Ottawa, GN sign agreement to allow start of Nunavut Recovery Centre construction

Announcement follows 2019 declaration signed by 2 governments to build centre

Federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal announces the federal government has signed a contribution agreement with the Government of Nunavut to start construction on the Nunavut Recovery Centre to be built in Iqaluit. The announcement took place Aug. 13 at the Aqsarniit hotel in Iqaluit. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The federal government has signed an agreement with the territorial government that will allow construction to start on a recovery centre in Iqaluit to help Nunavummiut dealing with substance abuse.

Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal held a public event at the Aqsarniit hotel Friday to announce the signing.

The announcement follows a declaration the two governments signed in 2019, where the federal government agreed to pay $41.7 million — or 75 per cent — of the centre’s construction costs and $9.7 annually for operational costs.

Friday’s agreement formalizes these contributions and “defines our respective roles and responsibilities for the construction and operation” of the centre, said Vandal.

He did not provide detail about what those respective roles and responsibilities will be.

The Nunavut government hasn’t confirmed where the recovery centre will be located, but Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said his department is still looking at a parcel of land close to the Arctic Winter Games Arena and north of Toonik Pond. That proposal was presented to Iqaluit city councillors in March.

There is no timeline for construction to begin, Kusugak said, but he did say the government is aiming to start with the next shipping season when building materials can be brought to the territory.

This project has been a long time coming, said Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk,  adding the organization first asked for a recovery centre in 2010, then again in 2013.

“Even prior to those resolutions, even prior to the creation of Nunavut, Inuit have wanted to have a residential treatment centre here in Nunavut,” she said.

Vandal made another funding announcement at the same location Thursday that more than $500 million of $4.3 billion announced in April will be earmarked for infrastructure across Inuit Nunangat.

The federal Liberal government had set aside the larger sum over three years for infrastructure in Indigenous communities, such as deepsea ports, energy projects, roads and housing.

“[The funding] will work towards addressing the immediate needs of Inuit as prioritized by Inuit,” Vandal said.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed called the infrastructure funding a “good starting point,” but that it won’t fix all of Inuit Nunangat’s lacking infrastructure.

“We [have] lived in an infrastructure deficit since the very beginning of the relationship between Inuit and the Government of Canada,” he said.

“This long-standing inequity is a result of a mindset that does not see Inuit communities as important or as equal to other Canadian communities.”

Duane Ningaqsiq Smith, CEO of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in the Northwest Territories, also said the funding is a good start, but that he wants the federal government to commit to a long-term strategy to address the region’s larger needs.

“I’m sure each of the leaders from around the table today could say that they can use this level of funds alone just within each of our regions, just to try to start to catch up,” he said.

“This is a drop in the bucket.”

In response to those critiques, Vandal said during the media’s question period that the money announced Thursday was the “most significant amount of money any government in recent memory has invested in Indigenous infrastructure.”

“The issue is, we are battling generations and generations of underfunding,” he said.

Both announcements came at the tail end of the minister’s trip to Nunavut, where he also visited Arviat, Pond Inlet and Rankin Inlet.

Vandal is the latest of four Liberal cabinet ministers to visit Nunavut and announce investments in the North since late July — a riding in which the party does not have a candidate, despite speculation a federal election could be be called next week.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northener on

    Long time coming? We had one and it was a complete failure

  2. Posted by Location Location on

    “Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said his department is still looking at a parcel of land close to the Arctic Winter Games Arena and north of Toonik Pond. ”
    Are you sure? There is a row of houses at that location. Will they be torn down to build the Treatment Center, or will they be converted into a Treatment Center.
    Or perhaps the Minister said south of the lake.

  3. Posted by CB on

    The number of lives that I saw ruined by alcoholism when I lived and worked in Nunavut was truly astonishing. This is desperately needed. Hopefully it works out this time.

  4. Posted by M Center on

    It’s nice having a Inuk GG as it has drastically enhanced Fed Govt presence in services. Instantaneously! Never seen Feds attend and give speeches in the recent short time frame or as much since new GG. But also Libs’ JT plan to call a snap election is all accordingly to plan to keep the northern people happy by finally doing something to show he cares (eye rolls, 🙄).

    JT is sneaky…he’s going to North soon for phot ops and selfies and probably going to happen and say something like, “We give homage and praise to how strong and and unique the North is to Canada. And we look forward to enhancing bridging needs because we as Canada (Fed Institute’s love Canada’s pristine Arctic moistly…” BS rhetoric to get your votes. And people will be just be happy to have their prince in the North for photo ops. Watch.

    But, the point is, this long over due. Alcoholism destroys peoples lives in all aspects connects to an individual. The help for dire need to access services and counselling for individual strategies to allow this in need of help to speak and know they are not alone. May God Bless those in need of Services. Every Inuk matters and the Services are needed for Healing and development of well-being. May this Centre get done and staffed soon.

  5. Posted by Finally on

    Finally. The Liberals had a Majority Governing for 4 years, and another Minority Government, with the support of house, for another 2 years.

    6 years they had to make these announcements. 6 years of SNC-Lavalin, bailing out Bombardier (again), giving $50 Million to Mastercard, the WE Scandal, and disappointing Indigenous Canadians.

    6 years it took to finally agree to fund this thing. That tells you everything you need to know about the Liberals in Ottawa and in the Nunavut Cabinet.

  6. Posted by Really on

    How many more elections will we have before the Treatment Center accepts it’s first clients???

  7. Posted by Treatment Centre Success Rates on

    Treatment Centres have incredibly low success rates. I’d much rather see this money going towards preventative measures such as housing and youth supports, such as recreation, programming, skill-building, etc. That said, I do support program’s such as Cambridge Bay’s On The Land program, which I think dollar-for-dollar is probably 10 times more effective than this centre will be. In 10 years’ time, somebody check to see what’s been accomplished for the $153 million put in.


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