Cruise ship controversy
As the Northwest Passage attracts more cruise ships, Taloyoak Mayor Simon Qingnaqtuq planned to make a point about the need for improved security and communications.
Close to 150 unannounced guests wandered through Taloyoak on Aug. 29 when the cruise ship Bremen made an unscheduled stop. Qingnaqtuq said the ship’s apologetic captain came to his office and explained that they were ahead of schedule on their voyage and that gave them time to stop in Taloyoak. He said the ship’s pilot told him that he attempted to reach the hamlet office but he didn’t know how.
“I told him it’s not appreciated. It has to be more organized how the cruise ships come up here,” the mayor said. “I’ll have a say on that issue at the regional level for the mayors’ meeting… you never know who’s on board that ship.”
A spokesperson with Department of Economic Development and Transportation said the ship made the stop due to unfavourable ice conditions.
The Maud towed away from Cam Bay
After years of debate and preparations, the recovered Norwegian wooden ship The Maud departed Cambridge Bay by barge on Aug. 29, en route to Norway.
Vicki Aitaok, who once led a group that opposed the removal of The Maud, said not all is lost.
“I’m always looking at things from a tourism perspective. It was a very interesting piece of conversation for visitors to Cambridge Bay,” she said. “I would still continue to share the story as somebody involved in tourism myself. It’s still a positive story.”
Aitaok spoke fondly of Norwegian explorer Capt. Roald Amundsen, who led the ship on its Northwest Passage expedition in 1918-1920. She said Amundsen was respectful of the Inuit culture and lifestyle and strove to learn from it. The ship was later sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company and it sank in 1930 while trapped in the ice of Cambridge Bay. The wreck was raised from the water during summer 2016.
Beer and wine store opens
Almost a decade in the making, Iqaluit’s beer and wine store opened Sept. 6 with then-finance minister Keith Peterson as its first paying customer.
“I believe prohibition has never worked anywhere,” said Peterson at a brief press conference prior to purchasing a dozen beers, as a line formed outside.
Some customers marked the occasion with selfies. Peterson noted the ball first got rolling in 2009 with a task force that visited 25 communities over two-and-a-half years, followed by more consultations.
“We did hold a plebiscite April 20, 2015 and the people of Iqaluit voted in favour of a beer and wine store. This is our commitment to them, recognizing their democratic rights.”
The result is a government-regulated store limited to beverages with low alcohol content, namely, beer and wine, as well as a selection of port and vermouth.
Naujaat student harpoons beluga
A Grade 9 student at Tuugaalik High School impressed residents of Naujaat in August.
William Shimout, 14, was with his classmates on the annual outing to start the new year at Tuugaalik High School when he successfully landed a beluga whale.
Every year at the start of the first semester, the students from Grade 8 to 12 go out on a boating trip with their class, Grade 9 teacher Lloyd Francis, said.
Shimout’s harpooning of the beluga generated a buzz throughout the community. According to Francis, the story of Shimout catching his first whale made its way around the town before the boats were even unloaded.
Faster internet on the way
Nunavut communities will benefit from faster internet by the end of 2019, thanks to a deal between the federal government and Northwestel.
The feds are contributing nearly $50 million, while Northwestel, which will build the backbone satellite network needed to make higher-speed Internet available in every community across Nunavut, is investing $73 million.
The funding comes from a federal program called Connect to Innovate, which is intended to help underserved communities.
Attempt to amend Education Act fails
Bill 37, an Act to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, died in the legislative assembly.
After impassioned requests from several cabinet members that colleagues keep in mind Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) when considering whether to move Bill 37 from the Standing Committee, where it was stalled, to Committee of the Whole for open debate, regular members of the legislative assembly voted together to defeat then-education minister Paul Quassa’s motion.
Quassa requested a recorded vote, whereby each member is identified along with their vote. The eight cabinet members stood together in favour. Eleven regular MLAs stood in opposition.
More than $1 billion in lost wages: estimate
The failure to fully implement Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement will cost Inuit an estimated $1.28 billion in lost wages from 2017 to 2023, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. announced.
In addition, loss to government in that same time period is estimated to be $520 million.
“The heart knows many reasons to turn this around. This report tells us there are no good reasons to keep on stalling,” NTI president Aluki Kotierk said at a Sept. 12 news conference to release the report.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. commissioned financial firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada to conduct the analysis.
“We have not yet achieved the dream that is Nunavut,” Kotierk said. “We have yet to gain access to essential services in our own language and Inuit continue to be underrepresented in program design and service delivery.”
Dump covers exiles site
The site where the first exiled residents of Resolute took shelter is buried under a landfill and the community’s mayor wants the situation addressed quickly.
“It’s very important because it’s where our community was and that’s where our original first relocatees lived,” said then-mayor Susan Salluviniq. “They were literally dropped off and lived in tents.”
Salluviniq’s husband Allie was among the four families who were shipped to Resolute from Inukjuak, Que., and Pond Inlet in 1953.
It was part of the Canadian government’s attempt to demonstrate sovereignty in the High Arctic.
In response to an inquiry by Nunavut News, the Department of Community and Government Services stated that construction of Resolute’s new dump will begin in 2022-2023.
School insurance skyrockets
The Government of Nunavut is paying much high school insurance costs and someday may have to cover losses in full, the finance minister warned.
Keith Peterson told his legislative colleagues that Department of Finance officials had a “very difficult” time obtaining school insurance recently when renewal came due. Costs soared to $1.5 million for the year, from only $190,730 two years ago. The government’s deductible – the amount the GN must pay on a claim – doubled to $20 million per school.
“At a certain point, if this continues, I can foresee the Government of Nunavut becoming uninsurable,” Peterson said on Sept. 15. “In other words, every school that burned down we had to pay the entire amount.”
New health centre opens in Arctic Bay
Arctic Bay welcomed dignitaries with great fanfare Sept. 11 for the official opening of the hamlet’s new health centre.
“All the way around it’s a better facility. There’s more room, more space, but one of the main differences is the digital radiology equipment,” said George Hickes, then-minister of Health.
The original Arctic Bay health centre, built in 1983, was too small to adequately serve the current and anticipated needs of the community.