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• Arctic Council
• BITI 2006
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• Communications 2006
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HOME > Archives > Institution Building for Northern Russian Indigenous Peoples...




The Institution Building for Northern Russian Indigenous Peoples' Project (INRIPP-1) which was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and coordinated by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC-Canada) was initiated in 1996. ICC (Canada), in partnership with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) and working with the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) and the Russian Federal State Committee on Northern Affairs (Goskomserver), began this three-year institution building project. The main outcome was an enhanced partnership capacity for RAIPON and Goskomsever at the national and regional levels for tackling the economic challenges facing northern indigenous peoples. The project also supported RAIPON's efforts to represent indigenous peoples at the national and international levels.

The successful completion of this project in 2000 lead ICC-Canada and DIAND to seek funding from the Canadian International Development Agency in support of a second phase of this work over the next five years. The proposal was accepted and phase two, with a budget of $5 million, began in July 2000.

What is INRIPP-2?

INRIPP-2 is phase two of this institutional building project. It will focus on ensuring the direct involvement of indigenous peoples in economic development and participation in the decision-making processes at the national, regional and local levels.

The project has two fundamental objectives. The first is to support the sustainable political, economic and cultural development of Russia's northern indigenous peoples by establishing, through RAIPON, a training and economic development centre. Over the next five years, this centre will provide training, develop an outreach program and promote revenue generation. The second objective is to assist the Russian government in the implementation of its new Northern and Aboriginal Development Program by strengthening the government capacity to promote community development and nurture indigenous small businesses and co-management. To achieve these objectives the project is comprised of three complementary parts.

Part I draws on the experience of Canadian Aboriginal peoples in developing training institutions and programmes based on their own languages and traditional learning styles. In Part II the Canadian government, through its Department of Indians Affairs and Northern Development, will work with its Russian counterpart to strengthen the economic capacity of selected regional governments by sharing practical experience through pilot projects. Part III will train Russian indigenous and government representatives in the practical aspects of co-management and related regimes by exposing them to existing structures in Canada. A co-management pilot project will be implemented in a selected region.

How will this be done?

Part I: The Indigenous to Indigenous Component

The project will establish the Russian Indigenous Training Centre (RITC). This is the main thrust of INRIPP-2. It is being established to react to the economic development needs of indigenous peoples and their communities.

RITC will provide training related to the economic development needs of the regions. The Centre will also develop and apply an outreach programme where interns selected by the regions will receive specialized training in Canada and Russia. They will then be provided support for 24 months to go back into their regions and develop projects leading to revenue generation. The Centre will also have a revenue generating division. Assisted by a marketing consultant, the regions will identify products and services that can generate revenue. This division will also provide support to the outreach officers by taking community generated project proposals and working to have them funded. Finally, funds are available under INRIPP-2 to support three of the most feasible project proposals to emerge from the regions as pilot projects.

Part II: The Government to Government Component

This part of the project mirrors the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's domestic objectives in an international context. The project is consistent with the Arctic Council agenda for sustainable development and with the new northern Dimension of Canada's Foreign Policy. It is also consistent with the Russian federal Target Program "Economic and Social Development of the Indigenous peoples of the North to 2010", which calls for the development of practical economic development projects focusing on the commercialization of traditional subsistence activities. The key activities will be:

Small Business Development - Internship Program

The main objective of the internship program is to build a Russian governmental capacity to promote local economic development that responds to the needs of indigenous peoples living in the North through exposure to relevant elements of Aboriginal economic development institutions in Canada.

Establishment of Community Economic Development Corporation in the Russian North

This program will develop the capacity of selected indigenous community enterprises and transfer Canadian northern experience of community economic development corporations to encourage employment and self-reliance at the local level.

3. Round-table Conference/Trade Exhibition

A round-up conference will be organized in Moscow on specific themes that emerged from the project. The accompanying trade exhibition will show case northern and indigenous products and learning technologies identified as critical for the Russian North in moving forward with its governance and economic development reform agenda.

Adapting Canadian Northern Technical Expertise in the Design of Systems
for Appropriate Siberian Conditions

Canadian technical experts will conduct on-site demonstrations and seminars on the harvesting and processing of wildlife meat at existing facilities in two regions of the Russian north. They will prepare a report containing recommendations on how existing Russian technologies might be better employed.

Part III: The Co-management Component

In Canada, many Aboriginal peoples and the governments are committed partners in co-managing lands and resources. Co-management is a way of bringing together local communities and government agencies to create and implement effective resource management and development programs, while respecting cultural and social differences. It is used as a way for assuring effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making and for a more equitable distribution of revenues derived from the exploitation of natural resources - both important factors in sustainable, equitable development. It is not self-government. It responds instead to local needs and interests while recognizing the responsibility of the government to safeguard national interests.

RITC will develop and deliver courses based on the Canadian experience. This will be done in close collaboration with the communities to ensure their realities and needs are reflected. A group of indigenous and government interns will then be selected from among those having received training at the RITC. They will travel to Canada to visit and gather first-hand information by meeting with other Canadian Aboriginal people, industry and government agencies involved in co-management.

Once the training and internship programmes are complete, an area in Russia will be selected for a pilot project in co-management. All of the experience and expertise developed in the co-management component, along with the results of the traditional land use and occupancy mapping work, will be brought to bear in developing a co-management programme in this selected area. A trained and equipped resident indigenous capacity, capable of developing further co-management projects will be one of the main outputs of this initiative.

How is the project managed and funded?

INRIPP-2 will be managed by ICC (Canada), in cooperation with the Circumpolar Liaison Directorate (CLD) of DIAND. The main Russian partners are RAIPON and selected Russian federal and regional departments. The project will be managed through a committee structure.

The projects will be developed by RAIPON and selected Russian federal departments, together with their regional offices, in full collaboration with the communities.

Funding for the project is provided through a five-year funding agreement between ICC-Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency. ICC-Canada, DIAND, RAIPON and other government partners are providing cash and 'in-kind' contributions through staff and overhead support.

Institution Building for Russian Northern Indigenous Peoples

At the basis of ICC Canada's on-going Institution Building for Russian Northern Indigenous Peoples Project (INRIPP) lies an urgent need to ensure that Russia's Northern indigenous peoples play an effective role in the development of an aboriginal strategy for their sustainable development. To achieve that, the aboriginal minorities of the Russian North must undergo comprehensive training on subjects which not only meet their economic development needs but also meet their broader sustainable development objectives. Approved for funding by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1997, a three-year $2.2 million institution-building project focused on: (i) promoting the direct participation of Russian northern Aboriginal peoples in the decision-making process at the international, national, regional and local levels on issues affecting their daily lives; and, (ii) strengthening the institutional capability of the Russian government in its preparation and delivery of a comprehensive northern development and aboriginal strategy by including the interests of the Aboriginal population of the north.

Alexandr Omrypkir (left), Frank Hanson and Nellie Cournoyea following the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation presentation to the Russian interns in Inuvik, NWT.

Anna Brodz, Galina Karikmasova and Natalia Barchenko trying on traditional clothing at Pauktuutit Inuit women's Association in Ottawa.

Galina Karikmasova, head of her Village Administration in the Khabarovsk region, Russia with Richard Gordon, Mayor of the Hamlet of Aklavik, NWT.

The project's primary objectives were:
  • for Canadian Inuit to share their expertise with Russia's northern Indigenous Peoples in order to help them effectively address and deal with their domestic concerns; and,
  • for the Canadian government to train the Russian government with regards to developing policies affecting the North and northern Indigenous Peoples.

Two distinctly unique features characterised the project: (i) the indigenous-to-indigenous partnership; and, (ii) a broader partnership of aboriginal NGOs (non-governmental organisations) with federal government departments responsible for Aboriginal affairs. On the one hand, the best trainers to help indigenous peoples build strong institutions are other indigenous peoples who have built successful institutions themselves, as is the case with the Inuit of Northern Canada. On the other hand, institution building for Russia's northern Aboriginal Peoples stands a better chance at success if the Russian government's policies and departments dealing with Aboriginal peoples are strengthened. This is why the project was designed to work both at the grassroots and government levels.

The project has a number of clearly evident positive outcomes.

INRIPP was able to assist in the establishment and sustenance of the RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North) national headquarters in Moscow. The financial support helped RAIPON to survive a very harsh economic period in Russia, to effectively represent the northern indigenous peoples at the national level, and to participate in the work of the Arctic Council which helped them gain visibility at the international level. RAIPON has also attained a United Nations observer accreditation.

Photo (left to right): Yeremi Aipin, former president of RAIPON (1993-1996); Vladimir Sangi, the founding president of RAIPON (1990-1993); Sergei Haryuchi, current president of RAIPON - copyright by Harold Finkler

Equally important are INRIPP achievements at the regional level in Russia. All 30 regional constituent members of RAIPON benefited from the Regional Assistance component of the project that consisted of the procurement and distribution of office and communications equipment to the regional offices of RAIPON. The regional chapters of RAIPON are establishing an unprecedented communications network which helps them form a single political agenda for aboriginal development and sensitise public opinion world-wide to the plight of Russia's northern indigenous peoples.

The Russian aboriginal delegation of March 1999 enjoyed a trip by qammutiq from Panniqtuuq to the Arctic Circle.

Another important element of the project was the internship of Russia's Northern indigenous representatives in Canada. Each year of the project, Russian aboriginal representatives visited Canada to study the Canadian aboriginal experience. They focused on land claims, sustainable development, office management and work organisation, Aboriginal/government relations, techniques of soliciting financial support, international Aboriginal issues and the development of skills to be self-sufficient in aboriginal institution-building. The most important result of this component is that most interns found the Canadian Aboriginal experience, particularly the ability of Canada's Inuit people to organise themselves and deal with the government as one single voice, applicable to their domestic situation and enlightening enough to start viewing many factors affecting their daily lives in Russia in a different light.

The government component of the Institution Building for Aboriginal Peoples Project has been successful in assisting Goskomsever (the Russian federal government department responsible for aboriginal issues) with a basis for developing its Northern Development and Aboriginal Affairs strategy by providing an opportunity for Russian partners to see, study and experience first hand the Canadian situation. The government component of the project also helped promote dialogue between northerners of both countries.

One of the main strengths of the overall project is that it has facilitated both a formal and informal exchange of information and ideas between representatives of the Canadian and Russian governments as well as Canadian and Russian aboriginal peoples and their organizations. It has led to an increase in the mutual understanding of, and respect for, individual priorities and has helped to nurture the notion that there is strength in partnerships.

Alexandr Omrypkr, head of the Russian aboriginal delegation and Tony Whitford, Speaker of the NWT Legislative Assembly exchanging the Chukotkan and Northwest Territories flags.

The Aklavik Drummers and Dancers charmed the aboriginal delegation with their demonstration.

Building strong organisations and mechanisms for representation is the first step to indigenous peoples attaining self-reliance. This is a lesson learned in Canada nearly thirty years ago when the Department of the Secretary of State first issued "core" grants to indigenous peoples allowing them to organise politically and to make effective demands in the Canadian political marketplace. This initial funding allowed the Inuit of Canada to define and to forward to government agencies their land claim, self-government, and self-reliance aspirations. A very important aspect of INRIPP is that sharing this valuable Inuit experience with other indigenous peoples worldwide not only helps these people attain self-reliance and sustainability in their countries but also strengthens, in the process, Inuit organisations at home. This process also instills a lot of pride in the Inuit of Canada as they lead the international aboriginal development work in the circumpolar world and beyond.

While INRIPP's important achievements over the past three years are undeniable, they represent but a first step on the long path to institution and capacity sustainability of the Northern indigenous peoples in Russia. ICC Canada is hopeful of carrying out a follow-up project which would again have similar indigenous to indigenous and government to government components but will focus more on market oriented community economic development activities and capacity building in co-management. It is hoped this project will start-up in June 2000 and continue for five years.

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