Derogatory article panned

An RCMP officer’s spouse described Arviat residents as “simple” and “primitive,” among other disparaging adjectives, in a translated article that appeared in the online publication Canadian Days, an Arabic and English language publication that caters to the Canadian-Syrian community.

“They are a people who refuse to develop and learn … They do not know about science and knowledge, even the simplest thing, which is sex … and they have the largest percentage of women at the age of 14 who become mothers without knowing how!” stated Jenny Polo-Egeileh, the wife of Anthony Egeileh, who served as a corporal at the Arviat RCMP detachment.

That tone continued throughout the interview, in regards to housing, security and a lack of local services, including shopping for basic goods and health-care delivery.

A concerned reader asked Nunavut News to make Nunavummiut aware of the article, writing: “This kind of rhetoric causes harm,” and “the fact that people across Canada will read this false depiction of Inuit is concerning.”

Post office woes spark frustration

Acknowledging substandard service, Canada Post was in discussions with the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay on how to improve service.

The postal outlet was plagued by issues since mid-December due to staff resignations and turnover, internet problems and a broken window.

Mail delivery was behind schedule, sometimes by weeks, others say by months.

Business hours were reduced and, at times, in flux from one day to the next with periodic temporary closures.

The post office was operating with limited staff, but Canada Post intended to hire permanent employees, stated Valerie Chartrand, a spokesperson for the Crown corporation, who added that Covid-19 was causing delays across the delivery network.

Ottawa commits to fund shelters

Facing pressure from Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the federal government announced that it would provide funding for the construction and operation of shelters for Inuit women and children across Inuit Nunangat as well as in urban centres.

The money was to come from the Government of Canada’s $724.1-million Violence Prevention Strategy.

Inuit women face violence at a rate 14 times greater than other Canadian women and “unfortunately, the majority of them do not have safe places to go to,” the federal government acknowledged in a news release.

More than 70 per cent of Canada’s 51 Inuit communities do not have access to an emergency shelter.

At its 2020 annual general meeting, Pauktuutit called for the construction of five new emergency shelters – in Nunavut, the NWT, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and one in Ottawa.

Judge denounces mental health services

A Nunavut judge condemned the lack of mental health services in Gjoa Haven by stating that a resident’s fatal stabbing of his stepfather may have been prevented if he had had access to professional help.

Clifton Qirqqut pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he caused the death of Rex Sallerina on Nov. 16, 2017.

Qirqqut suffers from mental health issues. On the day of the killing in the family home, he told relatives that his stepfather tried to poison him in his ear.

“The record shows that Clifton went to the local health centre in Gjoa Haven himself on several occasions to report these paranoid beliefs in 2015. Nothing was done at that time,” Justice Bonnie Tulloch stated in her decision.

An Ontario psychiatrist later found that the offender was suffering from an acute psychotic disorder and was unfit to stand trial.

Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak had repeatedly called for more mental health resources but he never saw it materialize.

“There’s no improvements in the system that’s supposed to help out there,” said Akoak.

Qaqqaq says feds don’t care about Inuit

Then-MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq berated the federal government for the limited medical services available in Nunavut, asserting that it’s evidence that Ottawa doesn’t care about Inuit.

This sharp criticism came on the heels of the Government of Canada making an assurance that Inuit and other Indigenous people would “receive first-class medical care, without fear of discrimination and maltreatment.”

Qaqqaq said: “Inuit and the North does not matter to the federal government as much as other communities, 100 per cent, otherwise we would see equal access. That’s exactly what we saw from the beginning of the relationship between Inuit and the federal institution. It’s a lack of any kind of respect.”

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson also acknowledged concerns over a lack of health services in the territory.

“The complaints I’m getting about healthcare are about access to healthcare more than about discrimination … (it’s) the shortage of resources in notable areas like mental health,” said Patterson.

Buscemi receives accolades

Annie Buscemi’s uplifting and life-affirming messages delivered via TikTok videos helped her earn Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada’s first Young Inuk Woman of the Year award.

Buscemi’s videos became a daily must-see ritual for some of her online followers, numbering more than 25,000.

An Iqaluit resident who was born in Kimmirut, she regularly greets her fans with an enthusiastic: “Ullaakkut! Good morning!”

Because Buscemi knows some Inuit youth are struggling with their identity, she seizes the opportunity to “point out aspects of our culture that we can find strength in.”

“Buscemi’s engaging and encouraging manner incorporates aspects of Inuit culture into her daily affirmations,” Pauktuutit wrote.

Kotierk re-elected

Aluki Kotierk earned a convincing majority of votes to turn back a challenge from contender Andrew Nakashuk in a two-way race for president of land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. on Feb. 8.

Kotierk was the preferred candidate in every community.

She was the choice among 69 per cent of those who cast ballots.

Voter turnout was 17.5 per cent overall — from a high of 42 per cent in Grise Fiord to a low of 7.1 per cent in Arviat, where “no-contact polling” was offered over extra days due to another outbreak of Covid-19.

Blockade ends at Mary River mine

A group of demonstrators known as the Nuluujaat Land Guardians ended a blockade at Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River mine on Feb. 11.

About a dozen individuals from Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay blocked the airstrip and the the tote road at the site for a week.

Naujaat Elder Donat Milortok expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.

“Our concern is for the land and for future generations to enjoy the relationship we know with wildlife, animals and the oceans. All Inuit understand this,” said Milortok, former president of the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut, the Inuit organization that negotiated the Nunavut land claim during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Among the terms that brought an end to the protest was a firm commitment from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to share a greater portion of royalties and revenues from Baffinland’s activities.

Various environmental, social and cultural concerns, including traditional sources of food, were also communicated.

4.5 year sentence for manslaughter

A Sanikiluaq man who pleaded guilty to a 2018 manslaughter had only several months left to serve of his four-and-a-half year sentence.

Josie Takatak stabbed and killed Billy Arrangutainaq on June 18, 2018.

Takatak had previous convictions for assault causing bodily harm and forcible confinement in 2011, in addition to assault with a weapon and uttering threats in 2013. There were also eight violations of court orders from 2011 to 2014.

Justice Bonnie Tulloch stated admonished Takatak for his bootlegging, even though that wasn’t among his charges.

“Josie not only chose to ignore the wishes of his community to keep Sanikiluaq free from alcohol, but he benefitted financially from that decision,” she stated. “All the ingredients for serious trouble were present: an illegal business operation, a drunk businessman, some vulnerable customers (many perhaps seriously addicted to alcohol) and the use of a weapon.”

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