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MARCH 2018 IN REVIEW: Women build, Nunavut fails at climate change prep, Canada mourns Kamookak

Researchers say mining, not Indigenous hunters, should be focus in caribou management


The notion that Indigenous harvesters are largely responsible for the drastic and rapid decline of barren ground caribou is unsupported, according to a study by university researchers released in March.

Robert Berdam photo
A research article released argues that the dominant narrative behind barrenground caribou population decline has unfairly placed the blame on Indigenous hunters.

The report took aim at the lack of comprehensive analysis of the mines that operate in the North, particularly the diamond mines in the NWT's barren lands.

That industrial development lies in the migratory path of the Bathurst caribou herd, which is now estimated at as few as 16,000 animals, down from approximately 475,000 in the mid-1980s.

Yet it's often the activities of Indigenous hunters that seem to be "flagged as a major problem," said Brenda Parlee, the study's lead investigator and Canada research chair in resource economics and environmental sociology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Recent nutritional studies revealed that caribou consumption among Indigenous people today is a fraction of what it was in the past, she noted.

"I think, you know, the overemphasis on harvest management and managing Indigenous harvest is a distraction from what is really a central issue, which is disturbance of the caribou range in the case of the Bathurst and elsewhere," said Parlee.


Women build futures

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

Fourteen women were registered for a seven-day workshop in early March that introduced them to work in the construction industry.

Three facilitators representing an Edmonton-based organization called Women Building Futures flew to Cambridge Bay to discuss educational requirements and career options. Some local contractors also came by to give insight into the nature of their occupations.

"It's helping to inform them what life in a trade is really like, what they can expect and what kinds of trades are available to them," said Michelle Buchan, manager of Inuit employment and training with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, which sponsored the workshop along with the federal government and Green Row Executive Suites.

Some workshop participants could then opt to travel to Edmonton and enrol in the Women Building Futures program, which is exclusively for women and arranges accommodations and coaching, Buchan noted. Other participants could decide to get involved with the pre-trades program through Nunavut Arctic College, she suggested.

This was the second time the program was being offered in the Kitikmeot. The first was in 2012.

"In the last five years we've had more and more women looking into that sort of (construction trades career)," said Buchan.


Family Services seeks realistic picture of homelessness in Nunavut


Staff from the Department of Family Services, with two local people from the community, completed door-to-door surveys in several communities to better understand homelessness in the territory – specifically hidden homelessness.

"The number that we get will be a fairly good representation of the community itself because we're sampling based on public housing, staff housing and other private households. So we're going to get as accurate a picture across the communities as we possibly can," said the department's director of poverty reduction Deatra Walsh ahead of surveying Pond Inlet households.

The Inuit Health Survey 2007-2008 established that approximately 20 per cent of households in Nunavut provided shelter to the homeless. Walsh said the reason for conducting the surveys is that the Government of Nunavut does not have up-to-date information on hidden homelessness, a category quite different from absolute homelessness.

"We know that many people in the territory, particularly in the smaller communities, don't present as absolutely homeless. These are some of the distinctions that are made," said Walsh.


Nunavut among those failing in climate change efforts


The territory is not ready to deal with the impacts of climate change, according to the Auditor General of Canada's final report on Climate Change in Nunavut, presented March 13 in Iqaluit.

NNSL file photo
Principal director of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada James McKenzie, responsible for the audit Climate Change in Nunavut, tells reporters in Iqaluit the territory is not adequately prepared to respond with the impacts of climate change March 13.

Principal director of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada James McKenzie, responsible for the audit Climate Change in Nunavut, presented the finding.

"From reduced sea ice to warming permafrost, the impacts of climate change are visible across Nunavut," said McKenzie. "Our audit found that the Government of Nunavut was not adequately prepared to respond to these impacts."

The crux of the findings is not unusual for the territory – strategies without implementation plans.

"We found the government released a strategy to help Nunavut adapt to climate change. The government also released a strategy to manage Nunavut's energy use with objectives to reduce the territory's dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said McKenzie.

"However, the government did not have implementation plans that outlined when and how the objectives would be met and who would be responsible for what. It also did not report publicly on the implementation of these strategies."


Fancy feasts in Cambridge Bay

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

For six weeks, some lucky residents in Cambridge Bay enjoyed fine dining thanks to students in the culinary arts program.

The seven cooks in training were in the final phase of their one-year certificate course. In what's known as the chef's table, the students took turns as cooks and servers.

They prepared and serving colourful and spicy lunches – free of charge – for eight people each weekday at the community learning centre. The menu options included entrees of pan-fried trout, beef stir fry, barbecued back ribs and coq au vin. There were also appetizers like Asian salad and deep-fried wontons. The meals also include dessert.

"It's a restaurant concept with an a-la-carte menu," said chef Andy Poisson, the program instructor, who evaluated his students based on the taste of the meals, the presentation of the food, their teamwork in the kitchen, their cleanliness, and their professionalism and friendliness toward their lunch guests.


Chester comedian off to Ottawa


Seven comedians faced off in Iqaluit for the chance to travel – all expenses paid – to Ottawa to perform at the Alterna Savings Crackup Comedy Festival finale later in March.

photo courtesy Alterna Savings Crackup Comedy Festival
Angnakuluk Friesen and Bibi Bilodeau, front from left, seen here with fellow Iqaluit comedians Wade Thorhaug, Aaron Watson, Igupttaq Autut and Samasuni Fortin at the Alterna Savings Crackup Comedy Festival in March, are scheduled to perform at the First Air Arctic Comedy Festival Oct. 11 to 14 in the capital.

After each had their turn to make the crowd at the Frobisher Inn crack up, four judges – including famed Canadian comedian Mary Walsh – narrowed the field to three. The crowd of 200 then cheered for each, with the loudest cheering reserved for Iguptaq Autut.

He said it could have been any of the seven in the group, which included Bibi Bilodeau, Wade Thorhaug, Angnakuluk Friesen, Bugsy, Aaron Watson and Samasuni Fortin.

"I just feel really lucky to be nominated by the crowd," said Autut.

Originally from Chesterfield Inlet, Autut came by his comedic skills the hard way, with the toughest crowd, giving presentations as part of his day job as Qikiqtaaluk training and development specialist with Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.




Spring returns, and skiers hit the trails


Nunavut Youth LEAP sponsors a skiing program each winter in Qikiqtarjuaq. The 2018 winter weather was often too cold, so the youth skiers' were happy to see spring temperatures.

"We've been running the program since the summer, (with) hiking, and have been skiing since the fall. I have been traveling part of the winter so we did not run the program every weekend. It has also been really cold," said organizer Celine Jaccard.

The skiers were planning a three-day expedition for the end of the month.


Inuit Guardian training lined up

Gjoa Haven

Training for the upcoming season's Inuit Guardian program was taking shape, with four weeks of courses starting in late April, said Keith Nimiqtaqtuq, manager of the Gjoa Haven Hunters and Trappers Association.

Among the areas of study would be small vessel operations through the Nunavut Fisheries and

Marine Training Consortium, first aid, bear guard expertise and firearms training, where required.

Two rounds of training were planned: two weeks for 12 participants and then a repeat of the same courses for another 12 Inuit Guardians, Nimiqtaqtuq said.

The Inuit Guardians watch over the wreckage of the Franklin ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which the Government of Canada has declared national historic sites.


Remembering Louie Kamookak

Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven historian Louie Kamookak, 58, who led a world-wide audience to witness the value and impact of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, succumbed to illness March 22.

photo courtesy Eleanor Cipriano
Gjoa Haven historian Louie Kamookak, seen here visiting Quqshuun Ilihakvik intermediate students to share his knowledge in April 2016, succumbed to illness March 22.

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Louie Kamookak. Louie has left an indelible mark in our nation's history through his work on collecting and preserving Inuit oral history and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, and through the contributions he made to the discovery of Franklin's lost ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror," said then Premier Paul Quassa.

A member of the Order of Nunavut and the Order of Canada, Kamookak received much recognition, and many accolades, including the Governor General's Polar Medal, Royal Canadian Geographical Society's Erebus Medal, and the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal.

His path as a historian began in his childhood. Living in a tent with his great-grandparents, he grew up listening to his great-grandmother's stories, stories which dated back to when his great-grandmother was herself a young child.

Kamookak was also an educator at Qiqirtaq Ilihakvik in Gjoa Haven, and after the excitement of the Erebus find settled, he shared his stories with students in the schools. He was a firm believer in taking the learning experience outside the classroom.


Arctic sports competitors for the future


Quentin Sala gathered up the youth of Sanikiluaq for Arctic sports and it proved popular.

"About 50 children every day," said Sala, adding that happens five times a week.

Sala learned about Arctic sports from his gym teacher when he was a kid, but had never competed.

"I've never been into tournaments. I've been trying my best to do demonstrations and instructing the kids," said Sala. "The kids have learned so much. I'm very proud of them. I hope they will achieve their goals in the future."

Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt was equally proud when he returned to the legislative assembly in March.

"Quentin is teaching dozens of youth, some as young as six years old, the tricks and techniques of Arctic sports such as the one-foot high kick, the one-hand reach and the two-foot high kick. In a few years they will be major contenders at the Arctic Winter Games," Rumbolt told his fellow MLAs.