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AUGUST 2018 IN REVIEW: Historic same-sex marriage; water woes in Iqaluit; teacher shortage

Jason Koblogina, left, and Kyle Mercer got married on Aug. 8 in Cambridge Bay, making them the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in the community's history. They were already adoptive parents. photo courtesy of Jason Koblogina

First same-sex marriage in Cam Bay
Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Jason Koblogina and Kyle Mercer made history in Cambridge Bay when they recited their vows in an August wedding.

Theirs was the community's first same-sex marriage.

Most people supported the couple, they said.

"The amount of support I've gotten from the community members has been overwhelming, with people telling us how proud they are that we don't let anyone's small-mindedness get to us or bother us," said Koblogina, 27.

"There are a couple of people who are kind of iffy," Mercer agrees, "but whatever. We have so much support here, it's incredible."

The couple are parents to two young adopted children.


Old landfills cleaned up in Resolute

Transport Canada contracted out contaminated landfill cleanups at the Resolute, work that had been neglected for decades.

Kudlik Construction won the contract, worth nearly $5.2 million.

The three landfill sites at the airport have existed since 1949. They were property of Transport Canada until the airport was transferred to the Government of the Northwest Territories in 1995 and subsequently to the Government of Nunavut in 1999.

The remediation involved the removal of 300 cubic metres of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil, disposal of hazardous materials such as oil and lead paint, and capping non-hazardous waste with gravel in one of the landfills.


Madeline Ivalu of Iglulik is all smiles after receiving a lifetime achievement award for her outstanding contribution to the Nunavut performing arts. Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak and performance artist Christine Tootoo look on. photo courtesy of Jamie Griffiths

Arts community hails elders

At a public gathering the evening of Aug. 9, three elders received lifetime achievement awards from the Qaggiavuut Society for their outstanding contributions to performing arts in Nunavut.

Qaggiavuut is an organization dedicated to training and supporting Inuit performance artists, and building a performance arts space and school in the territory.

Susan Avingaq and Madeline Ivalu of Iglulik, and Sidone Nirlungayuq of Kugaaruk were each honoured, with Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak presenting them with their awards.


Iqaluit addresses water woes

Facing a shortage of water, city council announced it would top off its fresh water source, three businesses would enter into service agreements to receive the water they need from the municipality, and the water and sewer bylaw would not be changed for the time being.

Part of the plan involved pumping eight million litres of water a day for 60 days from the Apex River to the reservoir at Lake Geraldine. The goal was to prevent a water shortage for Iqaluit's citizens by winter.

The moves allowed the Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd. to finally open its doors to the public.


Arena mould contract awarded
Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

The contract to address the mould that led to the shutdown of the Cambridge Bay arena in 2017-18 was awarded to Qillaq Construction, based in Cambridge Bay, for $257,000.

The work was expected to allow the facility to reopen by late in 2018, even though not all of the mould would be removed, said Paul Mulak, director of capital projects with Community and Government Services. There will be restricted access to the spores left behind on the second floor, in the curling rink and in the arena's crawlspace, and the remaining contaminated material will be sealed in place by antimicrobial sealant or polyethylene sheeting, Mulak stated.

Further renovations and upgrades to the facility – including measures to address excess moisture and water drainage – are to be undertaken in 2019 and 2020, according to Mulak.


Conservatives make royalty pledge

The Conservative Party of Canada endorsed a policy to offer Canada's three Northern territories 100 per cent of resource royalties, if the Conservatives form the next government in the 2019 federal election.

"It would be a game changer for the North, period," said Leona Aglukkaq, the Conservative national councillor for Nunavut and former Environment and Health minister in the Stephen Harper government.

"We have a system right now, particularly for Nunavut because Nunavut does not have a devolution agreement, so 100 per cent of the royalties from the five potential mines and three operating mines in Nunavut goes to the federal government, and that's in the millions, probably close to the billions (of dollars) now. When it comes to requesting assistance for investments in major infrastructure, it means you're going down (to Ottawa) begging... it's just unacceptable."

However, political adversaries countered that much of Nunavut's minerals and metals are located on Inuit-owned lands, so Inuit – through land claim and regional organizations – are already poised to receive the royalties wealth.


Water sources sought for Iglulik, Hall Beach
Iglulik/Hall Beach

Researchers are trying to determine long-term water sources for Hall Beach and Iglulik.

Each of those communities is served by a small reservoir that is supplemented by another water body. In Hall Beach, water is pumped in from a shallow old military reservoir. In Iglulik, Small Lake is the alternate source.

Finding secure water supplies for the future is the goal, and it appears challenging, said Andrew Medeiros, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, who is co-lead in the research project with a colleague from the University of Ottawa.

There are numerous lakes near Hall Beach but they are shallow and have cloudy "turbid" water, Medeiros noted.


Tall ship training

Thanks to the Ayalik Fund and Tall Ship Expeditions Canada, four Baffin youth spent part of their summer aboard the St. Lawrence II, a 72-foot sail training vessel.

Brandon Anaviapik, 17, and Jeannie Qiyuapik Ootoova, 16, both from Pond Inlet, and Kirk-Paul Kunnuk, 15, and Kathi-Lee Arnatsiaq, 15, from Iglulik travelled to southern Ontario to participate in the summer camp aboard the brigantine. Anaviapik and Qiyuapik, who were returning home, crossed paths with Kunnuk and Arnatsiaq, who were on their way south, at the Iqaluit International Airport July 26.

Asked whether he enjoyed his time on a tall ship, Anaviapik responded with a powerful "Yes. All of it."

He says he learned how to put a sail up and how to steer.

"I learned a lot, all about sailing," said Qiyuapik, who was all smiles.


Teacher shortage

With 66.5 teaching vacancies still to be filled as of mid-August, the Government of Nunavut advised that classes in some communities would be delayed.

Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Iglulik, Iqaluit and Kimmirut were the locations with the biggest hurdles, according to Heather Moffett, the Department of Education's director of corporate services.

Nineteen teacher vacancies were never filled in 2017, some of them due to a lack of available housing, Moffett noted. Another 14 teachers resigned over the course of the school year.

The majority of provinces and territories were struggling to recruit teachers due to a shortage within the profession, according to Moffett.