Sanikiluaq has suffered extraordinarily during the pandemic with weekly commercial flights cut from six to two, MLA Allan Rumbolt told the legislative assembly on Monday. In addition, residents must fly from the Hudson Bay island to a southern province and then isolate for two weeks before boarding another plane to reach a Nunavut destination.

Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt is seeking a direct flight between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit at least weekly.
photo courtesy Legislative Assembly

Rumbolt said he has encouraged Transportation Minister David Akeeagok to create an “air bridge” directly between Sanikiluaq and Iqaluit, at least weekly, and he asked the minister for an update on that front.

Akeeagok replied, “One of those options is to travel within Nunavut, either to Iqaluit or to Rankin Inlet – one of the two as a possibility – but I don’t want to really speculate or try to confirm that because we rely on the airlines for those travel routes.”

Rumbolt pointed out that the lack of flights into Sanikiluaq has impacted the income assistance program because workers are delayed flying into the community.

Akeeagok, speaking on behalf of Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik who is absent from the assembly during this sitting, acknowledged that Covid has “created huge program challenges.” He applauded the Department of Family Services for creating a 1-800 number to call the regional office “but the underlying thing is that we do need staff to travel there and the only way we have been able to do it is through charters… I think this is definitely an area that we need to look at.”

Rumbolt also asked for an update on the implementation of more federal funding to ensure continuity of air service.

Akeeagok said there’s ongoing dialogue with Transport Canada.

“It’s a very sensitive bilateral agreement because it does involve airlines and it does involve our government operations, along with dollars that are attached to it. Until that agreement is done will we determine whether to table it or not,” he said.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

4 replies on “Sanikiluaq’s MLA outlines hardships created by reduced flights and complicated routes”

  1. Wouldn’t it be easier to fly Saniluammiut to either Iqaluit or Rankin? It would save the government thousands of dollars that is currently paying for the isolation hubs. And would keep said dollars in the territory by boarding them in the local boardinghomes and hotels which have suffered greatly since the pandemic started. Another option is getting Sanikiluaq to be part of the flight route with Canadian north insuring the health and financials are from the Qikiqtaaluk region as Sanikiluaq is supposed to be part of, but instead relies on the kivalliq for medical and any financial assistance. When will someone take notice that Sanikiluaq is in fact left out by its own region? Why do the corresponding MLA’s make excuses on matters that include Sanikiluaq when it comes to basic services that is given to the main hubs in Nunavut? Why is it so much harder to help the smaller communities when the GN and Legislative Assembly constantly talk about “de-centralizing” but don’t actually work into it? Oh yeah, they’re politicians. They don’t care about what’s best for the people. They care about whats good for them and the pension they receive when they’ve “served”.

  2. Saniluammiut are always welcome to join Nunavik if the GN keeps making things difficult for them to remain connected to the territory! The logistical nightmare of travelling from Iqaluit to Sani was bad enough pre-covid, and we can always welcome them into Nunavik if they keep being neglected and left to fend for themselves with the messes that involve GN administration of their area… we don’t have a perfect situation in Nunavik but from the outside looking in, it seems better than what the GN (doesn’t) provide at the moment.

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