Panelists at Nunavut Mining Symposium want link to Canada’s road system

Governments of NWT and Nunavut and Inuit orgs united in call for North-South road connection

The Northwest Territories’ industry minister, Wally Schumann, Nunavut’s transportation minister, David Akeeagok, and Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak get ready for a Monday morning panel at the Nunavut Mining Symposium on “Maybe the resources are the road?” (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

At the Nunavut Mining Symposium, now underway in Iqaluit, you don’t have to look far to find supporters of a road linking Nunavut to the Northwest Territories or Manitoba, to reduce the North’s dependence on marine transportation and satellite telecommunications.

At a Monday morning panel session called, “Maybe the resources are the road?,” the Northwest Territories’ industry minister, Wally Schumann, Nunavut’s transportation minister, David Akeeagok, and Kitikmeot Inuit Association President Stanley Anablak all made pitches for roads and how the federal government should come up with money to help make that happen.

Anablak, a promoter of the Grays Bay port and road project, which would aim to join the Arctic coast to mines in the western Kitikmeot and eventually the N.W.T., said that proposed project in western Nunavut finally has regained Nunavut government support.

To highlight the need for the Grays Bay port and road, Anablak referred to the failure of the GNWT-owned Marine Transportation Services barge to bring in needed supplies to western Nunavut in October 2018, as an example of the costly uncertainty of marine transportation.

After the panel, Schumann talked about the continuing anger over the barge-load of orders that didn’t make it to Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay after MTS cancelled the barge.

The GNWT then flew in some of the items that had been stranded in Inuvik, during a limited airlift to the communities.

“It was an unfortunate event,” said Schumann, still attributing the barge cancellation to climate change, which he said clogged the Amundsen Gulf with sea ice.

Schumann said he could not talk about individual cases, the legal action being explored by angry MTS business clients or the personal impact of the barge cancellation, which left one woman with four children without her truck all year.

“The reality of it is that we didn’t get it in there,” he said. “These people are well aware of where they live; they are not living in downtown Toronto, where they have access to infrastructure.”

“They want they live in Canada’s remote Arctic and there are challenges around that, and we’ll continue to serve them the best that we can.”


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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    yes Mr Schumann, we are very well aware of where we live, you don’t have to remind us.

    but you are really not helping yourself by throwing gasoline on the fire yet again. you are still trying to blame climate change for this cancelled delivery?

    was it climate change which helped MTS make a decision to divert the Barges up to Alaska for better profit? when were the barges ready to come to Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk? how long did they sit in Tuktoyuktuk?

  2. Posted by Rob M Adams on

    In a recent article about NU broadband, one of the commenters suggested that a land-based communication connection is feasible or a necessity. In drafting that conclusion, he surmised that south-north land corridors are fitting for transportation and transmission to Nunavut. Not so, and the idea should be dismissed indefinitely.

    NEITHER population, geography, conservation nor economics justify that tack for transportation or power transmission. Advances in marine and air transport, navigation and docking are key for considering those as better all-in options. With Hudson’s Bay, Labrador Sea, MacKenzie Canal and Bering Strait we have brilliant, natural north-south passages. Large or small, planes are extremely efficient people and cargo carriers. The ongoing development of ports to accommodate ships and planes is both pragmatic and inevitable. Diluting or delaying that development with competing interest in land-based connections or painting a counter-perspective in the light of social isolationism is defeatist. For electricity, only local “run-of” hydro or alternate local natural resource power generation should be considered and any proposal for south-north power transmission should be abandoned.

    DOES ANYONE think that a large handful of local advocates with vested interest also have meaningful insight on transcontinental engineering?

    WHEN WE consider connection to Nunavut and other similar jurisdictions, we should do so with the geographic framing of those places as islands – just as we do for Greenland, Iceland, Australia, Oceania ad infinitum.

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