Mayor in Arctic Canada welcomes stronger links with Greenland

Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Photo: Eilís QuinnSakiasie Sowdluapik said two countries should co-operate in resource development

Greenland Premier Kuupik Kleist made his first official visit to Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut last week and highlighted an interest in working more with the people in northern Canada.

Kleist made stops in Nunavut’s capital city of Iqaluit and the community of Pangnirtung, a hamlet of about 1,300 people.

Pangnirtung Mayor Sakiasie Sowdluapik said he’s optimistic about the meeting, saying it has renewed interest in co-operation between Greenland and northern Canada.

He also said it will benefit Inuit if the two countries work together in areas such as resource development. A close working relationship could be crucial as oil and gas development ramps up in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait.

“We are all concerned about it because what we put on the table all comes from our very rich waters, and land. In the future if this were to be developed I think the public and Nunavut and Greenland can say in the development that they can work together and collaborate, make sure all the potential hazards or potential spills can be secured,” he said.

Greenland and Nunavut set out six priorities they will aim to work on together. Those include ownership and management of resources, trade in traditional foods, training and work exchanges.

Sowdluapik said the premier’s visit was timely. In August, 1956, a group from Greenland landed in Pangnirtung. Sowdluapik said the elders say it was a joyous time with gifts exchanged and friendships made.

The link between the two communities grew from there — when Pangnirtung was developing its fishing industry, Greenlanders provided training as they already had an established fishery.

New flight strengthens link between regions The premier of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, made his first official visit to Nunavut last week. (CBC)

Air Greenland said the first summer of its revived scheduled Nuuk-Iqaluit route has been a reasonable success. The airline began the twice-weekly flights in June.

It mainly serves the mining and the oil industries which do summer work in the country.

But chief commercial officer Christian Keldsen said there have been more people travelling from Iqaluit than expected.

“We were expecting people coming from elsewhere in Canada, but there seems to be a very big local market that seems to have an interest in Greenland. We are seeing a lot of families coming over for visits – we had a very nice email from a nice lady in Iqaluit who wrote she hadn’t seen her mother in eight years, and the route now made it possible to go see her mother again,” said Keldsen.

Keldsen said business was good in the first month – June – but it was slower than hoped in July. To combat this, the company offered a number of discount promotions, such as a flight for as low as $600 return.

The last scheduled flight is on Sept. 3, but the airline plans to resume service again next spring.

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