NEWS: Around the Arctic October 04, 2009 - 7:45 am

Nunavut communities await supplies from crippled Avataq

NEAS vessel to be towed to Foxe Basin destinations, while NSSI picks up cargo bound for Nunavik


Schools in Igloolik, Hall Beach and Repulse Bay still await supplies that were supposed to arrive two weeks ago on the MV Avataq, damaged Sept. 26 after a nearly disastrous incident in Hudson Strait near Salluit.

The breakdown, plus bad weather, threw the 113-metre ice-class cargo ship, owned by Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping Ltd., behind schedule by about two weeks.

A tug is now slated to tow the vessel to Igloolik between Oct. 7 and Oct. 9, and then on to Hall Beach, said Barry Tarrant, manager of the Northern store in Hall Beach.

His store, like Northern stores in Igloolik and Repulse Bay, is waiting for its entire sealift order to arrive. That includes soda pop, trucks, skidoos, bikes and food.

But communities in Nunavik won’t have to wait any longer for their sealifts.

Cargo for three communities in Nunavik was transferred during the weekend, from the Avataq on to the MV Camilla Desgagnés.

Kangiqsujuaq received its cargo on Saturday.

“Camilla is presently delivering the Puvirnituq cargo load, and then will sail to Inukjuak, with cargo onboard for clients of both carriers,” said Waguih Rayes, the general manager of Desgagnés Transarctik Inc., in an Oct. 5 email.

The MV Camilla Desgagnés remains on schedule for her subsequent destinations in the Kivalliq to deliver Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc. cargo, he said.

“We feel that in such difficult times, all must collaborate to get the vital sealift services delivered before it is too late. The common objective is to
reduce the impact of such uncontrollable circumstances as a ship breakdown,on northern communities and people well-being,” Rayes said

However, personal and commercial sealift orders for Nunavut remain on the Avataq.

Igloolik resident Maren Vsetula, who plans to open a bed and breakfast in the community, is worried. Building materials she needs to renovate her home are still en route.

The delay also means there’s no more paper to make photocopies, no food for school lunch and snack programs and only limited janitorial supplies at a time when schools are supposed to ramp up cleaning efforts to prevent the spread of swine flu.

At Igloolik’s Atagotaaluk School no one can use the school’s photocopy machine — because there’s no more paper.

“We’re hoping that the ship eventually gets in before the ice,” said a school employee, who wished to remain unnamed in this story.

The delay in receiving the supplies by sealift came after the MV Avataq, broke down in Hudson Strait near Salluit.

After being towed to Salluit, the ship was nearly capsized when a fierce gale struck on Sept. 26.

No one from NEAS was available for immediate comment.

Related story:

A near calamity for the MV Avataq