Modular classrooms arrived in Kugaaruk in late August despite some apprehension as the sealift ship encountered dangerous ice.
The general manager of sealift company Desgagnes Transarctik, the managing partner of Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc., insisted that a Canadian Coast Guard vessel escort his company's cargo ship, Zelada Desgagnes, to the hamlet.
"Navigation in the ice-infested regions in the Arctic requires the expertise of mariners who have navigated these waters for many years," Waguih Reyes said. "Even following an icebreaker requires an expert mariner, otherwise one could end up with damages to the ship."
The Zelada arrived in Kugaaruk on Aug. 24 and was unloaded over the next few days, departing on Aug. 28.
The delivery came as a relief to Mayor Stephan Inaksajak, who was among the many people eagerly anticipating six modular units for students in his community. The modular classrooms – each able to accommodate up to 22 students – will be attached to the former hamlet office, which is being renovated to provide another seven classrooms, according to John MacDonald, assistant deputy minister of Education.
Students are expected to begin lessons by Oct. 15, according to MacDonald.
These arrangements were necessary after arson destroyed the former Kugaardjuk School in late February.
Kudlik Construction is working on a replacement school, expected to open in August 2019.
"Right now Kudlik is doing some blasting, getting it ready for the foundation where the old school was," Inaksajak said on Aug. 30.
Kugaardjuk School had 295 full-time students in 2016-17.
With the extended summer break for students, Kugaaruk's recreation department has been offering extended hours for local youth. The arena, which still has a sand floor because the ice isn't yet in place, is being used for indoor soccer and other activities from 6 p.m. until midnight, five nights a week, said recreation coordinator Adam Krejunark. Between 50 and 60 students have been showing up most nights, he said.
"Yeah, it's pretty busy," said Krejunark. "The kids just run around in there. We're just trying to make them tired so they'll go straight home after the arena closes."