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NNSL Photo/graphic

Inuvik Drum: 2016 - The Year in Review


Drum looks back at half-century in print

The Inuvik Drum spent its 50th year in business by combing through history and reprinting old articles.

NNSL photo/graphic

In the story that kicked it off, Ian Butters, son of Inuvik Drum founder Tom Butters, said his father "knew the power of the word and saw the need for a word other than the official one."

Tom Butters gave up a lucrative career in government to start the Drum in 1966.

Northern News Services Ltd., the Drum's current owner, began publishing the paper as part of its NWT and Nunavut chain in 1988.

Northern News Services general manager Mike Scott, said the acquisition was the next logical step for the company, which had a News/North bureau in the community since the early ╬80s.

Children First looks bleak

After a worrying strategic review, the Children First Centre was asking both territorial and federal government to review how it funds early childhood education.

Chairs of the board went to Inuvik's town council in January 2016 to present a finalized analysis on funding, which stated bluntly that the centre cannot continue on as it has and must either cut expenditures significantly or acquire important new funding sources if it is to remain in existence.

During the year, the society restructured, including changing its caregiver-to-child ratio, and has since put itself in a much better financial position.

Duane Smith elected chairperson of IRC

Longtime chairperson of the Inuvik Community Corporation and former vice-chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Duane Smith was elected the new chairperson of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in January


Smith beat out Vernon Amos of Sachs Harbour; Jackie Jacobson and Vince Teddy of Tuktoyaktuk; and Richard McLeod of Inuvik for the spot, taking a total of 23 of the 42 votes by directors of community corporations on Jan. 25,


Amos came in second with 13 votes, while Jacobson garnered five and Teddy and McLeod received only one and zero, respectively.

Breaking bread builds bridges

East Three Secondary School and the Inuvik Regional Hospital combined to use food to build bridges between youth and elders.

Each week, teacher Danny Jellema's classes prepared a meal for the elders staying in long-term care at the hospital, trying to pass along whatever country food they could.

"It gives the kids a chance to see the value of passing on food and traditions," said Jellema at the time.

Susan Keats, who worked with the elders as an activity aid, told the Drum the food partnership with the high school was one aspect of keeping the elders in her care active and involved in the community.

"They were missing country food, and that fit right in with intergenerational programs," she said.

Cost-saving measures implemented in Tuk highway project

A decision to use less gravel on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway project meant cutting $10 to $13 million off the $299 million bill, said the GNWT's Department of Transportation in a technical briefing last year.

"We're trying to be as efficient as we can," said project director Kevin McLeod.

The new plans slashed 400,000 cubic metres of gravel from the highway's construction. Engineers for the project planned to reduce the highway's embankment for the remaining 55 km of its 120 kilometres.

Basketball takes over town

Twenty-nine teams and 110 players took part in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and clinic, with five communities represented. The previous record had been 70 participants.

Organizer Lorne Guy had been earlier worried about lower attendance, but the result proved the opposite.

Basketball fever kept going with a 5-on-5 tournament

with teams from across the Beaufort Delta the following weekend. Coaches told the Inuvik Drum that basketball's increased profile at the school was motivating students not only to participate, but to excel.


$1.4 million in unpaid taxes delay public housing project

The construction of Sydney Apartments, intended to be public housing units for single people on the corner of Bonnetplume Road and Reliance Street, had been indefinitely delayed after a judge ordered the builder's assets seized last year.

Millennium Construction Ltd., the contractor hired by the NWT Housing Corporation for the project, appeared to be no longer in business after an NWT court sheriff was instructed to seize and sell the company's assets to repay $1.4 million owed in federal income taxes.

Millennium owed more than $1.44 million to the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as just over $12,000 to the Western Arctic Business Development Corporation, according to court documents obtained by the Inuvik Drum.

Snowmobile thefts frustrate owners

A series of frustrated property owners took to social media in February 2016 looking for their missing and stolen snowmobiles after a particularly active weekend for thieves.╩

None, however, was more frustrated than Angel Simon, who got a bare eight weeks of use out of her snow machine after getting it all fixed up after the last time it was stolen.

"They drove off with the chain still on the track, and they drove it into a tree," she told the Drum at the time. "I'm still talking to the insurance company, but it may be a write-off."

Simon's Polaris Rush 600 Pro-ride was taken from where it was chained the night of Jan. 22. After a similar incident last spring, she had shelled out $2,000 to see it repaired in November 2015 and has since become far more vigilant. Someone had also tried to take the sled in November, but was unsuccessful.

Resounding 'no' to bars open Sundays

Most people who spoke at a public meeting last February didn't want to see bars open in Inuvik on Sundays.

Of the 60 or so people who turned out to the community hall to discuss the proposed bylaw change that would allow Class A liquor permit holders to serve alcohol on Sundays and good Friday, 25 stepped up to the microphone to speak. Of those, 23 were vehemently opposed.

Nihtat Gwich'in inks deal with Northwind

Gwich'in and Inuvialuit were formally working together with the creation of Beaufort Delta GP Ltd., a partnership between the Nihtat Gwich'in Council and Northwind Industries.╩

"The economy is tough," said Northwind owner Kurt Wainman February 2016.

"We want to keep work local."

The company was formed to work on civil engineering projects including highway construction and maintenance; oil and gas development and exploration; marine and dockside servicing; and remote camp facilities construction and servicing.

The deal was signed Feb. 12 at the Alex Moses Greenland Building, creating the new company, but Wainman said the joint partnership has been in the works for some time.

Town hosts hundreds of athletes

Students from across the Beaufort Delta descended on Inuvik February 2016 to test their mettle against the best from the region in Northern and Dene Games.╩

"I'm enjoying it," said competitor Davey Inglangasuk on Feb. 14, 2016. "I always enjoyed the games, since I was about 10, just seeing how they were done."

Inglangasuk said his best events were the one-foot high kick and the Alaskan high kick and that he was most looking forward to the one-foot high kick.

As exciting as the event was for athletes, co-organizer Sharla Greenland said there is a lot more to it than just competition with elders and officials there to pass along not only skills and rules, but knowledge and tradition as well.

Homecoming for Willie Thrasher

Sitting on the stage across from where he sat in the pews as a child, Willie Thrasher rocked the house for a hometown crowd Feb. 22, 2016.╩

Battling through a cold and taking breaks in the midst of songs to cough away from the microphone, he played tune after boot-stomping, twangin' tune for a younger crowd than usual at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre show. His right arms swinging almost frantically across the strings, he belted out songs about being homesick, about love and about being good to the land.

"It's an honour, being here," Thrasher told the Drum. "Coming in here and playing here was really different. I used to come to mass here every Sunday."


Reindeer legend remembered

Famous reindeer herder, former RCMP special constable and all-around legend Otto Binder passed away early 2016.

"Even when he was 85, he was helping to move the herd," said his son, Lloyd Binder.

"In the last years, when he became less mobile, he was always there to consult, and to give advice. I always had someone to ask."

Otto died at 93 after contracting pneumonia. His son said Otto was fully aware of what was happening and had made his peace with it.

"He was very perceptive of all things natural," Lloyd said. "Weather, winds, water, it allowed him to be able to take a few more risks."

That connection with the land was the hallmark of Otto's life. Born near Kugluktuk in 1921, he grew up for the most part in Tuktoyaktuk.

No booze in bars on Sundays

Inuvik's town council voted down a proposed amendment to the liquor bylaw that would have seen bars allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays to a round of applause from a packed gallery in March 2016.

"There's no way on God's green earth that I'd vote to have drinking on Sundays at all," said Coun. Vince Sharpe.

The vote came after tremendous backlash from the public about the proposal.

Healthy belugas, happy communities

To all appearances, the beluga are healthy and the people eating them should be as well, delegates from the Beaufort Delta communities and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans found last year. Although media were not allowed access beyond the opening and closing statements of the meeting, representatives from both the science and traditional sides of the equation spoke to the Drum after the conference wrapped up.

"It looks like the number of whales is good," said Lisa Loseto, a researcher with DFO based out of Winnipeg. "The last estimate is 40,000 and all signs point to them being generally healthy."

New chairperson for community corporation

An extremely close contest March 9 resulted in Gerald Inglangasuk being elected as the new chairperson of the Inuvik Community Corporation. Inglangasuk defeated Diane Archie with 77 to 76 votes. As a result, Archie had 10 days from election day to contest the result and demand a recount. At press time she had not indicated that she would do so. A long-time member of the leadership of the community corporation, Inglangasuk said the organization is on course and he has no intentions of changing it.

"If it's working good, don't change it," Inglangasuk told the Drum. "I think we're doing pretty good."

Fire forces six families from homes

It was a busy March weekend for the Inuvik Fire Department, with two serious fires breaking out in as many days.╩

A multiplex on the corner of Bonnetplume and Dolphin caught fire on a Friday night and was still burning late into the morning the next day. Six families were forced from their homes in the public housing units and five have been relocated into other units.

"The status of the lease of the sixth household is pending a determination of whether the fire was initiated in their unit due to intoxication, which would be a violation of their lease," spokesperson for the NWT Housing Corp. Revi Lau-a told the Drum.

RCMP Const. Kevin Devoe confirmed the matter is still under investigation, but that the incident is not considered suspicious. No one was injured in the blaze, but Lau-a said the damage to the structure is extensive and will likely be a complete write-off.

Big wins at Games

Medals and top titles are nothing new for Underwood Day, but even he was pleased with the four gold ulus he won at the Arctic Winter Games in Greenland March 2016.

"It was really good. I loved the experience," he said afterwards, settling back into a regular routine. "It was one of the best competitions I've been in, one of the funnest. It was great to compete against athletes my own age and at my own skill level."

Day won the one foot high kick, two foot high kick and kneel jump events, and placed first all around in the junior category. He competed in a few other events, but didn't place in them, choosing instead to focus on his favourites. Going forward, he said he wants to work on his Alaskan high kick for future competitions.


Statue honours beloved leader

Amid the otherwise festive atmosphere of the Muskrat Jamboree's opening ceremony, there was a moment of somber remembrance.╩

Roy Ipana, a community leader who died in 2009, was memorialized with a statue carved by Eli Nasogaluak from Italian marble. The carving was unveiled on the evening of April 1, 2016, but had been in town for some time prior.

Vince Sharpe, who commissioned the statue and organized the presentation, had wanted to surprise Ipana's family members with the tribute.

"He was my brother in law. I didn't like him - I loved him," he said.

Four fires in two weeks

Two fires over the weekend early April brought the tally of suspicious blazes in the community up to three in only two weeks.╩

RCMP Const. Kevin Devoe said a mobile home on Ruyant Crescent sustained minor damage after a fire began burning just past noon on April 1, 2016.

Less than 24 hours later, at 6:50 a.m. April 2, Inuvik RCMP were called to a fire at a business on Mackenzie Road.

This fire was contained to a small portion of the exterior of the business and caused only limited damage.

Reindeer crossing attracts hundreds

Hundreds of residents and visitors certainly took part in the annual reindeer crossing at Bar C on the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk April 3, 2016.

An estimated 3,000 animals made the crossing at a punctual 12:05 p.m. Although the tradition is a beloved one, last year's may very well be the last time it takes quite this form.

"This may happen again next year, but I don't think there will be an ice road after that," said herd owner Lloyd Binder.

Road makes connection

Early April 2016 marked an important moment in the construction of the historic Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, when the two ends of the road finally met.╩

"It's exciting, of course," said Kurt Wainman of Northwind Industries. "I wish I could go on building roads this size forever."

On April 7, 2016, two dump trucks carrying aggregate dumped their loads back to back and officially connected the south and north ends of the highway. It was an impressive moment, but one Merven Gruben, Wainman's counterpart from Tuktoyaktuk, said had to be repeated an hour later when the representatives from the GNWT showed up.

Second satellite farm in the works

A new, privately owned satellite facility looked to be on the horizon for Inuvik.╩

"It's complementary, not competitive," said Tom Zubko, the contractor facilitating the purchase and development of the land for the new satellite station. "It opens up the market to a broader set of customers."

Zubko, who represented a registered numbered company before town council April 2016 in order to purchase land near the weigh scales on the highway, said there can be barriers for customers to get space in the existing satellite facility owned by the federal government.

He named engineering standards as a hypothetical reason, but also said financial concerns may play a factor.

Dissent over Gwich'in agreement

The president of the Nihtat Gwich'in Council resigned from the board of directors of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, saying he was blindsided by the announcement of a self-government agreement-in-principle.

"The announcement was premature," Jozef Carnogursky told the Drum April 18. "Just given the fact that we didn't get copies to review beforehand."

The GTC sent out a news release April 11 indicating the agreement-in-principle (AIP) for its self-government was ready for review by the board, as per the mandate given by members at last year's annual general assembly.

On April 12, GTC vice-president Norman Snowshoe spoke to other media, saying a vote ÷ and approval ÷ of the AIP was imminent within the next few days.

The trouble, according to Carnogursky, was that he didn't know talks had concluded in the first place and that an agreement had been reached. He and fellow members of Gwich'in councils did not receive copies of the agreement until April 15.


Satellite station boss opposes proposal for second facility

Managers of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility raised objections to a proposal for a second facility.╩

MDA Geospatial Services Inc. sent a letter to Inuvik's town council outlining its concerns, including that the second facility would "set a precedent that may encourage more disruptive activity of this kind."

"These disruptions may discredit satellite facilities in Inuvik in general and thus adversely impact the reputation that the town of Inuvik is trying to build as community with a world-class satellite ground station," stated David Belton, vice-president of geospatial services.

He cited things like confusion in the marketplace leading to delays or negative decisions on the part of satellite operators, putting local employment opportunities in jeopardy and the reduction in market potential for the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.

Gwich'in approve agreement in principle

The Gwich'in Tribal Council board of directors approved a self-government agreement in principle in May 2016, but there were still dissenting voices.

Nihtat Gwich'in Council president Jozef Carnogursky said his group did not vote in favour of the approval and that he is disappointed the tribal council's board approved it anyway.

"The Nihtat Gwich'in wanted to follow an open and transparent process to review and approve this document and that was not able to occur in our opinion," Carnogursky stated in a news release. "It is unfortunate that (Gwich'in Tribal Council) leadership chose to ignore the wishes and desires of elected community representatives who represent almost one-third of all enrolled Gwich'in and chose to ignore established processes at the community level."

Gwich'in Tribal Council vice-president Norman Snowshoe, however, maintains that the board ÷ from which Carnogursky resigned last month in protest ÷ followed the mandate it was given by the annual general assembly last year.

Hospital confirms privacy breach

The Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority confirmed 67 patients have been notified their information was compromised.╩

"It's really important for us to be as transparent as we can in managing this breach," said Inuvik Regional Hospital CEO Arlene Jorgensen May 9, 2016.

She also confirmed the breach was the result of staff accessing information in a "repeated and inappropriate" manner that was "outside a legitimate scope of duties."

"We have no tolerance for deliberate breaches," Jorgensen said. "And have taken the appropriate actions."

Commercial greenhouse in works

Aurora College released the results of a study that examined the feasibility of commercial greenhouses in Norman Wells and Inuvik last May.

"Hopefully something positive comes out of it," said research and communications assistant Kimberley Sellwood. "Like a commercial greenhouse."

Sellwood worked with local experts earlier this year to collect data in Inuvik, including online surveys about what vegetables and fruit people are looking to purchase each week.

She said although the average resident seems willing to pay for locally-produced food, the initiative's success will depend on the willingness of Inuvik's restaurants and retailers to buy in bulk from the proposed greenhouse.

Gwich'in elder shocks Harvard

Gwich'in elder Sarah Jerome brought her words and teachings to students at Cambridge, Massachusetts, last year.

"Because our voices were taken away from us, we went silent," she said of her experience in residential school. "Gradually, over the years, some of us have gained our voices back."

Jerome spent the better part of a week in the hallowed halls of one of the top schools in North America, bringing her knowledge of the residential school system to students at Harvard University.

Digital library one step closer

A project years in the making was one step closer to being ready for consumption.╩

"The Cultural Heritage Digital Library has something for everyone," said Ali Shiri, one of the principal investigators on the project. "The idea is to provide equal access to language resources, oral history and a range of cultural heritage materials."

With one year left in the ongoing venture between the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre and the University of Alberta, proponents said they have now started evaluating the usability of the archives, as well as showing it to select groups while seeking feedback.


High school student attendance reaches 'critical' low

Attendance dropped to remarkable lows at East Three Secondary School's senior high levels last spring.

"This time of year is not a good time for study," said Denise McDonald, superintendent of schools for the Beaufort Delta Education Council.

"Sometimes people will look at attendance and see they're at 80 per cent, and think that's not bad. It is bad."

She did a spot-check of the schools in the region and found that only about 30 to 35 per cent of students were in class at the end of the year, including at East Three Secondary


Teacher recognized by PM

A familiar face garnered national attention for his achievements in education last year.

"I'm humbled, and honoured," said Gene Jenks.

Jenks, a former teacher at East Three Secondary School, received a Certificate of Excellence from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his work bringing education to remote communities in the Beaufort Delta. After about five years working in classrooms both physical and virtual he now works as the information systems and technology consultant for the school board, expanding its e-learning program into other regions.

"As a senior high teacher, you have to do the curriculum. You have to do Shakespeare," he told the Drum. "You can't let geography stop you."

Energy conference exceeds expectations

The times are changing and the North must change with them, according to Christopher Henderson, the keynote speaker at the Arctic Energy and Emerging Technology conference and tradeshow last June.

"I think there's great wealth throughout the North, throughout indigenous communities," he said. "There are some log jams we need to deal with, but I look forward to working with you to do that."

The conference kicked off June 12, 2016, but sessions truly got underway in the morning June 13 with delegates from the community and a few key speakers opening the event.

They spoke of the challenges facing the North as a whole, but were clear in their belief in the opportunities on the table for communities and businesses.

Gwich'in elect new leaders

There were some new faces at the Gwich'in Tribal Council leadership table following an election June 27, 2016.

Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan ousted incumbent president James Wilson for his seat and Jordan Peterson claimed the title of vice-president over three other candidates.

"My first priority is taking things to the communities," Greenland-Morgan, 39, told the Drum. "It's very important that we start at the grassroots level. Although we're all the same people, we don't all know each other."

Greenland-Morgan was the first woman to ever win the office of GTC president, though there have been several female vice-presidents.

Territorials take over town

With five teams signed up a week in advance of the 2016 NWT Women's Slo Pitch Territorial Championships, it was already shaping up to be a banner year before the games even started.

"If June 10 (another tournament) is any indicator, we'll have anywhere between seven and eight teams this year," said Jeff Amos, former organizer and coach of the returning champion Angels team. "It can only grow from here. It's taken off big time."

Karla DeBastien, last year's MVP and member of the winning team, said she looked forward to the tournament for lots of reasons, chief among them the chance to play with the team in a bigger tournament.

Community celebrates graduates

The community came out to celebrate another year of high school graduates from East Three Secondary School.

Principal Deborah Reid summed up the spirit of the day as she addressed the "eaglettes" on stage and expressed her feelings of pride for the grads and let them know they aren't alone.

"Look at those who are here to celebrate with you today. Look to your parents and loved ones. Look to your friends, family and the teachers. This is their day too," Reid said in her address.


New champions at territorials

After a close game and epic finish, Rebecca's Rowdy Roses came out on top at the Women's Territorial Slo-Pitch Championships last weekend.╩

"The past two years, we lost in the semi-finals," said captain Joyce Blake after the game July 3, 2016. "It took us three years, but we finally pulled through to the end."

The Roses took the title away from defending champions the Angels, by a score of 7-4, in the bottom of the seventh inning when Tehnille Gard hit a home run which allowed her team to score three runs. The game was tied after almost every inning throughout which made for an exciting game as fans cheered in the stands and truck horns blasted for the Angels after every run they scored and every out they made.

Nihtat vote to pursue options

Members of the Nihtat Gwich'in Council voted unanimously at their annual general assembly in Inuvik July 9, 2016, to leave the Gwich'in Tribal Council's self-government process and pursue other options under the comprehensive land claim agreement if their concerns about consultation were not addressed.╩

"We are hoping with the new executive, the approach will change," said Nihtat council president Jozef Carnogursky, adding that the council is preparing for other possibilities in the event nothing changes once the new Gwich'in Tribal Council executive takes office in late August.

He speculated that the current Gwich'in Tribal Council leadership was trying to formally sign the agreement in principle at the council's annual general assembly in August.

Possible power in the air

The winds of change were blowing for Inuvik's energy sector.

GNWT representatives told town council July 11, 2016, that the territorial government was exploring the feasibility of adding a wind turbine to the community's energy infrastructure.

"The technology for cold-weather wind turbines is much better than it was 10 years ago, when I was working on the Tuk wind project. That didn't happen," said Wade Carpenter, alternative energy specialist with the Department of Public Works and Services, adding that the project is still in the exploratory stage.

The proposed work would see one or two 2.3 megawatt wind turbines installed in the Inuvik area displacing up to 10 per cent of the community's current diesel use.

Food production efforts backed

Inuvik residents had some illustrious company at the table last July for the latest local food production discussions.╩

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was in town July 17 and 18, in part to announce the extension of the Nutrition North program to 37 more isolated communities across the country, including Gameti, Whati, Wekweeti and Lutsel K'e. She also took part in a roundtable session with about 40 people July 18. The session was closed to media, but Inuvik Community Greenhouse executive director Ray Solotki talked about some of the conversations that took place.

Sports field feared unsafe

The shortcomings with the park on Ruyant Crescent were highlighted at a town council meeting July 11, 2016.

"My kids were playing in the park and I looked over and thought it was looking uneven," said deputy mayor Steven Baryluk, adding that the lumps and bumps were likely to turn ankles and prevent people from actually using it for sports, a situation he said was made worse by someone in a vehicle doing doughnuts that further tore up the surface.

The park is the only outdoor sports facility available since the new East Three School was built and displaced another outdoor sports facility. According to senior administrative officer Grant Hood, the deal with the GNWT at the time was that the government would replace all those various sports fields and courts in the space left by the demolition of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, between Jim Koe Park and the Midnight Sun Complex. The action items list in the council package from July 11 suggested the unconfirmed cost estimate would be in the realm of $300,000.

Artistic talents highlighted

Five artists were profiled at the Great Northern Arts Festival, which showcased a range of presentations from July 15 to July 24, 2016.

George Roberts, from Whitehorse, came with his homemade, bone-carved jewelry. Maidie-Anne Turner, from Inuvik, showed off her stained glass and painting.

Hayden McHugh, from Dawson City, had his carvings on display.

Brigitte Genois, from St. Raymond, presented her woven art products.

Brian Kowikchuk, from Inuvik, display his painting work.


Pokemon Go takes over town

Inuvik residents young and old were out walking around town with their eyes focused on their smartphones, hunting Pokemon and swiping up on the screens to throw Pokemon-catching Poke Balls.╩

Pokemon Go caught fire worldwide and Inuvik was no different. In the game, players relive the glory days of being a Pokemon trainer, this time on a Smartphone app instead of the handheld Game Boy device.

"The fact that you can go out and do what you wanted to do as a kid, it's living a childhood dream," said Deklen Crocker, who has collected about 46 of 150 Pokemon in the game.

Man of many hats fondly remembered

Dick Hill, Inuvik's first mayor, founder of the Inuvik Research Laboratory and former prominent member of the Chamber of Commerce, among many other things, passed away in his sleep in the early hours of July 21, 2016, according to a statement from his family.

He was residing at Campbell House Hospice in Collingwood, Ontario.

"There was so much he got involved in, it was hard to keep track of all of it all," said daughter Jessie Hill. "That's what I thought everyone did, that kind of civic engagement ... I certainly grew up thinking that was normal."

Born in 1930 in Lamont, Alta., he grew up in London, Ont. He went to school there and completed his education in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved with his young family to the North in November 1963 and stayed until 1995, when he went back to Ontario with his second wife, Brigitte Hill.

SPCA seeks help for rescued dogs

Although the first hurdle of rescuing nearly 30 dogs in Inuvik had been cleared, there was still much work to be done in August 2016.

"It's a huge deal, but that's what we're here for," said Nicole Spencer, president of the NWTSPCA.

"It's a huge strain on resources. We need help, we need resources, and we need volunteers to donate their time more than ever."

The Drum previously reported that 21 dogs were seized from an Inuvik residence July 15, including two which are just puppies.

Bylaw officers returned July 21 and took away three more dogs. Five other dogs evaded capture. Nine of the dogs have been sent south to the NWTSPCA in Yellowknife and to the SPCA in Red Deer for further treatment and hopefully their forever homes.

Beloved teacher left rich legacy of culture

"All you can ask for in a parent is that they help point the way, and she did that," said Sandra Ipana's son Mickey Ipana. "I'm blessed to have her as a mom, a mentor, and a teacher."

Sandra passed away as a result of liver cancer in the morning of July 30, 2016, in Inuvik.

Sandra was born in Aklavik in 1957 and was adopted by the Allen family. She grew up in the Delta and attended residential school in Inuvik. While raising a family, she went on to become a teacher in 1991 at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, a vocation she was still pursuing this last school year.

Fellow teacher Margaret Gordon has two grandsons going into kindergarten this fall. She said they couldn't wait to be in "Ilihauri's" class. Ilihauri was the name she was known by.

Executive salaries released by Gwich'in Tribal council

The release to the public of the level of compensation received by the executive of the Gwich'in Tribal Council in the last fiscal year sparked questions ahead of the annual general assembly, scheduled for Aug. 23 to 25.

In a statement released Aug. 12, the Gwich'in Tribal Council stated that the president was compensated with $163,445 in salary and contracted services, plus $47,118 in "other remuneration" and $38,062 in expenses for a total of $248,625 for the 12 months ending March 31, 2016.

In contrast, the vice-president was compensated with $221,283 in salary, $31,954 in other remuneration and $75,376 in expenses for a total of $328,613 for the 12 months in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Yankees take top slopitch title

The Inuvik slopitch league's season ended late August with the top team having to defeat its rival twice to claim the championship.

Rocky's Yankees won the title Aug. 21 after a weekend of playoffs, defeating Americo in the double finals, first 20-14 and then 15-9.

"We went undefeated in the round robin, but they beat us in the finals," said Americo player and league president Barry Jacobson, explaining that the format of the playoffs meant that a team had to lose twice to be knocked out.


Youth empower communities

Dozens of young people flocked to Inuvik for the YOUth Matters conference Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, focusing on empowering themselves and their communities.

"There will be a time, probably a lot sooner than you realize, when you will be in a position of leadership," said Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald at the opening gathering of the conference at the community hall Aug. 29. "My job is to work myself out of a job."

Dozens of youth ranging in age from 12 to 29 took over the Midnight Sun Complex for a series of workshops and events, ranging from film and acting to self-care and human rights.

Evenings were occupied with events highlighting issues facing young people in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort communities, including the ongoing impact of residential schools.

Big hugs as secretary bids farewell to school

Val Robertson, East Three Secondary School's self-nicknamed Den Mother, bid farewell to her colleagues, students and the community after 43 years living in the town.╩

She stayed at what became East Three since 1992 and developed close bonds with colleagues, parents and students.

"I've formed a bond and that's why I came to work here originally. I've always worked with kids or for kids," she told the Drum.

Robertson said she's sad to leave Inuvik but happy to see more students graduating high school, going to university and then coming home with their own children.

"I think that speaks well of our school, because we have a fantastic staff here," said Robertson.

Sewer work tops list

Funding from the federal government and Government of the Northwest Territories went a long way to helping Inuvik finish its new sewer outfall line, due for completion by the end of 2017.

"It will be our major project," said Inuvik SAO Grant Hood.

The $10 million in funding announced in September 2016 extended the sewer line from Franklin Road to the sewage lagoon.

Previous funding was going toward the replacement of the utilidor system and pump houses up until Franklin, which was to be completed by the end of 2016.

"We looked at doing it over two years or maybe even three years but there are a lot of other conditions that come into play if we have to do it over more than one year," said Hood.

The total sewer outfall project will clock in at around $15 million.

Soil treatment plan approved

Following heated debate, Inuvik's town council approved a temporary soil treatment facility to be set up and run by KBL Services in the town's dump.

Council deferred the request for approval of a permanent facility until it could investigate the issue further.

Coun. Vince Sharpe vocally opposed the decision.

"KBL is doing this for KBL's interests and no one else's," he said at the Sept. 12 meeting.

Council eventually voted 4-1 in favour of the temporary facility.

Food bank in crisis

The Inuvik Food Bank found itself in a tough spot last fall with sponsorships and fundraiser income drying up, warning that it was in "dire circumstances."

"We've had no major donations this year," said treasurer Margaret Miller during a distribution day in September.

In the first seven months of 2016, the food bank had spent a little over $60,000, while taking in just over $30,000.

The organization typically spends around $100,000 per year.

"Unless we get some fresh money we won't be able to continue at the rate we're going," said Miller.

Violence inspires man's message

Brian Kowikchuk gave a message of compassion after being allegedly punched and called a homophobic slur outside the Mad Trapper in September.

"It's been a very big eye opener, not just for myself, but Ě for everyone else because they do realize it's a problem," he told the Drum.

"There are other people out there that are probably getting beat up just for their sexual orientation. Awareness is the first step, and hopefully it will fade."


Shelter needs stable source of funding

By his own account, if it weren't for the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre, Richard "Stick" Edwards would be dead. And so would many others.

"If it wasn't for (the shelter) there would be lots of dead people on the streets," he told the Drum.

The shelter, also known as the warming centre, had a shaky summer trying to secure funding from several different agencies.

It managed to stay open, but manager Joey Amos said it needed stable, block funding to meet people's needs for the future.

Playground finally opens

Organizers breathed a sigh of relief that East Three School's new playground was finally in operation early in the 2016 school year.

"It's done," said Principal Deborah Reid with a big smile on her face.

"Kids are playing on it. You can just tell by looking at their faces the enthusiasm they had."

The project faced many bumps in the road but eventually came together with combined efforts from educators, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council, Northwind Industries and Bob's Welding.

Ribbon cut on RCMP building

A bevy of special guests were on hand to officially open the new RCMP detachment building in Inuvik on Oct. 4, 2016.

The project began in 2012 and concluded last fall.

"The inclusion of members of the community and aboriginal people was important," said Supt. Michael LeSage, acting commanding officer of RCMP G Division, during a presentation at the opening.

The original detachment building was opened in November 1959, in a single six-month construction season.

The old building was kept in operation while contractors built the IBI Architects-designed new facility.

"RCMP have been part of this community since its inception and proudly so," said LeSage, adding that the organization actively recruits from Inuvik and the surrounding Mackenzie Delta area.

$10k thriller for theatre

A $10,000 donation from the Inuvik Choral and Theatrical Society to East Three School's drama department meant sustainability for the drama club.

"It means that we'll be able to grow as a program," said Abe Drennan, drama teacher. "It means that we'll be able to live long and prosper. That's a pretty big chunk of money to give and we're really grateful."

Christine Zubko, one of the only members left of the ICATS group, which has ceased operation, said her organization had raised the money years before through its well-attended dinner plays. The group had been interested in donating to the school since East Three opened, originally intending to give a piano.

'They're not fussy here'

The Inuvik Homeless Shelter was short on the help it needs to help others last fall.

The shortfall in donations at the shelter was being blamed on increased competition from other worthy causes and a slow economy.

"I believe that a lot of the donations that we used to see and receive on a regular basis (have) pretty much moved over (to the warming centre)," said Christina Kasook, manager of the shelter. "Maybe they feel they're more in need. Even if they were to give half and half, we wouldn't be hurting as


She had just come out of the shelter's annual general meeting, where though it appeared the shelter was still in a good position, the need for more donations and help was


Crowd-funding charity forms

Looking to find 100 people to donate $100 four times per year to charitable causes, 100 People Who Care Inuvik formed last fall.

The idea, which has taken various forms around North America, is to gather 100 or more people together to nominate charitable causes that would be worthy recipients of a donation.

The group would meet four times per year, and three charitable causes would be given an opportunity to present their case outlining why people should donate to


In late November, the group had its first meeting and made a $7,000 donation to the Inuvik Food Bank.


Girls make volleyball history

With a win over Yellowknife's St. Pat's in the finals of the Spike It! territorial tournament last fall, Inuvik's junior girls Eagles team made history by bringing home East Three Secondary School's first volleyball banner.

"First volleyball banner for Inuvik," said John Amos, who coached the junior boys team at the tournament. "First one in history. The girls made history with that banner."

Leesha Setzer, one of the players on the girls team, said she enjoyed the tournament and winning the banner.

"It was really fun (playing against) all the different teams in Yellowknife," she said.

Teammate Mataya Gillis agreed.

"I'm really thankful for everyone who put it together," she said.

Reflecting on why we remember war

We are fortunate to live in a country where democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law are fundamental principles, veteran Fred Church told the Drum before he led the Remembrance Day assembly last fall.

"If it wasn't for our men and women going overseas and fighting when they had to, you could be wearing a different country's uniform, speaking a different language," said Church, second vice-president of the╩McInnes Branch 220 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Inuvik.

"You wouldn't have the freedom to walk to the store and get that quart of milk. This is for the rights of our people and the freedom and the very basic fundamentals that we have growing up. We're one of a few countries like that."

No info on jr. kindergarten

Junior kindergarten was scheduled to begin in 2017-18 but that summed up most of the information the Inuvik District Education Authority had on the subject at a meeting in November 2016.

"We've had no communication other than what's been in the media," said Lesa Semmler, chair of IDEA, at the meeting Wednesday, Nov. 2.

"We've had no talks of money, how we're going to be supported financially. We've had no discussion," Semmler said. "That continues to be a struggle."

Chris Gilmour, acting superintendent for the Beaufort Delta Education Council, said it would be a top subject at meetings with the GNWT to come later in the year.

Young and old connect

Youth and elders connected at the Children First Centre Nov. 18, as part of National Child Day celebrations.

Elder Donald Aviugana enjoyed his visit.

"When we were growing up, the young ones were always with the elders," he said during lunch with the children."They got to learn what the elders were doingĚI really love to be with the kids."

Patricia Davison, executive director of the Children First Society, said making those inter-generational connections is important.

"That's how we learn who we are and where we come from," she said.

Survivors and addicts bare all

People who have struggled with addiction shared their stories at Ingamo Hall Nov. 20, 2016.

"I was on the doorstep of suicide two times because of alcohol," Winston Moses said in front of a circle of close to 50 people at Ingamo Hall.

"I thought no one cared. I thought nobody liked or loved me. I lost two jobs and I almost lost my family."

Moses was one of upwards of a dozen people who spoke, sharing their challenges with alcohol or other substances.

The event was part of a national addictions awareness week in Inuvik.

Vendors bring crafts and tradition

The Midnight Sun Complex was packed as people came from around the region to sell their wares, meet up with old friends and reminisce about their childhood at the 2016 Christmas Art, Craft and Gift Fair.

Agnes Jones, born in Aklavik but now living in Edmonton, was selling beaded high backs, many made from muskrat hides.

"My mom taught us how to do this kind of sewing," she said.

"We used to go out in the bush every spring and we would trap from March until June the fifteenth," Jones said.

"We'd trap and hunt for muskrat. That was our livelihood. We tried to get enough to last us through the year."


Medal for life-saver

Paul MacDonald, unit leader for the Inuvik Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, received an Operational Merit Medal from the CCGA for his work in saving a life over the summer.

"If Paul hadn't have been there, there's no way this person would have survived," said Lee Williams, deputy unit leader for the Inuvik CCGA.

MacDonald saved a woman who was drowning in Airport Lake.

"She was moments from going under completely," he said. "It was pretty close."

Combat poverty with country food

A country-food processing course at Aurora College got high grades from students and instructor alike.

"It's a skill I'll always use the rest of my life and I'll pass it down to my son," said student Georgina Jacobson-Masazumi about the class.

The program taught students from all over the Beaufort Delta how to make the most of traditional food. That included using every bit of caribou, moose, fish, berries or whatever else.

Instructor Lyle Renecker said working with the group was one of the best experiences of his career.

"This is probably the most rewarding thing I've ever done," he said.

Song project connects all

When Gryphon Trio and Patricia O'Callaghan came to Inuvik to perform in December, they weren't just playing their own songs and the classics.

The group also performed Stitches and Dreams, written by Inuvik youth.

Ten Inuvik students took part in classes with composer Carmen Braden earlier in the year to write the song.

Braden then arranged the tune so that Gryphon Trio and O'Callaghan could play it.

The song centred on themes of identity, belonging and family.

"It's very touching," said O'Callaghan of the song. "A couple of people came up to me and said they had tears in their eyes after they heard it, because it just seems like a very honest song."

Curling girls making history

Inuvik's junior curling girls showed well at the NWT Junior curling Championships and qualified for a national competition in New Brunswick next spring.

"Staying positive" was the key to the team's success, said player Paris Wainman. The girls went 4-2 over the weekend tournament in Yellowknife, earning them an invitation to the Canadian U18 Championships in April 2017.

The team will be busy practising until that event.

"It's going to be really exciting going to Moncton," said player Mataya Gillis. "It's going to be our first big competition that really counts. It's a little nerve-wracking."

Junior kindergarten still stressing educators

Despite meetings with higher levels of government in the GNWT, Inuvik District Education Authority board chair Lesa Semmler said at a December board meeting she was not satisfied with the proposed rollout of junior kindergarten.

"Not enough money, more students," she said simply. "No one's ever going to be satisfied."

She met with Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses and then represented the Beaufort Delta Education Council in meetings with other education professionals and government ministers.

The board expressed concern about the safety of three-year-olds entering the school and the lack of funding available to make the program roll out smoothly in Inuvik.

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