Stranded in Rankin Inlet, woman and son spend night in sea can

Jean Pudnak, from Baker Lake, is calling for a medical boarding home to be constructed in Rankin Inlet

This sea can, operated by Calm Air in Rankin Inlet, was recently used to house medical travellers when a mechanical issue forced an overnight delay to a flight to Baker Lake. Jean Pudnak stayed here with her son. (Photo courtesy of Jean Pudnak)

By Meral Jamal

After having to sleep overnight in an airline’s sea can, Jean Pudnak is calling for a medical boarding home to be opened in Rankin Inlet.

The Baker Lake resident travelled to Rankin Inlet for her son’s appointment with an orthodontist on Oct. 26. But what was supposed to be a day trip became an overnight stay when Calm Air announced its aircraft required unscheduled maintenance.

Pudnak said airline agents suggested passengers affected by the delay either remain in the terminal, where there is access to a washroom, or stay overnight in sea cans operated by the airline that are “a little more comfortable than the steel benches at the terminal.”

“There were no more hotel rooms,” she said. “All the hotels were booked.”

Pudnak chose the sea can along with her 14-year-old son and two other members from her community.

But, she said, no medical travellers — especially elders and people with disabilities — should have to experience what she did.

“I thought of people who can’t walk far, and elders. How are they going to get to the washroom if they end up staying in the sea can?” she told Nunatsiaq News, explaining the sea cans were not equipped with washrooms and the nearest ones were in the airport terminal.

“We also had an elder cancer patient and I called the hospital for the cancer patient. There was no answer at the hospital, there was just a voicemail … It was not only frustrating for the rest of us, but even more frustrating for cancer patients to be left out.”

Pudnak said Rankin Inlet taxis do not run late in the night or in the early mornings. So while Calm Air provided vouchers for breakfast, she and her son had no way to get to the place where breakfast is served before boarding their flight the next morning.

Some travellers have family in the community, and sometimes residents will open their doors to travellers or offer rides to the airport.

Regardless, Pudnak said the territorial government needs to find better ways to support Inuit who are travelling to receive care.

“Are people going to think of this, and MLAs — are they going to think of this?” she said. “And our mayors — they better think and help us right away.”

Nunavut Health Minister John Main said his department is aware of Nunavummiut like Pudnak who face challenges while travelling for medical care.

“In terms of weather delays and mechanical issues that leave people stranded without proper accommodations in Rankin Inlet or elsewhere, that’s a concern for the department,” he said.

“When people are travelling, we want to see them properly accommodated.”

But while the possibility of a medical boarding home has been explored in the past, Main said currently “there’s not enough traffic or not enough need to justify boarding homes in Rankin Inlet or Cambridge Bay.”

For those experiencing accommodation challenges, he suggested contacting medical travel staff and the government’s Office of Patient Relations.

Pudnak said placing a medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet would help ensure a safer and better stay for medical travellers, many of whom are older or live with a disability.

A representative of Calm Air was not available for comment Monday afternoon.


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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by Name Withheld on

    I understand Pudnak’s frustration. I personally know that Health Board will not be given a chance when calling Nanuq Lodge and Katimavik Suites for a room if a individual get’s stranded in Rankin Inlet. I seen first hand the two companies tell the other they do not have any rooms when majority of their rooms were sitting empty.

  2. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    That’s disgusting. 2022 or 1952?

    Smarten the hell up Calm Air and Department of Health. Calm Air should open up their Staff House Accommodations in that situation

  3. Posted by Elizabeth Kabloona on

    Yes is disgusting to hear about Where MLA was saying couples back there should be a boarding home and Van to pick up who are in medical patient s who they can’t make it home when is this ever going get in Rankin inlet most of outside people’s who go through Rankin heading back home or going Winnipeg or igauit for medical when are the MLA’s going keep there words it’s should start sooner the better .

  4. Posted by Inuk on

    Nov 8/22. Thank you Thomas Agushaluk for giving my daughter and husband a place for the night after their flight was cancelled to Arviat at the last minute.

  5. Posted by frank on

    majority of the time, all we see is people complaining. we LOVE to see the negative side, rather than seeing the good side of things. think more maturely. just be happy they had a good, heated place to sleep in, no need to try and book a room, just walk in, walk out without dealing with checking in-out. no relatives, no room, no problem, calm air provides a place to sleep. i’d be so happy to find a nice little quiet heated room to sleep in. no complains.

    • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

      How about elders with mobility issues and no washroom facilities in that sea can? simply not acceptable!

      • Posted by frank on

        exaclty what i just said, ppl LOVE to complain! i am from nunavut, inuk, and go down to winnipeg for medical, my flight is always paid by, room is paid by, for those who dont work for the gov’t stay at inuit center, food is covered, those combined, just imagine how many thousands of dollars we’d have to pay?!?! we wouldn’t simply be able to afford to go down for medical, and yet, we’re complaining, looking for EVERYthing to complain about, thats exaclty what i tried to say, LOVE to complain!

        • Posted by Bootlegger on

          Not to mention the amount of bootleg liquor that gets muled to dry communities on these medical travel trips

  6. Posted by Cold bear on

    Ask for John’s resignation and anyone else that has this attitude for the north. Guy must be from the south or southernized to money.
    Everything in Nunavut comes down to greediness. If we need it, they come up with excuses like this not to make it. Down south would have places like this just because and just in case but in the north “NAH not enough traffic/money to go with it”
    Get rid of people in charge like this that care about saving money in the north. That’s why alot of stuff in the north is just made as basic as possible to save $.

  7. Posted by not bad on

    Thats a pretty nice little sea can for these unfortunate travellers. These things happen, and as a last resort, this seacan is a luxury hotel compared to sleeping in the airport. Looks like they were given a nice selection of pop too and about the taxi service not being available, ever heard of walking? Rankin isnt that big.

    • Posted by Just some ole fart on

      Well Rankin might not be very big for a healthy person, the reason MOST people go out on medical travel is BECAUSE they have a health problem and MAY NOT be able to walk around as a perfectly healthy person would.. sigh

      • Posted by Sure.. on

        This was a kid going to an orthodontist appointment, and not am elder who had hip surgery. I’m sure they took that into account when offering this seacan.

  8. Posted by Click Bait on

    you got me with this one. technically correct it is a sea can but come on!

  9. Posted by Art Thompson on

    OMG….think of the indignity of it all. To be subjected to such awful treatment and in Rankin Inlet even. Those poor people. There should have been a chauffeured limo awaiting there arrival. No doubt about it.

  10. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    Perhaps someone can find out what the “mechanical issues” were and perhaps there is a compensation payment due from the airline

  11. Posted by David Chura on

    Why are people being put to an inconvenience like this when all government politicians receive such huge incomes and the waste of taxpayers money goes out of country that they find first before and not helping us at home,

    Like seniors who suffer, hospital wait times are rediculous,

    If this happened in any corporation, they would be fired,

    There should be a law that suspends all politicians for negligence that does harm like this to canadians !

  12. Posted by Tenderloin Mcguiness on

    Why don’t they just build a hospital in each community?

  13. Posted by Delay Air on

    Over booking. Once it got colder outside was told it got colder in the sea can.
    Luckily my husband and daughter had a place to stay in Rankin. They left for a day TRIP Monday morning and was supposed to come back home the same night. Ended up staying in Rankin till FRIDAY night, “unscheduled maintenance” is a joke!
    Come on calm air. “Thank you for flying calm air” “Come on like we have a choice!”

    • Posted by You do have a chioce on

      If you don’t like the service don’t use it. Walk if you have to

      • Posted by No choice, none on

        What if the person can’t walk ?
        in a wheel chair or
        using a walker and
        walking cane?

  14. Posted by Observer on

    I have stayed in hotels in 17 of the 25 Nunavut communities.

    That “seacan” is outfitted nicer than most of them. And some of those hotel rooms didn’t have a bathroom in them either.

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