Nunavut hamlets to deliver water to Inuit households daily for hand washing

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated said it's investing more than a million dollars to help bring clean water to communities.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated puts $1.25 M of new COVID-19 money towards water security

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated is giving $1.25 million to hamlets for daily water delivery to encourage hand washing. President Aluki Kotierk says Inuit households are used to conserving water. (Vince Robinet/CBC)

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated said it's investing more than a million dollars to help bring clean water to communities.

The territorial Inuit organization said Thursday it will invest $1.25 million of a new Indigenous Community Support fund to make sure hamlets can deliver enough water, so that Inuit can wash their hands often.

"We know that many Inuit live in overcrowded housing units and that conservation of water is something that is a daily mentality," president Aluki Kotierk said. "But this is a time we need to be liberal with our water use."

The money comes from the federal government's recently announced funding of $45 million for Inuit communities to fight COVID-19. 

More than half of those funds are allocated to Nunavut Tunngavik. That's $22.5 million for Nunavut Inuit. 

"We know that Nunavut Inuit, the amount of their median income is way less than a non-Inuk living in Nunavut," president Aluki Kotierk said. "And that's just one example of the inequities that put Inuit in a position where they're much more vulnerable."

Nunavut Tunngavik is working with the Nunavut Association of Municipalities to improve daily water and sewer deliveries during the month of April.

The money will be used to hire more drivers, extend delivery hours, pay overtime and order parts for trucks.

Money will cover basic, immediate needs

Kotierk said the territorial Inuit organization is working to get the new money out as quickly as possible. 

"It's to address immediate needs," she said.

A next priority will be to support food security — closures following COVID-19 mean regular food programs aren't always accessible. 

"We know that if people were able to have good food on a regular basis that their immune system would be stronger and they would be in a better position to be able to fight this virus," she said. "That seems like a very basic need that other people across this country take for granted."

The $22.5 million for Nunavut Inuit is already allocated to the regional Inuit organizations. A Nunavut Tunngavik board broke the funding down as follows: 

  • $2,505,000 for Nunavut Inuit living outside of the territory.
  • $6,012,000 for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
  • $6,132,544 for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
  • $4, 341,223 Kivalliq Inuit Association.
  • $3,554,233 Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

"The process is that the boards of each of these organizations will determine how best to spend that money," she said. "For the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated portion we're very much focused on the basic needs that many of our communities have right now." 

"We don't know how long this will last but we need to act swiftly. There is no confirmed case in Nunavut but that doesn't mean that there is no case." 

On Wednesday Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said that Nunavut Tunngavik would work with the government to make sure there is no overlap in how these new COVID-19-related support funds are used.  

"They're in charge of the funds and they will disperse it but we are going to work with each other to make sure that there's no duplicative services, so that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, to make sure that these funds [get] to where [they're] needed," he said. 

With files from Nick Murray, Eva Michael and Beth Brown