Cambridge Bay men find shelter
A new Omingmak Men’s Shelter in Cambridge Bay helped address homelessness and addictions in the hamlet.
The shelter has eight beds, and is run through the Cambridge Bay Wellness Centre.
“It’s going good,” said new resident Ernie Nala. “(We’re given) the essentials that we need, a roof over our head, food in our stomach.”
The shelter is open from 5 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. on weekends and provides breakfast, supper and a snack.
The shelter is open 24 hours on the weekend and on storm days so residents are not stuck out in the elements. Toiletries and essentials are provided.
“We have more people looking for a place to stay, but we assess their situation,” said Isaac Mensah, a coordinator at the shelter. “We give priority to completely homeless men.”
Recliners at the shelter are available for emergency intake, for anyone who has no place to stay and needs shelter for a night or two. This intake could be for men who are going through abuse or looking to avoid inebriated family members.
The men are on housing lists and the shelter helps with those applications.
Iqaluit, Inuit group team up on second core
Concerns about house values depreciating and traffic flow in the already-congested area between the Four Corners and the Iqaluit Aquatic Centre dominated the public consultation on a proposed development in Iqaluit.
Representatives of SvN, a Toronto firm of architects and planners, led a full crowd at the Catholic Parish Hall through two possible development options – the first stage of the planning process – for a proposed neighbourhood plan west of the city’s main intersection, off Federal Road.
The project was presented as a planned collaboration between the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and The City of Iqaluit, as the area chosen for development is a mix of Inuit-owned lands along the road and city lands up toward the Plateau neighbourhood.
“The intent of that is really to efficiently utilize the land owned by both parties and strengthen the institutional and community relationships,” said SvN’s Jason Petrunia, adding this was a new model for development.
Petrunia also noted the intention was to enhance the City of Iqaluit as an Inuit and Arctic capital, as he ran through items from Article 17 of the Nunavut Agreement.
The plan hinged on Qikiqtaaluk Corporation-built hotel and a conference centre in the mid-ground, with mixed-use development in the foreground along Federal Road and 700 to 900 residential units beyond the hotel and centre, toward the Plateau area.
Iqaluit’s city council lent its official support to the project in December.
Hunter support returns
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) relaunched the Nunavut Harvesters Support Program.
The purpose of the program is to preserve and advance Nunavut Inuit harvesting culture, heritage and traditional ways of life, according to a news release.
The program includes the community hunt program and the harvesting equipment program. Included in the second is the small harvesting equipment program, the safety equipment program and the disaster relief program.
“(The program) is intended to help alleviate poverty and give Inuit funding assistance to purchase harvesting activities,” said NTI’s James Eetoolook.
Kugaaruk students back to school
All students in Kugaaruk returned to class in mid-April, after a fire that left the hamlet’s only school in ruins on March 1.
Kindergarten, preschool and high school students were back to their studies shortly after the fire but remaining grades had been getting by on extracurricular activities.
Grades 1 to 6 now had classrooms in the community church, and Grades 7 to 9 were in the old hamlet building. Dividers were set up in the gym to create separated classrooms for individual grades.
“They have whiteboards, projectors, printers, laptops, student essentials, tables and chairs,” said principal Jerry Maciuk.
The first full day back saw an attendance between 75 and 85 per cent for elementary grades and 70 to 80 per cent for junior and senior high grades, which was pretty good for such a temporary set-up, said Maciuk.
“Our school has one of the best attendance in Nunavut,” he said.
It was estimated it would take three to five years to construct a new school, so efforts to date have been to finish the current year smoothly.
Deputy fire chief cleared of fraud
It was a happy moment for members of the Rankin Inlet Fire Department when all charges against deputy fire chief Michael Aksadjuak were dropped in a Rankin courtroom.
Aksadjuak had been named as co-defendant in charges laid against former chief Ambrose Karlik for defrauding money from the department on a number of occasions.
Karlik was found guilty December 2016.
Rankin fire chief Mark Wyatt said he was pleased the charges were dropped. He said he stood by his deputy chief’s innocence from the moment the charges were laid about eight months prior.
No sooner did Aksadjuak have the charges against him dropped, that another piece of wonderful news reached him.
He said learning that he was going to be officially recognized for his 30 years of service couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I almost cried when I got the news that same morning,” he said. “I couldn’t say a word to my chief for a while after that.”
Inuit women will not birth alone
Pregnant Inuit and First Nations women learned they would no longer need to travel alone when leaving their communities to give birth.
Non-medical escorts for Indigenous prenatal clients would be funded through new Health Canada dollars in the federal budget – meaning women in Nunavut could now bring their partner or a family member for support when birthing in a larger health centre.
Around 500 women in the territory require prenatal travel each year.
To date, escort support was only provided for complex cases when medically required by a physician. “Some (women) have to leave five weeks before the baby is due and stay for a number of weeks afterwards,” said federal Health Minister Jane Philpott. “Some of these women are teenagers who have to leave their community and give birth in a faraway city.”
She noted the straining situation can have lifelong implications for mother and child.
“This is not a healthy policy. Now every woman who has to leave her community to give birth is able to bring an escort with her.”
Fund honours Kilabuk’s legacy
He pushed Iqaluit to build an aquatic centre that everyone could use, and in April, the late Jimmy “Flash” Kilabuk’s name was attached to a special fund to provide access to the pool for low-income children and their families.
Kilabuk’s wife Annie Nowdlak attended the ceremony. So did family members, some of whom were swimming as the adults carried out the serious business of honouring a man devoted to his community.
“I’m very happy about what’s happening,” said Nowdlak, through city interpreter Jeanie Eeseemailee, after the event held at the centre. “Since I heard about it, I’ve been looking forward to it.”
The fund is modeled after southern YMCA programs to facilitate the use of recreation facilities by low-income families.
Mayor Madeleine Redfern was the first to speak of Kilabuk, followed by Coun. Simon Nattaq and Coun. Joanasie Akumalik.
“He especially wanted to ensure all children had access to the pool,” Redfern said. “Jimmy would be so pleased to know that through his dedication, families who require assistance are now able to access this wonderful facility.”
Clean up complete at Meliadine
Clean up of an early-April fuel spill at the Meliadine mine site near Rankin Inlet was completed, according to a fourth and final update on the incident released by mine company Agnico Eagle.
An investigation showed the spill was caused by a defective valve. This led to roughly 30,000 liters of diesel leaking from a hose on the 100,000-liter diesel storage tank. The spill was contained to the area and did not contaminate any fresh water sources, stated the release.
The defective tank has been replaced with a top-discharge tank.
“The Company is also developing a remediation plan to treat the material removed from the area impacted by the spill,” stated Agnico Eagle spokesperson Natalie Frackleton.
The company said it would continue to monitor remaining soil.