Agnico Eagles Mines (AEM) made a huge splash when it donated more than $1 million to community initiatives in Baker Lake on Aug. 24.

Held during the annual Festival by the Lake event, the announcement was made during a community celebration for the official opening of the Amaruq Whale Tail project which attracted more than 2,000 people.

Richard Aksawnee, left, of Baker Lake Search and Rescue receives a $100,000 donation cheque from Agnico Eagle vice-president Dominque Girard
during a community celebration of the Amaruq Whale Tail’s official opening on Aug. 24, 2019, in Baker Lake. Photo courtesy of Mathieu Dupuis

During the community celebration, Luc Chouinard, general manager of AEM’s Meadowbank operations, announced donations of $250,000 to the Baker Lake Fire Department, $100,000 to the hamlet of Baker Lake, $150,000 to Baker Lake Search & Rescue and $100,000 to the hamlet’s recreation department.

Chouinard told the gathering Agnico Eagle is dedicated to developing mineral resources responsibly and for the benefit of all.

He said AEM is proud to contribute to the growth and prosperity of Baker Lake and its surrounding communities and is committed to creating strong communities and a legacy of support that will help nurture the next generation of Nunavummiut.

“Abluqta means ‘step forward’ in Inuktitut and that is exactly what we’re hoping to achieve with our support for these community-identified priorities – helping the people of Baker Lake take a step forward and improve their lives by strengthening local food security, expanding their health care and emergency services, and by providing more opportunities to socially interact with their friends and family,” said Chouinard.

In a statement to Kivalliq News, AEM corporate director of public communications Dale Coffin indicated a $500,000 donation to Abluqta will be over five years and is to establish a food bank and to help address food insecurity in the region.

He said the program will support the delivery of a weekly hot lunch program for elders and weekly meals for volunteers staffing the food bank (and related Thrift Shop), help organize various fundraising initiatives, provide a steady supply of dry food goods while allowing families most in need to pick up a food basket, and provide sufficient dry food reserve stocks for emergencies, with special attention to those with children at home.

“The donation of $250,000 to the Baker Lake Fire Department and $100,000 to the hamlet of Baker Lake is to purchase a garage to house and secure its new ambulance,” stated Coffin.

Joseph Arnasungaaq, from left, of the Baker Lake Abluqta Society accepts a $500,000 donation from Agnico Eagle vice president Dominque Girard as Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak makes the announcement to the crowd gathered for the community celebration of the Amaruq Whale Tail’s official opening on Aug. 24, 2019, in Baker Lake.  Photo courtesy of Mathieu Dupuis

“The ambulance was recently purchased by Arctic Fuel — a local supplier to Agnico Eagle — as a gift to the community.

“However, due to a fire that destroyed one of the municipal garages back in January, there was no place to safely park the ambulance and it was not able to be placed into service.

“By purchasing the garage, Baker Lake is finally able to put its new ambulance into service and provide better community health and emergency care to its citizens.”

Coffin said the donation of $150,000 to Baker Lake Search & Rescue is for the acquisition of sophisticated drone technology and other equipment related to implementing more effective search and rescue operations, and to provide the required technical training and certification for the operators.

“The donation of $100,000 to Baker Lake’s recreation department is for the purchase of a new sound and lighting system for the very popular square dances and other events the hamlet regularly hosts at its community Centre,” said Coffin.

Amaruq is a satellite deposit located about 50 kilometres northwest of AEM’s existing Meadowbank mine with the Whale Tail gold deposit. It is being developed as a conventional open-pit-mining operation that will supply ore to the Meadowbank mill.

There are currently 240 employees and contractors working at the site and, once commercial production gets underway, it is anticipated the Amaruq Whale Tail will produce about 2.5-million ounces of gold between 2019 and 2025, with annual gold production averaging 272,500 ounces.

Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News

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