The Department of Community and Government Services has obtained two mobile refrigerated units that can be shipped to communities on an as-needed basis to serve as temporary morgues.

The units, which cost $38,760 apiece and are being kept in Iqaluit for now, can each hold up to 12 corpses.

“We were concerned about how we would address this if the coronavirus arrived in Nunavut and if many people would pass away in the communities,” says Lorne Kusugak, minister of Community and Government Services.
photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

The topic arose in the legislative assembly on Oct. 23 when Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak requested an update on CGS’s efforts to address the lack of proper facilities in more than a dozen Nunavut communities. Gjoa Haven has an old building that is used as a makeshift morgue but it “has never been fixed up as a visitation centre,” said Akoak. He noted that CGS has up to $250,000 through a small capital fund to assist communities in converting buildings into morgues.

CGS Minister Lorne Kusugak said the Covid-19 pandemic added to the urgency for the territorial government to take action because there’s potential for numerous people to die in a single community. That’s why the mobile refrigeration units were purchased.

In regards to transforming old buildings into morgues, Kusugak said, “The municipalities and our staff have frequent meetings to look at options, to look at what assets they have, and what types of renovations are required. We are currently working with the municipalities to look at where we can find a solution and to make sure that the building is used for its intended purpose.”



Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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