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News Briefs: Monday, October 16, 2017

Bird is the word


An unusual black bird had plenty of people speculating about what type of fowl it might be.

A resident noticed the bird moving slowly and reacting poorly to the cool weather, so he scooped it up and brought it inside. Images of the creature were soon uploaded to social media.

"It's a strange bird. It looks like a carnivore," said George Qattalik, manager of the Igloolik Hunters and Trappers Association, who saw the pictures online. "I've never seen those kinds of birds. They look like female king eider ducks, but smaller."

Many people commenting on Facebook agreed that it appears to be a variety of coot, likely an American coot.

The National Audubon Society gives some credence to that theory, showing images of similar-looking birds and describing the American coot as having distinctive lobed toes, as does the one in Iglulik.

American coots are "tough, adaptable waterbirds," according to the National Audubon Society.

However, their normal northern range only takes them as far as the southern NWT, so this one would have strayed a long way off the usual flight path.

Derek Neary

Young singer impresses audience


Mary Itorcheak, a student at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit, is a young singer/songwriter on the rise.

On the evening of Oct. 7 she more than held her own as the opening act for Nova Scotia's Jenn Grant, demonstrating a conversational ease with the audience. Grant, an award-winning folk-pop singer-songwriter based in Halifax, NS, could be seen at the back swaying to the young woman's tunes.

Itorcheak's tender songs, all in Inuktitut, included one about her grandfather called Ataatasiaqangitu and The Place I Call Home, which she wrote at a songwriting workshop.

That workshop took place earlier this year with the Twin Flames duo of Jaaji and Chelsey June, whom Alianait had also brought to town. The workshop was a partnership with the Qaggiavuut Society.

Itorcheak, daughter of Iqaluit musician and songwriter Gideonie Joamie, previously played at the Alianait Arts Festival this past summer and during Nunavut Day festivities in the capital.

Michele LeTourneau

Advocating for a youth-oriented radio station

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Caroline Robinson is determined to get a radio station for youth on the air.

A social work student with a background in radio, Robinson has been holding focus groups and talking to residents between the ages of 15 and 27 about how they could benefit from having access to the airwaves.

"Youth want to be heard and they don't have any outlet besides social media to get their voices out there," Robinson said, adding that youth have been telling her that the existing community radio station in Cambridge Bay is more geared toward adults with traditional and country music as opposed to the hip-hop genre that many younger people enjoy.

"It would help build self-esteem. It's a healthy outlet for children to be creative and also get their voice out there," she said of broadcasting.

Robinson has been reaching out to radio networks in the south and has already had a soundboard sent to Cambridge Bay. Once she has completed her social work program she's in the second of three years she said she will devote more time to getting any final pieces of equipment and the broadcast licence in place.

"I see that there is a need and I'm going to do everything I can to get it going," said Robinson.

Derek Neary

Arena floor getting new concrete

Gjoa Haven

The opening of the arena in Gjoa Haven will only happen after a new base of concrete is poured on the facility's floor in the next week or two, said recreation coordinator Caroline Anavilok.

"It's going to be a while (before) it's open," she said.

In the meantime, there are plans to soon release activity schedules at both school gyms, the community hall and the new and improved weight room.

A plane brought in new equipment new dumbbells, a bench press, a treadmill and other cardio machines last month, Anavilok said. The weight room, open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., has regularly been attracting 30 to 35 people per week since it was upgraded, she added.

Derek Neary

Volunteers help remote communities celebrate children's birthdays


A Facebook group, which for two years has been providing assistance for Northerners to celebrate the birthdays of their children, is reaching out to let Nunavut parents know they are still available to help.

The Northern Birthday Box Project, which can be found on Facebook under that name, was started two years ago and has, as a group, sent more than 1812 boxes.

"Sponsors are the ones who actually buy and send the birthday boxes, so there is no cost to the recipient," said organizer and veteran Thompson, Man. volunteer Bobbi Montean.

"We ask that sponsors provide a minimum of a cake mix, icing and decoration. If they choose to send more, that is totally up to them. When a family applies, they can request themes, flavours, colours, and indicate if there are food allergies."

Montean added most of the sponsors live in southern Canada, where there are more options for buying different kinds of supplies with a wider variety of themes.

Michele LeTourneau

Great viewingat visitor's centre


The Unikkaarvik Visitor's Centre is offering films and a rare Northern-made show during the second half of October.

In the film category, Oct. 19 sees a screening of Chloe and Theo, the tale of an Inuk (Theo Ikummaq of Iglulik) who travels to New York City to warn the world's leaders of the dangers of climate change.

The film also stars Dakota Johnson and Mira Sorvino.

On the 26th, the centre will air the documentary The Experimental Eskimos, about three Inuit boys who were taken from their parents in a government experiment to assimilate them into white society.

The films begin at 7:30 p.m each week.

On Oct. 30, a pan-Canadian tour featuring Northern artists from the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut comes to the capital.

The program says this will be "a festival experience featuring visual artists, Inuit and Dene athletes, performing artists and more."

The show begins at 7 p.m.

Michele LeTourneau

Resolute Polar bear activity slows


Several polar bears were coming into Resolute during the first week of October, primarily at night, but their presence more recently has mostly been limited to the outskirts of the community, by the dump, RCMP Const. Stephen Hynes said on Oct. 12.

"There's still five or six polar bears hanging around here but they have not been wandering into town," he said.

However, social media reports of a bear at a residence and a mother and cubs at the ATCO building came later that evening.

Even though hamlet staff burn the edible waste at the landfill to reduce the enticement to the scavengers, "they don't mind getting into the fire and digging out the garbage," Hynes said, adding that he noticed one of the bears had singed fur.

Derek Neary

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