Feds announce internet, energy, treatment centre funding in Nunavut

Nunavut Minister of Community and Government Services Lorne Kusugak and federal Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan announced $151 million to connect Iqaluit and nearby Kimmirut to an underwater high speed fibre optic cable via Greenland. The project should be working by 2023. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN.

Canada will spend $151 million to bring fibre optic internet service to Nunavut in a move that territorial politicians say will have more spin-offs than just convenience.

The high-speed internet, which will connect Iqaluit and nearby Kimmirut via underwater fibre-op cable from Greenland, “will enhance services such as healthcare, education, justice, and we could go on and on,” Nunavut Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak said Monday.

Nunavut’s government will contribute an additional $30 million to connect people in the territory to the outside world at internet speeds unprecedented on this scale in the territory’s history.

The Government of Nunavut says the cable will span 1,700 kilometres underwater and will connect 3,215 households, and should be online by 2023.

The territorial government hasn’t decided how to administer the access, whether they will enlist a private internet service provider or do it themselves.

Federal Minsiter of Rural Economic Development was also in Iqaluit Monday to announce $20.5 million for a new power plant for the western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk.

The current power plant in the area run on diesel and is 50 years old. The new infrastructure will also run on diesel, but with newer technology is expected to run more efficiently.

Finally, federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan joined the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) to sign a joint declaration of intent for the construction of a Nunavut Recovery Centre to provide culturally-appropriate treatment for addictions and trauma.

With plans to be based in Iqaluit, the centre will also serve pregnant women across Nunavut.

“Overcoming the legacy of colonization requires the best of both cultural care and clinical care,” NTI Preisident Aluki Kotierk said Monday. “The Nunavut Recovery Centre will do that with individuals and their families, in Inuktut, thanks to all of our organizations working together. The Centre will be built in Iqaluit to ensure pregnant women seeking treatment will also have access to regular prenatal care, with the aim to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”

The feds will fund $47.5 million over five years to help launch the facility, and up to $9.7 million per year after that to operate it. The Government of Nunavut will provide up to 30 per cent of the centre’s operating costs. And through their training program, NTI will spend $11.85 million over five years to train Inuit addictions specialists.

For O’Regan, a treatment centre hits close to home.

“It’d be kinda weird if I didn’t mention that I spent time in an addictions treatment centre, for five weeks, and it was life changing,” he said Monday.


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