Navy wants connections with Kivalliqmiut

The HMCS William Hall is running through some final testing before going into operation, but Royal Canadian Navy members have already visited Rankin Inlet seeking to make connections with the Kivalliq region in advance of affiliating the ship with the Kivalliq.

The Navy is building six Arctic and offshore patrol vessels, explained Sabrina Nash, assistant director of Public Affairs with the Royal Canadian Navy, at a town council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Four are currently in the water.

“Each of those ships, our goal is to affiliate them with different regions in the Inuit Nunangat so we can work together and build relationships with the local communities,” said Nash.

The HMCS William Hall will be the one for the Kivalliq.

“Our arctic vessels play a vital role in protecting our nation’s interests,” said Nash. “We’re really here to establish (and) build some connections that will last. We want to learn from the wisdom of the communities and the people here and contribute to your well-being to the best of our ability.”

That presence and partnership is in the spirit of respect and reconciliation, she added.

Commanding Officer Scott Kelemen told council the ship was launched Aug. 31 and will require another year of trials before it’s ready for operating. The Navy is hoping to bring it up to the region in 2025 but wants to establish a relationship beforehand.

“We’re hoping that when we come here with the ship, we’ll already have artwork in the ship that’s representative of the cultures in the area, that we already have people who have had direct personal relationships with people in the community,” he said.

Kelemen added that the Navy is looking for ways to make charitable contributions in the community, “whether it’s money or some other way.”

Asked about employing Inuit with the Navy, Kelemen said, “There are a lot of opportunities and certainly available, definitely 100 per cent available, to Inuit.”

He said the Navy intends to visit regularly to establish that connection before the ship is operational, and for the relationship to continue throughout the ship’s lifecycle.

Taxi fares passed

Rankin Inlet council passed the third reading of its bylaw to hike taxi fares in the community. The new fare limits are $8 per customer in town and $10 to or from the airport.

New deputy mayor named, new councillor needed

With a new council, a new deputy mayor was selected. Though former deputy mayor Martha Hickes put in her name to continue on, council voted on three volunteers: Hickes, Coun. Daniel Kowmuck and Coun. Michael Shouldice. In a second round of voting, council voted in favour of Kowmuk becoming deputy mayor.

With only seven people running for council in the fall election, everyone was acclaimed without an election, and the hamlet has advertised for applications from community members to become the eighth council member. This process was used several times in the past sitting council to fill vacant seats, where the hamlet would receive applications and then vote one of them in.

Medical boarding home desired

In the wake of yet more travel issues for medical patients through the Kivalliq, Shouldice suggested the need for a medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet.

“More and more and more, I see that if you’re from Baker Lake, and you get stuck for weather in Rankin, people are asking each other for a foamy for children and could you give them a meal – how could Health do that?” said Shouldice, referencing pleas on social media from travellers stuck in town.

“If you’re going to come to Rankin for a health appointment, you have to have accommodation, you have to have somebody that responds.”

Coun. Art Sateana, one of the new members to council, echoed the need for a boarding home.

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News