August 10, 2020 – Kuujjuaq, Nunavik – Makivvik highlights the importance of the announcement made by the government of Canada on August 6, 2020. The immediate and projected funding announced is vital, and defining northern transportation to remote communities as an “essential service” is critical.
“During this pandemic we met with many officials inside the governments of Canada and Quebec to get an important message across to the Prime Minister, and Marc Garneau, Transport Minister – northern aviation is a vital “Essential Service”, said Makivvik President Charlie Watt. I also had a phone conversation with Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and with Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Affairs on separate occasions and told them paying for essential service with Inuit Heritage money is not going to happen and that its the responsibility of governments. I’m please they listened and came out with an announcement that will help everyone.“
The federal announcement included an immediate $75-million in funding for northern airlines retroactive to July 1, 2020 for six months. An additional $174-million was announced for the next 18-months if needed. The announcement noted that the federal government would work in partnership with provinces and territories. It’s targeted to ensure the minimum level of essential transportation to remote communities, highlighting, “the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to remote communities.” The 15 communities in Nunavik were on the list of 136 remote communities located in three Territories, and seven Provinces.
“It’s well known that Makivvik owns two airlines – Air Inuit, and Canadian North in partnership with the Inuvialuit Development Corporation. These are 100% Inuit-owned airlines.” Said Charlie Watt. “We never shut down air services to the Arctic communities during the pandemic because we know, as Inuit, how vital these services are. We know it’s an essential service. Although our airlines are not making profit during the pandemic we had to fight long and hard to ensure governments treat northern infrastructure as essential, and ensure it continues to operate – just as southern roads and transportation infrastructure would continue to operate – with assistance from public funds.”
Director of Communications
Makivvik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivvik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivvik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.