Canada Post unveils new Indigenous and northern reconciliation strategy

Canada Post unveiled its Indigenous and Northern reconciliation plan Monday, in which it committed to meet with every community in the North to discuss their needs. (John Last/CBC)
Crown corporation is planning to meet with every community to discuss their needs

Canada Post unveiled its plan to improve service to Indigenous communities in the North on Monday.

Dale Leclair, Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, says the crown corporation will meet with each community to learn about its particular needs.

“Whether it’s improving the type of post office they have now or the infrastructure that is required to ensure Northerners and Indigenous people are served just as they would be if they were living in Toronto or Vancouver … we have a lot of work to do there, but we are committed.”

Leclair says the impetus for the strategy came from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.

“Canada Post … is committed to building those relationships … by discussions with communities, to see how we can best improve their services.”

He says some communities may get new full-service post offices, while others could see new parcel lockers, and access to banking services.

Looking forward to new relationship

Ray Ruben has been the mayor of Paulatuk for 15 years.

He says he looks forward to a new relationship with Canada Post because there are a few issues that need to be addressed.

“A few Christmases ago there was so much mail they had to start stacking all the parcels where hamlet council held their meetings. So, I think they should start renting a bigger space,” he said.

Ruben went on to explain that the hamlet takes the contract to run the post office because nobody else in the community wants it.

“We are lucky if we break even with that contract, but someone in the community needs to do it,” he says.

Leclair says Canada Post is also going to be offering a new “compensation structure” for northern contractors running post offices, to allow them to “stabilize and be more consistent in their delivery.”

Down-the-line effect

Denise Hussey has lived in Fort Good Hope for almost six years, and managed the community’s post office for more than half that.

She says the local air carrier, Northwright, does a good job of delivering the mail, but that northern parcels can sometimes get delayed for weeks in Edmonton.

“One parcel got delayed in Edmonton, then they sent it North, but to the wrong community, and it went all the way back to Edmonton before getting here.”

She also said one of the biggest concerns she heard while running the post office was the cost of shipping.

Leclair says they will be looking at ways to make the routing of northern mail more efficient, and that it might lower prices, eventually.

“Hopefully as we open up more routes and build more capacity and better infrastructure, it’s our hope it will have a down-the-line effect in the cost,” he said.

– Written by Marc Winkler with files from Lawrence Nayally

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Reconciliation means doing business differently in Canada, northerners say, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: The Arctic railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Russian Indigenous groups call on Elon Musk to boycott company behind Arctic environmental disasters, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sami in Sweden start work on structure of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Inuit org says term “local communities” undermines Indigenous rights on international stage, Eye on the Arctic

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