Western Nunavut Inuit org will keep pushing for Grays Bay
“We won’t stop”
If the Kitikmeot Inuit Association feels jilted following the Government of Nunavut’s recent pull-out from the Grays Bay Port and Road Project, they’re not showing it.
The Kitikmeot region’s need for the project is as great as ever and the KIA will keep pushing for it to be funded and built, Stanley Anablak, the KIA president, said yesterday in a statement.
“As long as Nunavut remains isolated, Nunavummiut will not enjoy the same quality of life as other Canadians. We won’t stop until every avenue in pursuit of the successful development of this project is exhausted,” Anablak said in the statement.
The GN announced this past Friday that they’re pulling out of the $500-million project.
Through the Grays Bay project, they proposed a 227-kilometre all-weather road that would link a port at Grays Bay on Coronation Gulf to a winter road that starts at the former Jericho mine, to provide access to about $10-billion worth of stranded base metal deposits controlled by MMG Canada, along with other mineral sites.
The GN’s withdrawal announcement followed a decision by the federal government to deny a funding application from the two organizations to have Ottawa pay 75 per cent of the project’s costs.
The two sides had teamed up in 2016 to champion the project and to develop the project proposal that the Nunavut Impact Review Board is now assessing.
In its announcement last week, the GN claims their withdrawal from the arrangement was jointly agreed to by each side, but the KIA described it as the “Government of Nunavut’s decision.”
The memorandum of understanding that cemented their relationship, signed July 10, 2016, said either side can terminate the deal by simply giving 30 days written notice to the other party.
Under the terms of that MOU, the GN played a major role in the Grays Bay project.
Jim Stevens, an assistant deputy minister in the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, was named “project manager” in charge of putting together the project proposal, the MOU said.
And Stevens was also named coordinator of a working group that included representatives from KIA and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Nunavut Resources Corp.
At the same time, GN and KIA promised they would work with MMG, which in 2013 had put together a similar port-road-mining scheme called the Izok Corridor Project, the MOU said.
MMG put that project into mothballs in 2014, saying it’s not feasible to develop mines at their High Lake and Izok Lake properties unless someone else pays for the transportation infrastructure.
But despite the GN’s withdrawal, the KIA still believes the Grays Bay project will provide access to valuable land-locked mineral assets in the western Kitikmeot, many of which sit on Inuit-owned lands.
“We continue to firmly believe that the GBRP [Grays Bay Road and Port] will unlock the opportunities negotiated in the Nunavut Agreement, originally signed by Premier Quassa,” Anablak said.
Anablak also thanked the GN for collaborating with the KIA on Grays Bay and pointed out that Premier Paul Quassa and Joe Savikataaq, the ED&T minister who announced the GN withdrawal, both said they supported Grays Bay at the legislative assembly’s November 2017 leadership session, when Quassa and Savikataaq ran against each other for the premier’s job.
“We take comfort that both Premier Quassa and Minister Savikataaq were unequivocal in their support of the GBRP during the leadership review in December [sic] and we look forward to continuing to work with the GN in the spirit of partnership as stated in the Premier’s four-pillar mandate announcement on March 20, 2018,” Anablak said.
That’s a reference to the Turaaqtavut mandate statement, which says the GN will make investments with “partners,” including Inuit organizations.
KIA has advocated for more infrastructure and development for a long time and will continue to do so, Anablak said, citing the work they put into the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project.
To that end, they say they are “well-placed” to make another application to the National Trade Corridors Fund, Anablak’s statement said.
“The need for transportation infrastructure that connects our region and territory to the rest of Canada is as great as ever,” Anablak said.