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FEBRUARY 2018 IN REVIEW: Cash, gold and Juno nominations

Big cash for inspired winners


Three Nunavut projects received recognition and funding from a total pot of $2.4 million that went to eight teams across the North at the Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony in Ottawa, Nunavut News reported Feb. 2.

photo courtesy Arctic Inspiration Prize/Patrick Doyle
Chesterfield Inlet's Qajaq Program received an Arctic Inspiration Prize of $140,000 the evening of Jan. 31. From left: program leader Glen Brocklebank, Louie Autut, Leila Paugh and Kevin Issaluk. Absent: Simon Aggark, Ana Leishman and Jolene Ippiak.

"We're super-excited," said Chesterfield Inlet's Glen Brocklebank, who has been running a qajaq program with Victor Sammurtok School students for years. Brocklebank, Louie Autut, Leila Paugh Kevin Issaluk, Simon Aggark, Ana Leishman and Jolene Ippiak were awarded $140,000 after being nominated by Douglas Aggark of Chesterfield Inlet.

Rankin Inlet's recreation director David Clark's Rankin Rock Hockey Camp walked away with $80,000 for a project to develop youth leadership capacity and promote healthy active lifestyles in Rankin, Baker Lake and Arviat.

"To my town and Kivalliq I look forward to bring bigger and better hockey camps to you. I am truly thankful," stated Clark.

The North in Focus team of Eva Wu and Ashley Cummings received an Arctic Inspiration Prize of $20,000 to develop a submission for next year's prize. Along with Melynda Ehaloak, the university students are working on a project to develop toolkits for mental health, suicide reduction and stigma reduction created for and by youth.


Inuk prospector strikes gold


John Tugak signed a deal with mining company Agnico Eagle to have them explore his Fat Lake property, which shows promising visible gold.

photo courtesy of John Tugak
Arviat's John Tugak has signed a deal with mining company Agnico Eagle to have them explore his Fat Lake property, which shows promising visible gold. He's also in negotiations with another mining company for a second property where he's done prospecting work. A third property that Tugak has explored has an offer on it.

Tugak is the first Inuk to sign an option deal with Agnico Eagle. His Fat Lake property is located between Tugak's home community of Arviat and Whale Cove, to the north.

"They're going to do the work for me," he said of Agnico Eagle.

The terms of the option agreement are confidential, but it involved cash payments to Tugak during the length of the deal and, if the property ever hosts an active mine, he would also be entitled to a royalty, he said.

Tugak was also in negotiations for another potential deal with a second mining company at a different property – Turquetil Lake – where he's shown that it would be worthwhile to drill for gold.

A third property he has explored at Heninga Lake features copper, gold and silver, and he received an offer on it, too, he added.

While there is potential for considerable riches, Tugak said his motivations are not just based on personal financial gain.

"I've been a bookkeeper for the past 15 years and I've seen a lot of people search for jobs," he said. "Part of my goal is to create jobs for my people (through mining)."

He added that he's a hunter and he believes balance between industry and the environment can be achieved.




All of Qikiqtarjuaq to be tested for TB


The community of Qikiqtarjuaq, which normally saw one or two cases of tuberculosis (TB), was hit hard by an outbreak, with 10 per cent of its population diagnosed with latent or active infections.

As a result, the Department of Health, with substantial financial and human resources from the federal government and three southern hospitals, set up an emergency mobile clinic at the community hall.

The entire community was screened, three households per day.

"Once it gets to this point, and there were so many contacts, and of course with the overcrowding, it means there were a lot of potential people exposed," said Nunavut's chief medical officer of health Dr. Kim Barker.

"So rather than a lengthy and complex approach to contact tracing, we evaluated that it would probably be just as easy to screen the entire community."

At the time, Qikiqtarjuaq had the highest incidence of the illness in the territory. Five or six other communities were experiencing outbreaks, and Barker said the territory was experiencing an epidemic, with many communities having active and latent cases.

"We're going to see how this community-wide screening goes, and the impact that it has. If we feel that it's worthwhile then we'll definitely move to another community," said Barker.


The Jerry Cans, Kelly Fraser, Tanya Tagaq up for Junos


Nunavut performers made a splash across genres when the nominations for the 2018 Juno Awards came out.

Along with a Juno nomination in the Breakthrough Group of the Year, The Jerry Cans' Inuusiq/Life was up for a Juno in the Contemporary Roots Album of the Year category alongside albums by The Weather Station, Amelia Curran, Bruce Cockburn and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Sanikiluaq's young pop star, songwriter and activist Kelly Fraser was up for Indigenous Music Album of the Year with her second release titled Sedna.

Tanya Tagaq, originally of Cambridge Bay, was up for Alternative Album of the Year for Retribution, the album that earned her a place on the shortlist for a Polaris Prize for a second time. She won the Polaris in 2015.


Dedicated housing for NS students


Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) had much to celebrate thanks to the dedication of several generous contributors, as the post-secondary institution would now have three of its own residences ready for students for the next school term.

"It was huge," said Nunavut Sivuniksavut coordinator Morley Hanson about the February announcement.

The cost of the three buildings was about $8.8 million.

"There are developers here who are constructing different apartment buildings with the idea of them simply being rented out to students. Because we're so close to (the University of) Ottawa here, there are a number of projects where developers, rather than building apartment building with two-bedroom or three-bedroom (units), they deliberately build these to act as student housing," explained Hanson.

Thanks to several organizations and companies, the dream became a reality much faster than Hanson thought possible. Contributions from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. ($4 million), Nunasi Corporation ($1 million), and NCC Investment Group Inc. combined with bridge financing from Atuqtuarvik Corporation to make it possible.


All-Inuktitut university course brings educators together

Kangiqtugaapik/Clyde River

Quluaq School principal and University of Prince Edward Island instructor Rebecca Hainnu delivered an all-Inuktut university-credit course at Piqqusilirivvik in Clyde River.

photo courtesy Dept. of Education
Rebecca Hainnu, standing, Quluaq School principal and University of Prince Edward Island instructor, delivers an all-Inuktut university-credit course at Piqqusilirvvik in Clyde River. A few of the 16 students in the Certificate in Educational Leadership program are teacher Rhoda Paliak-Angooteeluk, back right, of Coral Harbour, language specialist Marty Alooloo of Arctic Bay, teacher Maria Illungiayok of Whale Cove, teacher Sarah Alooloo of Arctic Bay and language specialist Mary Kusaluk of Rankin Inlet.

Hainnu was named one of Canada's 40 outstanding principals by The Learning Partnership the previous month.

Hainnu led 16 Nunavut educators through the accredited university certificate in Educational Leadership – specifically Foundations of Transformational Leadership for Nunavut Educators.

The course was entirely in Inuktitut, and was the second time it was taught – the first time was the previous July.

The Department of Education stated it was the second-known graduate course ever offered in Inuktut to Inuit educators.

Hainnu, with collaborator and educator Darlene Nuqingaq, worked on the curriculum over a 15 to 20-year span.

"It's so empowering," she said. "I'm sitting in a classroom full of educators with experience, who have gone to residential school, who have lost parents to TB treatment. Our guest speakers the other day were two District Education Authority chairpersons, one with 24 years' experience, the other with 35 years of experience, and one of them grew up in a snow house. His children went to university, became lawyers and … They've seen their own culture change from Inuit nomadic lifestyle to sending out their children to university. It's so inspiring."


$1 million arena overhaul


The arena in Kugaaruk was undergoing $1 million worth of work in two phases.

The first phase included improvements to the heating system, the installation of more efficient lighting and patching up the dressing rooms, senior administrative officer John Ivey said.

Newly-acquired artificial turf was to be installed in the summer to allow for other indoor recreational activities.

"Kids will be able to play on that all year long until the ice goes back in. It addresses a need. We had to do something because the kids have nothing to do," Ivey said, noting that the community had been limited in what it can offer recreationally indoors due to the February 2017 fire that destroyed Kugaardjuk School and its gymnasium.

The arena is between 30 and 40 years old.

The Department of Community and Government Services was providing funding for the project, Ivey added.


No resolution for Arctic Bay hamlet employees

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

The dispute between the Hamlet of Arctic Bay and its unionized workers continued into February.

At the top of the employees' list of grievances was their Northern living allowance, which was less than $8,000, as compared to Pond Inlet's $24,000 or Resolute Bay's $26,000, Public Service Alliance of Canada Northern regional executive vice-president Jack Bourassa explained in late October, adding the hamlet had offered its employees cost of living increases of zero, one and one per cent over three years.

The hamlet has allegedly overused casual employees, and Bourassa also said the hamlet had been violating the previous collective agreement for some time.

Thirty unionized Hamlet of Arctic Bay employees voted to allow a strike Oct. 23, 2017.

The collective agreement between the hamlet and its employees expired in December 2016.

The dispute remained unresolved at the end of 2018.