Nunavut minister touts territory-led sealift resupply

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

By JANE GEORGE

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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