Year in review
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NNSL Photo/graphic

Nunavut News/North: 2013 - The Year in Review


First Nunavut-born baby of the year

As fireworks lit up the night sky in celebration of the 2013 new year, Tracy Aqatsiaq's water broke.

Eleven hours later she gave birth to Allyson Qaumagiaq Jeannie Bernice Aqatsiaq-Perry, Nunavut's first baby of 2013.

Aqatsiaq, dad Steve Perry and new brother Lazarus Aqatsiaq were overjoyed to meet the six pound, 10 ounce baby girl.

NNSL photo/graphic

"(Lazarus) was born on my birthday and having her born on new year's, feels like we're so blessed," said Aqatsiaq, who is from Iglulik.

"I was so surprised ... To start off the new year like that, can't compare it to anything else. We're just so happy."

Losing a legacy

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

One of the biggest names and most prolific artists to have ever come out of Nunavut - Kenojuak Ashevak - died in her home in Cape Dorset last Jan. 8.

"The world has lost an amazing artist and a true pioneer," said Pascale Arpin, communication co-ordinator for the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA).

Ashevak was born in 1927 in a small camp called Ikirisaq.

It was while living in another camp not far from Cape Dorset called Keakto that she and her husband Jonniebo first started experimenting with carvings and drawings.

In 1966 Kenojuak and Jonniebo moved to Cape Dorset where her art career began to really take off.

She is particularly famous for her prints of owls.

Her 1960 print, Enchanted Owl, was featured on a Canada Post stamp commemorating the NWT in 1970.

Rescuing the rescuer


Two Arviat seal hunters were returned home safe after a harrowing experience on the sea ice last January.

Joe Karetak and his son, Joe Jr., failed to return from their hunting trip on Jan. 8.

The pair was spotted on a small ice floe 10 km east of Arviat, and a privately owned Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was contracted from Gillam, Manitoba, to pick them up on Jan. 9.

In a strange twist of fate, the helicopter pilot needed to be rescued by the Karetaks when the chopper went through the ice after landing.

When personnel on a Hercules aircraft observing the situation saw what happened, two search and rescue technicians parachuted down to the ice floe and cared for the group until another helicopter could arrive to transport them to safety.

The three were suffering from hypothermia, but suffered no serious injuries in the ordeal.

Nunavummiut join Idle No More


A temperature of -37 C and rush hour didn't stop about 35 Idle No More demonstrators from slowing traffic at Iqaluit's Four Corners intersection on Jan. 16.

The protestors laughed and cheered, waving placards and drums.

"Our land claim agreement has been breached," said event organizer Courtney White, explaining Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the legal representative of Nunavummiut beneficiaries, has an ongoing lawsuit from 2006 it filed against the federal government in respect to the settlement of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993.

Several cars honked in support while others offered encouragement through social media.

The Jerry Cans finish first full-length album


Members of one of Iqaluit's favourite rock bands hit a milestone last January when they completed their first full-length album.

Singer and guitarist Andrew Morrison said the whole process was done in true Arctic fashion, so they decided to call the nine-track album Nunavuttitut-Nunavut Style.

"Half the band is students and half work, so we were recording it on people's coffee breaks," said Morrison.

"We would come in at different times and record a backup vocal or something, and there were times when the wind was blowing so hard it would pick up on the tracks and we would just have to sit and have a cup of tea to wait for it to die down ... It was very much recorded in Nunavut style."

Feeding all Nunavummiut


A crowd of delegates met in Iqaluit, hungry to discuss one thing: food availability and affordability in the territory.

More than 100 people attended the event Jan. 21 to 24, including politicians, educators, hunters, grocers and regulatory officials.

Topics discussed at the symposium included sharing country food through informal networks, improving language skills between youth and elders and getting country food into food banks, said Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. who along with the GN, leads the Nunavut Food Security Coalition.

"We discussed mechanisms for how these would come into existence," said Towtongie. "We have a common vision in ensuring that food security in our communities is stabilized."

Fighting fires with knowledge


Fire chiefs from across the territory flocked to Iqaluit last January for a workshop on fire prevention.

The Nunavut Municipal Training Organization hosted the first-time event from Jan. 22 to 31.

Participants were reminded of the importance of encouraging residents to have an escape plan and a functioning smoke detector. They also attended a course on juvenile fire setter intervention.

The course, the first time given in Canada, is a public awareness program, said Ed Zebedee, director of protective services with the territorial government.

"It's not geared for kids that have been setting fires," he said. "It's geared for kids to prevent fires and for them to understand how serious fires can be."

New trial ordered in shooting case

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

The Nunavut Court of Appeal ruled last January a new trial should be held for Chris Bishop, who was convicted in 2010 for three shooting deaths in Cambridge Bay.

Bishop was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 16 years after a jury found him guilty of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in January 2007.

Two of the three judges hearing the case agreed with the defence position that the jury should not have heard testimony from a witness in Yellowknife who had said Bishop boasted about shooting other people, according to the 55-page ruling dated Jan. 28.

Prosecutors later appealed the judges' decision, but withdrew the application before the case was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.


Allegations of sabotage


Questions arose when Iqaluit's RCMP detachment started sinking shortly after it was built in 2010.

The company responsible for installing the thermosyphon foundation system underneath the detachment came forward in Feb. 2013 saying it doesn't bear the blame for the building's foundation issues.

Bill Watt, technologist and partial owner of Arctic Foundations of Canada, the company subcontracted for installing the thermosyphon system, said the systems have been put in "very successfully" all over the Arctic.

He added that something has happened in the case of the RCMP detachment not attributed to the company' work. He suggested instead the RCMP's thermosyphon system may have been maliciously attacked.

Public Works and Government Services Canada and the RCMP conducted an investigation on damage to the system.

Program helps at-risk youth


A program focusing on at-risk youth is earned rave reviews in Arviat this past February.

Students are referred to the Leadership Resiliency Program (LRP) by a teacher for various reasons, which could include not attending school, struggling with emotional or psychological problems, showing some sort of difficulty in their lives or attempting suicide.

In every case, the referral is made in hopes the youth will benefit from being involved in the program.

"During every LRP get together, we go around the circle and ask the kids, on a scale of 10, how they're doing," said LRP facilitator, Gord Billard.

"If they report a low score, we invite them to share why and most of them do... It's about how to get through the rough times and be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, feel good about yourself and move on, instead of giving up."

Tragic loss in Iqaluit after two go missing


The search for missing Iqaluit hunter Pauloosie Qaunirq ended tragically Feb. 4 after searchers located two bodies: that of Qaunirq, 27, and an 18-year old Iqaluit woman.

Qaunirq was last seen Feb. 1, at about noon, when he is believed to have gone hunting.

A blizzard blew through the area that evening and Qaunirq's family began searching for him when he did not return the following day.

On the evening of Feb. 3, searchers found the pair's qamutik and, shortly after 10 a.m. the following morning, their bodies were recovered along with a snowmobile, roughly four km north of Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

Creating leaders in the North

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Putting up a tent is one thing. Setting up a camp, building a runway and organizing a search-and-rescue requires a different set of skills.

Twenty Canadian Rangers from all three territories, including 16 from Nunavut, honed their skills during a patrol commanders course the Canadian Forces held in Cambridge Bay from Feb. 3 to 12.

"This leadership is teaching the up-and-coming Rangers to think beyond just staying warm," said Warrant Officer Craig Routery, officer in charge of the course. "You think beyond just doing your own little job. You need to be that person that steps higher and keeps them motivated, keeps them organized and moves them along."

Sugar for your sugar


Renowned Montreal chocolate-maker Constance Tasse Gagnon taught young Iqalungmuit some of her secrets at a chocolate and entrepreneurship workshop held at Makkuttukkuvik Youth Center in February.

Carrefour Nunavut, with the financial support of Kakivak and First Air, offered the three-week chocolate making workshop before Valentine's Day so the young chocolatiers ages 10 to 18 could create and sell their chocolate and fudge treats.

Iqaluit speed skater gets bronze

Brockville, Ont.

Nerves may have kept Iqaluit speed skater Mathew Cooper from gold during a competition in Ontario, but he still managed to capture bronze.

Cooper, of Nunavut Speed Skating's High Performance-Elite Athlete Team, earned himself an overall bronze medal in the Bravo Class at the Eastern Ontario Regional Ability Meet No. 5 in Brockville, Ont., on Feb. 9.

Don Galloway, president of the Iqaluit Speed Skating Club, said the colour of Cooper's medal could have easily been different had it not been for an unfortunate spill in one of his early races.

"In short-track, once you fall, you pretty much take yourself out of the race," he said.

"This is only his second year of skating and he held his cool nicely. I think nerves maybe got to him, because it was the first race of the day and he skated first out of all our skaters."

Spotlight on economic development in the Kitikmeot

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Kitikmeot region movers and shakers met in Cambridge Bay in February for the 14th annual Kitikmeot Trade Show.

Exhibitor booths were sold out for this year's show, which kicked off Feb. 12 and wrapped up Feb. 14.

The event draws mining and exploration companies and representatives from the service industry, government departments, regulatory agencies and Inuit organizations each year to promote economic development in the Kitikmeot region.

Ranger killed in snowmobile accident

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

A Canadian Ranger was killed in a snowmobile accident near Gjoa Haven in the early evening of Feb. 17, according to the RCMP.

Ranger Cpl. Donald Anguyoak, 46, died while participating in a Canadian Rangers exercise.

Anguyoak was born and raised in Baker Lake before moving to Gjoa Haven. His accident happened during Exercise Polar Passage, part of the Canadian Ranger Ocean Watch program, which monitors snow and ice conditions along the Northwest Passage.

Pastor accepts position as Catholic bishop


The Roman Catholic pastor of the parish in Iglulik was chosen to be the new bishop of the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the news on Feb. 16.

Krotki succeeded Bishop Reynald Rouleau, who was leaving his post after reaching retirement age, 75, according to church regulations. Krotki, a 48-year old native of Poland, was ordained a priest in 1990 before arriving in Manitoba later that year to assist the Oblates.

Krotki served in Winnipeg and Toronto before joining the Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay. He served as pastor in Iglulik from 1991 to 1993, in Gjoa Haven from 1993 to 2001 and then returned to Iglulik.


Liquor ban upheld in Kugaaruk

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

Kugaaruk residents voted Feb. 25 to determine if the hamlet should maintain its status as a dry community.

Sixty-three per cent of voters, or 188 votes out of the 300 cast, voted against freely allowing alcohol into the community while 36 per cent, or 108 people, voted in favour of the change, according to results from Elections Nunavut. Four ballots were rejected.

The community had submitted a 25-signature petition to Finance Minister Keith Peterson to request the plebiscite, a request granted in early January.

Important step in creation of CHARS

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

The location of the future Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay was announced Feb. 27.

The year-round, multidisciplinary facility will be built on a site referred to as the Plateau, on the road to Mount Pelly, said Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt.

Three other sites were considered - two locations on Airport Road and one location on Water Lake Road.

The site was chosen following consultations with Cambridge Bay residents and government workers. Access to infrastructure resources, opportunities for future expansion and community integration were some of the criteria used to determine the site.

The station is expected to open in 2017.

MLA apologizes for breaches


Former South Baffin MLA Fred Schell apologized in the legislative assembly on Feb. 28 for several Integrity Act breaches he was found guilty of in 2012.

Nunavut integrity commissioner Norman Pickel found Schell guilty of six Integrity Act violations, including that he used his position as a cabinet minister to attempt to pursue grudges he personally held against two GN employees.

"I would like to acknowledge that I personally accepted the Integrity Commissioner's report," said Schell, who was a MLA at the time.

"At this time, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to my peers, colleagues, and all of my constituents from Cape Dorset, Kimmirut, and all Nunavummiut...

"In the future, I promise to be more conscientious and faithful in fulfilling my commitments under the Integrity Act."

David Joanasie beat Schell and three other opponents in the recent race to become South Baffin MLA.

Grappling for glory

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

Cape Dorset played host to the 2013 Nunavut Wrestling Championships from March 1 to 3, with nearly 40 competitors from around the territory hitting the mats.

Coral Harbour ended up winning the overall title based on the number of wins and points attained during the matches.

The event also served as a selection meet for Nunavut's traveling wrestling team for the year.

Arthur Siksik of Rankin Inlet was one of the more interesting additions to the team, given that he is a chess player, which is not usually associated with wrestling.

"(Siksik) brings his scholastic knowledge to the mat and he's well on his way to mastering the sport," said event organizer Michael Soares.

Google mapping Iqaluit


A team of Google staff captured Nunavut's capital in March, adding to the multinational Internet behemoth's growing database of global ground-level maps.

While Google Maps had mapped Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Inuvik and Cambridge Bay by then, it was the first time an Arctic community had been captured in the winter.

"To really understand Canada's Arctic you have to see it and experience it in the winter," said Aaron Brindle, a spokesperson for Google Canada based in Toronto.

"Our goal is to create the most accurate, comprehensive map of Canada and Canada's North. We want that map to reflect back to people the world that they know. We really want it to be representative of the communities that we visit."

Baker Lake badminton players take home hardware

Somba K'e/ Yellowknife

Baker Lake badminton players Tyler Pudnak and Chesley Haqpi meant business when they attended the NWT Badminton Championships in Yellowknife March 8 to 10.

Competing in the junior men's division, the pair walked away with two medals each.

Haqpi was the silver medal winner, while Pudnak won the bronze in the double knockout competition.

Their coach, Brad Mainse, accompanied the young men and said the goal for the duo was to win some sort of hardware along the way.

"I had the goal of gold-silver for singles," he said, adding he also wanted them to win gold in the doubles, which they did.

"I knew they would be very competitive and they play very well together."

Inspiring phone book cover


A lino-block print by Resolute Bay artist Melanie Howell was selected to be displayed in thousands of homes around Nunavut.

The artwork, titled Swimming like a Qilalugaq, graces the cover of the 2013/2014 Northwestel phone book.

Howell said she explores themes based on the things she sees around her home in Resolute Bay.

Swimming like a Qilalugaq was inspired by a boating trip with her seven-year-old son and his godparents.

"It makes me really happy to think of that day and remember how much fun my son was having."

Federal money for emergency shelter

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq announced $94,000 in funding to transform a house in Kugaaruk into an emergency shelter.

The funding from the federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy will help those left homeless after escaping domestic violence, she added in a statement made March 18.

"Our government is committed to assisting Nunavummiut with housing needs to help them break free from the cycle of homelessness and poverty," said Aglukkaq.


Unruly behaviour on flight nets man $16,000 in fines


A man whose unruly behaviour caused a transatlantic flight to be diverted to Iqaluit last month pleaded guilty in the territorial capital on April 4.

Darren Edward Cosby, 39, had been in custody since his arrest on March 27 after an Air Transat flight from Vancouver to London, England was diverted to Iqaluit to remove the man from the aircraft.

He was convicted of one charge of unruly behaviour under the Aeronautics Act.

The Crown stayed charges of uttering threats, causing a disturbance and mischief.

Cosby was sentenced to a fine of $2,000 and ordered to pay back $13,875 to Air Transat for fees it incurred as a result of the unexpected landing, including $8,000 for fuel.

Making it official


The Inuit language joined English and French as official languages in the territory April 1.

The statutory protection for the Inuit language is not only symbolic, because once you recognize a right, people can then assert it, said Nunavut Languages Commissioner Sandra Inutiq.

"It (tells) the speakers their language is now part of the picture so it's less of that historical hangover, I guess, of the oppressive state of how language is treated."

The legislation obligates the territorial government and its agencies to provide communication in all official languages. It now creates opportunity to have Inuit language version of bills to be introduced in the legislative assembly, explained Inutiq, and eventually, for legislation to be authoritative in the Inuit language.

A first for female hockey players in Nunavut


A group of teenage players from Repulse Bay and Baker Lake can lay claim to being the first group to win an organized territorial girls hockey title.

Team Kivalliq captured the inaugural Nunavut Female Hockey Championship in Iqaluit on March 31 after an exciting 9-8 win over Team Baffin, which consisted of players from Pangnirtung, Hall Beach and Qikiqtarjuaq.

This first-ever girls-only territorial featured five teams in total, including entries from Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet and Arviat.

A meeting of the mines


The territory's and the broader Northern mining community exchanged ideas and sought new opportunities during the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit April 8 to 11.

The event attracted about 500 delegates and 57 exhibitors.

Keith Morrison, a member of the symposium steering committee said the number of participants was roughly the same as the previous year.

"I would say it's a very good success," he said. "The industry still has some issues due to the global economy. The fact there are people still interested in seeing Nunavut as a worthwhile place to work and to invest is very encouraging."

Iglulik actor lends voice for animated film


Professional Iglulik actor Natar Ungalaaq voiced a role in the first feature-length Canadian animated film.

The Legend of Sarila, set in the Arctic in 1910, was on the bill for the TIFF Kids International Film Festival on April 12.

The computer-generated animated film tells a story about three young Inuit who search for a mythical land called Sarila to save their clan from famine.

The film had a budget of $8.5 million, a far cry from the $200-million-plus budgets that companies such as Pixar use to produce their films.

'Pawsitive' welcome for vets


For the first time in more than a decade, Pangnirtung received a visit from two vets.

The Pangnirtung Humane Society spent months raising money to make the trip happen.

"In general people are very happy the clinic is coming," said volunteer Delia Siivola.

"We haven't had a vet here in many years and many people want their animals to be healthy ... and can't afford to fly them out to Iqaluit."

North West posts record profits


The North West Company Inc., which operates Northern and NorthMart stores in the NWT and Nunavut, saw a record $134.3 million in trading profits in 2012.

The Winnipeg-based, publicly-traded company released its 2012 annual report on April 8, 2013.

Food sales accounted for 72.2 per cent of total Canadian sales, according to the report, which also stated that strong food sales growth in its Northern markets offset lower sales in less remote stores.

"Food sales in stores impacted by the Nutrition North Canada freight subsidy had the largest increases building on the sales growth in 2011," the report stated.

Gone in a flash


Four hundred people gathered at St. Jude's cathedral April 27 and bid goodbye to friend, father and long-time community steward Jimmy Kilabuk.

Kilabuk, or "Flash" as he was best known, died April 19 in Iqaluit at age 71.

Flash earned his nickname in the 1970s for winning Iqaluit's Toonik Tyme long-distance snowmobile race between Iqaluit and Kimmirut, then named Frobisher Bay and Lake Harbour. Flash broke his own records year after year.

He was also known for his service to Iqaluit. Kilabuk served the community for more than 35 years, first as a volunteer firefighter, then later as fire chief and prison guard. He'd spent many terms as a city councillor throughout the 1990s and served as mayor of Iqaluit from 1997 to 2000.

"Mr. Kilabuk's service to Iqaluit is a great example of what one person can do to enhance the place in which they live," said Mayor John Graham during the eulogy. "We need more people like him."

Iqaluit Iceman go far in Northern Hockey Challenge


The Iqaluit Icemen ousted the Rankin Inlet Miners in the third and final game of the Northern Hockey Challenge best-of-three series to book their place in the championship series against the Yellowknife First Air Flyers.

The team won by a score of 6-3.

Icemen player/coach Chris Cote said he expected Rankin Inlet would battle right to the end.

"It was expected and it certainly was the case," he said.


The south comes to Cape Dorset

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

Students from Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset welcomed a group of students from Ottawa's Mother Theresa High School in May.

It was the first part of youth exchange program. The Cape Dorset students left for Ottawa on May 18.

"For our kids to interact with this group it was a fantastic experience," said principal Mike Soares.

In the short week that the students were visiting, Soares said it was amazing to see the bond that developed between the Cape Dorset students and the students from Ottawa.

Action against tragic problem

Mittimatalik/Pond Inlet

Emanuel Maktar walked for mental health awareness, for his own family and for all Nunavummiut who have been affected by suicide in May.

"It's happening too much around Nunavut. It needs to stop," said Maktar, who lost his two oldest brothers to suicide.

He was the middle child in his family. "Now I'm the oldest," he said.

The Grade 11 Nasivvik high school student had the idea to organize a big walk around the hamlet to raise awareness of - and hopefully start talking more about - suicide as part of Mental Health Week. Talking is a big part of suicide awareness and while Maktar doesn't talk about it much, he thinks it's important that more people do.

"Don't just let your feelings get bad at something like that," he said.

Crisis looming for search and rescue


National search and rescue operations will be in serious trouble if improvements aren't made in the coming years, according to a spring report by the auditor general of Canada.

Large-scale search and rescue operations run by the Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard will be in trouble if they don't receive much-needed cash to improve aging equipment and facilities, according to the report, released at the end of April by auditor general Michael Ferguson.

The system is near the breaking point, said Ferguson in his report.

Unless aging equipment such as the Hercules C-130s and de Havilland DHC-5 Buffalos can be replaced, response times and service in life-or-death situations will suffer, he stated.

Site picked for cemetery


With Iqaluit's current and only cemetery rapidly running out of available burial space, city council in May chose a much-needed alternate site in Apex.

Initially, councillors had decided on a site in the city's Road to Nowhere area, but after four years of discussion, the consideration of three sites and multiple factors brought forward by a team of engineers, they opted for a site near Apex's Rotary Park looking over Tarr Inlet.

A new cemetery for the territory's largest and fastest growing municipality has been a topic of discussion now for more than a decade. One of the major factors Leach's team had in mind was a timeline for development.

Council considered a third site along the road to Apex. However, Iqaluit received so much snow while the engineering committee was in town for testing that they were unable to use heavy equipment.

Hospital work at standstill


The old Baffin Regional Hospital was left cut open in May and the future of its renovations are in limbo since general contractor Dowland Contracting Ltd. hasn't been able to pay its debts.

The major year-long demolition, remediation and renovation project came to a grinding halt May 8 when Dowland's workers abandoned the construction site.

The 30-year-old company was in partnership with Nunavut Construction Company, as NCCDowland joint venture. Along with sub-contractor Arctic Environmental Strategy, NCC was to continue the first phase of the project, which is the demolition and removal of hazardous wastes.

Survey hit with wave of criticism

Baffin Island

A proposed seismic survey project off the eastern coast of Baffin Island was facing criticism in May from various hamlets and organizations which believe marine life would be put in jeopardy by the extensive testing.

Three companies - TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Petroleum Geo-Services and Multi Klient Invest - applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) in 2011 for authorization to conduct a five-year exploratory survey of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait.

The NEB hosted public meetings in Pond Inlet, Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq and Iqaluit at the end of April and beginning of May to report on the project, entitled the Northeastern Canada 2D Marine Seismic Survey, and gather written comments from the public.

Integrity Act changes pass


Territorial cabinet will now be the gatekeepers for Integrity Act violation allegations against MLAs and ministers.

Amendments to the Integrity Act now prevent senior government officials from making a request to the integrity commissioner to initiate an investigation into the conduct of an MLA.

Members of the Legislative Assembly gave Bill 67, which contains amendments to the act, all three readings during the afternoon of May 9.

Arctic Bay food bank in jeopardy

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

The Arctic Bay food bank hit rock bottom in late May.

The organization's chairperson, Martha Allurut, said the Ajagutaq food bank was "all but dead."

"We need lots of help from other communities and the Arctic Bay hamlet," she said at the time.

"We have nothing, absolutely nothing, We stopped going on the radio to ask for help because we've just given up."

Small class, big success

Qikiqtarjuaq/Broughton Island

Six students from one of Nunavut's smallest communities were honoured in a ceremony when Qikiqtarjuaq celebrated its largest graduation class to date, Nunavut News/North reported May 27.

The Grade 12 students from Inuksuit School - Jenny Mosesie, Karen Kooneeliusie, Vicky Metuq, Ronald Kownirk, Sarah Audlakiak and Marisa Kuniliusie - passed all their exams and can now look towards a brighter future.

Inuksuit School teacher Cheryl Hunt, who taught the students this academic year, said they were a wonderful group to work with.

"I am super happy for them and so proud that I had the opportunity to be their teacher," she said.


No one left behind

Qikiqtarjuaq/Broughton Island

A group of determined walkers from Qikiqtarjuaq took part in a 52-kilometre trek in the name of suicide prevention from May 24 to 27, Nunavut News/North reported on June 3.

The annual event, organized by the hamlet's recreation board, kicked off on May 24 when 15 participants and five helpers on snowmobiles left the community.

Over the weekend, walkers slept in tents and ate food prepared by a chef who

accompanied them.

The group returned on May 27 to much fanfare, when most of the hamlet showed up to welcome them home. A huge feast took place that night.

Nunavut airports lagging behind


Some Nunavut communities would gladly welcome the opportunity to accommodate larger, more modern aircraft at their airports, according to senior administrative officers from Sanikiluaq and Pond Inlet.

The comments were made in June, in reference to the Air Line Pilots Association conference in Ottawa on May 29, in which some representatives suggested services to Arctic communities have to be downgraded because of their limited airport capabilities.

Colin Saunders, acting senior administrative officer in Pond Inlet at the time, said having access to a jet strip could benefit the hamlet but also surrounding North Baffin communities such as Grise Fiord, Arctic Bay and Clyde River.

Racing for awareness

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

For the third year in a row, Cape Dorset planned its own version of popular reality TV series the Amazing Race. But instead of racing to different exotic locales around the world, the racers seek community places where people can find help.

Put on by the Cape Dorset Mental Health Team - registered psychiatric nurse Candice Waddell, community health representative Martha Jaw, child and youth outreach worker Megan Ross and mental health summer student Josie Taukie - the race leads youth to eight different destinations around town.

Since the first race, word has been spreading around the community and each year there have been more kids coming out to participate, said Ross.

Boost for summer turbot fishery


Pangnirtung resident Peter Kilabuk discussed his plans to go down to Newfoundland and purchase a multi-purpose boat to allow him to access significantly more inshore summer turbot.

The 39-foot boat, similar to a Cape Breton lobster fishing vessel, will provide safer working conditions and allow him to fish in rougher waters.

Kilabuk said the vessel will be named the Pijiuja II because of his father, who used to own a whaling boat of his own.

Relocated communities mend wounds

Mittimatalik/Pond Inlet

When 19 Inuit families from Inukjuak, Que., were relocated to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay in the early 1950s, the consequences were disastrous.

Poor planning on the federal government's part meant the relocatees suffered significant hardship in the unfamiliar climate, struggling with the constant darkness and limited wildlife.

Twenty-nine of them travelled to Pond Inlet to take part in healing workshops over a three-day period, June 5 to 7.

Pond Inlet councillor Eleanore Arreak said the emotional visit was an important step in the healing process.

Gas put out of reach


Many houses in Kugluktuk now have an addition in their yards.

The Kugluktuk Inhalant Abuse Program constructed 121 lockable gas boxes which the Hamlet Wellness Department gave to community members for free in June.

Painted bright yellow with a posted warning that it contains flammable materials and constructed with a padlock, the boxes are designed to safely store gas and other substances away from youth who may be inclined to inhale vapors from fuel cans.

There was an alarming increase in Kugluktuk youth involved in inhalant abuse last summer, said Cheryl Lee, an alcohol and drug counsellor in the community and one of the project leaders for the inhalant abuse program.

Scramble to clean up oil spill

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Employees with Kitnuna Corp. worked around the clock in June to clean up a spill at the company's Cambridge Bay site.

A valve on a fuel tank containing waste motor oil was opened, spilling approximately 1,700 litres of oil onto the surrounding area.

The spill was discovered on June 14, when someone walked by and saw the oil, which was apparently caused by vandals who opened the valve.

The waste oil in the tank came from different companies that change the motor oil in their equipment, either light vehicles, heavy equipment or generators.

Tuberculosis rears its ugly head


Two cases of tuberculosis in Sanikiluaq in June were dealt with swiftly before the disease could spread.

These were the first active cases in the hamlet in the past 10 years.

"The student at the school who contracted the disease wasn't very infectious, really," said Dr. Geraldine Osborne, acting chief medical officer of health.

"This was a good opportunity to access the students pretty easily before the summer, when they usually scatter off. Right now we're focused on close contacts of those two cases, which is our usual approach," she said at the time.

Stranded people rescued from ice

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

More than 30 tourists and hunters were rescued in late June after a harrowing experience in which they were trapped on separate ice floes.

The 20 tourists and staff, travelling with adventure group Arctic Kingdom, became stranded in the early morning of June 25 when a large section of floe ice broke off from the mainland approximately 40 kilometres north of Arctic Bay, at Admiralty Inlet.

A group of 11 hunters, also stranded on a nearby chunk of floe ice, were able to make it back to land during the afternoon of June 25 while rescue efforts for the tourists continued until June 26.

Six aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force, the RCMP, Nunavut Protection Services and Emergency Measures Organization Iqaluit took part in the rescue mission.


Street Views launched


In honour of Nunavut Day on July 9, Google launched its new Street Views featuring the sights of Iqaluit.

Iqaluit became the second Nunavut community to get mapped after Cambridge Bay and the gear used was slightly different than the camera-equipped car that people in southern communities see.

Iqaluit was mapped over three days in March using a 'trekker,' a camera worn like a back pack so the user can stroll around taking pictures.

Nunavut Day monument unveiled


A glorious new monument emerged in the territory's capital that is designed to endure into the future, giving visitors and residents a new image to represent the Inuit.

The almost five-metre tall granite sculpture, which remains unnamed, was unveiled July 9 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Nunavut Lands Claims Agreement.

Carvers Looty Pijamani, Inuk Charlie and Paul Maliki, who had been working on the piece together, happily helped Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) celebrate during a special ceremony in front of the Royal Bank on July 9.

Shipping season getting longer


The shipping season for Baffin Island communities is being extended due to receding ice, according to Jean-Pierre Lehnert with the Coast Guard in Iqaluit.

Lehnert, who has 49 years of experience with the Canadian Coast Guard, said he has noticed a significant difference in how early vessels first start arriving to Iqaluit and how late the shipping season ends.

"It used to be that you would see the first vessels coming in around the first week of July," he said.

"Now you start seeing them around the third week of June. And the fishing vessels can almost make it throughout the winter."

Airport security beefed up


The Government of Nunavut stepped up security at several airports in light of vandalism incidents during the summer.

Shawn Maley, director of Nunavut Airports, said security cameras were already installed in Pond Inlet, Arviat and Iglulik this year, while Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung were getting their own systems in August.

Upgrades were to follow in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, too.

The camera systems didn't come cheap - they range from $50,000 to $60,000 depending on materials, Maley said.

Town stands against coal company

Ausuittuq/Grise Fiord

Grise Fiord town officials remained steadfast in their opposition to coal exploration plans on Ellesmere Island following a public consultation meeting with Canada Coal on July 10.

The meeting was an opportunity for company representatives to address concerns in regards to exploration on the Fosheim

Peninsula, an area east of Eureka, but it failed to sway residents who showed up to the meeting.

Marty Kuluguqtuq, assistant senior administrative officer in Grise Fiord and secretary-treasurer of the hunters and trappers organization (HTO), said the community was adamant in opposing any exploration of the surrounding hunting grounds.

"It's not a comfortable feeling at the moment in town," he said.

The public consultation meeting was the latest in a series that began in October 2011 and continued in June 2012. Both times, the message was clear that resource exploration would not be allowed or tolerated in the area.

Hall and arena getting major improvements


Renovations were made to one of Sanikiluaq's most important facilities during July.

The community hall, a venue used for everything from court to funerals to feasts, has already received new doors, windows and an electrical lighting system.

New bathrooms and benches were completed before the end of the summer, said senior administrative officer Andre Larabie.

"This facility is used a lot," he said.

More than $25,000 was spent on new bathrooms and $50,000 for the lighting system, which is now protected by the hard plastic, similar to what is used in prisons.

Larabie said lights hanging from the lower ceiling were more vulnerable to bouncing balls and damage.

Mystery illness affects 15


A mysterious illness affected 15 Pangnirtung residents in July.

The territorial Department of Health first became aware of an issue on June 25 when several residents of the hamlet of about 1,350 people reported suffering from symptoms such as swelling of the mouth, numbness and tingling around the chin and lips, as well as itchiness and rashes.

The department issued an advisory later that day, asking residents to refrain from eating locally-harvested clams.

Fifteen residents exhibited the symptoms, which prompted the department to initiate an investigation and look for a common factor.

Dispatch centre getting urgent upgrades


Several much-needed improvements to Iqaluit's Department of Emergency and Protective Services (EPS) dispatch system were approved by city council on July 23.

A presentation made by a three-member committee - dispatcher Steve Allen, acting deputy fire chief Barry Rogers and information support specialist Brian Witzaney-Chown - highlighted several dispatch centre components requiring urgent upgrades.

A total of $190,000 was approved to cover the improvements.

Consensus on caribou


A two-day workshop discussing the status of Baffin Island caribou in July was "very positive," according to a senior wildlife official.

Drikus Gissing, Nunavut's director of wildlife management, said the meeting exceeded expectations and it is now up to Baffin Island Hunters and Trappers Organizations (HTOs) to come up with strategies to increase the caribou population.

The HTOs returned to their communities and began reporting, through consultations, on what was discussed at the workshop.

The general consensus was a management plan must be developed in collaboration with HTOs, Gissing said.


Hunters land whale of a catch


Over 35 Pangnirtung hunters worked together to catch a massive bowhead whale Aug. 6.

The whale, measuring approximately 40 feet (12.5 metres) in length, was caught near Kekerten Island where the remnants of a whaling station are located.

The hunt was lead by captain Simeonie Keenainak and co-captain Charlie Qummuatuq, both experienced bowhead hunters.

Anger over high food prices


A dozen protesters gathered in a parking lot on Queen Elizabeth Way on Aug. 15 to protest high food prices in the North.

Traffic slowed to a crawl while most motorists shared their support for the protest by honking their horns several times.

Signs at the protest included "67 per cent of households are food insecure," "Stop Price Gouging" and Imoe Papatsie's four-year-old son George wore a sandwich board reading "We need cheaper pears."

Fuel spill cancels Kugluktuk flight


An aircraft travelling to Kugluktuk from Yellowknife was forced to turn back after a dangerous good held in the cargo area began leaking fuel Aug. 11.

The Boeing 737 was transporting an aircraft start unit, which has a small combustion engine and an integral fuel tank that was holding Jet A-1 fuel, according to Lisa Hicks, spokesperson for Canadian North, the company responsible for the plane.

The flight crew was alerted to the leak after the scent of fuel was detected in the cabin, said Hicks.

Audio guide unveiled


Tourists and residents alike now have the opportunity to learn more about Iqaluit and its many attractions thanks to the creation of a new audio guide by Carrefour Nunavut, revealed in August.

The free guide, more than 15 months in the making, can be downloaded from Carrefour Nunavut's website or borrowed from the Unikkaarvik Visitor's Centre on one of nine iPod shuffles.

The self-guided tour provides cultural, political and historical information on 42 different stations around the city and is available in French, English and Inuktitut.

Bad summer for vandalism

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Cambridge Bay hired a second bylaw officer in August in hopes of curbing the increased amount of vandalism in the community this summer.

Steven King, senior administrative officer with the hamlet, said it was the first time in recent memory Cambridge Bay has dealt with this degree of mischief.

"There's been small little graffiti here now and then but this is the first year we've had several incidents of pretty major vandalism," said King, adding he isn't sure why it's become more of a problem.

"Your guess is as good as mine."

During the most recent incident, vandals smashed five windows on the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre.

Smashed boats prompt call for help

Mittimatalik/Pond Inlet

Damage to boats in Pond Inlet reignited the call for a badly needed breakwater in the community.

High winds from Aug. 14 to 15 caused multiple boats to sink or drift away while residents risked their lives to salvage one.

James Simonee, vice-chair of the Pond Inlet Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO), said August the need for a breakwater has never been more dire.

"It's very important because there are a lot of people who have boats," he said.

"Many of those people don't have trailers which means they have to leave their boats in the water. We need something that can protect boats from waves."

Arctic training centre opens doors


A permanent armed forces facility in Resolute was officially opened by the federal government Aug. 15.

"The Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre will reinforce the Canadian Armed Forces' presence in this important region of Canada while providing support to civilian authorities," stated Defence Minister Rob Nicholson in a news release.

"It will ensure that our men and women, regular and reserve, have the capabilities necessary to respond to challenges in the North."

The new training centre, to be used year-round, is a multipurpose facility to accommodate

specialized training in cold weather survival, as well as other military training and operations, stated a news release from the armed forces.

Talk devolution, premier urges

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

Then-Premier Eva Aariak said August she was anxious for Nunavut to begin face-to-face negotiations on devolution with the federal government and said it's been taking too long for the process to get underway.

Aariak expressed her concerns to Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a one-on-one talk the two had while the Prime Minister was in Nunavut on a tour of the North.

"I find things are moving very, very slowly," Aariak told reporters in Rankin Inlet in August.


Teenagers land five belugas

Taloyoak/Spence Bay

Wilson Mannilaq, 17, was one of seven youth aged 11 to 18 who participated in a beluga whale hunt, which was funded by the Taloyoak health committee.

"The youth came back very happy and they had so much to say to their families about their long journey, and how much they had to go through to make a whale hunt. But they really enjoyed it," said hamlet wellness co-ordinator Mary Ugyuk.

The youth headed out Aug. 13, along with an elder and three local hunters. Two of the hunters are Canadian Rangers.

Five of the teenagers caught a whale each during the hunt near Prince of Wales Island.

The other two lost their kills after their equipment failed and the animals drifted under the ice, said Ugyuk.

Mannilaq also caught a caribou and a seal on the trip.

Before they could eat the seal, two polar bears came into the camp while everyone was sleeping and scarfed it down, he said. One of the guides woke from the noise and scared the bears off with his rifle before anything bad happened.

On their way back to Taloyoak, the group got iced in for about three days when the region was hit with snow and strong winds.

Schools switching to electronic monitoring


While attendance rates across the territory have historically been lower than those at southern schools, the Government of Nunavut's Department of Education is hoping an integrated student record management system can help track data more accurately, and perhaps help them find ways to ultimately increase rates.

The new system, called Maplewood, was piloted at nine schools last year and will be implemented in all 43 schools across the territory as they opened in September.

Donald Mearns, the director of assessment for the Department of Education, said Maplewood will do much more than just track attendance.

"This new system not only gives us the ability to fulfill our legal requirement to record attendance in schools but also to give us accurate data at a school, region and Nunavut-wide level," he stated in an e-mail.

Courses expanded


Pirurvik Centre is ramping up its programming this year and next by offering Inuit language courses in communities outside Iqaluit.

Second language classes will run in Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung starting this fall.

This time around, the courses will be for Government of Nunavut workers and municipal employees only.

However, if there is room, instructors may open spots up to the public, said Gavin Nesbitt, the organization's cofounder and operations director.

Judge laments lack of help for offenders with FASD


One justice is saying that in Nunavut, a territory where the government has ignored the needs of residents suffering from FASD, defence attorneys must become advocates for the disadvantaged and marginalized.

Groups of Nunavummiut are struggling without support, Justice Robert Kilpatrick

stated in a recent judgment.

As a result, they're getting swept into the criminal justice system, he added.

Defence counsel should be suggesting sentencing alternatives to custody and ensuring offender's with special needs receive the help they need, added Kilpatrick.

"It falls to the legal profession to lobby the government for the funds and resources necessary to make such sentencing alternatives viable in Nunavut.

Building behind


Bad luck with construction projects continued to plague the hamlet of Arviat in September.

The community was expecting its new hamlet office to be open before the end of 2014, but it will now be well into 2015 at the earliest.

The new building was originally planned to be 515 square metres, but now sits at about 750 square metres to meet the community's needs.

The price tag is now at about $9 million.


Epic adventure


Four adventurers from Iqaluit - Erik Boomer, Katherine Breen and siblings Eric McNair-Landry and Sarah McNair-Landry - arrived in Cape Dorset after braving the harsh and unforgiving elements of nature for more than two months and 1,000 kilometres, Nunavut News/North reported Oct. 7.

The foursome, called the Pittarak Team, departed from Qikiqtarjuaq on kayaks they built themselves over the summer. The first leg of the journey featured a 10-day crossing of the Penny Ice Cap through Auyuittuq National Park, where the team had to ski up and over the summit while pulling Boomer's kayak and supplies across large expanses of ice and snow.

In September, the team followed the ocean's coast towards Cape Dorset, where they were welcomed by hundreds of cheering residents.

Anglican diocese on ropes


The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic held an impassioned press conference on Oct. 7, pleading for assistance with its efforts to raise

the more than $3 million it still owes creditors for construction of St. Jude's Cathedral in Iqaluit.

Despite already paying more than $7.5 million to rebuild the cathedral after an arsonist destroyed it in 2005, the diocese is now facing an immediate demand for payment from the builder's receiver, Alvarez and Marsal Canada Inc.

Dowland Contracting, which joined the rebuilding process midway, was put into receivership in May, filing for bankruptcy protection after owing the Royal Bank of Canada more than $83 million.

The company left several projects unfinished, including renovations to the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

Books detail Inuit struggle


The Qikiqtani Inuit Association's release on Oct. 9 of a two-book history of life in Nunavut's Baffin region from 1950 to 1975 signalled another step in the healing journey of the Inuit.

"We don't want to just be angry anymore," said QIA president Okalik Eegeesiak in Inuktitut. "My hope for today and the future is for Inuit to be seen as no longer carrying bad things."

The two books contain histories of the 13 communities in the Oikiqtaaluk region and detail cultural changes imposed on Inuit by the Government of Canada in a 25-year period.

The nearly 1,000-page work, written from the Inuit perspective, was compiled using testimony and documents collected by the Qikiqtani Truth Commission.

Hunting season begins

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

Polar bear hunting season opened in Arctic Bay on Oct. 7.

According to conservation rules and regulations, hunting is limited to the Admiralty Inlet region.

This year's polar bear hunt quota was set at 25 animals, according to Jack Willie, manager of the Ikajutit Hunters and Trappers Association.

Non-profit plans hotel

Kangiqtugaapik/Clyde River

A non-profit organization in Clyde River was hoping in October its business arm could generate badly needed funds to keep important programs running.

The Illisaqsivik Society, an organization promoting health and wellness programs in the community, is finally moving ahead with its project of building an accommodation facility in the hamlet.

When the society launched a for-profit arm called Tukumaaq Inc. in 2011, it had the intention of creating a funding base and pursue projects such as film contracts and building a hotel.

This year, the society finally has the funding it needs to begin the project, which would see the construction of an 18-bed facility by the spring of 2015.

Executive director Jakob Gearheard said there has been a strong demand for a second hotel-type facility in Clyde River for more than five years.

"There is a hotel in the community but it has been overflowing for a long time," he said.

Airports improved


A crew of six people left Sanikiluaq on Oct. 16 - the third Nunavut airport to receive improvements - after spending four days on runway resurfacing work.

Travellers going to Pangnirtung, Sanikiluaq and Kugluktuk will experience smoother landings after work was carried out to replace worn sections of those runways.

Nunavut Airports Division had identified the runways as needing maintenance during the construction season.

The crew arrived in Sanikiluaq on Oct. 12 and went to work the next day, laying and compacting approximately 200 loads of crushed stone on the runway in strategic spots.

Call for shelter to be reopened

Taloyoak/Spence Bay

Taloyoak's self-help group was calling in October for the women's shelter to be reopened in the community in October.

The facility is needed to keep women safe and alive, said Mary Eetoolook, who brought the issue up during the Kitikmeot Inuit Association's annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay.

"Sometimes we don't know what's going to happen, we don't know what's going on at home. Sometimes women get killed and sometimes children," said Eetoolook. "If we can have support from someone, we would like (the shelter) open because we don't want to constantly think about what's going to happen to the person. It's stressful ... We need a safe place for every person in each community."

Taloyoak's women's shelter was open for 21 years, but closed in 2009 after the pipes in the building froze.

Lottery tickets return

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

The lottery tickets sales booth at the Northern store made its successful return to Rankin Inlet in October.

Many in the community were glad to be able to play their national and regional lottery numbers again in their hometown, and others were happy to have the chance to spend a few dollars on Lotto's sports game of selecting winners, or beating the spread.

Polar bear warning


Residents of Arviat, especially the younger residents and elders, were reminded in October to use caution when travelling about the community on foot by themselves.

A number of polar bears seem to have become bolder this year and are entering the community in search of food, or because of simple curiosity. A resident's dog was killed on his property by a polar bear during the previous month.

Radio station set to return


A new hamlet-run radio station, CHPS FM, was set to go back on the air in October.

Kugguk radio, which means river, will not only act as a source of information for residents, but hopefully bring more excitement to community events, said Don LeBlanc, Kugluktuk's senior administrative officer.

"I think during key times of the year the local radio station plays a big part in what goes on, the festivities, what kind of enthusiasm you come out with, the kind of results you get," he said.

"With Christmas coming up, there are so many wonderful things, and there are so many things the elders probably won't be able to get out to. If they can turn on their radio station and listen to it, it would bring it that much closer to them."

Iglulik building destroyed


An early morning fire in Iglulik on Oct. 24 damaged an office building "beyond repair."

The structure housed the offices for the income support program and probation services. A government liaison officer also worked there. The RCMP and fire department were investigating, said RCMP Cpl. Yvonne Niego.

Territorial election time


Nunavummiut headed to the polls Oct. 28 to decide which of the 72 candidates will represent them in the legislative assembly.

Under the new electoral boundaries, there are 22 seats up for grabs, three more than in previous elections.

Kugluktuk candidate Peter Taptuna and Netsilik candidate Jeannie Ugyuk had been acclaimed prior to election day because no contenders filed nomination papers.

Hunters land a bowhead

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven hunters landed a bowhead whale amid challenges with bear attacks, a lost crewman and changes of command, Nunavut News/North reported Oct. 7.

"It feels very good because it could have easily been a different story," said James Qitsualik, hunt captain and chairperson for the local hunters and trappers organization.

The whale hunt was the community's first in recent memory, and none of the hunters had experience in catching such a beast.

It took the crew about two and half days to butcher the animal and load the pieces into the boat.

The meat was distributed among community members in Taloyoak, Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Kugaaruk and Gjoa Haven.


Nunavummiut vote for change


Among the countless comments one can make from the fourth Nunavut general election, it's obvious that Nunavummiut were itching for change, Nunavut News/North reported Nov. 4.

Five candidates - David Joanasie, George Hickes, Johnny Mike, Steve Mapsalak and Isaac Shooyook - unseated the incumbents in their ridings in the Oct. 28 territorial election.

In comparison, seven familiar faces will return to the legislature in the fourth assembly.

The closest race where an incumbent was unseated was in Pangnirtung, where Mike beat runner-up Harry Dialla by only 15 votes.

The largest margin of victory was in the South Baffin constituency, where Joanasie received 249 more votes than runner-up Tommy Akavak, with incumbent Fred Schell getting only 43 votes.

Ties occurred in two constituencies. Niore Iqalukjuak and Samuel Nuqingaq both received 187 votes from Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq voters, while Lorne Kusugak and Alexander Sammurtok managed 172 votes each from Rankin Inlet South voters. Nuqingaq was declared the victor in a judicial recount and a byelection was being scheduled for the new year in the Rankin Inlet South constituency.

Some big names lost their seats. In the Iqaluit-Tasiluk riding, George Hickes with 237 votes unseated the premier, Eva Aariak, who received 194 votes. Ron Elliott, the incumbent for the Quttiktuq riding, lost to Isaac Shooyook by 80 votes.

Heritage centre opens

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

A ceremony was held Oct. 17 to mark the official opening of the Nattlilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven.

The day started with a ribbon cutting at the building, and ended with a feast and entertainment at the memorial complex. More than 150 people attended, including visitors from Oslo, Norway.

In temperature-controlled cases sit 16 artifacts taken to Oslo from Gjoa Haven, by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in the 1900s, and brought back to Nunavut earlier last year. The centre also houses artifacts and carvings created some 50 years ago in the Kitikmeot region. The pieces are on loan from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

Mightiest ship featured


A shipping vessel instrumental in bringing important resources to Nunavut was profiled on a Nov. 29 episode of Mighty Ships, a documentary show that explores how ships and their crews operate.

The MV Avataq, a 113-metre vessel belonging to Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping Inc., was being featured on the hour-long show. Mighty Ships, in its seventh season, is broadcast on Discovery Channel Canada and can be seen around the world.

Library closed, shipped away

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

Canada's Northernmost public library was dismantled and shipped south to another community, Nunavut News/North reported Nov. 11.

The Ikpiarjuk Public Library in Arctic Bay, formerly housed in the Inuujaq School, was packed up and sent to Cape Dorset along with more than 3,000 books following a decision made by the hamlet.

Arctic Bay Mayor Frank May said three separate votes led to the demise of the library.

"It wasn't unanimous," he said. "The hamlet set up the library in an empty house after the District Education Authority didn't want it. When it came time to finding funding elements, the hamlet was afraid of potential maintenance costs on the building.

"So rather than taking the chance to repair it, they decided they didn't want it there."

The outcome marked the culmination of a tense, 18-month period in which the resource changed hands many times.

Taptuna named premier


After withstanding hours of questioning from his peers in the legislative assembly, MLAs voted to have Peter Taptuna lead the territory as premier on Nov. 15.

The two other nominees for premier were Paul Quassa and Paul Okalik. Taptuna was chosen after the first round of voting, showing more than 50 per cent of MLAs supported him.

The MLA for Kugluktuk will be working with eight MLAs who were selected Nov. 15 to be cabinet ministers. They are Keith Peterson, of Cambridge Bay; Tom Sammurtok, of Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet; Monica Ell, of Iqaluit-Manirajak; Paul Quassa, of Aggu; Johnny Mike, of Pangnirtung; Jeannie Ugyuk, of Netsilik; George Kuksuk, of Arviat North-Whale Cove; and Paul Okalik, of Iqaluit-Sinaa. Amittuq MLA George Qulaut was named to the position of Speaker.

Nanisivik facility closer

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

The design phase for the long-delayed Nanisivik Naval Facility is almost complete, a Department of National Defence spokesperson said in November.

"The Department of National Defence has completed all the site studies required to support the design work currently underway for the Nanisivik Naval Facility," stated Jennifer St. Germain, a National Defence communications advisor, via e-mail. "The design phase is nearing completion and will result in a deliverable of detailed drawings which can be used by a contractor to build the facility."

Construction at the location, approximately 30 kilometres southeast of Arctic Bay, was initially announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in August 2007. Chosen for its strategic proximity to the Northwest Passage, the $116-million facility has been mired in delays for the past six years.

Education failures detailed


A pair of damning reports from the auditor general of Canada served as serious wake-up calls for Nunavut's Department of Education, deputy minister Kathy Okpik said on Nov. 20.

The reports - assessing the territorial government's implementation of the Education Act, as well as safety in schools and childcare facilities across Nunavut - were tabled at the legislative assembly on Nov. 19.

"With these reports, we can provide information to the legislative assembly on what is needed to properly implement the Education Act," Okpik said. "The department agrees with all the recommendations. Everybody had too much on their plate," she added, referring to the plethora of regulations implemented in 2008.

The audit to determine whether or not the government had adequately managed the implementation of the Education Act looked at eight schools in five communities across Nunavut.

The government has set 2019-20 as the target date for bilingual English-Inuktitut instruction to be implemented territory-wide.

Okpik said if the department's strategies aren't changed, it won't meet that goal.

One of the largest barriers the department faces is the lack of Inuktitut teachers.

Filipino family uplifted by assistance


For three days, Iglulik's Cornelio Navarrete and Joann Navarrete waited for news from their families in the Philippines.

With every dead body they saw on the news, they wondered if it was someone they knew.

Cornelio couldn't sleep, thinking of his nine siblings and their families living in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of one the world's biggest typhoons.

Cornelio and Joann's immediate families survived the disaster, but many of them are struggling with the memory.

Iglulik residents stepped up to help the Philippines by holding a benefit concert on Nov. 21 at the community complex.

Elijah Evaluarjuk said when he heard that the Navarretes were sending their pay cheques home to their families, he had to do something.

"We thought it would be a good idea to help them out," said Evaluarjuk.

The Government of Nunavut also supported the Philippines relief effort by donating $25,000 to the Canadian Red Cross.

Mint releases coin with Inuit art

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Cape Dorset artist Tim Pitsiulak has always admired the power and mystery of bowhead whales. Now, he is sharing that inspiration with coin collectors and Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

He designed the Life in the North commemorative 25-cent coin for the Royal Canadian Mint, which was unveiled in Cambridge Bay on Nov. 22, 100 years after the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition.

Pitsiulak was working on an art piece at West Baffin Co-operative when he got the news.

"I couldn't pass on the opportunity to make something for a coin. That was something else," said Pitsiulak, adding employees at the mint had seen his work online and were impressed enough to offer him the job.

"Being an artist all my life and having a design of your own on a coin, it's unbelievable."

The mint is releasing 12.5 million coins with Pitsiulak's design.

Turbot quota increased


Nunavut turbot fishers received good news on Nov. 15, when the Government of Nunavut announced it had increased the total allowable catch for Greenland halibut in Division 0A to 8,000 tonnes from 6,500 tonnes for 2014.

The additional increase will be given entirely to Nunavut fishers.

Arctic Fishery Alliance (AFA) general manager Harry Earle welcomed the news, saying AFA would "be applying for its fair share of the 1,500 tonne increase for its new vessel, the Atlantic Prospect."


Woman catches first bear

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

An Arctic Bay woman had one of the most surreal experiences of her life on Nov. 24, when she caught her first polar bear just outside of the community, Nunavut News/North reported Dec. 2.

Darlene Willie, whose name had previously been drawn for a polar bear tag, had three days to find one before the opportunity would go to someone else.

With only two days to find a bear, Willie received a fortuitous phone call on Nov. 24.

One of her neighbours, an elder, called and told her someone had spotted a polar bear by a cabin located roughly 30 minutes from the community. Armed with a single rifle, Willie, her son and her husband jumped on a snowmobile and drove out to the cabin.

After the female bear was dead, Willie's father was called to help bring it back to Arctic Bay, where it was shared among the community.

Call for strategy to end violence against women


The Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council (QNSWC) is calling for the creation of a family violence prevention group to alleviate the increasingly high rate of violence against women in the territory.

Alarming statistics prove it's time to establish a council made up of important organizations to decrease that rate, said QNSWC president Charlotte Borg.

"We need to create a council that puts forward an articulated strategy to end family violence in Nunavut," she said. "A group, similar to the Embrace Life Council, that can champion and oversee the issue. It's too overwhelming for one department (Family Services) to handle."

Cultural centre nearly complete


Construction on Kugluktuk's new $27-million multi-purpose cultural centre is nearing completion with a grand opening set for the new year, Nunavut News/North reported Dec. 2.

The building is designed to look like an ulu, and will feature two board rooms, a small museum and a retail outlet which will have local carvings and artwork for sale.

"Seventy-five per cent of the work is done," said Don LeBlanc, senior administrative officer for the hamlet.

"Electrical, plumbing and some walls need to be completed."

The plan is for the centre to act as a starting point for tourists and sportsmen, as well as a location for small conferences.

Library wins contest


Nuiyak School in Sanikiluaq won the 2012 Chapters/Indigo Library Makeover Contest and used its prize money - $10,000 from the contest and nearly $4,000 from the community - to purchase thousands of new books for the hamlet's lone library, Nunavut News/North reported Dec. 2.

Nicole Wutke and Gerda Westenenk, both teachers at the school, organized the campaign and helped establish a library committee to make the best use of the winnings.

Wutke said there hadn't been a library at the school for more than 10 years.

Bonanza at dump


An Iglulik contractor questioned in early December why the Nunavut Housing Corporation (NHC) discarded loads of "perfect" construction materials at the local dump, and believes MLAs should be concerned, too.

During a trip to the landfill, Ike Haulli, owner of Savik Enterprises, saw NHC employees throwing out electrical supplies, plumbing materials, drywall mud, hardware and more.

The materials were "like brand new," with some still in the original packaging, so residents started loading up their vehicles, said Haulli, adding he made three trips with his truck.

Adam Gordon, acting chief executive officer for NHC, said the materials were discarded as part of an ongoing initiative to consolidate its inventory in various communities.

Packed with parcels


Canada Post temporarily extended post office hours in some communities and ensured its facilities were fully staffed in mid-December, so parcels can be delivered as quickly as possible, said company spokesperson Eugene Knapi.

"Our goal is to have clean floors in all of our facilities on Dec. 24. We want to make sure every parcel that's been sent, we get out," he said.

Canada Post was dealing with higher than normal parcel volumes this year, he added.

Huge conservation area proposed


A steering committee for a proposed national marine conservation area in the High Arctic returned from its latest consultation tour in December, with positive feedback from residents of potentially impacted communities.

Members of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), the Government of Nunavut and Parks Canada were in Iqaluit on Dec. 2 for the last of six meetings, in which presentations were made on the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area feasibility assessment.

The group visited Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet and Clyde River in November.

The proposed national marine conservation area is to cover more than 40,000 square kilometres.

Francine Mercier of Parks Canada said the protected area is home to 75 per cent of the world's narwhal population, 20 per cent of the Canadian beluga population and the largest sub-population of polar bears in Canada.

New power plant planned

Ausuittuq/Grise Fiord

The Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) announced plans to build a new power plant in Canada's most Northern community.

The company announced in a news release on Dec. 6 it had filed a major project permit application with the minister responsible for QEC.

"The existing Grise Fiord power plant was constructed in 1963 and has numerous problems in regard to its civil, mechanical, and electrical systems," stated Peter Ma, president and CEO of Qulliq Energy Corporation in the release.

"The infrastructure suffers from several deficiencies, including failing building foundation, unreliable superstructure and aging systems and equipment. We need to rebuild the plant in order to maintain safe, reliable power supply for the community of Grise Fiord."

The company is requesting an approval of $7.9 million for the project, which is designed to be completed within three years.

Court Services misses deadline


The director of court services told Nunavut News/North on Dec. 10 it will not be able to meet a deadline imposed by Justice Robert Kilpatrick to improve facilities for circuit court when it visits communities.

Kilpatrick, fed up with sub-par facilities at stops along the circuit court, issued a set of nine directives on May 27, and set Jan. 1 as the deadline for his requests.

Past experiences in courtroom settings include people having to wear parkas, buildings with no running water or working toilets, blocked emergency exits and communities without available accommodations.

"The government is in control, it's the government's responsibility to provide these resources to the court, not the hamlets," Kilpatrick said.

"If the hamlets can't provide it, seems to me someone over there at court services needs to be a bit more proactive, and figure out what the court needs to operate and actually go out and ensure it's provided. That's not asking too much."

Canada delays Arctic claim


After a decade and nearly $200 million worth of work, Canada still has more to do before officially submitting a claim for seabed rights in the Arctic, including the North Pole.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the country had 10 years to determine the limits of its continental shelf past 370 nautical kilometres.

The deadline for submissions was Dec. 6. To satisfy the time frame, the country filed a preliminary submission.

It also entered a completed claim for the Atlantic Ocean.

"The Arctic is a very challenging place, the conditions, the weather. We basically ran out of time. So we are buying the time with a preliminary submission," said Leona Aglukkaq, MP for Nunavut and the chairperson of the Arctic Council.


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