Nasittuq wins $592M contract to help run North Warning System

7-year contract includes option to renew for another 8 years

A North Warning System site is seen at Cambridge Bay. Nasittuq has been awarded the $592-million contract to operate and maintain the system for the next seven years. (File photo by Jane George)

By David Lochead

An Inuit-majority owned corporation has won a $592-million contract from the Government of Canada to operate and maintain the North Warning System.

“We’re extremely happy with the decision,” said Harry Flaherty, chairperson of Pan Arctic Inuit Logistics.

The company, also known as PAIL, represents most of the Inuit birthright firms within Inuit Nunangat, stretching from Nunatsiavut in the east to the Inuvialuit settlement region in the west.

In 1994, PAIL formed a joint venture with ATCO Frontec called Nassituq Corp., which went on to win the contract to operate and maintain the North Warning System – a chain of 47 radar systems across the North that provide air surveillance of the Arctic for Canada and the United States.

Another company, called Raytheon, won the contract in 2014, but it’s now back in Nasittuq’s hands.

Nasittuq’s new contract lasts seven years, beginning in April. The deal includes the option of extension for another eight years, so it’s total value, at 15 years, could be $1.3 billion.

Nasittuq’s responsibilities will include maintaining helipads, gravel runways, more than 100 buildings and over 300 bulk fuel storage tanks used by Canadian and American militaries at the North Warning System sites.

The contract should provide a significant amount of jobs to Inuit, Flaherty said. Nasittuq will be looking to hire Inuit for trade and contract positions such as heavy equipment operators, electricians and plumbers.

Inuit will also be sought for managerial and supervisory positions. Having managers, supervisors and labourers that are all Inuit would help improve communication on the job, Flaherty said.

The contract includes $25 million set aside for training.

There will be monetary benefits for Inuit outside of jobs in this contract as well, said Flaherty.

PAIL is owned by the six Inuit shareholder corporations that each represent an area of Inuit Nunangat. As a result, he said, the revenues made by these corporations should spill down to all Inuit.

The existing North Warning System radar stations have expected lifespans that expire in 2025, so these sites may need to be upgraded or replaced during Nasittuq’s contract.

In February of last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden committed to modernizing the North American Aerospace Defence Command, known as NORAD, and Arctic defence generally.

Flaherty said the contract is solely focused on the existing facilities for the North Warning System, and Nasittuq was not involved in any conversations on upgrades. He said that if contracts for upgrading became available, he is confident Nasittuq will have an opportunity to participate.

Nasittuq’s contract for Arctic defence comes at a time when countries like Russia and China are increasingly assertive about exploring the Arctic and its resources.

“It’s always on the back of anybody’s mind,” Flaherty said about increasing interest in the Arctic. He mentioned how, in 2018, China declared that it would become more involved in the economic possibilities of the Arctic.

With increasing interest in the Arctic, it is only fitting that Inuit will operate the North Warning System, said Flaherty.

“We are the eyes and ears of the North,” he said.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Yup on

    Good on PAIL for getting the mega project GC has in the north.

  2. Posted by Chesley on

    The company Raytheon is thriving on war. It is one of several very large very well funded businesses that operate without ethics regarding humanitarian matters, without the right of peoples self determination. Totally profit and power oriented.

  3. Posted by Inuit owned doesnt mean inuit staffed on

    Nunavut needs to do something about “inuit-owned” companies. All they are is qalunaat managers who take advantage of an Inuks Beneficiary rights and gives the Inuk 51% of the company in order to win contracts.

    Inuit-owned usually means 90-100% qalunaat employed.

    • Posted by speak up on

      @Inuit owned doesnt mean inuit staffed, you should speak to Mr.Flaherty and the board of your RIA. Actions speak louder than words, hold them to account. We have lots of capable Inuit who can easily do these jobs, up to and including the managerial positions. There is even $25million set aside for training, improving existing skills or sending new canadidates to school to learn the trades. This of course is above and beyond the endless pools of money currently available to each NLCBeneficiary in the territory now. Here’s hoping to see lots of meaningfull employment for Inuit come from this newly acquired contract. Congrats to Nasittuq!

    • Posted by Look Closer on

      Your misplaced comments against qallunat is exactly where those who REALLY benefit from ‘Inuit Owned’ companies want you to focus. Let’s get real and acknowledge that when there are less than 100 Inuit in Nunavut holding a university degree, expertise needs to come from the south.
      Instead of doing what you’re clearly conditioned to think, consider asking yourself how the six organizations who own PAIL get paid for essentially subcontracting this work to southern companies. News flash: Those who are in charge of these Inuit Organizations get a hefty kickback from the procurement discounts they receive on the bid. This is why there are two classes of Inuit, those with mansions in Ottawa working for NTI and those living in shacks on the beach in Iqaluit.
      Stop looking where the elite Inuit benefiting from this and not sharing the wealth want you to look and start voting in your Inuit org elections for someone who will spread the wealth.

  4. Posted by Lifelong Nunavut Resident on

    Don’t quit your program or job after the first MONTH!! Don’t be late everyday!! Work hard and prove yourself that you can be an asset to your employer!
    Strive to get good marks in school!! Don’t complain about your wage! do something about it by proving yourself by working hard and get more education!!

    It would be great to have more Inuit working with all the opportunities in Nunavut. Time to teach our kids and grandkids to get out of bed in the morning and get educated. While the are in Jr. High, make sure they have a part-time job to teach them responsibility and ensure they work hard and are punctual. At home, give them chores everyday.

    We have thousands of people that could be working but they have no work ethic or lack education. Many people have no commitment and dedication so they quickly become unemployable adults. As many of us know, it takes hard work, commitment and dedication to have success and success does not come overnight. It takes many years of grinding everyday and making good choices to have “success” in life.

    There are so many opportunities for Inuit in Nunavut that the sky is the limit. All you need to do is apply yourself. Do the hard work, get educated and be an example of success for everyone else that is struggling to get out of their rut.

  5. Posted by Accountability on

    This 7 year contract is for about $10,000 for each Inuk.
    From the previous PAIL contract, how much money was paid to Inuit employees? How much was given to each Inuit Org as profit?
    How much went elsewhere?
    For the newest contract, When will the training plan be available for all to see?
    How much is expected to be paid to Inuit as salaries? How much profit is expected to go to Inuit Orgs? How much is expected to go elsewhere?

  6. Posted by Sam on

    Plus, if Baffinland Phase 2 goes ahead there should be no issues getting Inuit trained and employed. The next generation of Inuit will have good opportunities here like never before.

  7. Posted by Clarence siutinnuaq on

    I’m willing to get in to training and work with the dewline. In the pass I’ve worked on old dewline sites. It was a demolition old building back in 2007/2008 about that time please get me training and what not thanks for commenting


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