Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Grise Fiord mayor patiently awaits help

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Grise Fiord (Nov 20/06) - Jarloo Kiguktak is a patient man, and that's a good thing.

One doesn't survive in the high Arctic without patience, and one usually doesn't get results from the federal government without it either.

The Grise Fiord mayor is still waiting to hear from any federal department on his urgent pleas for help for Grise Fiord. In October, he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Harper and other high-ranking federal politicians asking for recreation facilities for youth.

The Prime Minister's Office and Foreign Affairs Minister have yet to respond. They did not return phone calls from Nunavut News/North last week.

The issue of sovereignty remains prominent on Harper's agenda. Grise Fiord, Kiguktak contended, is Canada's strongest claim to the high Arctic. But the mayor wants something from the federal government in exchange for protecting the Northwest Passage.

Although Kiguktak hasn't heard back from a single official about his letter, he's maintaining the patience of a hunter at a seal hole. Eventually, a seal will pop up.

"I'm not disappointed, I know things take time. I'm just waiting," said Kiguktak.

While no one has responded in Ottawa, Premier Paul Okalik offered words of support for Grise Fiord.

Sovereignty was one of the issues the Northern premiers covered at their joint meeting in Iqaluit earlier this month.

"We discussed that very topic (Grise Fiord). The focus has been on military presence in our waters. There's actually people who live on these lands. We do require constructive plans... so we have healthy communities in the Arctic," said Okalik.

When asked if he had been in contact with federal officials on behalf of Grise Fiord, the premier answered, "That's what we are trying to (address) through our communique and our communications with the federal government."

Kiguktak appreciates the territorial support, but he remains focused on a federal response.

"I'm not expecting anything from our government. The federal government, that's who I'm aiming at," he said.

When asked about the state of sovereignty in Grise Fiord, Kiguktak laughed.

"The purpose of bringing people in was to keep the sovereignty of the high Arctic. We are still up here, we are a community," said Kiguktak.