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Federal infrastructure minister makes major marine announcements in Iqaluit

Blue water economy expected to benefit from investments
QIA President P.J. Akeeagok praised the announcement saying it’ll help Nunavut’s blue economy. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities, visited Iqaluit Aug. 3 and 4 to announce new funding for several projects across the territory.

These include the construction of a deep-water port in Qikiqtarjuaq, funding for wastewater treatment in Rankin Inlet as well as support for the planning phase for water treatment plants in three other communities.

The largest amount is a $40 million major investment towards Qikiqtarjuaq’s deep-water port, located along the main route of the Northwest Passage, which will help offload Nunavut fishing vessels and benefit other users in the supply chain and tourism industry.

According to David Akeeagok, minister of economic development and transportation, the money is expected to move in the next fiscal year.

“Finally we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of seeing our fish landing in Nunavut – that we’ll be able to feed our own people or feed the world,” said David, calling the deep-water port project a ‘flagship’ in his department.

Along with the deep-water port, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will build two small craft harbours in Arctic Bay and Clyde River.

“Transport Canada will also build harbors in Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord, the harbours in Arctic Bay and Clyde River will constructed based on the same model used in Pangnirtung,” said McKenna.

Around $15 million will be invested in Arctic Bay and Clyde River over the next two years.

This is one of the keystones in establishing a marine economy in Nunavut says P.J. Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA).

“We’re oceans people and that really sends the significance of this major nation-building exercise, the deep-water port in Qikiqtarjuaq. We live and breathe in the ocean, the announcement of marine infrastructure in Nuanvut is a key part of fostering a blue economy in Inuit Nunangat.”

P.J. added, “This will mean more economic opportunities for Inuit and the development of fisheries-related industries in Nunavut. The Qikiqtarjuaq port also signals peace of mind for Nunavummiut as a port can also support local search and rescue as well.”

Wastewater infrastructure

The feds also plan to invest $225,000 toward the Rankin Inlet Wastewater Treatment plant upgrades planning project, to improve the Rankin Inlet’s capacity to treat wastewater, as well as plans to support the planning phase of the construction of water treament plants in Sanikiluaq, Arctic Bay and Grise Fiord.

While the news coming out of this has largely been positive, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed says there is still a lot of work to do.

“Although this is a signifcant announcement it is important to recognize the deficits that exist here and the other three regions Inuit Nunangat. Therefore the work that has started here today needs to continue in other parts of Nunavut and other parts of Inuit Nunangat,” said Obed.

“Marine infrastructure is cruical,” he adds, “but so is paved runways, reliable broadband internet, secure and dependable energy systems, safe drinking water in all our communities and health and social infrastructure that serve our people to the same standard as in the south.”

Conservation agreement anniversary

All of this comes on the second anniversary of the Tallurutiup Imanga and Tuvaijuittuq agreements for the National Marine Conservation Area.

McKenna highlighted the federal government’s work with QIA to ensure they were working with Inuit toward a sustainable livelihood and that investments in infrastructure would be a part of protecting areas of interest together.

“These agreements realize the vision of past Inuit leaders from the high Arctic, to protect the marine life and waters of Tallurutiup Imanga and the ecological significant of multi-year ice adjeicent to Grise Fiord. With these agreements we protected a significant part of our ocean, secured much needed marine infrastructure and created very meaningful jobs in conservation,” said the QIA president.

“As Inuit it is our legacy to be stewards of these waters.”

Many infrastructure deficits still remain says Natan Obed, president of ITK. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo