Sanikiluaq’s new bridge for all-terrain vehicles will connect residents to their traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and it will benefit the small island community in more ways than that.

The $100,000, 12-metre bridge, which will be positioned along the six-kilometre trail that stretches behind Sanikiluaq’s new baseball diamond, has yet to be installed, but it has already been constructed.

It was put together in late September and early October by Sanikiluaq residents Kenny Pearce, Moses Ippak, Alexandra Arragutainaq, and Johnassie Amitook. Montreal-based steelworkers Justin and Joel Cote, who are nephew and uncle, also pitched in.

The structure will replace an existing bridge that has fallen into disrepair.

“It was put together as it should be by two steelworkers and four locals,” said Ron Ladd, the community’s senior administrative officer. “We’ll install it when we get time.”

Ladd expects the bridge to have a ripple effect in the way it helps the community.

One clear benefit, he said, is that the four locals who partook in construction now have experience building bridges. Three of those residents, he added, were recruited after they helped with construction of Sanikiluaq’s new floating dock, and two of them had previously helped assisted in building the community’s baseball diamond and soccer field.

When community members pitch in on these kinds of projects, they become more skilled, and may discover they have interest in fields like construction, architecture and engineering, according to Ladd.

“They now have perspective putting a floating dock together, putting a baseball and soccer field together, and now they’ve got perspective putting a bridge together,” he explained. “People are gaining experience, and that’s the key.

“They enjoyed it, and learned from it, and now we have more skilled people here, which is wonderful,” he said. “It makes a stronger community and future projects.

“The guys from Montreal had very positive things to say about the community, and not only that, they’re happy we got some workers that learned things, worked hard, and got the job done,” Ladd added.

The bridge is also a sign of progress for a community that, situated in the southeast of Hudson Bay, has at times felt isolated and forgotten, he noted.

“People are very delighted that we’ve been able to move projects forward in a community that felt left out,” he said, pointing to other new projects like the floating dock, food bank, and local women and children’s shelter. “I hate to say it, but before I arrived, the community didn’t have a lot of projects going and now this [bridge] is one of many projects.

“We didn’t have the infrastructure. Now we’re happy to say that we do have the infrastructure with the various partners we have in the federal government and Government of Nunavut. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do any of it, and now we’re starting to feel comfortable that we have the opportunities that other communities have had.”

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