IQALUIT, Nunavut – The premiers of six western provinces and territories arrive in this eastern Arctic boom town today for a gathering expected to focus on development of natural resources and its impact on northern and remote communities.
Their arrival coincides with Nunavut Day, which marks the creation of the territory in 1993.
Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna will greet his counterparts from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Yukon at a hotel overlooking the town’s historical Frobisher Bay.
The Frobisher Inn also overlooks a garbage dump fire that’s been smouldering since May, occasionally sending puffs of acrid smoke over a community bustling with construction projects and Inuit children playing in the craggy creeks that empty into the bay.
Iqaluit, with a population nearing 7,000, is considered the gateway to the high Arctic, as well as the former Inuit homelands that are being increasingly exploited for natural resources.
The indigenous, traditionally nomadic Inuit are struggling to cope with Arctic development, fearing a loss of their values and way of life. They’re plagued by high levels of suicide, homelessness and substance abuse.