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2020 Year-In-Review: FEBRUARY



GN still working on retail cannabis regulation


Despite the passage of 15 months and a request from the City of Iqaluit to permit a retail cannabis outlet in Nunavut’s capital, the Government of Nunavut (GN) was still sorting out relevant regulations.

“We’re still finalizing our approach to cannabis retail in the territory and do not have firm dates at this moment,” reads an emailed statement from Jo-Anne Falkiner, the Department of Finances director of corporate policy on Jan. 29.

Pat Angnakak, Iqaluit Niaqunnguu MLA, replied that “the GN should provide a storefront for cannabis as it will allow a safer way to buy cannabis in Nunavut.”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone said cannabis in Nunavut is, at present almost entirely supplied by the black market.

“There is potentially millions of dollars funneled out of Nunavut every year through drug dealers,” said Arreak-Lightstone, who added that illegal dealers also supply teenagers.

Of the three Northern territories, Nunavut remains the only to have not opened storefronts of their own, following the legalization of cannabis in Canada Oct. 17, 2019.

The $1-million Arctic Inspiration Prize cheque was handed over to the team members with Northern Compass, a program designed to help high school students transition to post-secondary education, on Feb. 5 in Ottawa. From left, Karen Aglukark, Rebecca Bisson, Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Nunavut Tunngavik president Aluki Kotierk, Jim Snider, Lois Philipp, NWT Minister of Municipal and Community affairs Paulie Chinna and Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq. 
Justin Tang/Arctic Inspiration Prize

Federal Government grants funding to Kivalliq hydro-fibre link project


The federal government announced Feb. 5 that it is prepared to finance a $1.6-billion hydro transmission line and broadband fiber-optic project which would serve five Kivalliq communities as well as the mining sector.

The 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt line will originate from Gillam in Northern Manitoba.

Ottawa’s Canada Infrastructure Bank will be working with the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Sakku Investments Corporation, Anbaric Development Partners and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to complete the initiative. 

KIA projects a 50 per cent reduction in power supply costs to the five communities, which are Baker Lake, Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet and Whale Cove.

They also anticipate faster internet speeds in the various hamlets.


Issaluk under fire as sexual misconduct allegations mount


Allegations against Murdoch Mysteries/The Terror actor Johnny Issaluk caused a stir.

Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril described an incident of “unwanted touching” by the Inuk actor in social media posts Feb 5. 

On Feb. 7 Arctic adventure company Sedna Epic Expedition – which had hired Issaluk as an Inuit cultural advisor – wrote they became aware that he had acted inappropriately towards several of the women in Tromso, Norway (ages 21 to 78) which made them uncomfortable, and had requested and received his resignation in December.

Arnaquq-Baril also stated for years she had heard “many” stories of women who “suffered violent physical and sexual assaults from him.”

Issaluk is no longer an “Explorer-In-Residence” with the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, having resigned from his position.

In a media statement dated Feb. 14 Issaluk apolgized for his actions, stating "there are no words to express my grief and regret for the pain I hve caused. To those I have harmed by my actions: I am truly, truly sorry."


Federal government supports ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic


The federal government expressed support for a ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters, but a prohibition will be in place no earlier than 2024.

Because such a ban is expected to drive up costs of sealift, household goods and electricity, Inuit organizations are urging Ottawa to devise ways to offset costs to shippers to switch to a more expensive but less environmentally-damaging fuels.

According to the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) Arctic shipping costs have increased by 63 per cent since 2006.

"These are difficult waters to navigate," stated Lisa Koperqualuk, ICC’s vice-president international. "On one hand we need protection for our Arctic waters and animals and on the other hand we are told this protection will result in inflated prices of the already expensive goods we depend on.” 


New budget will focus on people: finance minister


The Government of Nunavut’s (GN) proposed 2020-2021 budget is aiming to foster individual and community wellness, particularly through health care support.

Finance minister George Hickes was asked to approve a total of $37.9 million in new funding to help aid the healthcare system.

Hickes had also reported the projected revenues for 2020-21 are almost $2.35 billion.

With Nunavut’s population growth, “our main challenge is that the costs of providing services has outpaced our ability to provide them, let alone make improvements and enhancements to them,” said Hickes during his budget address to the legislative assembly on Feb. 19.

The projected revenue of $2.35 billion, consists of $1.8 billion in federal transfers, $262 million in third party agreements and $249 million in own-source revenues.

A contingency fund of $50 million will be set aside for any unforeseen circumstances or additional spending needs for the year.