A few weeks ago, we had a story on an exchange between our two Inuvik-based MLAs, Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie and Inuvik-Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler, on the ongoing work at Mike Zubko Airport.
In it, Archie gives the schedule of construction of a new airport terminal, improvements to the drainage and extending the runway by 3,000 feet to allow for the landing of larger aircraft.
What stood out to me from the story was Semmler’s statement that she had not received any responses from the GNWT in regards to her questions on the project’s progress – and she’s an elected member of the legislative assembly.
Last week, we learned how the Gwich’in Tribal Council was upset the GNWT decided to close the Dempster Highway in the wake of two confirmed cased of Covid-19 in Inuvik. Grand Chief Ken Smith was upset not only because the decision cut people off from their hunting camps right when the Porcupine caribou herd was coming into harvesting range, but also because he only found out about it by reading it in the news.
One week before that we saw the GNWT announce the second Inuvik Covid-19 case this fall was confirmed, then 10 minutes later told media to disregard the announcement, then made the same announcement the next day during a press conference.
Lastly, this week we have a story about former Infrastructure Minister Katrina Nokleby asking Archie about funding for Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway repairs, which Archie says are still going through the assessment phase before they can be properly budgeted. Nokleby wondered aloud how much more assessing needed to be done and noted there were several places that could be given a good boost just by laying some gravel. The two agreed to meet and compare notes. No word yet on if when that information will reach the rest of us.
Fast forward to last week, when our sister newspaper, News/North, reported that the dentists would provide the care were left completely out of talks between the GNWT and the federal government on how to get them back into the communities.
Not an incisor has been cleaned let alone drilled since March when public health officials declared dentists couldn’t travel from the hubs to treat patients in their home communities.
The way things are going, it could be next March before the dentists are informed from on high how all of this will work, to say nothing for the rest of us.
The president of the NWT/NU Dental Association, Dr. Roger Armstrong, said it’s “simply astounding” that dentists were not and have not been looped in.
In many instances the Beaufort Delta has much stronger family, cultural, economic and communication ties to the Yukon. As mentioned in a previous editorial, the lack of a road to the rest of the Northwest Territories has effectively isolated us. With Whitehorse commercial radio broadcasting daily Covid-19 updates in just about every store in town, it’s a safe assumption we’re better informed of what’s happening in our neighbours’ capital than our own.
That neighbour has already expressed interest in electrifying the Dempster. Perhaps we should just let them have the whole road and write them a cheque to widen it for us.