Creating jobs and opportunities for northern communities: Pangnirtung Small Craft Harbour

Pangnirtung, Nunavut
20 August 2009

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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Ullakkut.  Thank you, Leona for your kind introduction, and for treating me last evening to a wonderful dinner of fresh seal.  Greetings also to Premier Aariak, as well as my good friend Minister Strahl for joining us here today.  It truly is a pleasure for me to be here in the picturesque Hamlet of Pangnirtung. Thank you all for your warm welcome to your community.

Pangnirtung is truly a place steeped in history, replete with culture and blessed by natural beauty.  The past echoes in this fjord:  On his quest to find the Northwest Passage, European explorer John Davis stopped here in the 1500s, before crossing the nearby strait that today bears his name. In the 1840s, Pangnirtung was a major hub for Arctic whaling vessels, and later, the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a trading post here.

Today, your community is famous for its weaving, sculpting and printmaking.  And of course, for the adventurous visitor, this is the Northern gateway to the magnificent Auyuittuq National Park, world-renowned for its sweeping glaciers and towering granite mountains.  This is my first visit to Pangnirtung, though I should mention my wife visited here on her way to Auyuittuq Park many years ago.  And I am here as part of my fourth annual August trip “north of sixty.”  As you know, Governor General Michaëlle Jean was also here recently.

Our presence here is just one more tangible indication of the growing importance of the North to Canada’s future.  In the North today, there is an undeniable confluence of events taking place:  as the polar ice pack recedes and the global demand for energy and mineral resources rises, the world is indeed beating a path to Canada’s Arctic frontier.

That’s why our Government has been acting on our ambitious Northern Strategy.  It is a four-point plan to assert and defend Canada's sovereignty, to protect the unique and fragile Arctic ecosystem, to develop a strong Northern economy and society and to encourage good governance and greater local control.

In keeping with the priorities of our plan, this Tuesday I was pleased to announce the creation of our new development agency exclusively for the Territories, CanNor, to be headquartered in Nunavut, in Iqaluit. 

Today, I want to talk about providing jobs and opportunity in Northern communities like this.  Nearly 90 per cent of all commercial fish harvesting in Canada – worth, by the way, over two billion dollars annually – is landed at the nearly one thousand small craft harbours dotting our coastlines.  And here in Pangnirtung, the greatest potential for future economic growth and development exists in the inshore turbot fishery.  But what the local fishermen are missing is a safe, efficient harbour to tie up their boats and offload their catch.  Just as truckers need good roads and planes need good airports, fishermen need good harbours.

That’s why I am pleased to announce today, as committed in Budget 2009, that the Government of Canada is investing in the creation and construction of a community harbour right here in Pangnirtung and that the first building phase will begin this fall.  During construction, our government will work with key community stakeholders, as well as with territorial and local governments in the design, development and use of the new harbour.

This project is just one of many small craft harbours across Canada which our Government is building or improving.  From sea to sea to sea, we are creating jobs and supporting coastal communities.  These projects not only stimulate economic activity and boost employment where it is needed today, they also provide local communities with the infrastructure needed to prosper in the future.  Here in Pangnirtung indeed across the vast expanse of our north it is the future upon which we are focused.  And, of course, by enhancing opportunities for northern communities like Pangnirtung we are also strengthening Canada’s sovereignty and in doing so, we are living up to our commitment to preserve and protect our Arctic, to ensure that this rugged and beautiful place will be a strong and vibrant part of our country for generations to come.

Thank you.  Qujannamiik.

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