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Conference Board of Canada Highlights Woeful Inuit Life Expectancy Statistics

Media Release: May 20, 2011

Friday May 20, 2011 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Inuit leader Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami issued the following statement today regarding life expectancy statistics published by the Conference Board of Canada.

“I have been underlining this very unfortunate statistic in many of my public speeches over the past five years. It is a sad fact that the life expectancy between Inuit and the average Canadian is 13 years, and that gap is not closing. I applaud the Conference Board of Canada for raising awareness of this issue with Canadians across the Country, and the Ottawa Citizen for publishing the story, “Life expectancy in Quebec’s Nunavik area less than in Iraq.” The article notes that in one of the Inuit regions, namely Nunavik, residents have a life expectancy of 66.7 years versus the Canadian average of 81 years. Nunavut is not much better off.

“It has been my experience that when fellow Canadians discover that statistically, parts of our great country are worse off than some developing countries, they react with dismay and indeed ask me often how they can help. I urge them to inform themselves, their families and their neighbours. In this way when enough Canadians are aware and involved, change will come. Education is at the root of societal involvement and evolution.

“Unfortunately this is a very complex situation and it will take imagination, energy and toil to make improvement. The starting point is with our Inuit political leadership. We are willing to do our part. It will also take partnership, a generous spirit and investment of time, energy and financial resources by many segments of Canadian Society including Inuit themselves, governments and Canadians from all walks of life.

“Together, someday, hopefully someday soon we will proudly point to Statistics Canada data which proves that all Canadians no matter where they live or their cultural heritage enjoy a standard of wellbeing and life expectancy second to no other country in the world.”