A study in spam: What people asked the GN in 2022

COVID-19 queries, job applications, spam made up majority of submissions to GN’s ‘contact us’ webpage

The Government of Nunavut has a webpage where people can contact the government with comments, questions or suggestions. About 45 per cent of the messages the government got this year were spam. But some people reached out with ideas (for a polar-bear jail) and one Grade 2 class had a few questions for people in the territory. (Screenshot from the Government of Nunavut)

By Madalyn Howitt

From questions about COVID-19 vaccine requirements to requests for Nunavut flags to suggestions to build a polar bear jail, people wrote some interesting messages to the Government of Nunavut in 2022. 

Seven-hundred and seventy-five messages to be exact, between Jan. 2 and Aug. 30, questions and suggestions that users submitted through the GN’s Contact Us page on its website. 

Nunatsiaq News obtained the messages through an access to information request.

Messages get tagged as General Feedback or Inquiry; a Solution for the GN; Broken Link or Other Issue; or Website Feedback. 

They show a snapshot of what was on people’s minds throughout the year. 

In January when the first wave of COVID-19’s Omicron variant hit the territory, questions about vaccine requirements to travel in and out of Nunavut, how to get isolation food hampers and questions about territory-wide statistics were top of mind for users.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, messages purporting to be from Ukrainian refugees inquired about the territory’s immigration requirements. 

As the spring and summer approached, travellers from outside the territory had questions about fishing and hunting licences and what accommodations exist in smaller hamlets. 

A Grade 2 class from Alberta doing a project on Nunavut had many interesting questions for the GN, like, “What is the most important sport in your territory?,” “What is the most popular fish that people catch?,” Why do you only have one hospital in the territory?” and “Are there any cats in Nunavut?” 

Dozens of others asked for help locating income tax forms and pension information. One person wanted a divorce application, another asked how they can bail someone out of jail. 

Researchers wondered if they needed special permission to collect natural bacteria samples from rocks, a person from Scotland asked for info to help them compile a database on what regions of the world allow trans people to alter their birth certificates to reflect gender identity and someone from Germany was curious about aluminum can deposits in Nunavut. 

A student conducting research on pregnant women travelling south to give birth asked where to find data on the topic. 

About a dozen messages pertained to medical travel, like how to file receipts and how cancelled flights can be rebooked. About half a dozen concerned Nunavut’s housing crisis. 

Some people wanted Nunavut swag — a few collectors from around the world asked for Nunavut flags, some asked for Nunavut licence plates and one person was seeking a highly coveted Nunavut pin set from the Canada Summer Games.

A Montreal artist inquired about scrap metal in Igloolik, and a U.S. journalist wanted information for an article on Hans Island. 

Some people offered suggestions to the GN, like one person who had an idea to create paid government positions for urban Inuit and Inuit staying south for medical services. Another suggested building hydrogen fuel stations in Nunavut, and yet another person shared an idea about starting a program where GN workers can call an elder when they have an issue in their life.

One person suggested having a polar bear jail similar to Churchill, Man., where bears could be studied and then safely released back into the wild. 

There were just just under a dozen messages from nurses interested in working in Nunavut, and a few dentists offered travelling services.  

One person was looking for employment and entrepreneurship programs and services for people with disabilities, another asked if there are any organizations in Nunavut that support people with spinal cord injuries.

Job applications were another popular message for the GN, coming from as far away as Egypt, Iraq, Mexico and Lebanon. 

People looking for Inuktut translation services was another common request. 

Of the 775 messages Nunatsiaq News received, approximately 210 messages were flagged for follow up by the GN. 

But it wasn’t just people who were reaching out — about 350 messages, or 45 per cent of all messages received, were good old fashioned spam.

Spambots had fun offering the GN website traffic-boosting services, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for investments and some questionable invitations to view some intimate photos.  

Maybe for its 2023 New Year’s resolution, the GN can install better spam filters?

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Suggestions on

    How many of the 775 messages contained suggestions?
    How many of the suggestions have been read by someone with the authority to implement them?
    How many of the suggestions have been implemented?
    How many of the suggestions are being seriously considered?
    How many of the suggestions seem reasonable, but are not practical because the writer presumably did not have access to confidential information not available to the general public?

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  2. Posted by Joe Lunchbox on

    Elected members & senior administration don’t know?
    What happened to “self sufficiency” and “independence?

    • Posted by W on

      People like that do the housing system wrong for everyone. The signs were there long time.

  3. Posted by Jon on

    Sounds like they received messages of a higher quality than the Nunatsiaq comment section!

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  4. Posted by DudeTown on

    So the GN just gave a record of these emails to Nunatsiaq? Why would they do that? Feels like a break of trust.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      Anything and everything going to or from the GN can be ATIPed. And is supposed to be accessible, maybe not names of individuals but definitely their comments.

    • Posted by Bert Rose on

      Nunatsiaq News used an Access to Information to learns the contents of the suggestions.
      That is mentioned in the story.

  5. Posted by Tooma on

    In mid 90s Inuit accepted having Nunavut. But when their were no jobs, they started thinking of it is even possible. So they questioned now it’s only in one place all the jobs.

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