Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Federal government calls on territories for help

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 07/05) - Premier Joe Handley says his $50,000 commitment this week to help tsunami victims in Southeast Asia may include planes and medical expertise from GNWT staff.

The premier said his government is still planning to send some of the pledged money to the Canadian Red Cross, but they are also thinking about other ways to help after receiving a call from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

"We had a request about the availability of short take-off and landing aircraft," said Handley.

"At some point they may or may not call on us to help with that kind of assistance."

Handley said the aircraft that came to mind are Twin Otters, which are well-known for their ability to fly through a variety of adverse conditions, as well as take-off and land over very short distances.

Handley said the territorial government is also checking on the availability of medical staff and supplies, such as Fort McPherson tents, to provide shelter for those left homeless by the disaster.

"This is a major disaster," said Handley. "I'm sure there are people in small villages who haven't even been looked at yet.

"People in the North are very empathetic to this kind of situation. There's a feeling that we have to do our part globally as well, although we have major challenges ourselves."

Teri Arychuk, part-owner of Air Tindi, said her company is checking into the availability of their aircraft, but they haven't received any official requests yet.

Air Tindi has several Twin Otters at its disposal, mostly for flying in and out of bush camps and small communities.

"I think they're just looking around in the event that they do have to call in if extra aircraft are required," said Arychuk.

"Basically, we said of course we would work out and see what we can do, but they're not rounding up any aircraft. I haven't heard anything from Foreign Affairs, so it's kind of premature at this point."