NIRB sends hearing participants home

Move comes after chief public health officer announces case of COVID-19 in Iqaluit

Nunavut Impact Review Board chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq welcomes attendees to the Aqsarniit hotel Monday morning for the resumption of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s public hearing on its proposed mine expansion. Three days later, the board suspended the conference due to Iqaluit’s first known case of COVID-19. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Updated at 9:15 p.m.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has suspended its hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s expansion proposal, and has begun the process of sending participants home after the territory confirmed Iqaluit’s first case of COVID-19 late Wednesday night.

Hours after the announcement, the board sent out a notice calling for the “immediate suspension” of the hearing, which has been taking place in Iqaluit at the Aqsarniit hotel since Monday.

“All community representatives should be home within the next couple of days, subject to flight availability,” said Karen Costello, the board’s executive director, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

In a letter issued Thursday evening, the board’s chairperson, Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq said the board will update participants about when the hearing will continue when more information becomes available.

The hearing into Baffinland’s proposal to double production at its Mary River iron mine had just resumed this week.

Five community representatives from each of the potentially affected communities travelled to attend the hearing.

Nunavut chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said the government is not aware of any links between the person with COVID-19 and any public event.

The government learned of the case on Wednesday night, Patterson said at a press conference Thursday morning. “So more information will come out over the next day or two.”

In response to the new COVID-19 case, strict public health measures went into effect in Iqaluit at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Non-essential businesses were told to close and students are staying home from school for the rest of the week.

Nunavut’s premier, Joe Savikataaq, is asking everyone to listen to the government’s directions.

“I ask all Iqalummiut to remain calm,” he said in a news release.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by curious on

    didn’t some of the groups involved ask the nirb over and over again not to hold a hearing in a pandemic?

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  2. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    I would hope that ANYONE, still in Iqaluit, and considering going home to their community, be tested before they head out . Hopefully no positive cases but why take the chance and bring it unwittingly into another community.

    • Posted by Observer on

      They can’t simply go in and ask for a test because they won’t get one unless they’re showing symptoms or they’ve been linked to the current outbreak. That was made clear in the news conference this morning.

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