Bottled water is considered a priority for Canadian North flights heading to Iqaluit during the current water crisis.
But shipping cases of H2o will cost you – big time.
Katherine Mackenzie of Yellowknife organized a donation in Yellowknife and purchased $300 worth of water.
She phoned Canadian North, the only airline company to fly between N.W.T. to Nunavut and was shocked at the cargo’s $3,000 price tag.
“I was flabbergasted. I thought maybe I would just need to match the shipping costs, so if I spent $300 on water it would be $300 in freight,” Mackenzie said.
The northerner has roots in Nunavut with family in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove and told APTN News she was fearful of price gouging from commercial stores selling water.
“I wanted to help because I know how important water is, mothers don’t have water for formula, they are limiting hospital visits to emergency visits only because people can’t wash their hands,” she said.
On Oct. 12, Iqaluit declared a state of emergency when petroleum products were found in the drinking water. People were told not to consume or use the water for washing or cleaning.
Water is being flown into Nunavut’s capital and the Canadian military is making plans to ship equipment that can safely filter water from the local river.
Lisa Tudor helped Katherine with donations they had arranged for a contact in Iqaluit to distribute the water to people less mobile.
“They wouldn’t even give her a discounted rate like a cargo rate. They are supposed to be the airline of the north and you know partially Indigenous-owned and it was really disappointing,” Tudor said.
Mackenzie asked the Yellowknife Cargo department why she couldn’t access any sort of discount.
“The manager called me and told me they were not in a financial position to assist, but I really thought Canadian North would help out especially when it was a community coming together.”
Canadian North said they’ve shipped close to two million pounds of bottled water in partnership with the territorial government.
“We’ve focused our efforts on supporting the government of Nunavut because they’ve been bringing in water and distrusting it to the community at no charge to the folks there,” said Andrew Pope, vice-president customer and commercial, Canadian North.
“There are organizations who have wanted to supply donations to the community and they have accepted and then we’ve assisted in transporting it on the government’s behalf.”
The airline said they haven’t come out with a general discount for individuals or organizations looking to ship water because they are operating at max capacity with bulk water supplies from the government of Nunavut contracts.
“The way it gets handled in Iqaluit and then getting moved to government facilities we don’t have the capacity to scale up and accept a huge amount of additional water onto our existing network without causing disruption to the movement of other items;” Pope said.
When catastrophe hits – northerners spring into action, and in this case even though the water didn’t make it to Iqaluit, it was donated to the local Yellowknife Day Shelter.