Makivik hears transport concerns at Qikiqtani AGM


First Air and Makivik Corporation’s entire executive arrived in Iqaluit this week for the annual general meeting of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, along with caps, shirts, caribou pâté, pens and nikkuk as a way of breaking the ice and opening up better communication between the two regions’ Inuit associations.

“We want to work with you,” said Pita Aatami, president of Makivik and First Air.

Aatami and the other executives said they want to work with QIA on various issues of common concern, such as the ongoing DEW-line clean-up, slaughter of Inuit dogs in the 1950s or the marketing of country foods.

Aatami also made a pitch for QIA’s members to support Makivik’s sealift venture, NEAS, saying its ship, the Umiavut, could take on more cargo.

What Aatami heard back from QIA’s board was a call for more air routes between Baffin communities that are cut off from each other – a complaint often voiced in Nunavut’s legislature and at other organizations’ meetings as well.

Board members Loasie Audlakiak from Qikiqtarjuaq and Piujuq Enoogoo from Arctic Bay both spoke about the problems and expense involved in travelling to nearby communities in North Baffin.

Due to the lack of direct air links between Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River or Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet, travellers must first go through Iqaluit and then head back north, a trip that costs a lot and can easily take several days.

“We’re being shoved in all directions,” Enoogoo said.

Aatami and Air Inuit president George Berthe, who is also Makivik’s corporate secretary, took note of all the board members’ comments, inviting them to put their concerns in writing to the airlines’ offices or Makivik.

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