Thousands of pounds of country food was wasted earlier this month after Baker Lake’s community freezer broke down.
“It’s going to impact the whole community because a lot of people don’t have good freezers at home,” said Philip Putumiraqtuq, chairperson for the hunters and trappers organization.
“We really have nothing to use right now.”
The freezer stopped working during the week of July 16. Although the amount of meat in the freezer was not weighed, based on estimates from previous years Putumiraqtuq believes around 5,000 pounds of meat was lost.
“It wasn’t cooling enough. We had to shut it down. And we had to get it cleaned out,” he said “We had to phone the community to pick up all the meat but everything was already spoiled.”
Putumiraqtuq said the HTO had been noticing problems with the freezer this past spring.
“It’s not the first time we’ve had problems with the freezer. It should have been better maintained.”
The community freezer is funded and maintained by community and government services (CGS) and overseen by the hunters and trappers organization.
In an email to Kivalliq News, Mustafa Eric, communications specialist for the department, stated the reason for the failure of the freezer was mechanical, because three of the four compressor units failed.
“Attempts to repair the units was complicated by the COVID-19 situation as it made difficult to get parts and appropriately skilled technicians into the territory,” he stated.
The HTO was tasked with cleaning out the rancid meat from the freezer. The organization ended up hiring two community members who disposed of the wasted meat over the course of three days.
“Losing anything is bad. So we lost too much,” said Sheldon Dorey, SAO for Baker Lake.
Dorey said the old freezer was scheduled to be replaced this year. One is currently on order and expected to arrive on the fall sealift. However, he said CGS will need to repair the new one before then.
“The community still needs somewhere to put their game because there is not enough space in people’s houses,” he said.
Dorey acknowledged that CGS is trying to get someone to do repairs but that it could be at least another week.
“We expect it to be up and running. When is another story.”