Three Baffin time zone rebels stick to eastern time

Three Baffin hamlets are holding out for eastern time, even though Nunavut and federal government offices have switched to central, or “Nunavut” time.



IQALUIT — Nunavut’s new unified time zone has turned out to be anything but, as three Baffin communities remain on eastern standard time, nearly three weeks after the change.

The Baffin communities of Clyde River, Pangnirtung and Sanikiluaq now operate with two time zones, central — or Nunavut time — for government offices, and eastern time for municipal offices and schools.

“For our community it hasn’t had a negative effect. We have not had any complications or complaints, people seem to accept it,” Pangnirtung Mayor Joanasie Maniapik, said through an interpreter.

But while Maniapik was pledging to remain on eastern time, his counterpart in another hold-out community was admitting defeat and preparing to adopt Nunavut time one week late.

“Because the government is not willing to move, we’ve had no choice but to accept defeat,” Igloolik Mayor Aime Panimera said.

Panimera said having two time zones in one community created confusion and difficulties for residents. Parents who work in offices running on Nunavut time found themselves operating on different lunch-time schedules than their school-age children.

Federal and Nunavut government offices, nursing stations and even the time read on the CBC radio station conforms with central time. But schools, stores and municipal offices in the four communities all stayed on eastern time.

Review in one year?

Igloolik made the switch to central time on Saturday, Nov. 6. But Panimera said the hamlet changed its clocks after Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik reassured them the unified time zone would be reviewed in one year.

“They’ve promised us it will be reviewed and if we don’t go on central time, we will never know what the impact is,” Panimera said.

Panimera is also contacting local businesses to ask them to shift their hours of operation ahead one hour, to allow their employees to make the most of the daylight.

“It’s not a done deal for the hamlet. We’re still looking at ways to get the most out of the daylight,” he said.

Okalik, Pangnirtung MLA Peter Kilabuk, and legislative assembly speaker Levi Barnabas made a special trip to Pangnirtung for a Nov. 1 meeting with Pangnirtung hamlet council. The MLAs also told councillors the decision would be reviewed in a year.

But Maniapik said the Pangnirtung hamlet won’t back down from its original motion to remain on eastern standard time after Oct. 31. “It’s permanent,” he said.

“As indicated by the premier, it is up to our community to decide what time zone we want to be in.” Pangnirtung will move its clock forward by one hour in the spring for daylight savings time.

Sanikiluaq Mayor Annie Amitook said her community will also remain on eastern standard time unless council decides otherwise.

“I would like it if it stayed as it is,” she said.

Amitook said the community’s hunters would have to wake up early had the time change gone through, and children would be forced to come home from school in the dark.

Clyde surveyed residents

Clyde River Mayor James Qillaq said his community took down names of residents for and against the single time zone. About 60 per cent of residents were against, he said.

He said the early coming of darkness means children will be in the dark more frequently, causing safety concerns.

Qillaq hasn’t yet been contacted by the Nunavut government, but he said the hamlet may review its decision during the spring.

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