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Belle Isle ferry two months ahead of schedule

The new ferry for the Strait of Belle Isle is named the Qajaq W, pronounced kayak. Some are concerned that the spelling of the name uses a different Inuit dialect than is used in Labrador.
The new ferry for the Strait of Belle Isle is named the Qajaq W, pronounced kayak. - Contributed

MV Qajaq W will begin transporting passengers and vehicles later this month

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.

Labrador Marine Inc.’s MV Qajaq W, the ferry formerly known as MV Grete, will begin transporting passengers and vehicles across the Strait of Belle Isle later this month, approximately two months earlier than expected.

The ferry arrived in St. John’s on Sunday morning, Jan. 20, and departs for St. Barbe on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The eight-year-old MV Qajaq W (pronounced “kayak W”) replaces the 49-year-old MV Apollo to service the Strait of Belle Isle.

“It’s also a significant moment for our province as the vessel is named Qajaq, reflecting the Indigenous elements of Labrador which highlights an important piece of our vast history and culture,” said Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster.

The vessel can transport as many as 300 passengers, 120 passenger vehicles and eight tractor trailers – 60 passengers and 35 vehicles more than the Apollo.

The seven-year-old MV Hiiumaa is currently undergoing modifications in Norway and will begin servicing communities on the north coast of Labrador and Black Tickle in June, as scheduled.

It was noted in a media release that “the two new vessels improve the way passengers, freight, and vehicles are transported throughout Labrador and across the Strait of Belle Isle.”

Both vessels are fully accessible for passengers with disabilities, 1A ice class certified and capable of operating in heavy sea ice conditions.

The contracts with Labrador Marine are valued at approximately $11.9 million per year for a 12-year term on the Strait of Belle Isle and $14.6 million per year for a 15-year term for northern Labrador. The contract serving northern Labrador will be delivered in working partnership with Nunatsiavut Marine Inc.

“The investments our government have made in ferries for the Strait of Belle Isle and northern Labrador, as well as the Trans-Labrador Highway, are providing stable and improved transportation for Labrador,” said Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker. “These modern and accessible ferries will also encourage more tourists to visit communities in Labrador and provide a more comfortable experience for all travellers.”

Related article:

Qajaq or Kajak? Labrador ferry name doesn't use Labrador Inuit dialect

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