Iglulik Mayor Merlyn Recinos knows what he’d do if his hamlet could get enough financial aid during this Covid-19 crisis.
The first thing would be to secure medical equipment. Iglulik has established a field hospital in its community hall in case of a virus outbreak.
“But we’re lacking quite a bit of equipment,” he said, adding that calling upon the Canadian Armed Forces’ field hospital team would be a possibility if a crisis ensues locally.
Another initiative would be to set up a program to feed local children.
“Kids are not going to school. A lot of them used to get their breakfasts there and their lunches. We can definitely see a huge need in it,” he said.
The third idea that Recinos would like to make a reality is multi-faceted. It would entail counselling resources for local youth and improving internet capacity and affordability so that young people could enjoy virtual activities.
“We continue to ask people to remain home, remain home and sometimes home is not the greatest place,” he said, noting Nunavut’s high suicide rate.
The hamlet has applied for funding to get electronic tablets in the hands of local youth and there’s been discussions about various online games and internet performances by ArtCirq – an Inuit circus group – that young residents could enjoy from home.
“Even one to two hours a day to allow them to share and have that support there I think would be phenomenal,” the mayor said.
Among the things that the hamlet has been able to accomplish is supplying cleaning products for local households to sanitize and clearing roads to various cabins so some residents can self-isolate. Council also passed a motion to redirect $15,000 a week from operations budget to go toward food vouchers.
“We’ve been working with the food bank to ensure that anybody that needs it is able to secure a food voucher to provide them food,” said Recinos.
The hamlet has also been able to take advantage of food security funding offered through Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) and the Government of Nunavut, as well as water delivery money through NTI, Recinos noted.
“That is the only funding that we have been able to get into,” said the mayor.
Recinos was able to get Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal on the phone a few weeks ago and he urged the minister to ensure municipalities are not overlooked.
“As the money is flowing and they’re making decisions, (I asked Vandal) not to forget to ask the communities what they need to make sure there is no gaps,” Recinos said.