I hope everyone had a productive summer and fall fishing, hunting, and harvesting berries and greens in preparation for winter. As we continue to respond to the wreckage left by Typhoon Merbok and prepare for the winter ahead, we are immensely thankful that no lives were lost. While the storm was devastating, we will recover.
The outpouring of support we have received spans Alaska, from our dedicated first responders to everyday Alaskans, and shows the best of our great state. When disaster strikes, Alaskans are there for each other. Our communities, friends and neighbors have pulled together and reminded all of us why we are blessed to live in rural Alaska.
I also want to thank Governor Dunleavy and the Congressional Delegation for showing real leadership — they rolled up their sleeves for Alaskans when we needed them the most. Additional appreciation goes to Governor Dunleavy, Senator Murkowski and Congresswoman Peltola for visiting the region to see the devastation.
During Typhoon Merbok we saw multiple vessels, including two cruise ships, seek refuge from the storm in the deep, protected waters of Port Clarence. Our Delegation has long seen the need for a strategic system of ports and harbors throughout the Arctic and the unique role Port Clarence would serve in that system. The need for maritime infrastructure will only increase as vessel traffic, including foreign oil and LNG tankers, increases through the Bering Strait. Senators Murkowski, Sullivan and our dear late-Congressman Young haven’t just advocated for the necessary infrastructure, they have consistently ensured our local communities are an integral part of the process and will realize benefits from those developments.
Along those lines, Senator Murkowski recently introduced the Arctic Commitment Act. This bi-partisan legislation is a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of our region; one that is desperately needed to ensure the people and communities of the Arctic play a direct role in the development of the Arctic. By integrating commerce, research, defense, response and infrastructure priorities, the Arctic Commitment Act provides an integrated vision for the Arctic, while also pushing for the institutional reforms needed in federal agencies to execute that vision. It is a vital starting point, and we look forward to working with the Congressional Delegation on these priorities for our region.
Our changing climate and the geostrategic importance of our region create complex challenges for our region, People and the state. But with leadership that genuinely listens to, engages with, and supports Our People we will not just recover, we will reinvigorate our region in support of a peaceful and prosperous Arctic.
As you know, BSNC held its 2022 Annual Meeting on Oct. 2 in Nome. I thank Eugene Asicksik for his longstanding service as a Board member. Eugene worked with the Board for more than three decades to address the needs of our region and for the advancement and benefit of Our People. His leadership and dedication to his community of Shaktoolik and the Bering Strait region is much appreciated. Quyaana Eugene, your wife Rhoda and your family for your longstanding service to our region, shareholders and descendants.
BSNC continues to evaluate and gather information in preparation to launch an educational campaign on open enrollment. In August, BSNC shared the results of the survey that was conducted last October by DHM Research. The survey was one step in a process that will have the Board of Directors and management evaluate the effect on existing shareholders of opening the rolls. Understanding what is important to BSNC shareholders is critical to guiding the development and formation of future goals. The BSNC Board of Directors is carefully considering an appropriate path forward. We will continue to keep you updated on this topic.
I hope that everyone has a happy and safe Holiday Season. Quyaana for your continued support of and involvement in BSNC.
Gail R. Schubert
BSNC President & CEO