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July 2017 – Nunavut Year in Review

Baffinland ordered to pay $7.3M to QIA

Vancouver, BC

An arbitration panel ruled that Baffinland Iron Mines owes close to $7.3 million in advance royalty payments to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

The ruling, made in Vancouver, settled a lengthy dispute between the two parties over the interpretation of clauses in the Inuit Impact Benefits Agreement (IIBA) signed Sept. 6, 2013.

"I am pleased that the panel affirmed our interpretation of the IIBA. Agreements with Inuit should be honoured by companies that want to work with us," QIA president P.J. Akeeagok said. "This is Inuit money that will be invested in our communities and in the future of our children."

The exact amount owing to the QIA, as of June 30, was $7,265,422.74.

The arbitration panel ruled that advance payments must continue to a maximum of $75 million,

adjusted for inflation, until the Mary River mine reaches commercial production as defined in the IIBA.


Photo courtesy of Vincent Desrosiers/Alianait Festival
Christine Tootoo performs as Sea Woman in Kiviuq Returns, a multi-media theatre performance by the Qaggiq Collective presented in Iqaluit at the Alianait Festival July 3.

Kiviuq returns


The theatrical piece Kiviuq Returns brought to life the adventures of the legendary wandering hero Kiviuq, as told to the Qaggiq Collective by four elders.

Staged at the Nakasuk School gymnasium in Iqaluit as the four-day Alianait Festival's finale on July 3, Kiviuq Returns was the professional calling card that helped spread the message that Nunavut needs help to build a home for Inuit performing arts.

"Kiviuq was a lover ... but he was always sad and melancholy where he was never able to stay," said Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory during the question and answer period after the show. "But through sheer perseverance as a normal human being, full of mistakes and getting angry … he has become this supernatural immortal that we have throughout the Arctic."


American hunter rescued

Qausuittuq/Resolute Bay

Resolute's Samson Simeonie, while acting as a hunting guide, saved a much larger American hunter who went through the ice while in a qamutiq behind a dog sled approximately 160 km south of Resolute.

The incident occurred in May but was recounted in July.

The hunter, Norm DeLan of Pennsylvania, bobbed in the frigid conditions for what he estimated was 90 seconds, hollering for help and breaking more ice in his futile attempts to climb out. Simeonie dismounted the dog sled, raced over and got onto his stomach, distributing his weight on his toes and an elbow. He reached out to the struggling DeLan, a 59-year-old, 300-pound former powerlifter.

Simeonie, a 47-year-old with Canadian Ranger experience, admitted that he felt fear but he didn't let it control him. He and DeLan's hunting partner, Greg Braisen, hoisted DeLan up onto firm ice.

Despite the harrowing ordeal, DeLan wound up shooting a polar bear on his way back to Resolute.


Royals visit Iqaluit


Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, paid a visit to Iqaluit on June 30. Their tour coincided with Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Camilla insisted that she meet with someone from the Qimaavik women's shelter, and that turned out to be Nutara Nowdlaq, a former Qimaavik client. They spent more than 30 minutes alone, talking. Nowdlaq spoke with the duchess about what the shelter means to her.

"If there wasn't a women's shelter, I wouldn't be alive," said Nowdlaq, whose first language is Inuktitut.

"I am who I am today because of the women's shelter. I'm alive. It's good to be alive. It's good to wake up in the morning with no bruises on your face."


Gun incidents continue


Another spate of gun incidents kept police busy during the summer. On June 29, a five-year-old loaded and fired a .223-calibre hunting rifle that had been left accessible in a Whale Cove home following a hunting trip by a family member.

The shrapnel from the bullet caused minor injuries to two adults and a youth in the residence. They went to the community's health centre for treatment and were released the same day, according to RCMP Sgt. David Lawson.

No charges were laid in regards to unsafe storage of the weapon, Lawson noted.

A few weeks earlier in Arviat, a 14-year-old fired a .22-calibre rifle that wounded an 11-year-old in the abdomen on June 12.

Lawson said the RCMP determined the shooting was accidental. He added that "discretion was used to pursue the matter through community justice with the agreement from families on both sides."

The injured boy has returned home after undergoing surgery in Winnipeg and was expected to make a full recovery, according to Lawson.


Kitikmeot Chamber revived


The Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce was brought back to life.

Wilf Wilcox, who became the organization's president, saw interest in the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce come and go over the years, but this time he said he's optimistic the group is here to stay.

"The chamber has kind of had a patchy history," said Wilcox. "We've got it revived again with a little more of a longer view... we're feeling positive about things."

The Kitikmeot Chamber has a full board with membership from Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay.

As of the beginning of July, the Chamber had hired a coordinator, Cynthia Ene, to tend to the important details related to funding, administration and promotion. Like Wilcox, she's based in Cambridge Bay.

Wilcox said it's important for the Kitikmeot business community to have a collective voice and to examine and question policies set by municipalities and the territorial government, for example.


Funding for suicide prevention


The territory's 2010 suicide prevention strategy finally received an action plan to match, and the human and financial resources to back it up.

The five-year plan, called Inuusivut Anninaqtuq – United for Life, was announced on June 26 in a Facebook event. Community-centred and based on input from a summit held the precious year, the Government of Nunavut has committed funding of $35 million over five years.

Those funds were to be divided, with $16 million paying for community-led action projects, $4.4 million funding mobile Inuktitut counselling services, and $12 million going to the Quality of Life Secretariatto cover research, training and gatherings. An additional $2 million will go to Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Katujjiqaatigiit (Embrace Life Council).


Photo courtesy of David Kawai/Greenpeace Canada
Jerry Natanine raises his arms in victory after the Supreme Court of Canada sided with him and the people of Clyde River in a legal battle over seismic exploration rights.

Seismic triumph


Triumphant in the Supreme Court of Canada, former Clyde River mayor Jerry Natanine said the potential existed for a new era in the relationships between Indigenous people and the federal government.

Natanine's comment to Nunavut News came shortly after the country's highest court sided with the Hamlet of Clyde River in its case against Petroleum Geo Services et al.

In a decision released July 26, the court ruled that it was wrong for the National Energy Board (NEB) to grant the exploration consortium the right to conduct offshore seismic testing, which had been opposed by the hamlet and other organizations.

The court unanimously ruled that the proposed testing could negatively affect the treaty rights of Inuit in Clyde River, and that the duty to consult Inuit had not been fulfilled. In its ruling, the court wrote that a project authorization that breaches the constitutionally-protected rights of Indigenous peoples cannot serve the public interest.


Back River gold project proceeds


The Nunavut Impact Review Board gave its blessing, with conditions, to the Back River gold project in the Kitikmeot.

The review board issued its endorsement of Vancouver-based Sabina Gold & Silver Corp's proposal to develop its gold deposit in a 400-page document that contains 94 conditions. The caveats related to water and wildlife monitoring and forcing the formation of committees dealing with the environment, Inuit traditional knowledge, caribou and socio-economics.

NIRB originally rejected Back River in June 2016 on the grounds that it could have detrimental effects on wildlife, caribou herds in particular. In January, Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, sent the report back to NIRB indicating that it required further study. Another intensive round of written responses from Sabina and additional public hearings ensued.

Bennett later signed off on the approval in December.


High food prices persist


As Ottawa continued to review feedback from Northerners on the Nutrition North program, new data showed food prices remain stubbornly high in Nunavut.

Nunavummiut were paying 2.2 times more for groceries than the rest of Canada, according to the food price survey the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics released on July 21, reflecting prices collected in March.

This comes as no surprise to Akiitiq Angutiqjuaq, who has been volunteering at the food bank in Iglulik for more than two years. She hasn't been able to see any positive effects from Nutrition North.

"I don't think there's any difference. Maybe there is, but everything here is so expensive that you can't notice," Angutiqjuaq said. "I've had people cry, thanking me for doing what I do (at the food bank)... we want a happier community."