Back River project stalled
The year began with Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. still waiting for input from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on the Back River Project.
In June 2016, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended to the federal minister that the gold mine not proceed to the next phase of permitting.
“We had hoped to receive a decision from INAC before the end of the year,” stated Sabina president Bruce McLeod.
In early January, the file continued to be under consideration by the department. The minister had the option to reject or accept the NIRB report, or return the project to NIRB to be reconsidered. Since the report, Sabina worked to address uncertainties, such as the risk to caribou populations. The company was also working with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association to develop the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement required for the project, as well as collaborating with regional communities and hunters’ and trappers’ organizations.
“We appreciate the strong support we have received from Kitikmeot stakeholders and responsible parties, support that I believe is unprecedented for a mining project in Nunavut,” stated McLeod.
Later in the month, the project was sent back to NIRB to be reconsidered.
A taste of Europe in Cambridge Bay
Students at Kiilinik High School baked their way to a European trip, raising funds with a Friday pop-up cafes.
The Cambridge Bay teens hosted a morning cafe selling coffee and treats for $2 each. Their earnings would support the trip offered by the school every other year. For this April trip, students planned to be in France to mark the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
“Their Grade 11 social studies unit is on nationalism, and includes the First World War and the nationalism that emerged out of that,” said teacher Patti Bligh, who organized the Europe trip. “That’s a pretty hard concept to sell if you have never ridden on an escalator or gotten a passport.”
The trip was intended to expand student horizons and make history more relevant to them, she said.
In keeping with the theme, the weekly pop-up was known as Cafe Europa.
The high school trip was also a chance to encourage higher education.
“When we get back from Europe, we spend two days in Edmonton and we go to the colleges and universities,” said Bligh.
Earthquake rattles Resolute
Two earthquakes rumbled through Resolute Jan. 8 and 9.
Resident Leena Simeoinie said the first quake made her feel as if her family home had been hit with a front-end loader.
“I felt my house hit so hard and it started out loud and noisy,” she said. “It started moving and shaking and then slowly stopped.”
At first her family thought something was wrong with the washing machine – even though the laundry wasn’t running.
“My son was asking ‘What was that?’, and I told him, ‘I think that was an earthquake.'”
The first quake took place on a Sunday evening at 5:45 p.m., 92 km east of the hamlet and measured 5.9 Mw (moment magnitude), according to an Earthquakes Canada report.
The second quake, measuring 5.1 MB (body-wave magnitude), was 85 km east and hit the hamlet the following morning at 11:55 a.m, while the majority of the community was attending a funeral service.
No one in the community was hurt.
Artist and hunter remembered
Tim Pitsiulak, who died in late December, was remembered in the community and the art world.
Pitsiulak was known for his contemporary Inuit drawings. The acclaimed contemporary Inuk artist died at the age of 49.
“Cape Dorset people are pretty shocked by his sudden death,” said Joemie Takpaungai, assistant studio manager at Kinngait Studios. “He was a provider himself to local people as a hunter and he was a family man.”
The artist was born in Kimmirut to Napachie and Timila Pitsiulak in 1967. He was best known for his drawings, though he was also a jewelry-maker, sculptor, lithographer and photographer.
Pitsiulak, whom community members knew as Timoon or Timothy, was Takpaungai’s first cousin.
He recalled hiking and hunting with Pitsiulak in their younger years.
“He was a funny man, a great artist, very well-liked in the community, a good all-around person,” said Takpaungai. “The artists have already started to notice that the studio is pretty empty without Timoon.”
Pat Feheley of Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto said: “From the first time I saw his work in 2007, it was apparent that he was not only very talented, but a very engaged artist. It was obvious he was someone who was going to experiment.”
College sorry for axing Inuit studies
Nunavut Arctic College apologized to students left out in the cold after their Inuit Studies program was abruptly cancelled for the program’s second term Jan. 7.
“The timing of the notification should have happened shortly after the (first) term completed, and any future cancellations will ensure that this is done. We apologize to the students affected for the timing of the notification,” board of governors chairperson Elizabeth Ryan said Jan. 17.
“I have ensured that the two remaining students have been accommodated, and encourage those interested in this line of study to register for the Fall 2017 program.”
According to Education Minister Paul Quassa, “The Inuit Studies program is an integral component to teaching our cultural history and it’s unfortunate the program had to be cancelled for this semester.”
The program was designed to reflect traditional and contemporary Inuit values, practices and knowledge.
Low student enrollment was cited as the reason for the cancellation.
Young cooks feed their community
A cooking club at Nanook School in Apex applied their skills to help feed clients at the Qayuqtuvik Food Centre, which provides a hot meal to those that need one, in Iqaluit.
Kootoo Alainga and Kerry McCluskey coordinated Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club, which saw 20 to 30 students from Grades 1 to 5 get together Fridays after school to learn how to cook.
“We planned for a two-hour trip in total to give us time to make a few hundred meatballs, copy the recipe into our recipe books and then to have our pizza and clean the Qayuqtuvik Food Centre,” said McCluskey.
McCluskey said the students continue to amaze her with their ability to develop and improve on their cooking skills.
“But it’s about more than that,” she said. “It’s about learning to be a contributing member of your community who can shop, budget, feed your family from scratch, clean up afterward and have a good time doing it all.”
Crowd welcomes aquatic centre
Under budget and on schedule, the Iqaluit Aquatic Centre opened its doors to the public in late January.
As several dozen people gathered outside the entrance on a mild afternoon, a handful of leaders spoke about the importance of the new recreation facility to the community and to Nunavut.
“Today is a historic moment as we come together to give special thanks to everyone who helped make this aquatic centre a reality,” said Mayor Madeleine Redfern.
“This community-driven project provides a much welcome and needed public space where residents, from infants to elders, can come together and participate in healthy-living activities. This is a world-class facility, not just for Iqalungmiut, but for our territory.”
Community and Government Services Minister Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo and Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson also spoke of the importance of the facility. Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Monica Ell-Kanayuk and Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik attended.
“Living in the North, living in the Arctic, people sometimes feel like we have to compromise in terms of our infrastructure, in terms of our buildings, in terms of our enjoyment of life – this project proves we don’t,” deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson said following the ceremony.
The idea of a new aquatic centre for the city was born even as the former municipal pool was being scheduled for closure in 2011. A referendum with a positive result spurred the city to make the dream a reality. The final price tag for the new building, construction for which began in March 2015, came in at $40 million, half a million dollars less than expected.
Rankin Inlet mourns three
Two men from Rankin Inlet were dead and one was presumed dead after their snowmobile fell through ice near Whale Cove in late January.
Four men were en route to Arviat when their large snow machine, akin to a Bombardier, broke through the ice. The men were transporting a truck and other snowmobiles on a qamutik.
One 27-year-old man from the group of males survived the accident and reported the incident.
Patrick Kaludjak, 55, was confirmed dead when police and volunteers from Whale Cove arrived at the scene. The two other men were presumed dead until the morning of Jan. 24 when the RCMP underwater recovery team arrived on site.
“The dive team recovered one male, deceased. The fourth male was not located and is presumed deceased,” stated Sgt. David Lawson. “The recovery operation has been now called off and the families have been notified of the outcome.”
The Office of the Chief Coroner ruled drowning as the cause of death, and the manner of death to be accidental.