INUVIK, NWT–A groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway in the Northwest Territories today, effectively extending the Dempster Highway through to the Arctic coast. Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in the ceremony, accompanied by Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Nellie Cournoyea, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation as well as Robert Alexie Jr., President of the Gwich’in Tribal Council.
“I am tremendously proud that our Government’s investment in this job creating, all-season Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway will, for the first time by road, connect and unify Canada from sea to sea to sea. This historic project realizes the visionary initiative of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker back in the 1960’s,” said Prime Minister Harper.
The new stretch of highway, which is expected to be completed in 2018, will provide more efficient transport of northern products and resources to southern markets, aims to better connect Northerners to high quality, well-paying jobs, and will help bring lower cost supplies and materials up to northern communities and families.
The road has been identified as a priority by the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, in keeping with two key objectives of Canada’s Northern Strategy: ‘Promoting Social and Economic Development’ and ‘Exercising our Arctic Sovereignty.’