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Council defers mandate decision

Rankin inlet council briefs from March 14 meeting
Sgt. Benjamin Comley updates Hamlet of Rankin Inlet council on RCMP statistics and priorities Monday, March 14. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

When the Government of Nunavut ends the state of emergency, the hamlet’s vaccine certification bylaw for entering municipal facilities will immediately end, too – but one thing that won’t necessarily end with it is the hamlet’s own requirement for staff and council to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Because of that, council discussed whether to include the hamlet’s organizational vaccine mandate in its bylaw, meaning it would also end when the state of emergency ends, or to leave it as a separate policy that would carry on regardless.

Coun. Justin Merritt made a motion to combine the two policies so that the staff mandate would be dropped when the territorial government declares the emergency over.

“Personally, I feel like people have to make their own choices about vaccination right now,” said Coun. Kelly Lindell in support. “The majority of our community is vaccinated and I think that we helped in creating that.”

Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall indicated support for the idea but reservations when it came to staff who work closely with vulnerable sectors of the population.

“I feel conflicted,” she said. “I want people to still be vaccinated, but I don’t want it to be government mandated.”

She suggested deferring the decision until the next council meeting March 28 so that council could give it some thought first and gather more information.

The rest of council agreed, and Merritt withdrew his motion.

Letter of support, but no MOU

The Aqqiumavvik Society, a community wellness organization in Arviat, wrote to the hamlet that its previously planned Covid survey of Nunavummiut couldn’t go ahead without further formal support from council, asking for a memorandum of understanding to be signed so that the project could be granted a research license by the Nunavut Research Institute.

Originally, the hamlet wrote in support of the proposed survey in June 2021, but the project was delayed.

Shirley Tagalik, chair of the society, wrote to the hamlet Feb. 2 that the organization needed another agreement from the hamlet to participate in the project, noting that the work would hire and train a local person to carry out the survey.

“This work has not started because Nunavut Research Institute has not issued a research license,” wrote Tagalik.

Senior administrative officer Darren Flynn said it seemed like a straight-forward request for a letter of support, but found it puzzling that the society needed an MOU.

“We don’t normally do that,” he said. “You would give a letter of support and they would use that to back up their proposal for their research.”

His recommendation was to issue another letter of support for the project, but leave it at that and not sign an MOU.

Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall asked Flynn if the hamlet could inquire further with Aqqiumavvik about why the organization needs an MOU and not just a letter of support.

Council decided to issue a letter of support for the project, but not an MOU.

Calls for service up

February saw a rise in calls to the RCMP from January, said Sgt. Benjamin Comley in his monthly report to council.

However, comparing 2022 to 2021, overall call volume was up only 1 per cent.

One of the bigger monthly increases was in calls for assault, which had 49 in February, compared to just 13 in January. Mischief went up as well, while impaired driving and sexual assault were lower.

There were 147 calls for service in total in February, resulting in 19 criminal investigations in which charges were laid.

Ninety-three calls involved alcohol, 45 prisoners were lodged and there were nine calls for domestic assaults.

Comley said Covid restrictions continue to negatively affect the detachment’s ability to meet its community engagement goals, especially in the schools.

He reminded council that the hamlet should think about its priorities for the detachment for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Coun. Michael Shouldice would like to see a long-term post-Covid plan for the community of Rankin Inlet. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo