Ten years after the creation of Canada’s newest territory — Nunavut — its problems remain the same, a new report suggests. While craving greater autonomy from the federal government, it still needs boatloads of cash. This year, its residents will receive $1 billion (Canadian) in direct federal funding, $32,373 per capita. Education and employment still lag far behind the country’s other provinces.
The Globe and Mail says:
“Nunavut is the only Canadian jurisdiction without mental-health treatment and rehabilitation facilities, despite rampant substance abuse and sky-high suicide rates. An addictions and mental-health strategy is imperative, the report states.”
I’ve been to the Arctic, to a small Quebec town called Salluit, on a reporting trip for the Montreal Gazette. The social problems were shocking. Bored kids were sniffing gasoline and dying in snowbanks. The local community center, built atop permafrost, had so warped the walls were bound together with enormous metal struts and the rooms were unusable. A town swimming pool was being used to store raw sewage. Most people had no toilets but used “honeybuckets”, a large metal garbage can, lined with plastic, topped by a toilet seat. Because of the appalling sanitary conditions, kids often suffered diarrhea and stayed home from school.
I spent all of 24 hours there but have never forgotten the grinding, shocking poverty that is often normal life in the Arctic.
One of the issues the report calls for is much stronger opposition to anti-sealing campaigns. I wonder how PETA’s fanatics would feel about shitting into a honeybucket.