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DECEMBER IN REVIEW: Iqaluit ponders youth curfew; Nutrition North changes; Kugluktuk drops alcohol restrictions

RCMP Staff Sgt. Garfield Elliott reported on crime in Iqaluit between Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, but included a night of arson in early November. One city councillor wondered whether imposing a curfew for youth might reduce arson and other crimes. Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

Iqaluit considers youth curfew

Reeling from a rise in arson, Iqaluit councillor Jason Rochon introduced the idea of imposing a curfew for the capital's youth.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Garfield Elliott informed council that acts of arson had increased to 19 in 2018 compared to eight in 2017 and 11 in 2015. Investigations revealed youths were involved in many instances, according to Elliott.

"Overall, if a curfew was in place it would reasonable to adduce that the crimes would be diminished somewhat for the vandalism-type complaints," Elliott said.


Power struggle over DEAs

Proposed changes to Education Act that would put more decision-making power in the hands of the GN were opposed by the Nunavut Coalition of DEAs, which could cease to exist.

"There's a question around who has authority, whether it's the DEA or the minister, on school programs, education programs and local programs, so those areas, I think, we really need to hash out who has the final say," Education Minister David Joanasie said.

Nikki Eegeesiak, executive director for the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, asserted that the department is striving to "centralize" authority.

"Our DEA members feel it will make it harder and create even more barriers if the department makes decisions on behalf of the communities," Eegeesiak stated.


A Canadian North plane takes off in Iqaluit. Brian Tattuinee photo

No public hearings on airline merger

Transport Canada met selectively with stakeholders in Nunavut and the NWT about the proposed merger between airlines First Air and Canadian North.

Everyone was given the option to respond to a questionnaire that the federal agency circulated.

"Transport Canada does not intend to hold a large-scale public consultation in person," stated Julie Leroux, senior adviser of media relations with Transport Canada.

The six-page consultation document listed questions under a variety of topics such as fares and air travel, access for communities, cargo, employment, cultural identity/Indigenous considerations, safety, environment, tourism and operating and network efficiencies.


$1 million for Co-op members

Outgoing Naujaat Co-op president Pio Kopak was happy to inform Co-op members that $1 million worth of dividends would be returned to members' accounts.

Kopak, a heavy equipment operator with the Hamlet, was Naujaat Co-op president for roughly four years. He started out as a regular board member when he was first nominated, then became vice-president for a couple of years.

The 50-year-old Naujaat Co-op is a member-owned enterprise.


Researchers examine medical discrimination against Inuit

Researchers based in Ottawa began recording stories from Inuit who say they have faced discrimination through the Ottawa health-care system.

"We actually want to engage specifically with community members who can tell us what their experiences are, good or bad, with the City of Ottawa health. That could be anything from pharmacies to emergency rooms, private doctor clinics, anything like that," said Elena Abel, community developer with the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition.

"It may be an incident where it would mean the person was less likely to want to access care or less likely to go to a clinic to present with issues because they've had a poor experience previously. It's a burden... they worry about being discriminated against or being labelled."


City budget allots $43M for capital spending

Iqaluit city council passed a 2019 budget of more than $66 million, with $23 million set aside for operations and more than $43 million in capital spending.

"City council is pleased to approve the 2019 budget, which is a balanced approach to help address the infrastructure deficit and offset the costs of services to meet the needs of our growing population," stated Mayor Madeleine Redfern in a news release.

The plan includes continuing to work on water infrastructure and a supplementary water source, improve information technology infrastructure, and upgrade and improve access to public buildings.


Campaign for higher minimum wage

A petition to increase Nunavut's $13 minimum wage circulated in many Nunavut communities in December.

The petition, part of a pan-territorial Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Living Wage campaign, calls for a minimum wage increase to $15 across all three territories, said regional executive vice-president for the North Jack Bourassa.

Nunavut's petition, noting the living wage is Yellowknife is $20.96/hour, states the estimated living wage in Nunavut is $26. It asks the GN, above and beyond raising the minimum by $2, to develop a plan to change the minimum to a living wage of $26, as well as tie an annual wage increase to the consumer price index.


Changes made to Nutrition North

In making long-awaited changes to the Nutrition North Canada program, the federal government failed to clearly address a major concern for Nunavummiut – retailer transparency – though several other changes do indicate good news for stressed consumers.

"The initial funding and other changes are welcome. However, they have failed, failed to fix the biggest problem with the program, its transparency and accountability," said independent Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo during question period at Parliament on Dec. 11.

"For example, the department has admitted the program subsidy received by some retailers is higher than the freight rate that they are paying, which is why some Nunavummiut believe some retailers are unjustly profiting from the subsidy."


Alcohol restrictions lifted in Kugluktuk

Kugluktuk officially became an unrestricted community for purchasing alcohol.

Residents could purchase liquor within the territory by ordering from the Nunavut Liquor Commission warehouse in Rankin Inlet without an import permit. However, an import permit was required to bring in alcohol from outside Nunavut.

A plebiscite held in Kugluktuk on Oct. 22 resulted in a 60.8 per cent majority voting to eliminate restrictions on alcohol, which was previously overseen by an Alcohol Education Committee. That committee has now been dissolved and the legislative and administrative changes took effect in December.


Eetoolook re-elected vice-president of NTI

Incumbent James Eetoolook prevailed in a two-way race for vice-president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Eetoolook, from Taloyoak, earned 2,399 votes, or 68.2 per cent, compared to 1,117 votes, or 31.8 per cent, for challenger Peter Ohokanoak of Cambridge Bay.

In a Kitikmeot Inuit Association election held Dec. 10, Stanley Anablak was returned for another term by a landslide. Anablak garnered 503 votes, more than his three competitors combined.

In the election for KIA vice-president, Jeannie Evalik came out on top.