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Shipping route affecting marine mammals: Chesterfield Inlet Mayor

Barney Aggark says ships pass by almost daily during the summer season and residents have noticed fewer belugas and harp seals. The Nunavut hamlet is close to the main shipping route up to Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake.

Barney Aggark says residents have noticed fewer belugas and harp seals

The Mayor of Chesterfield Inlet says the mining activity in the Kivalliq region is affecting his community, but not in a good way.

Barney Aggark says ships pass by almost daily during the summer season and residents have noticed changes in marine mammals.

The hamlet is close to the main shipping route up to Agnico Eagle’s​ Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut.

"For example, seals and belugas, we don't see as many as we used to coming around. We used to have harp seals around and but nowadays we don't even see them coming around here."

Aggark says hunters have to spend more on gas so they can go further away to hunt sea mammals. He estimates the animals are now 30 kilometres away from the community. He says the travel is particularly hard because of rough terrain and lack of roads.

“It’s a bit frustrating at times,” he says. “We only hope we see or catch one seal. Before the shipping started we used to be able to see seals when we were out walking on our roads.”

But he says the hamlet gets little benefit from the mine.

Aggark voiced those concerns at this week's meeting with the Nunavut Impact Review Board in Chesterfield Inlet.

The Board is reviewing the proposal from Areva Resources for the Kiggavik uranium mine.

Aggark says about 20 to 30 people attended.

“I’m happy there’s money coming into Nunavut but there’s nothing coming in to Chester,” said Aggark.

He says the community would be happier if they saw more work from the mine or compensation because of the added expense for hunters.

He also says the community would benefit from a youth or elder’s centre.

The review board’s final hearings will be held in March in Baker Lake.

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