INUVIALUIT REGIONAL CORPORATION: Working with external data sources

Real Case Study

The 2002 Public Review of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, Section 16, found that the economic objectives of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement were insufficiently addressed and fulfilled. The review recommended that the federal government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) develop a system to track social and economic measures. The Inuvialuit Indicators initiative was launched in 2007 to track the socio-economic well-being of Inuvialuit in several key areas, including but not limited to: employment, education, health and social well-being, and cultural well-being. Data sharing agreements were signed with the Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics, Beaufort Delta Education Council, and several other GNWT departments, boards, and agencies. Data for the Indicators was drawn from the Canadian Census, the Aboriginal People’s Survey, and the Beaufort Delta Education Council. Primary data collected by the IRC also informs the database.

All parties to the data sharing agreements agreed that reaching shared understandings around confidentiality was the most important aspect of the agreements. Data held by the NWT Bureau of Statistics and the Beaufort Delta Education Council contains personally identifiable information, such as an individual’s income or a student’s class attendance. As such, the data sharing agreement requires that the IRC provide strict protection of the data through measures such as the appointment of a data custodian and the secure storage of data on encrypted and password protected machines. Before accessing the data, staff must sign an acknowledgement stating they have read, understood, and agree to comply with the terms of the data sharing agreement. The IRC maintains the highest standards of data privacy and confidentiality, which allows it to fulfill the requirements set out in the agreement.

What is the indicator data used for? At the IRC, the indicator data has informed policy decisions and given insight about the impact of events and developments. For example, the IRC used the indicator data to examine whether major infrastructure projects – such as the Mackenzie Gas Project – would have detrimental effects on Inuvialuit well-being. The Indicators Initiative found that major infrastructure projects in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region could potentially inflame social problems among the Inuvialuit population, such as gradual loss of culture and language, an increase in levels of substance abuse, and a decrease in educational attainment. As the Indicators are tracked over time, the IRC can continue to make evidence-based decisions in accordance with the patterns and trends shown by the Indicators database.