Baffinland donates $50K to reopen only daycare in Arctic Bay, Nunavut

Tununirusiq Daycare, which originally opened in 2000, was the community's only daycare.

Tununirusiq Daycare closed 8 years ago, Arctic Bay mayor hopes it could reopen within 2 years

From left to right: Lena Qaunaq, Natsiq Kango, Julian Oyukuluk, Baffinland president and CEO Brian Penney and Arctic Bay mayor Frank May. (Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation)

After being without a daycare centre for years, the community of Arctic Bay, Nunavut, is on track to get its daycare back thanks to a donation from Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation.

Baffinland operates the Mary River iron ore mine on Baffin Island. Mayor Frank May had earlier approached the company for support.

On Tuesday, the company presented a $50,000 cheque to May along with Ruth Oyukuluk, Julian Oyukuluk, Lena Qaunaq and Baffinland employee Natsiq Kango, who May says have been instrumental in bringing back Tununirusiq Daycare.

May said parents in Arctic Bay parents sometimes have a difficult time working because there isn't a daycare or preschool. The daycare closed about eight years ago.

"This donation from Baffinland will go a long way towards changing all of that," said May. 

But it's not clear exactly when the daycare will reopen. 

The money from Baffinland will go toward securing the building and other capital expenses, but according to May, it will still be a couple more years before it opens and only after more funding is secured to run its operations.

May said there are other sources of money for operational expenses.

"Kakivak [Association] has money for training, and then QIA [Qikiqtani Inuit Association] has a subsidy, the Department of Education has funds, that I haven't really checked into yet but, that's more for on-going operations, equipment and things like that," May said.

Money will also help child resource centre

"Tununirusiq Daycare represents an important investment in Arctic Bay residents, including our very own Baffinland employees," said Brian Penney, president and CEO of Baffinland.

"It embodies Baffinland's ongoing support and development to the communities we operate in."

May also said the donation from Baffinland will help establish a foundation for an early childhood resource centre, which would be a service for children at the daycare as well as students from the Aboriginal Head Start Program.