NTI to spend $1.25 million on Nunavut water, sewer services

Inuit org wants to enable frequent hand washing by all Nunavut Inuit

This is one of two new sewage trucks that arrived in Baker Lake in January 2019, following a fire that destroyed a hamlet garage. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is now working with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities to spend $1.25 million of federal money on water and sewage services across the territory. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has already decided how to start spending Nunavut’s share of the federal government’s $305-million COVID-19 emergency fund for Indigenous people: a $1.25-million allocation for water and sewer service.

“Water is a basic human right. We are taking this emergency measure to ensure Inuit are able to wash their hands frequently to prevent COVID-19,” NTI President Aluki Kotierk said in a news release.

To do that, NTI will work with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities to get the money out soon, to ensure all households get daily water and sewer service in April, NTI said.

“Now is the time to be liberal with our water usage,” NTI said.

That could include hiring new drivers, extending delivery hours, paying overtime to drivers, or ordering parts for service trucks.

“Municipalities are the front line in the fight to prevent this pandemic,” said Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell, who’s the president of NAM.

NTI said that because of poor infrastructure, many Inuit aren’t able to use basic preventive measures like hand washing and cleaning hard services.

“Many Inuit are unable to take the most basic preventative measure of handwashing and cleaning hard surfaces due to the need to conserve water as a result of overcrowded houses, shared water and sewer tanks in multi-plexes, blizzards and inadequate municipal infrastructure,” NTI said.

The money comes from the $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund that Parliament approved this past March 25, which is part of the $82-billion COVID 19 relief package that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 18.

The Inuit share of that fund amounts to $45 million. Of that, the four Inuit organizations of Inuit Nunangat, who form the board of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, decided the Nunavut share should be 52 per cent, or $22.5 million.

At a board meeting held on March 25, NTI decided how the $22.5-million Nunavut allocation should be divvied up among Nunavut’s Inuit associations and urban Inuit.

Here’s what they decided (the numbers are rounded off):

• Urban Inuit: $2.5 million
• Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.: $6 million
• Qikiqtani Inuit Association: $6.1 million
• Kivalliq Inuit Association: $4.3 million
• Kitikmeot Inuit Association: $3.5 million

On the same day, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller had described during a nationally televised federal cabinet briefing how much money each distinct Indigenous group would get from the $305-million fund:

• First Nations: $215 million
• Inuit: $45 million
• Métis: $30 million
• Urban Indigenous people: $15 million

He also said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is worried about remote and rural communities.

“During this crisis, in particular, those in remote and fly-in parts of the country are uniquely vulnerable,” Miller said.

He also said the support fund can be used to help elders, children and the unemployed, and can also be used for urgently needed food supplies.

He also suggested more federal help could be on the way to help Indigenous communities respond to COVID-19.

“Let me be clear. This is just the beginning. We know that more support will be needed and we will be there to make sure no Indigenous community is left behind,” Miller said.

As for NTI, it says the vulnerability of Inuit communities to COVID-19 means governments should spend more on infrastructure in Nunavut.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic underscores the need for long-term sustainable investments to address the long-standing social and economic inequities faced by Nunavut Inuit.”

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Oh No on

    I am disappointed that NTI got this money and not the GN. They should be working with people directly handling the crisis to identify where the greatest needs are. There has been nothing in the public eye about an inability to access trucked water and sewage services?

    Why do the couple people sitting at the head of NTI’s table get to decide such important things for everyone…

    • Posted by David Kritterdlik on

      We only need to be thankful for our Federal government and NTI working together for safe wellbeing of Nunavut communities. We need to help keep Nunavut virus free.

  2. Posted by pissed off on

    While I appreciate the fact that the Feds are realizing that
    $$$$$$$ have more punch to resolve a situation like the one we experience now than fanciful speeches full of empty words I see a dangerous trend here.

    The Feds have pumped a lot of money in the last couple of years in Nunavut without much oversight and transparency.
    We have a duly elected Government that should be the channel to pump that money into the Territory. That way we can hold accountable and expect some transparency.
    Otherwise we are seeing a new power center in Nunavut .

    The Inuit organisations have never been the champions of transparency and wise spending.
    The Feds send tons of money into organisations that are not staffed and capable of wise spending of funds. They have often taken money under one program and spent it on pet projects. We only foind out after the fact and then it is too late.

    Dangerous trend . Thank you

    • Posted by Magical Thinking on

      Great observation. It’s same kind of romantic, magical thinking that says Inuit, by virtue of some greater collective consciousness and genetic code will always know and do exactly what is best for them, where others will always choose a lesser path. It sounds nice and empowering and virtuous, and is why departments are constantly putting under prepared and under educated people into positions they aren’t ready for. I agree with the comment above, this money should have been doled out to the GN.

      • Posted by Raven on

        If the funds from the $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund, didn’t got to Inuit directly then the Federal Government wouldn’t be able to demonstrate that they’re sending relief to Nunavut Inuit.

  3. Posted by Roy Donovan on

    Enable frequent handwashing? – NTI goin stand by the sink apply the soap to ensure this happens. What a worthy cause.

  4. Posted by why nti on

    This money should have gone to the GN. NTI has no clue what Hamlet needs are. just look at the split in funds, unreal…..

    Hamlets are the ones doing the most right now and NTI gave them the least amount and on top of that with strings on how to spend it…..

    The Federal Government of Canada please do not do this again. Go through the Public elected Government of Nunavut.

  5. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Yet more taxpayer money transferred to the burgeoning bureaucracies within Inuit organizations with little in the way of accountability or transparency! Any word from ITK as to how they are spending the millions that they got for TB mitigation and the Inuit Health Survey? Anybody think that this is going to be any different?

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