Cargo delays led to empty shelves in Arctic Canadian city of Iqaluit

Arctic Ventures in Iqaluit Jan. 8. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. says Qikiqtaaluk communities experience delays in produce shipments

Qikiqtaaluk communities have been suffering from delayed cargo flights, which left shelves bare at grocery stores in Iqaluit for several days last week.

Duane Wilson, vice-president of stakeholder relations for Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., said producer orders usually come about every three days — but an order scheduled to arrive for Arctic Ventures in Iqaluit last Wednesday came in on Sunday instead.

“Especially with perishable goods, there just isn’t that kind of buffer inventory to be able to handle a delay like that,” Wilson said. “That’s what resulted in the shelves being in deplorable conditions.”

Wilson said there are no issues with securing the supply of food, but there have been issues getting shipments from Ottawa to Baffin communities.

“The airline seems to be struggling with their own operation in order to get product moving through their network in a timely way,” Wilson said.

Canadian North said there was no one available for an interview, but said in an email it is prioritizing cargo to Qikiqtaaluk communities by cancelling passenger flights where possible and recruiting other carriers.

The email also said as of Monday there was no longer a cargo backlog for Iqaluit, and weather and COVID-19 isolation orders have impacted operations. 

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said weather has impacted cargo operations and the government is supporting the airlines.

“The weather and also the positive cases that we’ve seen in the communities as well has had an impact,” said Akeeagok. “We will continue to work very closely with the airline to try and resolve the situation.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Food insecurity a public health crisis that needs action, says Canadian Inuit org, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s farming sector in crisis: report, Yle News

Norway: Alarm bells ringing for Atlantic salmon in northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: 2018 drought took toll on Swedish farmers’ mental and fiscal health, research says, Radio Sweden

United States: This Alaskan spice shop brings new flavors to Indigenous dishes, Alaska Public Media

Jackie McKay, CBC News

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