The federal government announced $786,000 in funding to aid four Kivalliq projects in Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove on Nov. 15.
The announcement was made in Rankin Inlet by federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly on behalf of federal Minister responsible for CanNor (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency) Navdeep Bains.
The CanNor funding means that Turaarvik Co-op Hotel North in Rankin Inlet, Pitsiulak Co-op and hotel in Chesterfield Inlet and the Issatik Co-op hotel in Whale Cove will each receive $250,000 to significantly expand and modernize their facilities.
The improvements will include expanding the number of rooms, adding new furnishings, improving facilities maintenance and service areas and upgrading lighting to high-efficiency systems that will reduce demand on each community’s power supply.
The remaining $36,440 in CanNor funding will go to the revitalization of Thule Qammaqs (sod houses) archaeological sites near Chesterfield Inlet, with the funding earmarked for archaeological mapping and cultural development.
Joly said the four different projects receiving CanNor funding are all linked to the tourism sector.
“All together, these four projects will actually create 100 jobs in the region,” said Joly. “One in 10 jobs in the country is linked to the tourism sector, so ultimately we want to tell the people from Rankin Inlet to Chesterfield Inlet that they can be confident in their future and they can be extremely proud of what they do.”
Arctic Co-operatives are investing $884,800 in the Rankin hotel upgrade, $1,405,000 in Chester and $2,020,000 in Whale Cove. The Hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet is contributing $9,110 to the Thule Qammaqs project.
A hidden gem
During her funding presentation, Joly referred to Rankin Inlet as a hidden gem in Canada.
She said the tourism industry is growing at an annual rate of four per cent, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
“We need a national strategy for tourism,” said Joly.
“That’s why the prime minister asked me to develop that strategy, and that’s why I launched a listening tour – to go all across the country to listen to different communities and hear their perspective on how we can build this important strategy together.
“We know Indigenous tourism is also booming all across the country … because people want to know how communities live and what they have to offer, and they want to get to know their culture and their history.
“It’s part of our reconciliation work but it’s also the fact that people want to experience different realities and Rankin has a lot of potential because of the boost in tourism and its key and strategic positioning on Canada’s map and within Canada’s tourism sector.”
Joly said the government also wants to make sure elders and youth are involved with the development of the Thule Qammaqs project in Chester.
Renovating the Turaarvik hotel
Kissarvik Co-op board director Steve Fredlund of Rankin Inlet said the Rankin Co-op has more than 1,100 active members and that membership continues to grow.
He said the Co-op and its members are very grateful for the $250,000 in CanNor funding received in Rankin.
“I haven’t talked to Whale Cove or Chesterfield Inlet, but I’m sure if they had the opportunity to be here they’d have asked me to express their gratitude also and thank you for that,” said Fredlund.
“The project being financed here is a complete renovation of the Turaarvik hotel, which includes 21 guest rooms, a conference room, the kitchen, the dining room, and the addition of a walk-in freezer/cooler, as well as some repairs to the roof of one wing connecting to the retail store.
“So it’s money well spent.
“All this means all this stuff can be done sooner, and we’re already seeing the benefits of those renovations in better guest comfort, so that’s really boosting us forward, which is actually a real benefit to Rankin Inlet.”
Fredlund said the impact of the support has been to move up the completion date to 2018.
The Turaarvik hotel was opened in November of 2004 and this is the first major upgrade to the hotel since that time, he said.
“The directors are all proud to be providing employment in Rankin Inlet to between 70 to 80 people on a regular basis.
“So, we’re thankful for the support given to us through this funding to continue with our efforts to benefit the community of Rankin Inlet.”