Multiple federal funding announcements in lead-up to 2021 federal election

In late July and early August multiple federal ministers stopped by Iqaluit to making various funding announcements.

Indigenous Services minister Marc Miller promised Nunavut would get part of a $724 million pie meant for Indigenous-led and operated shelters across Canada for those facing gender-based violence.

Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister responsible for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, announced on Aug. 3 Iqaluit, Gjoa Haven and Kugluktuk would get $10 million toward housing, $5 million of which went to Iqaluit.

Catherine McKenna, minister of Infrastructure and communities announced a $40 million investment toward a deep-water port in Qikiqtarjuaq on Aug. 4.

Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal dropped down in Iqaluit on Aug. 12 and announced $517.8 million to be available for shovel-ready infrastructure projects across Inuit Nunangat. A specific amount for Nunavut was not earmarked at that time.

On Aug. 13, Vandal also announced a $41.7 million contribution agreement with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated to go toward the construction of the Nunavut Recovery Centre.

Hussen, in his capacity as minister of families, children and social development made another $10 million announcement Aug. 13, this time towards extending the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

On Aug. 15 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a request to governor general Mary Simon to dissolve parliament and called an election for Sept. 20.

Nunavummiut tired of boiling drinking water

Over the course of this summer various Nunavut communities faced boil water advisories. Baker Lake experienced four boil water advisories between July 2020 and June 2021.

On July 12 Whale Cove, Iglulik and Resolute Bay saw boil water advisories go out. Most advisories outside of Iqaluit were due to cloudy water, also known as turbidity.

The Kugluktuk water treatment plant was upgraded in 2017, however residents were surprised to receive a boil water advisory due to turbidity. The Department of Health introduced new turbidity standards in 2019.

While turbidity itself isn’t a health concern according to the Department of Community and Government Services (CGS), it is indicative of further risk associated with the water quality.

Over the past five years CGS has spent close to $90 million building new water treatment plants all over Nunavut.

During a trip to Iqaluit, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Canada will continue to invest in better water quality.

Paul Quassa resigns as Aggu MLA

Veteran politician Paul Quassa announced his resignation as Aggu MLA officially as of Aug. 13.

Quassa has represented his riding which consists of much of Iglulik since 2013 and was the Premier of Nunavut from Nov. 2017 to June 2018. He is also the former president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

“Earlier this year, I advised my constituents that I will not be seeking re-election as the member of the Legislative Assembly,” said Quassa. “I look forward to continuing to make contributions to our territory in other forums.”

Sanikiluaq holds ceremonial opening of new health centre

On Aug. 11 there was a special ceremonial celebration marking the opening of the new 1,775 square-metre Sanikiluaq Health Centre. Health Minister Lorne Kusugak, Minister of Community and Government Services Jeannie Ehaloak, Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt and Sanikuluaq Mayor Johnnie Cookie cut a ribbon to celebration the ocassion.

“Today, we celebrate the opening of a vital piece of community infrastructure,” said Ehaloak.

The Department of Health stated the new health centre will allow for the future addition of staff, a more welcoming visitor experience and improved access to integrated healthcare services.

Late night fire destroys Baker Lake daycare

Baker Lake is reeling after a fire destroyed the community’s daycare on the eve of the first day of school.

Police and firefighters in Baker Lake were called at 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 17. Baker Lake resident Freddie Oovayuk recorded a video he posted to Facebook.

Oovayuk said fire crews were already fighting the blaze by the time he got onto the scene.

“As soon as I saw the flames I knew I had to go live,” he said.

At the time RCMP said the incident was under investigation.

Despite pandemic, Iqaluit finds itself in good financial shape

On Aug. 18, the City of Iqaluit some details about the municipality’s 2020 consolidated financial statements.

Despite the onset of Covid-19 in late 2019, the City of Iqaluit has managed to find itself in an overall positive financial position, having increased its net asset position by $10 million from 2018, presenting cash and financial assets and fewer liabilities. This was the result of capital infrastructure projects such as upgrade to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, planning for a new solid waste facility as well as equipment purchases and City Hall improvements.

“The city was able to adapt to changing priorities to support our community during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell.

“The city is on the right track to financial stability to be able to make improvements to our services, with the help of our partners.”

Baker Lake hunters nab community’s first bowhead whale

A group of Baker Lake hunters made local history on Aug. 15, harvesting the community’s first bowhead whale. Hunters from the inland Kivalliq community took off from Chesterfield Inlet on July 27 and on Aug. 16, made the announcement on social media of the successful harvest of a 40-foot bowhead whale around 9 p.m. the previous day.

Baker Lake mayor Richard Aksawnee called it a historic day for the community.

The hunters spent most of the previous three weeks camped out at Harbour Island, near Naujaat.

One of the hunters, David Simailak, said the next hard part was butchering the whale, a task Naujaat hunters assisted with.

“We are all extremely proud of all of our bowhead whalers,” said Simailak.

RCMP officer charged with assault in Sanirajak

An RCMP officer working in Sanirajak has been charged with assault, which allegedly occurred while the officer was on-duty and responding to a call in summer 2020.

Cpl. Ian Crowe was formally charged on Aug. 24.

“The criminal charge laid is very serious. This allegation does not reflect the integrity of our individual members nor does it represent what we stand for as a police service,” said Amanda Jones, the RCMP’s V Division Commanding Officer.

No other details were released.

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