New emergency phone service coming to 4 Nunavik villages next year

Police leadership meeting this week with Hudson Bay coast community leaders to discuss implementation

Nunavik police officers are seen in this March 2013 file photo saluting a plane carrying the body of Const. Steve Dery as it departs from Kuujjuaq. Nearly a decade after Dery was killed in the line of duty and a provincial watchdog called for safer working conditions for officers in the region, Nunavik police are implementing a new emergency phone line in four Hudson Bay coast communities. (File photo)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Four communities on Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast will be the first in the region to be connected to a new emergency phone service next year, police say.

People in the North who phone in a police or fire emergency will be automatically connected to an emergency call centre located in Saint-Eustache, Que., said Nunavik Police Service deputy Chief Shaun Longstreet.

A dispatcher there will transmit the information to the local office and an officer will be assigned to respond.

The new system comes as a response to a nearly decade-old call to improve the existing system.

In March 2013, Nunavik police Const. Steve Dery, of what was then the Kativik Regional Police Force, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence incident in Kuujjuaq.

That same month, a Quebec government workplace safety watchdog revealed that, by allowing officers to answer service calls themselves, Kativik Regional Government was not following provincial occupational health and safety laws at the time of Dery’s death.

KRG was told it needed to implement a new system to ensure police officers weren’t taking calls that they, themselves, would then have to respond to, Longstreet said.

However, implementation of a new system has been limited by technology available in the region.

“They didn’t specifically say that we needed to have a call centre, but what it said is that we need to ensure that police officers aren’t answering calls for themselves,” Longstreet said.

“All the emergency calls that are answered are actually answered on a standard administrative line that’s forwarded to the police radio if no one answers the call at the station.”

The first communities to be connected to the new service next year are to be Kuujjuaraapik, Inukjuak, Umiujaq and Puvirnituq, though Longstreet said it’s still to be determined exactly when that will happen.

This year, those communities, all in the southwest corner of Nunavik, were the first to be connected to service provider Tamaani’s fibre optic high-speed internet service, which makes the connection to Saint-Eustache much faster.

The emergency phone numbers in each community will not change, Longstreet said. To contact emergency services, people will still have to call 819-929-9111 in Kuujjuaraapik, 819-254-9111 in Inukjuak, 819-988-9111 in Puvirnituq and 819-331-9111 in Umiujaq.

This infographic, included in a presentation delivered by Nunavik police at KRG regional council last week, shows how the new emergency phone system will connect people in four Hudson Bay coast communities to a call centre in the south. (Infographic courtesy of Nunavik Police Service)

This week, Longstreet, Nunavik police leadership and other partners in the implementation of the emergency call line will meet with municipal councils in the four communities to discuss the new system.

Longstreet said the new emergency call centre will also be able to record all the calls that come in and provide a statistical record of the volume and types of calls Nunavik police receive — something the service has been lacking for some time.

“The only stats that we have are the amount of operational files that are actually opened,” Longstreet said.

“We need to gather some stats in order to expand the project everywhere as soon as technology becomes available.”

Last week, he told KRG councillors that the system will also be able record the caller’s telephone number in the event of a bogus report or prank call.

KRG is covering the cost of the new emergency phone system, supported with up to $900,000 available in a reimbursement fund from the Quebec government.

After the new system goes live, and after Tamaani’s fibre optic network is expanded across Nunavik, Longstreet said he hopes to see the new system available in every community.

“It’s really dependent on the funding and the availability of technology,” Longstreet. “The big picture is definitely to be everywhere.”

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Katharine Pearson on

    Will there be interpreters for incoming calls? Without, there will be a huge lack of communication.

    • Posted by What you say on

      Yes interpretation needed, off course there will not be any professional local talent on the answering end , other than an interpreter.

  2. Posted by hudsonion on

    what fibre optic ? we haven’t seen fibre optic yet, KRG should admit it doesn’t know what its doing, if they were to subsidize major telecoms, im guessing they would even provide cell phones too. top director should resign and get someone who envisions who would stop making excuses that were remote.

    • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

      Last summer , there were pictures of a ship laying the fiber optic on the hudson side. you mean the dam thing is not up and running yet ?

    • Posted by Where my iPhone? on

      There are those born into the world, and they cry indicating that it’s too cold or too hot as they enter the world. They go on in life continuing their complaints until they exit into eternity, still too cold or too hot. But then there are those that switch over to Starlink, and enjoy their internet connection, all the while reading about those that are too cold or too hot.

  3. Posted by More calls to come on

    Just watch or listen : once the new beer store gets open in kuujjuaq. It will be rock and roll and roll. The number of injuries, crime, dyp services, will go to a new level. Yes, I know , it’s difficult to understand how things will get any worse, but it’s coming. The coop has a new rule for December, no beer wine sales on Monday, Tuesday, for the December times. This will lessen the work load on hospitals and police, challenger jet can take a break too. When there’s restrictions on alcohol sales, and need to make more restrictions,like Monday, Tuesday no sales. There’s a problem or what you think? Call Center get ready.

    • Posted by Kuujjuaq on

      There is still Marche Turrenn and you neigbourhood bootlegger , drunks here don t take a day off.

      • Posted by Not much choice on

        Out there in the wider world the choices are unlimited to purchase alcohol. In Nunavik, what choices are there? You said it: other than the restrictions of a coop store, there’s Marche Turrene and bootlegger. Can you see in that statement, the grain of Nunavik’s problems. I’m not going to read it out to you, if you can’t figure it out, you are blinded. Amazing that there are areas in our country that have these unhealthy restrictions FOR A REASON!!!

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