Nunavut and Yukon territory are donating $50,000 to the United Way to assist in the NWT’s fire and flood relief efforts.

Premiers Ranj Pillai and P.J. Akeeagok made the announcement during a press conference May 17 in Inuvik, with each territory kicking in half.

“It’s been very special, it feels like coming back home,” said Akeeagok. “In the past two days we’ve covered some significant ground.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are impacted here in the NWT. The threat we see up North is real. So with that, we’re very pleased to be able to provide a donation to the relief of up to $25,000”

The three leaders met with Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Chair Duane Ningaqsiq Smith about issues facing the North as part of a pan-northern premier’s conference

Pillai said giving to the United Way was the quickest way to show support.

“It’s really how we could help,” he said. “We help when we can, right across the North.”

Premier Cochrane thanked both her colleagues for their support.

“It’s a nice surprise,” said Cochrane. “Usually in politics, surprises aren’t a good thing.”

Yukon to step up maintenance of Dempster Highway

One area that was stressed during the two days by Cochrane and by Kykavichik was the condition of the Dempster Highway, which many drivers on both sides of the border say the Yukon has under-maintained for several years.

Pillaj said he was committed to speaking to his highway minister about what could be done to improve the conditions.

“There is a tremendous relationship between the Yukon (and Beaufort Delta,)” he said. “From the standpoint of culture and families — they’ve always been connected. It is extremely important that the road is maintained right through from Arctic sovereignty to economic opportunities.

“We heard it loud and clear.”

Pillaj said he has reached out to the GTC to see what role they could potentially play in the maintenance of the highway on the Yukon side.

Noting that there needed to be a long-term capital budget in place, he added he would look into federal funding for economic and transport corridors to help cover the costs of gravel.

He noted the economic boost the Yukon has seen tourists continuing on to the Dempster and the Inuvik-Tuktoyakuk highway to reach the Arctic ocean was significant.

“I feel we have an obligation,” he said. “I think I’m going back with a concerted effort.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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