Agnico Eagle prepares for automation


Mining company Agnico Eagle said it was researching how to integrate automated technology at its Kivalliq sites.

photo courtesy of Agnico Eagle
Agnico Eagle says it will soon test sensors that allow three or four autonomous long-haul trucks like this one to follow one driven by a human employee.

By late 2018 or early 2019, the company planned to start testing sensors that would eventually allow three or four driverless long-haul trucks, similar to tractor trailers, to follow a lead truck driven by a human, said Dominique Girard, Agnico Eagle’s vice-president of Nunavut operations.

Automated technology is also expected to be used for scoop loaders, which can be controlled remotely by joysticks, and possibly for drills, he said.

“To operate a mine in Nunavut is more expensive so we need to find a way to mitigate that… going into automation is a way to do it,” said Girard, who added that it will take several years before the technology is full adopted for day-to-day operations.


$566 million in infrastructure funding announced for territory


The federal government announced $566-million in infrastructure funding for Nunavut over 10 years in a bilateral deal with the territorial government.

The money is for: green infrastructure; community, cultural and recreational infrastructure; and rural and Northern community infrastructure, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi said.

Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak, who was on hand for the announcement, spoke bluntly of the different approach required to tackle Nunavut’s “daunting” infrastructure deficit, especially in light of the territory’s vast geography, high cost of construction and demographic constraints.

Despite past investments, “Nunavut’s infrastructure needs in 2018 remain overwhelming,” Kusugak said.

Madeleine Redfern, president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities and mayor of Iqaluit, said the certainty of the long-term, stable funding is welcome.

“What has happened in the past is you hear an announcement for one project at a time from the federal government, so the goal and hope is that we put together a plan,” Redfern said, referring to the $566 million as a “good start.”

“The mayors in the hamlets are very keen to ensure that there is local participation in the development of the infrastructure plan,” said Redfern.


Women’s shelters enter a new era


After a tumultuous year, YWCA Agvvik Nunavut completed its reboot with a new board of directors elected March 22 at the organization’s annual general meeting.

NNSL photo
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, centre, with Qimaavik emergency shelter staff Victoria Marie Coman, left, and elder Ida Atagoyuk, is elected president of YWCA Agvvik Nunavut. 

Alethea Arnaquq-Baril took the helm as president of the volunteer organization, which runs the two women’s shelters in Iqaluit – Qimaavik and Sivummut.

“This past year has been particularly challenging, but I am pleased to report that we are ready to move forward with a new and effective board in the aftermath of the financial scandal involving our terminated executive director,” said outgoing president Heather Daley.

Acting director Dianne Rogers outlined the extensive reorganization process, the comprehensive programming being offered, the staff training now in place, currently-funded projects, as well as proposals for new projects.

Finally she said the organization continues to advocate for second-stage housing “for the most vulnerable women and children in Canada.”

Ida Atagoyuk, Agvvik’s resident elder, expressed her appreciation for the changes she’s seen taking place.


Qaggiavuut on its way to China


The Qaggiavuut Society travelled to China April 9 to 13 with Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

Leading the first Canada-China Creative Industries Trade Mission in Shanghai and Beijing, Joly invited Qaggiavuut to be one of the representatives of Canada’s creative industries.

Qaggiavuut was matched with Chinese performing arts organizations, performing arts centres, arts investors and artists in China with the hope of building cultural partnerships.

“We are an organization of artists and lifelong Nunavummiut and it is an honour to be included in Minister Joly’s trade mission,” said executive director Ellen Hamilton, who travelled with board member Miali Buscemi.

Buscemi was the first Inuk woman to be a member of the Stratford Festival theatre company.

“Miali Buscemi is an example of one of our artists who can soar to the highest levels when provided with a supportive space to be a performing artist,” said Hamilton.

Qaggiavuut created a digital promotion package with photographs and video of 25 Nunavut performing artists who are ready to tour the world stage and connected with organizations interested in collaborating with Qaggiavuut on creative projects.


Youth found safe and sound

Sanirajak/Hall Beach

Iglulik search-and-rescue successfully tracked down a couple of youth reported missing between Hall Beach and Iglulik.

Malinda Maliki, 23 and Nathan Ukalik, 19, left Hall Beach for Iglulik by snowmobile in the late afternoon of April 1. The trip is normally about two hours long. Concerned family members contacted Hall Beach search-and-rescue around 1 a.m. on April 2, according to Kyle Issigaitok, Hall Beach’s search-and-rescue coordinator.

Issigaitok and Jeff Ammaklak went out shortly thereafter, searching the regularly-travelled snowmobile route all the way to Iglulik and back. No luck.

“It was urgent because they didn’t have any proper equipment with them,” he said, referring to a camp stove and an emergency locator device.

Several more searchers from Hall Beach and a few from Iglulik joined the search, but the efforts in Hall Beach had to be halted for about four to five hours when whiteout conditions developed, he said.

Searchers from Iglulik located Maliki and Ukalik during the afternoon of April 2, close to 50 km northwest of Hall Beach. Their snowmobile had broken down.

“They’d been walking for 12 hours straight and Iglulik ground search-and-rescue were lucky enough to find them first,” Issigaitok said, adding that Maliki and Ukalik were physically unharmed. “They were just exhausted.”


No federal cash for Grays Bay

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Ottawa rejected the Government of Nunavut’s (GN) request for Grays Bay Road and Port funding.

map courtesy of Nunavut Resources Corporation
The proposed Grays Bay Road and Port project would entail a deep-water port at the Coronation Gulf, in the central Arctic, and a 233-km road from the port to the former Jericho diamond mine.

The GN also indicated that the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA) would be responsible for future funding applications through the National Trade Corridors Fund, a pot of federal money totalling $400 million to be spread over 11 years in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

Although the KIA and the GN collaborated on the $500-million road and port project for several years, the GN would now assume a support role and monitor developments.

“I have full confidence that the Kitikmeot Inuit Association has the ability and vision to see this project through to its completion,” said then Economic Development and Transportation Minister Joe Savikataaq.

KIA president Stanley Anablak said his organization would not give up on the project.

“We won’t stop until every avenue in pursuit of the successful development of this project is exhausted,” he said.

The proposed Grays Bay project would entail a deep-water port at Coronation Gulf, in the central Arctic, and a 233-km road from the port to the former Jericho diamond mine. The route would also connect Nunavut to national highway and rail systems in the NWT via the Tibbitt-Contwoyto Winter


According to data calculated by project-supporter Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson’s office, Canada would enjoy a boost in gross domestic product of about $7.6 billion over 15 years from the development, including a $5.1 billion increase in Nunavut’s GDP.


Five friends put on a memorable Toonik Tyme


The 53rd Toonik Tyme, with 10 days of fun-filled community activities indoors and out, had a fresh start in January with five new organizers taking over the April event from Travis Cooper, who organized the event for four years.

photo courtesy Sandra Omik
Toonik Tyme organizer Gideonie Joamie, left, Rebecca Veevee, who took part in the first Toonik Tyme in 1965, and organizer Adamee Itorcheak goof around at Game Night at the Iqaluit Curling Rink April 16. 

“Five friends got together and said ‘We want to do it. We want it more traditional. Let’s make it happen,'” said designated spokesperson Robynn Pavia.

“They’re life-long friends.”

Gideonie Joamie, Adamee Itorcheak, Jimmy Noble, Pits Alainga and Matthew Alainga formed the 123Go! society.

“They’re the driving force behind Toonik Tyme. And their intention is not just to do Toonik Tyme, but to maybe do Christmas games and other community events,” said Pavia.

Governor General Julie Payette helped open the festival as honorary Toonik.


Sex abuse victims may never see a dime


Longtime Nunavut business leader Ike Haulli’s sexual assault victims were awarded $1.2 million, collectively, in a civil court case, but those victims would have to wait and see whether they might get to collect any of that judgment.

Haulli, who owned and operated Iglulik-based Savik Enterprises Ltd. and previously served as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, lost $400,000 of his company’s resources and $75,000 from his personal finances when the Canada Revenue Agency took those amounts in 2017.

“This left (Haulli) virtually bankrupt,” Judge Earle Johnson said. “He owed over $100,000 and could not borrow any money from friends or family.”

Lawyer Alan Regel, who represented the four plaintiffs, said Haulli acknowledged in court that he had sold some assets, so there was a chance the victims may get access to those proceeds.

Haulli’s victims were between the ages of four and 15 when he sexually assaulted them between 1968 and 1986. One of them was physically harmed enough that she went to the nursing station to have her injuries treated.

In a worst-case scenario, victims could be confronted with no financial compensation, said Regel.


Pedophile teacher to serve more than eight years


Former Sanikiluaq teacher Johnny Meeko was sentenced to serve eight years and one month for his sexual crimes against children between 1972 and 2007.

Justice Neil Sharkey sentenced Meeko April 26, after he’d revoked bail April 13.

The judge’s sentence of 14 years and six months was adjusted for totality and time served to the shorter term. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, totality is a legal principle which says that “where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh.”

Meeko was sentenced for 14 counts involving eight victims.

Sharkey’s sentencing exceeded sentencing suggestions by Crown prosecutor Priscilla Ferrazzi and defence lawyer Stephanie Boydell.

Ferrazzi suggested 18 years and seven months to be adjusted for totality and time served – leaving three years and about seven months of imprisonment in a federal penitentiary. Boydell suggested eight years and nine months, adjusted to two years less a day of imprisonment in territorial jail.

Their suggestions were not enough for Sharkey.

“In terms of the ‘gravity of the offence,’ the punishment must fit the crime that Johnny committed,” the judge said. “In this case, the gravity of the offences for which Johnny has been found guilty is high. The offences are sexual crimes involving children and the majority of these crimes carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment,” said Sharkey.

He also found Meeko’s moral culpability high.

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