Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk residents still seeking answers about their sealift orders are hoping to find out Monday if their goods will be flown in or stored in Inuvik.
NWT government officials are expected to arrive and meet with residents in Cambridge Bay then. The bureaucrats representing Marine Transporatation Services (MTS) were supposed to show up on Oct. 10 but that turned into a teleconference with Cambridge Bay hamlet council when the GNWT representatives said their charter flight had to be cancelled – just like the last MTS barge into the Kitikmeot.
One of the people waiting to speak to them will be Cambridge Bay’s Suzanne Maniyogina. She ordered a truck from Hay River on sealift and was eager to receive it as she has no other means of transportation. She’s now making finance and insurance payments on the delayed truck, which she says will make life much more convenient for her and her four school-age children.
“I’m the one usually picking them up, dropping them off; bring them to school and come to work,” she said, adding that she has problems with her back, having had surgery in 2016, and frequent walks on slippery snow and ice are hazardous. “It’s not the best, having a bad back. It’s really stressful.”
Maniyogina said she received a phone call on Oct. 10 from a GNWT employee designated to ask some questions about her sealift order but the woman had no answers for her, she said.
She’s worried that her concerns will be overshadowed by those of municipalities and businesses that have hundreds of thousands of dollars in orders.
“I kind of feel like I’m the smallest person losing from all this,” she said.
Wally Schumann, infrastructure minister for the GNWT, told Nunavut News on Oct. 5 that “we’re not going to be hauling in vehicles and stuff like that.” He said vehicles will be placed in a heated storage facility in Inuvik until next year’s sealift.
That’s not what Maniyogina is hoping to hear.
“If they do that I really hope they step in and at least accommodate me with other means of transportation,” she said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Cynthia Ene, executive director of the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce, sat in on the Oct. 10 teleconference. She said GNWT officials were asked about flying vehicles into the community and the response was aircraft services were being arranged last week. After those details have been settled, they said, it will be determined whether any vehicles will go on planes, Ene recalled from the conversation.
“Be transparent. Let people know that so they can make other arrangements,” Ene urged GNWT officials during an interview with Nunavut News. “What value do you place on the quality of life of a Northerner? … I will say that it’s so crucial that they handle this crisis far better in order to talk about servicing people’s needs in a year or two.”
Kitikmeot residents will support more options for sealift service, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will include MTS, said Ene.
In regards to the weeks of delay for the barge’s sailing date, the Department of Infrastructure indicated that ice conditions also prevented it from sending its vessel earlier in the summer, as scheduled, according to Ene. She said other sealift companies managed to get into Cambridge Bay, so she’s perplexed by that explanation. A copy of MTS’s shipping schedule – to help piece together where and when ships were sailing – was requested during the Oct. 10 teleconference.
Nunavut News’ repeated requests for supplemental information from the GNWT’s Department of Infrastructure elicited no response prior to press deadline last week.