to one provision or another, and that you spread them out across the federal government or across departments within provinces or territories, isn't really the way in which we as Inuit have imagined land claim agreements. This new relationship and this path towards shared success, the certainty that Canada gains from settling comprehensive land claim agreements with Inuit, especially in relation to sovereignty and economic development, is something that is very powerful. It attracts opportunity and investment in Inuit Nunangat. It creates the certainty that Canada has around sovereignty in the Arctic and the discussions that will happen in the next generation around the Northwest Passage and about shipping.
All of these can be seen through the lens of the relationship that Inuit have with the federal government, so more should be done to implement our agreements. More should be done to recognize the existing obligations and the relationship we already have with one another. The fact that there have been court cases or major concerns with the honour of the crown and the intent to implement our agreements not only frustrates us as Inuit but also, I think, at the Canadian level isn't what Canadians expect.
In this time of reconciliation, on this path forward that we want to share together, we all have to imagine that we have obligations that pre-exist this new space, which is only a few years old. We imagine that we want to honour the relationships we already have and the modern treaties that have the force of law. In this space we also are working with the government of today, and the Inuit-crown partnership declaration that was signed in Iqaluit by the Prime Minister and me in February has a number of joint party areas attached to it. The first is the implementation of land claim agreements. It is a priority, not only for Inuit but also for the crown, to implement modern treaties and land claim agreements and to create a renewed sense of partnership with the indigenous peoples—in this case, with Inuit. We do hope that in the coming budgets we will see a path towards that new relationship and the implementation of our land claim agreements.
For example, a robust portion of the upcoming Arctic policy should speak to land claim implementation or infrastructure development in this renewed relationship. It should address housing and overcoming our 40% overcrowding rate, because housing could not only help stabilize our economy but also improve the health of our people. It should show that Canada is a place of equity where, no matter where you live, there are basic levels of foundational services that you are entitled to as a Canadian. Throughout all of this, we remain proud Canadians. We remain patriotic, but also understanding that we have rights as indigenous peoples, whether through the United Nations, the Constitution, or our land claim agreements.
We want to create this shared country and shared space with you and with the federal government, provinces, and territories, but we want to do it as part of an evolving Inuit democracy. There is a space in Confederation for Inuit, and land claim agreements are part of the framework of that relationship. I do hope that we can find a way to make Canada recognize this relationship in the space that we already have.