Fred Muise still remembers his first day on the job like it was yesterday.
He had sat down at his desk and proceeded to open up Facebook to write the following post:
“I am sitting in my new chair in my new office in my new position with the Municipality as Recreation Coordinator so excited.”
“A friend replied that I better get off of Facebook before my boss finds out,” said Muise. “I then stated, ‘My Boss is too old to have Facebook so I don’t have to worry’.
His boss at the time was Derrick Anderson.
“Then another comment appeared from Steve King, my boss’s boss and he said, ‘Yes, but your boss’s boss isn’t too old to have Facebook, now get back to work’.”
It’s stories like that which made the eight years as the community’s recreation co-ordinator so much fun, he said.
Muise is now officially off the job after his final day on Sept. 12, a day he said was both happy and sad at the same time.
“It’s nice to go back home to Nova Scotia, but it’s sad that I have leave so many friends I made here in Cambridge Bay,” he said.
Muise became the recreation co-ordinator after funding for his previous position had run out. Without a background in recreation, he still applied and was hired.
“I knew nothing about recreation,” he said. “The job presented itself and I’m the kind of person who wants to make a difference. My first few days on the job were spent figuring out the role and set some goals.”
One of those goals was to increase the amount of programming in the community for everyone, something he said was lacking a b
“There wasn’t a lot when I first started,” he said. “We have two schools, both with gymnasiums, and they should always be full. I wanted to get more user groups going in town and have more activities.”
Another thing Muise wanted to work on was the swimming pool. When he started, there were lifeguards but there weren’t any programs or lessons for people to take part in.
“We brought in some Red Cross lifeguards and we started doing lessons for the community which continue to this day,” he said. “We actually have one young lady who has gone as far as she can here lesson-wise so I’m hopeful she’s able to go somewhere and get what she needs so she can come back and work as a lifeguard.”
Aside from his job with the hamlet, he was also president of Cambridge Bay Minor Hockey for three years, another way he saw to help build programming for the community.
Muise said just like with his day job, he had no background in the sport, having never played and not being able to even skate, but he ran with it.
“The goal was to create a more stable program and have a good product out on the ice,” he said.
When he started, there were 37 players. Three years later when he left, that number grew to 97.
In addition, he served as president of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN) for two terms with his biggest success there coming in the form of the Arctic Inspiration Prize in 2016, which was shared between RPAN and the associations in the NWT and Yukon. The three groups worked together on the Tri-Territorial Recreation Training Program, which we now know as Recreation North.
The idea behind Recreation North was to build a training program in the North for Northerners and Muise said it was a labour of love.
“It took about six months to put the proposal together and it was long but it was successful,” he said. “The program just graduated the first group of students and I hope it carries on for a long time.”
Along the way, Muise also managed to get the Jays Care Foundation to come to the community and run a baseball camp, hosting Jenni Linkson from Ontario several times for a hip-hop camp and even a professional wrestling show hosted by the Canadian Wrestling Federation.
He said people still remembered those events years after they took place.
“They would come up to me and share their memories of all of that and it melted my heart every time,” he said. “That’s probably the most cherished memory I have of my time here – people coming up and telling me about how much they loved those events.”
Muise’s final day was a sombre one with plenty of laughs and tears, said Jim MacEachern, the hamlet’s assistant senior administrative officer, and he will be missed.
“He did so much in his role,” he said. “He organized the Omingmak Frolics every year, worked in minor hockey, the radio society, he was our MC at the trade show every year and was a pastor. I could go on and on but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what he’s done.”
The recreation department will continue on, but it’s been merged with the former department of wellness to create the new Department of Healthy Living. Charles Zikalala is the head of the new department while Francis Oduro takes over Muise’s old job, which is now known as the manager of recreation and culture. Donnie Robinson is the youth co-ordinator under the new department and is responsible for youth development and activities.
Oduro has actually been on the job since Aug. 30 shadowing Muise and MacEachern said he knows Oduro will be just as good as Muise.
“He has big shoes to fill, for sure, but we’re all confident he can do it,” he said.