Qaumajuq Inuit Art Centre opens

The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) celebrated the opening of the Qaumajuq Inuit Art Centre in Winnipeg with a virtual celebration and free days at WAG.

Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition was INUA (Inuit Nunangat Ungammaktut Atautikkut), meaning “life force” in a number of dialects and “Inuit moving forward together.” The exhibit featured works of arts from all regions of Inuit Nunangat — Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Nunavik, Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

The new 40,000 square-foot Qaumajuq building’s central feature is a three storey glass vault, which showcases thousands of carvings. Holding close to 14,000 pieces of Inuit art, Qaumajuq is Inuit-led and sits in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

‘Inhumane’ housing conditions, says Qaqqaq

Nunavummiut are enduring “inhumane conditions” and their health and safety is at risk by living in homes that are overcrowded, mouldy, water damaged, drafty and have poor ventilation, said then-Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who released a report on the troubling circumstances.

Qaqqaq once again demanded that the federal government take greater action to tackle the territory’s housing problems following “decades of severe underfunding.”

She added that “ignorance and neglect from the current and previous governments has resulted in continued cycles of trauma, intergenerational trauma and abuse.”

Judge imposes harsher sentence for ‘brutal’ assault

A Nunavut judge disallowed a Crown prosecutor’s recommended 10-month sentence and instead imposed the maximum 18 months of jail time in a case involving a “brutal” sexual assault that left the victim with fractured ribs in addition to mental trauma.

Justice Paul Bychok also issued a stern written rebuke to Crown prosecutor Alina Seagal for proposing a lighter sentence for the repeat offender from Kugluktuk, a recommendation that Bychok described as “unhinged.” Offender Joe Algiak, 56, has a criminal record that includes two prior convictions of sexual assault and 12 other assault-related convictions.

“The Crown sentence recommendation in Mr. Algiak’s case only reinforces the perception that our justice system fails to provide justice to Inuit female victims of sexual violence,” stated Bychok.

Wind turbines funded in Sanikiluaq

A one-megawatt wind project expected to offset more than half of Sanikiluaq’s use of diesel for electricity was backed by $6.5 million in funding through Natural Resources Canada.

Ten wind turbines, each capable of generating 100 kW of energy, and 800 kWh of battery energy storage are anticipated to provide more than 4 GWh per year of clean energy for the community of close to 900 residents.

Formally known as the Sanikiluaq High Displacement Renewable Energy Demonstration Project, the initiative will be owned and operated through a regional-community ownership model, designed to keep project revenues within the community. The initiative is expected to achieve commercial operation by fall 2023.

No laws broken in fatal police shooting

An investigation of RCMP conduct during the fatal shooting of a Clyde River man on May 5, 2020 found that officers involved did not break the law, according to the Ottawa Police Service.

The incident resulted in the death of Abraham Moses Natanine, 31.

Ottawa Police Service (OPS) sent four investigators to Clyde River to look into the series of events that led to the deadly confrontation at a residence. Police responded that day after receiving a call about a domestic disturbance.

“OPS concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with his death,” the Ontario police force stated.

Wise Women chosen

Naujaat’s Laura Panigayak was named the recipient of the 2021 Qulliit Wise Woman Award while Iqaluit’s Jukipa Kotierk was selected as the Outstanding Young Woman of the year.

Panigayak, who now resides in Taloyoak, was chosen based on her work with youth – lending a “compassionate ear” and offering advice and feedback to students, according to Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council.

Kotierk earned her award for “volunteering her free time to improve the lives of others. She consistently advocates for marginalized groups, and is a co-creator of Ivviulutit, an organization dedicated to uplifting youth ages 13 to 30 who are Inuit, Black, Indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC) and who identify within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” Qulliit stated.

Covid-19 outbreak in Iqaluit

Chief public health officer (CPHO) Dr. Michael Patterson declared an official outbreak of Covid-19 in Iqaluit on April 16.

“It is declared an outbreak as it involves multiple different households and we have not determined the source of infection at this time,” said Patterson.

The number of active Covid cases in the capital stood at 31 at the time.

Then-Premier Joe Savikataaq repeated cautions for Nunavummiut to follow the public health measures in place, as the virus can spread very easily in communities. He also stressed the importance of everyone able to be vaccinated to get their shots booked.

“I know how uncertain things are right now, but I ask everyone to remain calm and stay strong,” Savikataaq said. “Let’s stay positive, kind and pay strict adherence to all the public health measures.”

Fuel spill in Baker Lake

The territorial government was rushing to clean up a 10,000 litre fuel spill in Baker Lake before it could contaminate the community’s drinking water.

Details about the leak were only made public on April 21, nearly a month after it was first detected.

The oil spill was spotted outside Baker Lake’s tank farm on March 29, but the government believed the leak started on March 5, following the rupture of a drain valve on the pipeline, according to an announcement by the Department of Community and Government Services.

It was estimated it will cost up to $1 million in cleanup efforts, considered finished by summer 2021, with monitoring and soil sampling efforts set to take place well into 2022/23.

Remembering judge Beverley Browne

Nunavut chief justice Neil Sharkey paid tribute to his former colleague, the late Beverley Browne, who was Nunavut’s first senior judge and led the Nunavut Court of Justice through its first 10 years.

Sharkey reflected on Browne’s professionalism and contributions to the community.

“Whether it was through developing a music society, raising accomplished children, spearheading a Nunavut law school, developing the law, or building a Superior Court, Justice Browne’s contributions cannot be overstated,” Sharkey stated. “Justice Browne’s commitment to advancing the law for the benefit of Nunavummiut was on display every time she presided … It was only a few months ago that Justice Browne was chairing meetings in chambers working towards revitalizing the Elders’ program in the NCJ (Nunavut Court of Justice), a program Justice Browne initiated and was committed to seeing flourish.”

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