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JANUARY 2018 IN REVIEW: Fire in Iqaluit, young mayor sworn in Kimmirut and Pinnguaq gets $1.7 million

Fire destroys Iqaluit five-plex


By 4 a.m. on Jan. 2, five hours after responding to the fire at the 2217 five-plex, Iqaluit's acting fire chief Stephane Dionne knew the fight was over. The building had to come down.

photo courtesy Facebook
A fire spreads through a multi-plex on Apex Road overnight Jan. 1 – residents were successfully evacuated and housed at Capital Suites.

Firefighters were on the scene for 13 hours.

After receiving the call at 11 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, Dionne and deputy chief Nelson Johnson were first to arrive, and attempted to put out the fire with fire extinguishers, while ensuring all five units were fully evacuated. As fire trucks and more firefighters arrived, Dionne and Johnson – the duty officer that night – continued to adjust to the complexity of the fire. Dionne said they tried to save some of the units, and managed to  extinguish the main fire, but flames had spread.

The fire began at one end of the crawlspace, which spanned all five units in the two-storey building. A heater, used to thaw frozen water pipes, is seen as the likely cause of the blaze.

Crews used up to 700 gallons of water per minute, causing water outages in areas at higher elevation, including the Road to Nowhere subdivision.

The heat was hot enough to melt snow on a neighbouring five-plex.

24-year-old mayor sworn in


The community of Kimmirut, with a population of approximately 450, elected 24-year-old Ningeolaa Killiktee as mayor. She was sworn in Jan. 4 after a December election.

photo courtesy Kimberley Young
New mayor of Kimmirut, 24-year-old Ningeolaa Killiktee, is gathered with council members after the swearing in ceremony Jan. 4. Back row, left to right: Coun. Jimmy Akpik, Coun. Palanga Lyta, Coun. Jean-Pierre Goulet, Deputy Mayor Maliktoo Lyta and Coun. Matto Michael. Front row, left to right: Coun. Appa Pudlat, Coun. Mialiralaa Judea and Coun. Akulujuk Judea. Sitting: Mayor Nigeolaa Killiktee.

Senior administrative officer Kimberley Young thought Killiktee might be the youngest mayor in the territory, though executive director of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities Brian Fleming could not confirm.

Killiktee said she started working at a very young age.

A friend asked her if she wanted to run. Killiktee gave it some thought, and decided to give it a try.

Her motivation?

"To make the changes to the community that the community wants to see. I really want to listen to what the community wants and move forward," she said.

Languages commissioner orders hamlet election do-over


The Hamlet of Kugluktuk restarted its municipal election process on Jan. 8, posting notices in both Inuinnaqtun and English advising of the opening and closing dates for nominations for mayor and council.

Kugluktuk's hamlet election was ordered shut down on election day, Dec. 11, when Nunavut Languages Commissioner Helen Klengenberg determined that insufficient Inuinnaqtun literature existed prior to the election. The ballots already cast that day were to be shredded.

"We are following the full process of the election," Kugluktuk senior administrative officer Don LeBlanc said on Jan. 9.

Nominations opened on Jan. 15.

The community re-elected incumbent Ryan Nivingalok March 5.

Anawak serves 30 days


Nunavut politician Jack Anawak was sentenced to 30 days at the Baffin Correctional Centre for his second incident of impaired driving. The sentence was imposed Jan. 15 at the Nunavut Court of Justice.

The former Nunatsiaq MP, Rankin Inlet North MLA, and candidate in the last federal and territorial

elections would serve his time at the Baffin Correctional Centre beginning Feb. 2 on weekends only.

Anawak pleaded guilty to a June 2017 impaired driving charge in November 2017.

Additionally, Anawak was prohibited from driving for three years, and had to pay a $100 victim surcharge.

The sentence was the mandatory minimum, as the incident was the second time Anawak was guilty of impaired driving. The first time was in 2012. He was subsequently fined for driving while prohibited in 2013.

Yoga for all students

Sanirajak/Hall Beach

Arnaqjuaq School introduced a school-wide yoga program in January.

Teachers Kyle Cooke and Maxime Lopez planned on leading students in kindergarten through

Grade 12 in the yoga lessons, called Stretch and Wonder.

"Basically it's not only physical health that we're going for but it's also mental health, so students have a little bit of an outlet," said vice-principal Emily Bradford.

Arnaqjuaq School previously had a yoga program that was well-received.

"We know it's worked in the past, but this is the first time it's gone school-wide," Bradford said.

Pinnguaq gets $1.7 million to spread te(a)ch


The Pinnguaq Association officially received $1.7 million in federal funding for the non-profit to develop 100 coding lessons and provide them to 15 Nunavut communities.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains made the announcement Jan. 22.

Pinnguaq founder Ryan Oliver said the association had filled staff positions in advance to ensure it delivers on its commitments.

"We have 15 months, roughly, to implement this massive program," he said.

The new funding augured serious growth for te(a)ch, for which Pinnguaq previously received $400,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize.

"Becoming the most innovative country begins with investing in Canadian talent," stated Bains in a news release.

"Our government is committed to equipping Canadian youth with the digital skills they need for the jobs of the future. By teaching kids to code today, we're positioning Canada for future success across all industries and sectors because these kids will facilitate digital adoption, making all Canadian industries more profitable and globally competitive."

Elder opposes endangered label for caribou herd

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

After the Dolphin and Union caribou herd was announced as endangered, a Cambridge Bay elder who has been hunting the animals for more than 50 years said the herds have not reached the point of being endangered and are not facing extinction.

The caribou are migrating farther east, said George Angohiatok, and that is likely affecting scientific population counts, which indicate declining numbers.

The alarming statistics, along with the threat posed by ships interrupting the caribou's winter migration route between Victoria Island and the mainland, convinced the Committee on the Status of Endangered

Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) to categorize the Dolphin and Union herd as endangered in December. The herd was previously considered "special concern."

Angohiatok said he's certain the caribou will persevere. "I'm not concerned that their numbers are going to disappear," he said.

Population surveys for the herd were in the works for the next couple of years. That process was to include community consultation and gathering local traditional knowledge.

Tallurutiup Imanga IIBA work begins


The five communities closest to the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Protected Area, announced in August 2017, received presentations that will help them contribute to an Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement (IIBA).

Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) chief negotiator Sandra Inutiq kicked off a series of visits that should see an agreement signed by March 2019. The IIBA and the management plan are being developed simultaneously.

"It's a very tight timeline," said Inutiq.

The first January trip saw Inutiq presenting in Resolute Bay, Grise Fiord and Arctic Bay, while on a second trip she presented in Clyde River and Pond Inlet.

"There will be different visits, a bit more focused, in the future. For example. we'll have management plan visits and we'll have visits with the federal government, as well," said Inutiq, adding there was the option to include the federal government for this round.

"There are so many considerations that QIA felt it important that we go in first so that information is presented from the Inuit organization perspective, present it on our terms first."

Funding for the consultations comes from the federal government, and formal negotiations were scheduled to start in February.

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