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December 2017 – Nunavut Year in Review

Inuit corporation moves ahead with property development


Development of 16 hectares (40 acres) of Inuit-owned land along Federal Road in Iqaluit appeared ready to proceed. The Qikiqtaaluk Corporation (QC) officially leased the land from Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) in November, leaving one less hurdle to move ahead on a project that's been in the planning stages since 2013.

QC project manager Sheldon Nimchuk said the first building will be a hotel and conference centre in 2019, with the plan being to build both economically-driven and socially-driven projects to enhance the area, as well as enhance the lives of Inuit and Nunavummiut. A heritage centre, an elders' facility and an Inuktitut daycare are other future objectives for the property.

Navalik Tologanak/NNSL file photo
Santa Claus came early to check on everyone in Cambridge Bay at the second annual Santa Claus parade held on Dec. 2. Here are Santa Claus and elf Betty Ann Kitigon with the Kitnuna Christmas float.

Bears frequently roam into Resolute

Qausuittuq/Resolute Bay

People in Resolute are used to occasional polar bear encounters, but the huge animals were particularly persistent in late 2017.

The bears' repeated visits resulted in one male bear being shot and killed, and a bear monitor was hired to assist the community's conservation officer.

Two mothers with two cubs each returned again and again, leading to multiple social media warnings from residents who spotted bears by the arena, the South Camp Inn, the Department of Public Works garage, and right outside residents' homes.

"People are usually very vigilant," said Resolute's Philip Manik. "They're used to being very careful."

Eric Blair, communications and policy analyst with the Department of Environment, said at least a dozen bears wandered into Resolute over the last few months of 2017.


Wacky and mild weather in Pang


In Pangnirtung, temperatures climbed above freezing and winds of 145 km/h sent sea cans bouncing.

"Just think of a Lego block you used to play with when you were a kid and throw it along the ground and that's what a sea container looks like when it's bouncing across the community," said senior administrative officer Ron Ladd.

"I actually have a picture of a cabin in the ocean – a cabin that blew half a mile from up top and landed in the middle of the harbour. It's sitting in the middle of nowhere."


Taloyoak's new airport in use


The new $6.4-million airport in Taloyoak became operational in late November.

Under construction since September 2016, the two-storey, 3,466-square-foot terminal building houses a Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS) upstairs, where workers will have better visibility of the surrounding airport facilities.

The ground level has radiant in-floor heating to keep passengers warmer during winter.

An official grand opening date has yet to be determined and the airport’s name still has to be decided, according to the Department of Economic Development and Transportation.


NTI demands treatment centre before pot becomes legal


Nunavut needs addictions treatment centres and a public education campaign on the effects of marijuana use before Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. approves of cannabis legalization, the president of the land claims organization said.

Anticipating that July 1 is not a reasonable deadline to accomplish those objectives, NTI passed a resolution in October calling for a delay in marijuana legalization in the territory.

Open to negotiation are the number of addictions treatment or mental health centres, whether they must first be constructed, and whether a pledge from Ottawa to build them will suffice, NTI president Aluki Kotierk said in December.

Navalik Tologanak/NNSL file photo
Performing at a Christmas concert in Cambridge Bay, from left, Barry Maksagak, Rayna Mala, Samaya McCallum, and Cody Jr. Evetalegak are students in Tanya Ponsen's kindergarten class at Kullik Ilihakvik.

Rangers missing out on benefits


Canadian Rangers, who are entitled to the same health care and related benefits as other reservists, are faced with many obstacles in accessing those benefits. That's the conclusion National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne has reached after an in-depth investigation launched in April 2016.

"In practice Canadian Rangers face numerous barriers in accessing those entitlements, and this places

them at a disadvantage," stated Walbourne in his report released Dec. 5.

The 34-page report, A Systemic Investigation of the Factors that Impact Health Care Entitlements and Related Benefits of the Rangers, presents four detailed recommendations to Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan.


Bolstering the Kitikmeot economy

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Kitikmeot political and business leaders came together in Cambridge Bay to brainstorm ways to improve the region's economy.

Close to 40 people attended a workshop organized by the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce Nov. 21-23.

They discussed ways to capitalize on tourism, how to boost sales for local artists and how to enhance regional communications and networking.

Cynthia Ene, executive director of the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce, which organized the workshop, said there was also talk of developing a mine training centre to help prepare the local workers, who are coveted by the mining and exploration companies.


Cambridge Bay arena plagued by mould

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

The Department of Community and Government Services (CGS) revealed that it was seeking a contractor to address the growing mould issue in the closed Cambridge Bay arena and the work wasn't expected to be complete until January or February, if it was feasible to do at all.

Until the issue has been dealt with, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay decided the arena will remain closed for the sake of public safety.

In February 2016, the federal government announced funding that would address the mould problem but that work had not been undertaken. CGS did not explain why.


Languages commissioner halts election


Residents in Kugluktuk will go back to the polls in January after Nunavut's languages commissioner shut down the hamlet election on Dec. 11.

Helen Klengenberg said she was made aware of Hamlet of Kugluktuk election literature being written solely in English right up until election day.

Only on Dec. 11 were the public notices translated into Inuinnaqtun, she said.

She called the hamlet office and warned she would get a court injunction to stop the election, which was in progress. All ballots had to be destroyed, she said.


Emaciated bear footage sparks controversy


Video of a frail adult polar bear went viral and quickly led to speculation that climate change was what led to the animal's fate.

Paul Nicklen, who took the footage of the emaciated predator on Somerset Island, said it wasn't his intention to make a link to climate change in this particular instance.

The skinny and sickly bear is not representative of what a couple of Nunavummiut said they have witnessed.

"We don't ever or have never seen a polar bear that skinny, ever," said Clyde River senior administrative assistant Lizzie Palituq.

Grise Fiord's Marty Kuluguqtuq added, "All of them (polar bears) seem to be in good health."