A wildfire burning dangerously close to Bathurst Inlet has prompted Community and Services Minister David Joanasie to declare a state of emergency, the Government of Nunavut announced Friday.

The state of emergency, implemented under Nunavut’s Emergency Measures Act, took effect immediately for the area, which is mostly unpopulated.

“Like most Canadian jurisdictions, Nunavut is experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change,” he said of the blaze, which started burning on Aug. 9. “Inuit have been expressing their concerns around the rapidly changing environment in the Arctic for years and wildfires are another unfortunate example of the effects of climate change.

“While wildfires are not common in Nunavut, they do pose a risk when they approach people, communities or industry,” he added.

Declaring a state of emergency allows the GN take special measures to keep people in the affected area safe. Most notably, it grants the territorial government additional authority to control the assets of its own departments, as well as those of public agencies.

As part of the state of emergency, the minister has issued a do not enter order for Bathurst Inlet, as well as an evacuation order for anyone already in the area.

The state of emergency will be in effect for 14 days, until Aug. 23, 2023.

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