Nunavut tourism operator forced to abandon floe edge camp
Some people miffed about supplies left on Pond Inlet ice floe
Nunavut tourism operator Arctic Kingdom said an emergency forced the company to leave supplies and equipment sitting by a floe edge outside Pond Inlet last month.
A number of photos circulated on social media earlier this week, showing plywood sheets, gas canisters, plastic crates and other building supplies strewn across an ice floe.
That caused a reaction from Nunavummiut across the territory, who demanded to know why the company had abandoned the material.
But Arctic Kingdom says the photos were taken when its staff were in the process of relocating a tourist camp for safety reasons.
Company president Graham Dickson said staff had camped on the ice floe ahead of its June 20 Narwhal and Polar Bear safari tour when, at about 2:00 a.m. that morning, large cracks began to appear in the ice below.
Staff began to pack up the camp with the help of local hunters.
“We immediately responded to the situation as safely and as efficiently as we could,” the company said in a June 30 statement. “Crews were able to disassemble and move much of the camp to a safer location, shuttling back and forth to rescue as much equipment as possible.”
Arctic Kingdom said its staff and crew suffered no injuries in the camp relocation process. There were no clients on site at the time, although the company was able to resume its floe edge tour on a more secure section of ice.
Over the next week, staff were able to retrieve more supplies and equipment, providing compensation to local hunters who helped salvage the material.
Workers continue to return to the former camp site to remove any remaining materials, Dickson said.
Dickson said the photos that circulated “misrepresented” the situation and were likely taken early on in the relocation.
‘We think we’ll be able to recoup 96 to 98 per cent of everything, and we hope to do it safely,” said Dickson, who noted the old camp is now free floating. “We take it very seriously.”
Another what Arctic Kingdom left behind at floe edge pic.twitter.com/WTl435c8Bg— Bernadette Dean (@BernadetteDean2) June 30, 2014
The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation said July 2 that it is making inquiries into the incident.
A number of local organizations in Pond Inlet said that they’re waiting to receive more information about what happened at the camp, said to be about 50 miles from the Baffin community.
Tununiq MLA Joe Enook said he was sent some of the floe edge photos over the last few days, but didn’t have enough information to determine what had actually happened.
“If there’s any real worry, we’ll let the local organizations deal with it,” he said. “If they need my assistance, I’m more than happy to help.”
It’s not the first trouble on ice the company has faced; in 2013, a group of travellers taking part in Arctic Kingdom’s Northwest Passage package found themselves stranded when the piece of ice they were camped on broke away from the floe edge in Admiralty Inlet near Arctic Bay.
That triggered an emergency response from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ont., which sent a Hercules aircraft to drop supplies for the 20 stranded tourists and 10 Inuit hunters.
Members of the group were soon picked up and returned to Arctic Bay.