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On Thin Ice: Iqaluit’s Water Crisis

In this episode we visit the city of Iqaluit in Canada’s northern territory of Nunavut, which is battling a water crisis on multiple fronts. At the time of taping (mid-October), residents were alerted not to drink or cook with water due to contamination. But for years, the city’s main water supply – Lake Geraldine – has experienced dropping levels. And overall, climate change is impacting everything from the city’s water supply, to thawing permafrost.

Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, on leave from her role as Deputy Mayor of Iqaluit, shares how the people of Iqaluit are coping with these water challenges and what they mean for the traditional Inuit way of life.

Guest Bio

Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster is now the newly-elected MLA for Iqaluit-Sinna, one of 4 MLAs representing Iqaluit at the territorial level. At the time of our interview, Janet was on leave from her role as Deputy Mayor of Iqaluit.

Further Reading

Water advisories | City of Iqaluit

Iqaluit city council extends state of local emergency over water crisis

Article detailing Iqaluit’s water woes and the impact of climate change and melting permafrost on Iqaluit. 

Arctic permafrost stores roughly twice the amount of carbon that’s currently in the Earth’s atmosphere, and is already fueling climate change. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as global average temperatures increase, a trend that’s threatening the fragile Northern ecosystem.

Canadian scientists are warning that the accelerating loss of permafrost could shave five years off the schedule for reaching global net-zero emissions, if we have a hope of limiting the average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. Faster warming would cause even more melting in the Arctic.

Houses in Nunavut are designed with the understanding that ground and permafrost under the home will remain solid – keeping the foundations from moving. With the onset of climate change, permafrost is beginning to thaw in more regions than before, and this is causing some building foundations to become less stable.


Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster on Twitter

City of Iqaluit on Twitter

Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster on Instagram