Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal has stepped foot in the NWT, Yukon and Churchill, Man. on official visits and he’ll be en route to Nunavut next week.

Federal Northern Affairs minister Dan Vandal, seen here in Yellowknife in January, is scheduled to be in Arviat Feb. 12-13. NNSL file photo

While in Arviat on Feb. 12-13, Vandal will highlight the government’s support for the Young Hunter program and discuss with youth the importance of maintaining local customs and the impacts of climate change, according to Allison St. Jean, the minister’s press secretary.

“This trip to Nunavut is the first in a series to move forward with closing gaps and removing obstacles in order to strengthen Arctic and Northern communities,” St. Jean stated.

During his earlier trips in the North, Vandal met with municipal officials, premiers, First Nations leadership, educators, community associations and businesses and industry representatives. Topics discussed during those meetings included housing, climate change, transitioning to clean energy, economic development, post-secondary and early-childhood education.

Vandal was appointed to his portfolio on Nov. 20. His first trip to Northern Canada was to Whitehorse on Jan. 13. He followed that with travel to Yellowknife and Behchoko – an hour’s drive from the capital – on Jan. 14-15.

The NWT is represented by Liberal MP Michael McLeod and Yukon’s MP is Liberal Larry Bagnell.

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, a member of the NDP, told Nunavut News: “I am happy to learn that the minister is planning to visit Nunavut and I look forward to working together to find concrete solutions for our communities. People in Nunavut need housing, food, basic services like healthcare and they want to see more cultural programs for personal healing and empowerment. These are fundamental human rights that have been denied to us for far too long. The federal government needs to do better and I intend to keep fighting for Nunavut.”

Qaqqaq brought NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to Iqaluit Nov. 30-Dec. 1, a little over a month after the Oct. 21 federal election.

St. Jean stated that Vandal will attend the Northern Lights trade show in Ottawa Feb. 5-8 and will meet with leaders from all three territories while there.

Vandal is the first stand-alone minister of Northern Affairs. During Justin Trudeau’s first term as Prime Minister, the Northern Affairs post was initially paired with Indigenous Services and later with Intergovernmental Affairs.

The Crown-Indigenous Relations portfolio remains with Minister Carolyn Bennett.

Vandal is the member of Parliament for the Winnipeg riding of Saint Boniface-Saint Vital. Prior to being elected MP, he served five terms as a city councillor in Winnipeg.

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