Inuit workers benefit from Cape Dyer site: Qikiqtaaluk Logistics
“If there were no DEW lines I wouldn’t be working”
Many Inuit are benefiting from jobs at Qikiqtaaluk Logistics Inc.’s Cape Dyer cleanup site, says project director Greg Johnson.
Of the 175 to 200 people on payroll during the summer season, about 85 per cent of those workers come from Nunavut, and about 80 per cent are Inuit, Johnson said.
“We’ve been providing training on site this summer for office administration, inventory and warehousing,actually using computer software to track all of our materials on site, as well as heavy equipment operation,” he said.
Most employees are working three-week-in and three-week-out rotations, to “give as much opportunity to as many people as possible.”
Most workers are hired from Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, Clyde River, Kimmirut, Igloolik, and Hall Beach, with one from Cape Dorset.
Tommy Aliqatuqtuq, a labourer who works 12-hour shifts, enjoys the work and the beauty of the surrounding area.
There are no jobs for him in Qikiqtarjuaq, he said.
“If there were no DEW lines, I wouldn’t be working,” he said. “I love it here.”
Aliqatuqtuq said he’s treated fairly, and that “the people are really good.”
He’s currently working on covering up the landfill at Cape Dyer’s upper site.
“It’s gonna be covered, and it’s gonna be awesome,” he said.
Tyler Iqaalik, also from Qikiqtarjuaq, who said he’s satisfied with his job calls it “the best.”
But the Cape Dyer project is hard to imagine until you’ve been there “to see the magnitude of what is happening in terms of remediation,” Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak said during an August 15 visit to the site.
She commended Qikiqtaaluk Logistics for the training they do in collaboration with the Kakivak Association, which provides funding to QL for skills and training.
“I think these types of skills will be very handy for many years to come,” said Aariak, adding the work being done at the site was a “great contribution” to capacity building in the territory.
But that doesn’t always work out for the logistics company.
“We lose about 25 per cent of our staff every year and a lot of those people, because of the experience and the knowledge that they gain here, they get other jobs elsewhere that’s why they don’t come back to work for us,” Johnson said.
However, building Inuit skills and training is important to the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., Johnson said.
“That’s something that’s very important that comes out of these projects and that’s something that we’d like to continue,” he said,
“Without doing the training, we aren’t able to bring in new workers, future generations that will require skills here that they can use on other sites and at other locations.”
People feel pride when working and being able to support their families and children, he said, especially those who come from over-crowded homes.
“The ability for those people, their willingness to learn, the pride that they have being involved in a project that’s cleaning up their land, is something that can’t be calculated,” Johnson said.