Health authority OK’s Air Inuit, Canadian North to resume bookings to Nunavik, Quebec

The health board in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, has given the OK for sister airlines Air Inuit and Canadian North to resume bookings to the region starting August 25 for flights on or after August 31. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
The health board in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, has given the OK for sister airlines Air Inuit and Canadian North to resume bookings to the region starting August 25.

The new reservations can be for flights on or after August 31.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said the resumption of such flights was the latest step in Nunavik’s reopening after months of travel restrictions were put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

“The resumption of the two airlines’ reservations and booking system on commercial flights shows that the gradual reopening of Nunavik is going very well despite the pandemic,”, said Minnie Grey, executive director of the NRBHSS, in a news release Monday evening. “We appreciate the great collaboration of our airlines in ensuring the safety of Nunavimmiut.”

Before travelling to the region, travellers from the South will have to request authorization from the NRBHSS, and show the document at the airport before being allowed on the plane to Nunavik.

Obligatory 3-ply masks on flights

In their news release Monday, the health authority also said a number of health directives will be in place including obligatory handwashing in the boarding area and before getting on the plane.

There have been only 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavik since the pandemic began and, as of Tuesday, there were no active infections. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Homemade masks and face coverings will not be allowed on the planes. Three-ply procedural masks will be obligitory for the duration of the flights for all passengers 12 years old and over and will be given out at the boarding gate.

The two airlines welcomed the announcement on Monday.

“From the onset of the pandemic, Canadian North has collaborated with NRBHSS and KRG [Kativik Regional Government] with the safety of all Nunavimmiut as our first priority,” said Johnny Adams, executive chair for Canadian North.  “We are pleased to support the ongoing, essential transportation requirements of the Nunavik region by resuming our normal reservation channels while continuing to support ongoing health and safety protocols.”

“Air Inuit is pleased to resume its scheduled flights from the south and provide Nunavimmiut with safe air transportation services” , said Pita Aatami, president of Air Inuit.”

Nunavik has a population of approximately 13,000 people, with 14 communities in the region.

Since the start of the pandemic, it’s had a total of 17 confirmed reported cases of COVID-19 in three different communities, with no deaths. There are currently no active infections.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit gov. in Labrador, Canada tells out-of-province travellers to stay away despite ‘Atlantic bubble’, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland changes COVID-19 rules for travellers from Iceland, Faroe Islands, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland intensifies COVID-19 border testing after case increase, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegian Arctic wilderness tourism hit particularly hard by coronavirus, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: All Russia’s North Pole cruises rescheduled to 2021, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seen as major source of COVID-19 in Western Finland region, Yle News

United States: Airline shutdown creates new challenges for rural Alaska, The Associated Press

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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