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2020 Year-In-Review: MAY



New order for public gatherings outlined 


A new order addressing social distancing and gatherings was outlined by Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Dr. Michael Patterson at an April 27 press conference. The order was back-dated to go into effect April 24 under the public health emergency.

Social gatherings were limited to five people or fewer.

All organized public gatherings that involved more than five people were not permitted.

Concerts, marriages, funerals, memorial services, as well as community and sporting events fell under this category.

Restaurants, all businesses related to personal services, services from dentists, veterinarians and psychologists all were ordered to remain closed.

There were some public concerns of Chinese-state-owned Shandong Gold Mining purchasing TMAC Resources, a decision that would be rejected by the Federal Government in December. NNSL File photo.

Nearly $4 million spent on isolation hubs for Nunavummiut in south


As of May 6, about $4 million had been spent by the Government of Nunavut (GN) to self-isolate 1,022 Nunavummiut in the south.

On May 1, Premier Joe Savikataaq said beginning May 7, any Nunavummiut who voluntarily leave the territory and want to return must pay for their 14-day self-isolation period down south. This order was reversed May 6, with the GN continuing to cover these costs as long as the quarantine requirements are in place, he said.

Hickes said the decision to reverse the order was based on a number of different factors.

“Administratively it would have been a lot more burden on the public servants,” Health Minister George Hickes said.

“We had made some rough estimates and this has fallen in line with what I had anticipated anyway,” he said during the GN’s press conference on May 8.

The minister emphasized that the $3,982,673 has been a “well-placed investment.”

The money spent has allowed the territory to remain Covid-19 free, according to Hickes.

The amount of money the GN is willing to put towards self-isolation in the future is unknown, he added.


Chinese ownership of Nunavut’s resources stokes unease


China’s government controls many Chinese mining companies, including Shandong Gold Mining, which was in line to buy Toronto-based TMAC Resources for $149 million (U.S.).

The Doris North gold mine on Kitikmeot's Hope Bay is operated by TMAC Resources.

“There’s a long-running sort of latent fear of selling strategic resources to an entity which is controlled entirely, or in part, by the Government of a competitor,” said Adam Lajeunesse, co-author of the 2017 book China’s Arctic Ambitions and What They Mean for Canada.

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson said TMAC’s struggles to operate profitably were well-known and it seems Canadian investors didn’t emerge. Shandong Gold has made several key commitments, including honouring the 20-year Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement, which TMAC had signed with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA), Patterson noted.

The federal government's security review of the bid was concluded in December with Ottawa refusing to allow the sale to Shandong to go through.


Government keeps a lid on Covid-positive medical traveler


Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Dr. Michael Patterson, did not discuss any details to the Nunavummiuq who had tested positive for Covid-19 in southern Canada, during a May 19 press conference.

Neither the patient’s community or location in the south was revealed.

The GN on May 18 stated the individual was a medical traveler, who has been down south for six weeks and did not raise a risk for Nunavummiut.

Patterson also noted the infected individual did not catch Covid-19 in Nunavut and thus did not count toward Nunavut's total cases.