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January 2019 in review: Makerspace opens; bear shootings; Co-op's 60th anniversary

A look back at 2019's top stories, month by month.

Iqaluit’s Makerspace pilot project moves ahead

Pinnguaq's pilot Makerspace program in Iqaluit is a place for youth to learn about art and technology. George Totalik-Papatsie, with jubilant hand raised, Leito Gagnon, Jace Tikivik, Mathis Rouillier, Parker O'Brien and Gordon Totalik-Papatsie play a group video game.
NNSL file photo

A Makerspace pilot project in Iqaluit was the physical manifestation of a proposal for up for $10-million in a Smart Cities funding competition.

"One of the things with Smart Cities is they gave us $250,000 to develop the final proposal to potentially win the $10 million," said Pinnguaq founder Ryan Oliver. "Part of that money has been used to open the Makerspace in Iqaluit and a big part of it is to go into as many communities as we can fit and do some consultations."

The pilot and the larger proposal, was led by the Pinnguaq Association, with the goal of providing central hubs for creativity, innovation and knowledge-sharing in the territory. The aim was to create physical locations for play and learning – whether that be in a dedicated building, in a library, or at a school, depending on the needs and desires of each Nunavut community.

The Makerspaces were an extension of “te(a)ch,” another Pinnguaq project which had garnered accolades and high profile-funding, including $400,000 from the Arctic Inspiration Prize and $1.7 million in CanCode funding to develop 100 coding lessons and provide them to 15 Nunavut communities.

The Makerspace in Iqaluit drew a full house of youth at building 754. Some days, more than 25 kids showed up to learn and play.

"Our consistent programming exists after school. I've been breaking the weeks down to different age groups and one week will be a tech week and the next week will be an art week," said Artist Gail Hodder, the office manager in Iqaluit.

Iglulik mayor backs elder who shot polar bear, cub

An Iglulik elder who shot a mother polar bear and her cub within municipal boundaries did the right thing, then-mayor Celestino Uyarak said.

“Any polar bears, cubs or not, that is threatening local people, hunting grounds or shack, the polar bear would have to be put down,” Uyarak said, adding that the intruders had wandered into a resident’s porch prior to being shot. “I would have defended this elder or any person that was on the defence kill.”

The Department of Environment chose not to lay charges.

The late Terry Ryan, left, an Inuit art adviser with the West Baffin Co-op in Cape Dorset for nearly 50 years, poses with the early stable of artists in front of what was then the print shop in 1961. Seated, from left, Eegyvadluk Ragee, Kenojuak Ashevak and Lucy Qinnuayuak. Back, from left, Ryan, Pudlo Pudlat, Pitseolak Ashoona, Napachie Pootoogook, Kiakshuk, Parr and Joanasie Salomomie. photo courtesy West Baffin Co-operative

Co-op marks 60 years in Cape Dorset

West Baffin Co-op celebrated its 60th anniversary in Cape Dorset.

It was in 1959 that the Co-op began releasing an annual Cape Dorset print collection in Stratford, Ont.

In the early 1960s, a small retail store was established that competed with the Hudson's Bay store. A board of directors was eventually put in place to guide the venture, which is the oldest member of the Arctic Co-operative network.

Legal marijuana creating no issues, mayors say

Three months after recreational marijauana use became legal, four Nunavut mayors said they saw no ill effects in their communities.

"I haven't particularly noticed anything different happening in the community. I think people are maybe more happy that it's legal," said Cambridge Bay Mayor Pam Gross. "It's there and it's legal, which makes people feel better about it... knowing that it's coming from a safe place feels good too."

Mayors in Cape Dorset, Rankin Inlet and Iglulik agreed that there were no notable impacts.

Murder charges laid

A 44-year-old Cambridge Bay man was charged with murder following an RCMP investigation into the death of a 46-year-old man who was found unresponsive in a local residence.

The accused faced a single count of murder in relation to the case, according to the RCMP.

In an unrelated case in Kugluktuk, RCMP laid laid a charge of murder against a resident in relation to the April 2017 death of a 46-year-old woman from the community. A publication ban prohibited media from naming the accused in that incident.

Sanikiluaq voters face alcohol plebiscite

A petition out of Sanikiluaq led to a plebiscite scheduled for Feb. 4. Residents ultimately voted to maintain the status quo, with 63 per cent casting a ballot to keep prohibition on alcohol.

The issue of concern was whether or not to change the community's liquor status from prohibited to a restricted quantity system. The Sanikiluaq petition had 44 signatures, according to director of the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Dan Young. Only 20 signatures were required for a valid petition to be sent to cabinet to authorize a plebiscite.

Young explained that if Sanikiluaq voted yes, residents of the community would be able to import alcohol using a restricted system allowed for by the legislation. Rather than use an Alcohol Education Committee to approve orders, Sanikiluaq would use a restricted quantity system.

The limits and number of days – one litre of spirits, four litres of wine and 18 litres of beer in a 14-day period – were set as part of the petition. Sixty per cent of the community had to vote yes for the alcohol system to change from prohibited to restricted.

"Every time we hold a plebiscite, we like to send our employees from the liquor enforcement section of the commission to the community to explain what their options are in the plebiscite and what the impacts of voting yes or no would be so everybody understands what they're voting for," said Young.

Feds contribute $10.3 million for Northerners

Good news arrived from the federal government in late December when it announced a new Northern Participant Funding Program – $10.3 million over five years. The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) handled applications on a project-by-project basis.

"NIRB is working to ensure parties are aware of the participant funding, have access to the guide and application forms and co-ordinate the submission of the applications to the Government of Canada," said Tara Arko, NIRB's director of technical services.

The funding aimed to help Indigenous peoples and Northerners access the resources and expertise needed to participate effectively in impact assessments of major resource or infrastructure development projects in Canada's North, according to the federal government.

All three territories would share the pot of money, specifically "those potentially affected by major project development in areas subject to modern land claim agreements."

"Indigenous peoples should have a real opportunity to have input into decisions about major infrastructure and resource projects that can affect their communities and way of life,” stated Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs Dominic LeBlanc.

The government had also specified the activities to be funded: project-specific technical reviews of information, research, data collection, preparation of submissions and presentations, preparation of witnesses and retention of experts, including legal representation.

A funding review committee consisting of Indigenous, territorial and federal government representatives made funding recommendations after reviewing applications.

-with files from Rajnesh Sharma