Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic July 24, 2017 - 10:00 am

Lack of Canada 150 funding threatens to ground Arctic aviation tour

"It’s unfortunate that wasn’t seen as important to other funders"

BETH BROWN
The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour entertains a crowd in Baker Lake during a July 1 show in that Kivalliq community. While the show has visited the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions, it ran out of funding before it could continue its tour through eastern Nunavut, Nunavik and the Nunatsiavut regions. (PHOTO BY CHARLIE TAUTUAJUK)
The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour entertains a crowd in Baker Lake during a July 1 show in that Kivalliq community. While the show has visited the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions, it ran out of funding before it could continue its tour through eastern Nunavut, Nunavik and the Nunatsiavut regions. (PHOTO BY CHARLIE TAUTUAJUK)
Air acrobats fly over Taloyoak June 22 as crowds cheer from below. The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour was forced to cancel the Nunavut and Nunavik legs of the tour because of a $1.2 million funding shortfall. (PHOTO BY SALLY TAKOLIK)
Air acrobats fly over Taloyoak June 22 as crowds cheer from below. The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour was forced to cancel the Nunavut and Nunavik legs of the tour because of a $1.2 million funding shortfall. (PHOTO BY SALLY TAKOLIK)

The August opening of Iqaluit’s airport will be short one air show, unless the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour can come up with a million dollars.

One week after the Canada 150th pan-Arctic aviation tour announced that it has run out of money, there is still no sign that more money is forthcoming, said executive director Nancy McClure.

The $2.3 million tour—which includes 15 professional pilots, 80 volunteers and has been two years in the planning—never received approval from the federal government for the funding that organizers expected to get as a Canada 150 initiative. 

“We began with the belief that we would be successful in receiving that funding,” said McClure. “We’re at a point where we can’t proceed.”

They have raised about $7,500 through crowd sourcing, but that’s a pittance compared with the $1.2 million they need to get planes in the sky to finish the 97-community tour.

People in the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions have already seen their airshows, as well as communities in Yukon and NWT.

But 23 communities throughout eastern Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Greenland will miss out if the tour doesn’t continue.

“We wanted the communities to be a part of this. It’s unfortunate that wasn’t seen as important to other funders. Our goal was to bring this to isolated communities,” said McClure.

But she added that she hasn’t given up hope yet.

The tour, planned by professional aviators in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., was envisioned as a reconciliation tool and inspiration for northern youth.

“It’s not just about airshows,” said McClure. 

Baker Lake’s Charlie Tautuaqjuk said people in his community are still talking about the airshow, which was the highlight of Canada Day festivities in the town of around 2,000. 

“For my kids to be able to sit down with the pilots, have a discussion with them and get their autograph, it was fantastic,” said Tautuaqjuk, who acted as community contact for the tour. “It sent a strong message that everything and anything is possible if you pursue it.”

The tour organizers are asking people to show support for the project by phoning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at (613) 992-4211, donating to crowd funding at caat2017.com/home/donate/, becoming a corporate sponsor or talking about the tour on social media.

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