The Nunavut and Yukon governments are each giving $25,000 to the United Way NWT fund established for wildfire and flood relief.
The territories’ premiers made the announcement at a news conference after meeting in Inuvik on Wednesday afternoon. They discussed issues like climate change, Arctic security and infrastructure.
“It’s a really pleasant surprise,” said NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane of the donations from northern neighbours.
“Usually, in politics, surprises are not a good thing – but this is a huge surprise.”
The NWT communities of Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation were evacuated on Sunday as a wildfire drew near. Efforts to fight that fire continue and the majority of the communities’ 4,000 residents remain away from their homes.
Meanwhile, Fort McPherson has declared a state of emergency over flooding that has washed away some of the hamlet’s access to its trucked water source.
Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai said the United Way NWT fund, which hopes to raise $300,000, was the quickest and fastest way to show Yukon’s support.
Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok said: “We don’t have many in numbers, but in times of need … we’re always there for each other, and that to us is very important.”
“Our jurisdictions are small,” Cochrane said. “We keep fighting the same battle that, you know, we don’t get enough support from the federal government, when we’re always behind and keep getting behind instead of getting ahead.
“So when smaller jurisdictions can donate $25,000 each … I am so grateful, because all of us scramble to make our resources last the best we can. So on behalf of the Northwest Territories, I sincerely thank both of you for your donation.”
United Way NWT separately said on Wednesday that it is seeking more applicants for its rapid micro-grants.
The charity says it has cash available for NWT organizations who need it to help members cope with the impacts of wildfires and flooding, or who are trying to help evacuees.
It asked organizations to come forward via the United Way NWT website.
Talar Stockton contributed reporting.