Arviat bids farewell to drama teacher Gord Billard

Gord Billard, longtime teacher, retired to his hometown at the end of this school year after helping start the community’s first drama program in 2001.

“It’s been a very rewarding 20 years. My heart and mind are still there and probably will be for many more years,” he told Kivalliq News.

Billard first came North after a colleague was offered a job as the principal at the school.

“He called me up to see if I’d be interested in going there to form a drama club. He had already hired a music teacher, Mary Piercey (Lewis), who just won a Juno. We were the first music and drama teachers the school had,” he recalled.

At first, Billard committed to teaching in Arviat for two years. But he fell in love with the community and those two years turned into two decades. Billard explained that the school’s theatre productions became such an important outlet for youth who were looking for ways to express themselves.

Diamond exploration resumes in Naujaat

North Arrow Minerals was continuing to evaluate the potential value of diamond reserves at its Naujaat property with a large-scale sampling program this past summer.

Ken Armstrong, CEO of North Arrow Minerals, said the company was hoping to get a better sense of the value of a special kind of coloured diamond that had been retrieved from previous samples.

“There are these really intriguing potentially high-value diamonds,” said Armstrong.

The Vancouver-based mining company has been evaluating the small area just a few kilometres outside of Naujaat since 2014.

Based on previous samples, the company believed it hds a 20-million carats inferred resource, which is an estimate that comes with a lower level of confidence. North Arrow’s summer sampling was trying to determine the quality of those diamonds, in particular the bright orange diamonds that had been found in some samples.

Baker Lake man starts Alcoholics Anonymous group

A recently sober Baker Lake widower had started a new Alcoholics Anonymous program for the community.

“Not to bad-name Baker Lake, it’s a beautiful place, but too many people are drinking nowadays,” said Allan Qiyuaryuk.

The father of four had attempted to quit drinking several times since his wife died in 2012. The loss of his partner at such a young age led him down a self-destructive path.

“When I lost her that made me one of the worst alcoholics in Baker,” Qiyuaryuk confessed.

Qiyuaryuk decided to start the Alcoholics Anonymous program in Baker Lake so that he could connect with and help other people who are trying to overcome their reliance on alcohol.

‘Nowhere for us to live’: resident decries lack of market housing

A university student from Rankin Inlet spoke out about the lack of homeownership opportunities for young Nunavummiut this summer.

Augatnaaq Eccles, who was hoping to go to teacher’s college after finishing her undergraduate degree in 2022, vented about the territory’s housing trials and tribulations in a July 16 Facebook post.

“As a young Inuk, I was told, like many others, to go for post-secondary education so I could get a good job and one day own my own home, which I did. I went to school with the goal of coming back to work and give back to the community I love so much,” she wrote. “The issue is once we come back, there is nowhere for us to live.”

In an interview with Kivalliq News, Eccles said the issue has been weighing on her mind for some time. “I was tired of waiting for someone else to say something, so I thought I might as well say something and get the conversation going,” she said.

Coral Harbour lands bowhead whale

Hunters from Coral Harbour harvested a 10-metre bowhead whale on July 10.

“That’s a lot of maktaaq. Enough for most of the community members,” said Greg Ningeocheak, one of the hunters to har- poon the animal.

Captained by Mayor Willie Nakoolak, a team of 15 men and one boy left town around midday. They headed south along the coast, eventually setting up around 40 km south of Coral Harbour.

The hunt team was split up with most of the men divided among five boats. Another few were on all-terrain vehicles acting as spotters, looking for whales from shore.

Heavy winds made the hunt challenging, but the crew was successful in the end. Hundreds of people came down to greet them as they returned with their catch.

Contract extended for Arviat’s national TV show

Arviat’s popular Tunnganarniq Live show was extended indefinitely after wrapping up its first six months of filming in the summer.

The community began hosting Tunnganarniq Live in January as part of the launch of Uvagut TV, Canada’s first Inuktitut-language television channel. The show was originally only supposed to run for six months but it proved so popular that it was set to continue.

“Arviatmiut, they were giving great feedback. When they are so enthusiastic like that we can’t close the door. We had to find a solution and we did,” said Lucy Tulugarjuk, managing director of Uvagut TV. “Arviat was so successful that we found another spot for them to continue their live shows.”

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