Getting ready
Armed forces urge Iqaluit residents to prepare for Y2K

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Feb 15/99) - The director of Emergency Measures Operations (EMO) in Nunavut took important steps recently to ensure that the residents of Canada's newest territory would be prepared for the glitch threatening the computerized world at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999.

Methusalah Kunuk, at a meeting in Iqaluit organized by the Canadian Forces Northern Area, was involved in preliminary efforts to organize the Nunavut Territorial Emergency Response Committee to review and plan for any problems that may crop up as a result of the year 2000 bug (Y2K).

Brought on by the inability of computer technology to recognize the year 2000, the bug threatens to cause malfunctions in technical equipment that uses computer codes or runs on computer chips.

Kunuk said that while he should have started planning earlier, he felt that there was still enough time for the committee to develop strategies for Nunavut.

"Major Dan Drew was at the meeting and we met with key people like the RCMP, the manager of (Northwest Territories Power Corporation), a group from the airlines, as well as the town manager and representatives from the fire department," said Kunuk.

He explained that his goal was to get one representative from each of the groups at the meeting to join the committee to try and solve problems ahead of time and to promote awareness of the issue among Nunavut residents.

"We want awareness, not alarm, in case something does happen," said Kunuk.

Captain Eric Perey of the Canadian Forces Northern Area was also at the meeting. He agreed with Kunuk that it was necessary for the committee to educate people about the bug so they don't panic and cause even greater problems for organizations like the Canadian Forces.

"People should not be panicking. People should be planning. It's a good idea to be prepared in case something happens. People should be ready to be self-sufficient for a month," said Perey.

His colleague, Major Dan Drew, acknowledged the difficulty in fighting something as elusive as the bug, but he stressed that civilians needed to start addressing the situation.

"Y2K is not going away. You can't back it off. It is going to happen and it's rapidly approaching," said Drew, who explained that because the Canadian Forces had been mandated by the federal government to act as the lead agent on the year 2000 issue, it was their responsibility to work with Canadians across the country to find solutions.

Drew also said that because the Canadian Forces is made up of only 14,500 deployable troops, all of which can be flown to various parts of the country on short notice, groups like air cadets, the Rangers and the RCMP would be instrumental in the North to help maintain calm if there are widespread problems.

"Our strength right now is strategic planning. We don't have a lot of resources anymore. We need people not to be looking to rely on the Canadian Forces to pull them out of the fire if there's a real big emergency."

For more information about the committee's next meeting on March 2, contact Kunuk through the EMO in Iqaluit.