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May 2017 – Nunavut Year in Review

Is Bill 37 dead?


The committee charged with reviewing Bill 37 – the controversial bill to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act – said it would recommend it be dropped.

"When the house reconvenes for its spring sitting, the standing committee will formally recommend that Bill 37 ... not proceed further in the legislative process," announced chairperson for the Standing Committee on Legislation Tom Sammurtok in early May.

The committee took a short two weeks to arrive at its conclusion. The deadline for public comments was April 21.

"I am relieved (the committee members) recognize that the issue of Inuktut language loss is urgent. I hope the Nunavut cabinet agrees with the Standing Committee recommendation so we can begin working on the real issue," stated Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk.

Among the many concerns expressed as the bill passed two readings in the Legislative Assembly, the stand-out was the right of Inuit children to be educated in their language. Bill 37 deferred that right for Grades 4 to 9 by a decade and indefinitely for higher grades.


Regional centres want beer and wine stores

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay and Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

Cambridge Bay senior administrative officer Marla Limousin had hopes community support for a beer and wine store in the town will help drive area bootleggers out of business.

In early May, 349 eligible voters – or 83 per cent of those who cast ballots – said yes to a beer and wine store in a non-binding plebiscite. Of 825 residents eligible to cast ballots, 51 per cent voted.

The territorial Cabinet has the final say on whether to allow a wine and beer store.

"What this does is that it deters the bootleggers," said Limousin. "That's one of the main pros about this that we hear from the community is that it will limit the bootleggers who charge these crazy prices. We're also seeing these prices where someone going to the bootlegger then has no money left over for food. You would hope that this puts them out of business."

Finance assistant deputy minister Dan Carlson oversees alcohol sales in Nunavut. He pointed out that unlike Rankin Inlet – which voted in favour of its own beer and wine store the same day by a slimmer margin of 372 for to 127 against – Cambridge Bay does not have a liquor warehouse that could be converted for sales.


Areva says goodbye to Baker

Qamanittuaq/Baker Lake

Areva Resources Canada said goodbye to Baker Lake.

"After more than 10 years of working in Nunavut on the Kiggavik project, Areva is closing its Baker Lake office," stated manager of Nunavut affairs Barry McCallum via e-mail.

He said between 2007 and 2016, the company spent $29 million on Northern contracts and provided more than 70,000 person hours of seasonal employment to Nunavummiut.

"The Kiggavik camp has been secured and placed in care and maintenance. Permits are being maintained and the camp will be visited periodically."

The company office, including furniture, in Baker was up for sale. The reserve bid was set at $250,000.

"Areva thanks the many Nunavummiut who invested their interest and support in the possibility of developing this project," said McCallum.


David Ho photo
Lucy Maniyogena goes for the distance in a harpoon-throwing contest at Nattiq Frolics in Kugluktuk.

Nunavut-made beer needs name


Two years in the making, the Nunavut Brewing Co. – or NuBrew – launched their Name a NuBrew Contest. The idea came to them after people spontaneously left name suggestions in the comments of a 2015 news story about the brewery getting the go-ahead.

"We thought what a wonderful opportunity to give the public a chance of participating in the naming of beers," said partner Ambrose Livingstone.

Stuart Kennedy, Harry Flaherty, Cody Dean and Sheldon Nimchuk are the other four partners.

The brewery will create three mainstay beers, as well as a number of seasonal beers.

So far the search for names has yielded quite a bit of response, including such suggestions as: Iceberg, Headless Hare, Saanauugaq, Floe Edge Special, Nilallik, Tundra Love and BoreALE.

At the beginning, bottles will only be available for Iqalungmiut at the Government of Nunavut's beer and wine outlet.


Nutrition North overhaul comes with no timeframe


A compilation of all comments received during consultations on the Nutrition North Canada program had a low-key release, with a brief statement from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett and Health Minister Jane Philpott.

"A nutritious diet is essential to good physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many families in Northern communities face significant challenges in accessing affordable, nutritious food," stated Bennett and Philpott, adding the report, titled What We Heard, is a result of more than 3,500 comments received via community meetings, interviews, written submissions, online surveys and social media.

"In total, more than 500 people from all over Canada shared their views," stated Bennett.

Asked when Nunavummiut can expect further developments, Bennett's press secretary Sabrina Williams responded by repeating a slightly different version of the ministers' statement.


Gallery honours Annie Pootoogook


Annie Pootoogook's legacy was already safe and secure, but the Cape Dorset artist would be further immortalized by Ottawa's SAW Gallery, which announced it was naming an artist studio after her.

Pootoogook died under tragic circumstances in September 2016. She was 47.

The Annie Pootoogook Studio artist's space is scheduled to open in July 2018, gallery curator Jason St-Laurent said.

He said the decision to name the space after Pootoogook was easy.

"We had over the past five years worked with Annie on multiple exhibitions and projects. We knew her while she was on the street. We worked with her as an artist. We commissioned her to make work, and we had a professional relationship with her over these years," St-Laurent said.

He said the studio is part of an ambitious plan to increase its size five-fold, including the 1,000 sq. ft. Nordic Lab, which will connect Nunavut to Scandinavian and other Nordic communities by way of Ottawa.


photo courtesy of Gina Pizzo
These Grade 2 students from Netsilik Ilihakvik School in Taloyoak were rightfully proud of themselves after they walked more than 1,920 kilometres for the Nunavut Tracks Walking Challenge.

Territory seeks review alternatives


The assistant deputy minister of justice said the Government of Nunavut was exploring its options for investigating the territory's RCMP.

Yvonne Niego made the comment as her department and the Mounties waited for reports from the Ottawa Police Service into three recent fatal shootings by Nunavut RCMP officers.

"The Department of Justice and the RCMP are looking at further options to expand that independent review process. At this point, until I have an idea what will be the end result, I can't speak to (options

being looked at)," Niego said.

Niego, the first Inuk woman from Nunavut made RCMP corporal and then sergeant, would not say whether Nunavut is looking at creating a civilian police watchdog similar to the Alberta Serious

Incident Response Team (ASIRT). She said funding is always a consideration when new government services are being contemplated, but added that it is definitely not the only concern.


Final two NPC hearings postponed


Despite already holding one of three planned public hearings on the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan, the Nunavut Planning Commission postponed the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot hearings.

This was yet another delay after a string of delays in the past several years. The Qikiqtani hearing was held in March. The commission was working with the approval parties to resolve some outstanding issues, executive director Sharon Ehaloak said, and once these issues are resolved, specific dates for the hearing would be identified.

"The move will allow more time to prepare for the hearing and for communities and all participants to prepare their submissions and presentations," said chair Andrew Nakashuk. "The change in timing reflects the commission's ongoing commitment to the integrity of the process and sensitivity in accommodating local concerns and interests."

Nakashuk said the commission remained committed to ensuring the public hearings maximize participation.