Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak asked whether it will be possible to purchase marijuana at the
Iqaluit beer and wine store in the future.

The government hasn’t adopted a position on the issue yet, Finance Minister Keith Peterson replied. The GN has launched consultations, including a cannabis survey for the general public that has led to more than 1,000 responses so far, according to Peterson.
The minister noted that July 1, 2018 – the date that the federal government has selected to legalize marijuana – is not that far off. That leaves a lot of work for the next legislative assembly, likely with only two sittings before the deadline, Peterson noted. He added that sorting out a marijuana distribution network for Nunavut still has to be accomplished.

No satisfaction on elders’ care centre
Despite remarkable persistence, Rankin Inlet South MLA Alexander Sammurtok didn’t get any assurance on a requested 24-hour elders care’ facility in Rankin Inlet.
On Sept. 12, Sammurtok pointed out that he was making his 10th statement on the issue and asking his 20th oral question. He expressed his disappointment and frustration at the government’s “lack of response” despite his various suggested solutions. Meanwhile, elders from Rankin Inlet continue to be sent elsewhere for long-term care.
Health Minister George Hickes commended Sammurtok for doggedly pursuing the topic. Hickes referred to the capital planning process as one option. He also said some communities are forming societies that work toward the construction and operation of such facilities and find partners who can aid in construction. The minister also acknowledged that “it’s heartbreaking” to separate elders from their families. He said those decisions are only made when necessary.
Hickes added that a feasibility study is being done on the possibility of expanding existing long-term care facilities in Iglulik and Gjoa Haven.

Mental health plea
Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak also turned to Health Minister George Hickes in conveying a “desperate need” for a mental health facility in Gjoa Haven. Akoak said there’s also a lack of mental health services in the neighbouring communities of Taloyoak and Kugaaruk.
“At the moment, when an individual needs help they are either cared for by their family or sent away,” said Akoak.
Hickes said Gjoa Haven has a mental health worker and a psychiatric nurse. Following a serious incident or in times of crisis, the Department of Health flies in additional resources, the minister said. He also mentioned existing access to a helpline and an elder support line.
As he did in responding to Rankin Inlet South MLA Alexander Sammurtok, Hickes suggested that the capital planning process would be one way to address a mental health facility, but he admitted that there’s “a lot of competing interests.”
Hickes then repeated the idea of forming a society and working with stakeholders to provide a “fee-for-service type infrastructure.”
He added that he recently submitted a proposal to the federal government for a mental health and addictions facility and that a mental health transition facility is being considered for Rankin Inlet.

Elders share IQ in new book
Minister of Culture and Heritage George Kuksuk heralded the launch of a new book: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit – What Inuit Have Always Known to Be True.
The book was written by Rhoda Karetak and Louis Angalik of Arviat, Atuat Akitirq of Iglulik, Jose Angutinguniq of Kugaaruk, Alice Ayalik of Kugluktuk, Donald Uluadluak and Mark Kalluak of Arviat, Norman Attungala of Baker Lake, and Mariano Aupilardjuk from Rankin Inlet.
“This book is unique in bringing elder voices to the forefront. Each chapter captures what the individual elders in their own words identified as critical Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit
information that should be passed on to future generations,” Kuksuk said.

Sanikiluaq grads set record
Education Minister Paul Quassa applauded the staff at Paatsaali School as well as the students and their parents in Sanikiluaq for producing nine graduates this year, a record number for the community.
“I am proud to comment on such outstanding graduation rates for Nunavut, Mr. Speaker,” Quassa said.
“We aim for our high school graduation rates to be on par with the rest of Canada and for the
majority of Nunavut youth to graduate from high school, college, or university with the
same level of skills, knowledge, and abilities as graduates from anywhere in Canada.”

Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...