This map shows the approximate location of the Grays Bay port and road project. Kitikmeot Inuit Association has backed out of the proposed project, leaving it with no proponent. (Image courtesy of Nunavut Resources Corp.)

Kitikmeot Inuit Association withdraws from Grays Bay port and road project

KIA executive director says association still supports project, hopes someone else moves it forward

By Randi Beers

The Kitikmeot Inuit Association has withdrawn from the Grays Bay port and road project, leaving nobody to spearhead the dream of building a 230-kilometre all-season road and deepsea port linking western Nunavut’s mineral-rich region to the rest of Canada.

The $554-million project was once touted by former KIA president Stanley Anablak as a “nation-building” initiative.

KIA executive director Fred Pedersen confirmed to Nunatsiaq News that the organization resolved in October not to spend any more money on pushing Grays Bay forward and reaffirmed that position in January.

“It was determined that such a project should be fully funded by government and that the proponent should not be a small not-for-profit organization like the KIA,” he stated in an email Thursday.

“That being said, KIA is still a big supporter of the project and hopes that a new proponent comes to the table in the near future.”

The Inuit association was left as the lone proponent of Grays Bay after the GN pulled out in 2018.

Kitikmeot Community Futures Inc., Job Opportunity – Executive Director

KIA had set a goal of getting Grays Bay, which is about 160 kilometres east of Kugluktuk, “shovel-ready” by 2020 with $21.5 million from Transport Canada and a $7.25 million loan from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The association was required to submit a revised proposal to the Nunavut Impact Review Board by January 2021 but missed that deadline. Anablak blamed COVID-19 delays at the time.

KIA never submitted the revised proposal, and the review board terminated the assessment in February 2022.

Pedersen said KIA did spend some of the Transport Canada money to do preliminary work.

“However, the balance of the funds from that … were not accessed and we are in talks with Transport Canada to close the file,” he said.

KIA never accessed the NTI loan, Pedersen said.

If built, Grays Bay road would provide the first overland link between Nunavut and Canada’s highway system through the Tibbit-Contwoyto Winter Road during the winter-road season and the deepsea port would have made the area accessible during the ice-free season.

KIA previously said Grays Bay would make the area a “hub” for supplying communities, exploration projects and mine resupply.

There have long been dreams of building a road through the region, known as the Slave Geological Province, as it has shown significant potential for mining diamonds, gold and rare metals.

Kugluktuk MLA Bobby Anavilok asked Economic Development and Transportation Minister David Akeeagok about KIA’s withdrawal in the legislative assembly March 14.

Akeeagok said the GN still supports Grays Bay.

“There are a number of ways that I’m trying to help see this dream come to reality,” he said.

One of those ways is to continue to promote it on the federal level, by meeting with federal Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson.

Wilkinson’s department announced last month it is pursuing a $3.8-billion national Critical Minerals Strategy to make Canada a world leader in developing clean technology.

“I have expressed that Grays Bay is one of the projects that we need to see in order for the critical minerals to be extracted within Nunavut if we’re going to become self-reliant on our mineral extractions as a country,” Akeeagok said.

Nunatsiaq News asked the department who would take over Grays Bay without KIA, but has not received a reply.


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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Umingmak on

    The GN and the feds are abysmal failures when it comes to getting anything done in the Kitikmeot Region. They only care for the east.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Go ahead and blame the Feds! After all the only thing they did was give the KItIA $21 million to get the project ready for the assessment process and KitIA couldn’t even get that done. You want to blame someone? Go down the street and talk to your KitIA rep.

      • Posted by Amarok on

        Like some have already stated, it’s getting a little old blaming east, feds or whoever, this region likes to point fingers and lay blame on others for their own shortcomings, time to look in the mirror and work on your own problems, again no one will do the work for you and no one will just give you what you want no matter how much you cry.

  2. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    c’mon KIA show new leadership, how much KIA money was wasted on this?

  3. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Is this why Stanley and Paul left abruptly the day before the last KIA AGM?

    We are still wondering why Stanley resigned with no mention of any of this at all. it’s pretty sad state of affairs when someone can leave with no explanation to the people they are supposed to serve.

    but hey, if you give away enough vouchers and free money, maybe us people will forget about it. just like we forgot about that 300K that was stolen by hackers…..

  4. Posted by Now on

    I’m sure the chinese government is unhappy about this decision. Will they invest in the port and road or wait until it’s handed to them by the GN or GOC?

  5. Posted by Kitikmeot on

    That is great news !! Don’t need the lands to be exploited and it’s people ripped off by China….good for the caribou ,lands ,water ..ecosystem in our region ..very precious resources
    All for the future of our offspring

  6. Posted by Jim Nobles on

    This is sad news for the Kitikmeot and effectively shows that the KIA is not willing to invest in the future of the region and its people. Effectively reinforcing the age old mentality of being “wards of the state”.

    I understand that the $ being spent were to get the project shovel ready. From my perspective that meant getting NIRB and NWB approval against a background of full engagement and consensus of KIA membership around the issues of caribou, land rights, detailed design, cost etc. Without this step private and federal government interest and support for construction funding would be stressful given the uncertainty and risk of a successful EA and other project variables. Without demonstrating a partnership model for this project and getting it shovel ready it is unlikely any additional federal consideration of the Gray’s Bay Road and Port project will occur much to the detriment of the Kitikmeot.

  7. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Maybe all the mining companies should pony up and build these things themselves, they will be by far the greatest benefactors so let them pay for it.

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