No date set for Gjoa Haven’s GN offices to reopen

Government headquarters in Nunavut community were destroyed by fire in March

A fire destroyed the Government of Nunavut’s building in Gjoa Haven on March 26. There still is no date for when people in the community will again be able to access government services in person. (Photo courtesy of Richard Dwyer)

By Madalyn Howitt

More than three months after a fire destroyed the Government of Nunavut’s local headquarters in Gjoa Haven, the hamlet is still waiting for a new office to get up and running.

No injuries were reported in the March 26 fire, but some GN services were disrupted. The motor vehicles division headquarters, for example, lost access to its information system.

“One has to understand that everything was lost, and not only just for the motor vehicle staff but the other department staff, they lost everything … it was quite devastating,” said James Demcheson, acting director of motor vehicle services.

“These are the kinds of things that we’re not fully prepared for, so I have to be quite honest, it was a little hard-going at first.”

After a brief suspension of services immediately following the fire, the division shifted to providing some online, like driver’s licence renewals and registrations, with one staff member working remotely from Rankin Inlet and another from Iqaluit, Demcheson said.

On June 1, Economic Development and Transportation Minister David Akeeagok announced in the legislative assembly that a new office space had been chosen for Gjoa Haven’s GN staff.

“We expect to be back to normal operations in the new office before mid-June,” he said.

More than two weeks have passed since that estimated date, and Demcheson said he still doesn’t know the new office’s address.

“[What] I have received so far is a floor plan, but I haven’t been given the name of the actual building itself,” he said.

The office is not yet ready for in-person operations, and there is “no definite date set” for that to begin, Demcheson said.

“I would say sometime this summer, but I can’t really guarantee that it will be within sometime [in July],” he said.

Akeeagok did not return a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Department of Government and Community Services, which is responsible for choosing the new office location, also did not provide the address of the new office location despite multiple requests from Nunatsiaq News.

Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak said he believes the GN is in fact still looking for an office space.

“As far as I know there was a tentative office place chosen but does not seem to be acceptable for both employees or the community members,” he said in an email Monday.

“There is no ramp access and people would have to climb two sets of stairs to get to the offices. This would not be good for people who have disability issues. So I believe right now they are still looking for office space.”

Demcheson said he’s received some emails and phone calls from residents who are concerned about the delays, but most people have at least grown used to accessing services online, thanks to two years of remote service delivery during the pandemic.

“The desire is to have our staff members back in a normal office setting, because they really do want to get back to work. It just unfortunately has taken some time going through the GN process of it all,” he said.


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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    ooooh, two set of stairs. forbid.

    seriously? yes, there will be some people with mobility issues, but that can be worked around. install a stair lift. this day and age, the Government can order one and have it installed.

    this is just like COVID shut down where people would rather work from home. by that, I mean sleep in until whenever, send a token email or two and keep that pay cheque rolling in every two weeks.

    seriously people, we have a lot piling up and people need their ID, drivers license and registration. it’s been frustrating to say the least.

    • Posted by Scorpion on

      Not surprised! That’s GN..slow, useless and overpayed!!!

  2. Posted by 867 on

    “We expect to be back to normal operations in the new office before mid-June,” Akeeagok said.

    The office is not yet ready for in-person operations, and there is “no definite date set” for that to begin, Demcheson said.

    Clearly these two are not on the same page.

    Also what about the cause of the fire. No details yet either?

  3. Posted by SNAFU on

    So, no idea when a replacement GN office will open in Gjoa Haven.
    So, no idea when the port/dock will open in Iqaluit.
    So, no idea what’s going to happen at Mary River.
    So, no idea when / if Devolution will happen.
    So, no idea when a treatment facility will open in Nunavut.
    So, no idea when the GN will stop sending elders down south.
    So, no idea when the results of the NEU contract ratification will be announced.
    So, no idea which health centres will close this summer.
    So, no idea which schools will lack teachers when they start opening next month.
    So, business as usual.

    • Posted by In Reality on

      Was the situation ever ‘normal’ though?

    • Posted by not amused on

      Typical GNWT now GNu, forever taking time to resolve issues, on-going for years, never come to a conclusion. Same with KIA, NTI just to name a few, forever going to meetings.

    • Posted by Scorpion on

      Are you surprised? THAT’S NUNAVUT FOR YOU! It’s a joke!!!

  4. Posted by Frustrated on

    Doesn’t make much difference if those offices open up or not. Nothing much gets done there.
    I’ve been waiting over two years for a replacement plate for my truck.


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