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NOVEMBER IN REVIEW: Rockers Northern Haze return; NorthMart fire; GN censured

“We lived the Canadian dream. We’re broke but we’re happy,” says Northern Haze lead vocalist James Ungalaq. From left, band members John Inooya, Allan Kangok, Ungalaq, Derek Aqqiaruq and Naisana Qamaniq. photo courtesy of Aakuluk Music

New album from Northern Haze

Revered Iglulik-based rockers Northern Haze, led by aging front man James Ungalaq, released Siqinnaarut, the band's first album since the mid-1980s.

The band's lyrics remain in Inuktitut, which creates a special connection with many Nunavummiut, according to Ungalaq.

"I think the most appreciated part of Northern Haze is we play in our language," he said. "We've got to save our language – it's saving ourselves. It's survival."


NorthMart warehouse destroyed by fire

A fire destroyed the NorthMart warehouse on Nov. 8. The fire broke out in the early hours, and firefighters worked all day to stop the blaze from spreading to the attached main portion of the store and the neighbouring elders' residence.

The store reopened a little more than a week later.

A youth was charged with arson and disregard for human life in relation to the incident.


Government reprimanded

Nunavut MLAs censured cabinet after Premier Joe Savikataaq took away Pat Angnakak's cabinet portfolios for breaching cabinet confidentiality.

A censure is a public reprimand to communicate disapproval.

Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie introduced the motion, citing a "double standard."

"I do not accept, or have difficulty accepting, the explanation from the premier that the breach of confidentiality by the former minister and member for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu and the breach of confidentiality by the Minister of Education are not the same," she said.

The public learned that in September a staff member for Education Minister David Joanasie breached confidentiality, with no fallout for the minister.


Kenojuak print sets record

A Kenojuak Ashevak stone-cut print titled The Enchanted Owl set a new benchmark for prints at a Canadian auction, commanding $216,000 in Toronto on Nov. 20.

The amount shattered the $100,000-$120,000 estimate set prior to auction.

"It's a great tribute to a great artist," said auctioneer Duncan McLean, who serves as Inuit art specialist for Waddington's, the auction house that hosted the event.

Because none of the money went to the late artist's family, again raising the question of whether a five per cent royalty should exist, as proposed by Canadian Artists Representation.


Iglulik man charged with murder

A 43-year-old man faced one count of murder following the death of a woman in Iglulik. The female victim was rushed to the local health centre after the RCMP responded to an assault complaint at a local residence on Oct. 26, but she later died from her injuries.

Jerry Ulayuruluk was subsequently charged with murder.


Empty staff houses rile MLAs

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk. Photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

A persistent, unsolved problem returned to the legislative assembly: why do so many staff housing units across the territory remain vacant for years when families are in dire need of housing and live in overcrowded conditions?

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk's dismay stemmed from a proposed five new staff units, while there are existing empty units in her community. Meanwhile, the community hasn't had any new public housing units constructed in eight years, a letter from the Pangnirtung Housing Association stated.

Other MLAs raised similar concerns.

Nunavut Housing Corporation Minister Lorne Kusugak repeated that the corporation does not make decisions "as to which community will get a house and for what purpose. We are generally directed by human resources and other government departments when they tell us that they need housing for their staff."


Flooring dispute stalls school opening

As of early November, there was still no official opening date in sight for the $30-million new high school in Iglulik as the Government of Nunavut and the company that constructed the building fought over the condition of the flooring.

The installed flooring has "severe deficiencies," according to Pujjuut Kusugak, deputy minister of Education.

There's also no agreement on whether the issue is heading to court. A statement from Kusugak indicates the matter is "in litigation." However, a representative of contractor FCNQ Construction – a Quebec-based arm of the Federation of Co-operatives – countered that "there has been no judicialization of the matter at the present time."


Substance issues cost Nunavut $96 million: report

A report on the costs of substance abuse pegged the financial damages at $96 million.

That would account for lost workplace productivity and healthcare – by far the two largest sums – as well as the extra burden on the criminal justice system, according to the report's authors, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the University of Victoria's Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

Alcohol was to blame for 45 per cent of the $96 million in overall costs – based on data from 2014 – while tobacco represented 40 per cent. Cannabis and opioids each accounted for four per cent.


Annie Petaulassie of Iqaluit, originally from Cape Dorset, was the winner of Nunavut News' best stitcher contest. Photo courtesy of Annie Petaulassie

Petaulassie chosen as best stitcher

Online voters selected Annie Petaulassie as the territory's best stitcher in a Nunavut News contest.

Her prize was a wolf pelt valued at close to $1,000 from International Fur Dressers and Dyers Ltd.

The winner's work was the most popular among Facebook users.

Petaulassie, who's from Cape Dorset but resides in Iqaluit, taught herself how to stitch in the early 1980s because she wanted to make use of spare pieces of sealskin, she said. She also sews, crochets, quilts, beads and does embroidery. She's fashioned kamiiks, mitts, slippers, parkas, hats, wristbands and juggling balls (or hacky sacks), among other items.