Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 07, 2018 - 10:30 am

Nunavut minister touts territory-led sealift resupply

Government of Nunavut operations contrasted with cancelled MTS barge to the Kitikmeot

Speaking in the Nunavut legislature, Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak brought up the issue of the cancelled Marine Transportation Services barge that left many of her constituents in the lurch. (FILE PHOTO)
Speaking in the Nunavut legislature, Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak brought up the issue of the cancelled Marine Transportation Services barge that left many of her constituents in the lurch. (FILE PHOTO)

Maybe residents and businesses in the western Nunavut communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay would be better served by sealift companies based in the east.

That appeared to be the suggestion made by David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s minister of economic development and transportation, during a Nov. 2 discussion in the Nunavut legislature about the upheavals caused by the cancellation of the last barge into the two communities in October.

“This situation has caused hardships for the communities, especially smaller businesses,” said Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak about a decision by the Government of the Northwest Territories’ barge company, Marine Transportation Services, to cancel a barge that was loaded with fuel, vehicles and other materials for the two Nunavut coastal communities and Paulatuk in the N.W.T.

Kamingoak asked Akeeagok to comment on the decision by MTS to prioritize service to commercial mining operations over community resupply.

This was an issue also discussed at length last week in the N.W.T. legislature where a motion seeking the removal of Wally Schumann, the GNWT’s minister of infrastructure, was debated in the house before being defeated in a recorded vote.

In his response to Kamingoak during question period, Akeeagok seemed to suggest that Kitikmeot communities could opt for sealift companies in eastern Canada.

“There are Nunavut government-led sealift opportunities that we do and it comes from the east side. What we try to do is guarantee to deliver to every one of our communities,” he said.

Akeeagok was likely referring to Nunavut Sealift and Supply Inc. and Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping Inc., the two well-known companies to whom the GN has awarded sealift contracts for many years.

Kamingoak also wanted to know if the Government of Nunavut would assume “any form of responsibility” for next year’s sealift to western Nunavut.

“That is a very good question,” Akeeagok told her. “I think it’s a good opportunity to highlight that there was sealift that was organized and done by the Government of Nunavut through our ongoing cargo sealift. Those ships made it to all of our communities, including all of our fuel supplies. They have all made it to each of the communities.”

Akeeagok said he had met with Schumann at the beginning of this month. There are going to be “further discussions” with Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Akeeagok said.

He said he had been told that there would a debriefing at the end of November.

“I have instructed my staff to be there,” he said.

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(15) Comments:

#1. Posted by Northern Guy on November 07, 2018

I guess the old phrase “caveat emptor” applies here. If the company doesn’t have a contract to deliver sealift then you are really at their mercy. MTS prioritized their larger commercial clients and the small business owners and individuals learned the hard way that this led to them not getting their stuff. Next time book with a GN contracted sealift operator and chances are you will get your stuff and if you don’t you will have a remedy to make it right. You just have to use suppliers that can get your stuff to Montreal.

#2. Posted by Oscare on November 07, 2018

Using NTCL/MTS has always been cheaper for us in the Kitikmeot region. If we have to ship with either NEAS or NSSI, are shipping rates will increase.

Both NEAS/NSSI are good . But it’s a chance you take with any shipping company.

Imagine what would have happened if both NEAS or NSSI had to cancel their ships?

#3. Posted by Arctic Circle on November 07, 2018

I thought the so called western Kitikmeot we’re smarter than this, of course it’s getting and always has been better from the east. That is were we people from east Kitikmeot now get our supplies in and on time, we are smart enough to do this.

#4. Posted by Cambaymiut on November 07, 2018

Ice conditions were such this year that we were getting concerned about the eastern shipping (including the fuel) as well. As it was they barely made it.

#5. Posted by Northern Guy on November 07, 2018

#2 do you want your stuff cheap or do you want your stuff to actually arrive? Both NEAS and NSSI have sealift contracts with the GN, so if they are unable to get your stuff into your community because of ice or weather then there it will be delivered by another method, though in my 25 plus years living in Nunavut I have never heard of either company having to cancel a delivery.

#6. Posted by Get the Facts on Sealift Rates on November 07, 2018

#2 comment is not correct.

Sealift rates for Kitikmeot customers are cheaper for both NEAS or NSSI then MTS.  And when you factor reliability, it is way less expensive to ship from East. 

Imagine paying for your truck every month, and MTS did not deliver your vehicle.  It does not matter if they ship your truck up next year for FREE, you and your family are paying for your vehicle now without its use for months. 

The Government of Nunavut deserves credit for delivering a reliable and cost-effective sealift options for all Nunavummiut, including in Kitikmeot.

Facts matter. Get informed.  User reliable suppliers.

#7. Posted by Oscare on November 07, 2018

#3 read #4’s post. NEAS/NSSI were delayed coming into Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk due to bad ice conditions east of here. They could have easily cancelled as well.

I prefer to ship from the port of Hay River as it is cheaper then NEAS/NSSI. All things considered, I hope this is a steep learning curve for the GNWT and that they don’t make the same mistake ever again.

The Kitikmeot region still has tight ties to Western Canada and NWT for business and shipping. It will be a serious ripple affect if we start dealing with Eastern Canada.

#8. Posted by Facts on November 07, 2018

#7, again you are wrong.  NEAS / NSSI rates are CHEAPER than GNWT MTS/NTCL rates.  And both NEAS and NSSI delivered for customers in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk.  It is time for Nunavut to move beyond the unreliable service providers.  Both NEAS and NSSI have Nunavut Inuit ownership too.

#9. Posted by Northern Inuit on November 07, 2018

Ms Kamingoak, we appreciate you voicing the concerns of the Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk Residents.  The fight for our peoples rights to be heard should happen at the highest level and we appreciate you doing so.

Would be nice if our voice in the Ledge from Cambridge Bay was more vocal on this subject.

#10. Posted by Oscare on November 07, 2018

Hey folks, I used MTS 2 years ago to get my truck home, it was a lot cheaper then NSSI and NEAS and I saved over $1,000.00 at the end of the day. END OF DISCUSSION.

#11. Posted by Franki on November 07, 2018

#8 - when you consider the fee to have someone shop for you, transportation to the docks and the crating charges, it is actually cheaper and more convenient to purchase out of Hay River and ship via MTS.
In my 48-years in the north NTCL had never missed a delivery. The fact that MTS failed to deliver this year is an abberation caused mainly br poor management. I think they have learned an important lesson and that fiasco is not likely to be repeated.

#12. Posted by I live in the Arctic on November 07, 2018

Lets all just move to Arviat or Rankin and make the shipping easier a train to Arviat or Rankin would make more sense eh?

#13. Posted by Get Real on November 07, 2018

#11, really, in 48 years, NTCL never missed a delivery?  Your statements are factually wrong.

In the last years of operations, NTCL consistently missed deliveries, leaving Nunavut without goods for stores and fuel for communities (in Rankin Inlet), lost a barge that drifted to Russia with Nunavut cargo on board, and had multiple freeze ins. 

NTCL went bankrupt because the service was poor, and they ran up $100 million plus in losses. 

Get real here. MTS is the past.  If you use them, it is your fault they don’t deliver for you.

#14. Posted by West vs East a decades old decline on November 07, 2018

Yes MTS isn’t great, but for those in west doing business with western suppliers, it just cost more to truck east then ship back to the west. Of course, could just buy from eastern suppliers, with westerners going east sometimes to pick-out their stuff or pack containers or whatever, but then western suppliers get screwed and western purchasers have to travel east across canada, instead of just a quick trip to edmonton or wherever. there’s more to it than just barge costs. The west is just getting screwed. Why GN supports the continued decline of the west to favor the east and quebec aint right

#15. Posted by Frankie on November 08, 2018

For the benefit of know-it-all #13, I reiterate - NTCL never failed to arrive at Kugluktuk in 48 years (probably many more years than that).

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