Pangnirtung Mayor Stevie Komoartok greets Governor General Julie Payette at the council chamber during an Aug. 30 federal delegation to the community. photo courtesy of Government of Canada

Governor General visits Pang

Governor General Julie Payette visited Pangnirtung Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 to meet with community members about challenges and realities facing Nunavummiut.

Payette’s three-day visit focused on Arctic research and Indigenous knowledge.

During her visit, Payette joined federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and Canada’s chief science advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer, to meet with Pangnirtung councillors.

In a private meeting, Pangnirtung councillors and Mayor Stevie Komoartok discussed the many challenges of Arctic life that face Indigenous peoples. Councillors told Payette of the high rates of youth suicide, the need for a comprehensive healing centre, high rates of poverty and unemployment, food insecurity and the tuberculosis epidemic. Councillors discussed gaps in educational opportunities and the challenges that graduates face in seeking post-secondary education.


Cruise ship incident investigated

Transportation Safety Board investigators were looking into what caused the Akademik Ioffe, a 117-metre cruise ship, to temporarily run aground near Kugaaruk on Aug. 24.

It wasn’t known whether penalties would ensue.

“Should Transport Canada identify non-compliance with marine safety rules and regulations, the department will take appropriate action,” stated Transport Canada spokesperson Annie Joannette.

No fuel spill or pollution from the incident was detected and no injuries were reported, according to Canadian Coast Guard communications advisor Lauren Solski.

The incident is further proof that Canadian Arctic waters need to be properly surveyed to show depths and natural hazards, insisted Mike Stephens, a Resolute entrepreneur and experienced ship’s captain.


Host of Anaana’s Tent Rita Claire Mike-Murphy shows her friend Qimmiq, performed by puppeteer Ippiksaut Friesen, a bit of love on set. The new Inuktitut show for two- to five-year-olds premieres bright and early on APTN May 12. photo courtesy of Taqqut Productions Inc.

Anaana’s Tent goes bilingual

Children’s TV series Anaana’s Tent would air an English version of its Inuktut show on APTN this fall, the TV network announced.

The series introduces cultural traditions and language to children across Canada, said director Roselynn Akulukjuk.

“We thought it would be very important to have a TV show that was based in an Arctic setting and in Inuktut,” she said.

The English version is peppered with Inuktut words, and incorporates animation and reading segments, and educates viewers on flora and fauna that can be found in the Arctic.

“They are education-based and we wanted to do it both in Inuktut and English,” Akulukjuk said. “They can learn Inuktitut at a very early age. But there are children that don’t speak Inuktitut so we have the English version,” she said, adding that it teaches some Inuktitut words.


Another death from a polar bear

Calls for increased polar bear kills ramped up following a second fatal attack in the Kivalliq region in two months.

A Naujaat hunter died in late August while stranded on White’s Island with two other hunters. The two surviving hunters were rescued after suffering minor injuries.

Reaction to Nunavut News’ online story about the deadly incident included a few calls for a ban on hunting tags and quotas, which echoed the refrain when an Arviat man was killed by a polar bear in early July.

“Just shoot whenever. No more of this tag (expletive). We are Inuks (and) we should have every right to kill,” reads the most popular comment on the Nunavut News Facebook page.

“It’s a very sensitive topic right now,” acknowledged Stanley Adjuk, president of the Kivalliq Wildlife Board. “We’ve been trying to push the quota system higher so we can downsize the population of the bears.”


Food centre in crisis

A Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society (NDMS) board decision to terminate the employment of chef Michael Lockley, effective Sept. 4, left the Qajuqturvik Food Centre in crisis as existing staff scrambled to fulfill obligations.

Programming plans for the fall were on hold, and Lockley’s fate was uncertain.

An unsigned, hand-delivered Aug. 21 letter from the organization to Lockley stated NDMS was no longer able to fund the position. But Qajuqturvik’s Wade Thorhaug said that didn’t make sense because the arrangement between Qajuqturvik and NDMS was to keep Lockley on the NDMS payroll, with Qajuqturvik reimbursing his salary.

The chef, who was under contract to April 2019, is a citizen of the United States and his work permit is attached to his employment with NDMS.


Advances reported at Back River

Mining company Sabina Gold & Silver reported that it finished its pre-development civil works for its shipping and receiving location – or marine laydown area – at its Back River Gold Project.

The work, which will provide a designated place for supplies and materials to be delivered via sealift or winter road, was completed ahead of schedule at a cost of $24 million, slightly more than the $22.6 million projected in the company’s 2015 feasibility study, according to a news release from Sabina.

A permanent 45-person camp exists at the marine laydown site, along with a quarry, temporary fuel storage depot, barge landings, connecting roads and a 3,000-foot gravel airstrip. The Goose camp, where exploration for gold continues, is 150 km away by ice road.


Ice thwarts cruise ships in some communities

A summer of extensive ice in the Queen Maud Gulf prevented any cruise ships from getting into Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay. That resulted in substantial lost revenue for artists who would have sold their wares to the anticipated 1,550 guests in Gjoa Haven this summer and the close to 1,000 cruise ship visitors in Cambridge Bay.

Carvers, sewers, guides, the Nattilik Heritage Centre and those who provide meals and entertainment all felt the impact, according to Bob Cheetham, Gjoa Haven’s then-economic development officer.

Pond Inlet, however, enjoyed a record-setting tourism season with 4,384 passengers visiting the community during 26 stops by cruise ships.


Iqaluit hosts MMIWG hearings

Leaning on culture and openly talking about the past will heal communities afflicted by the ongoing impacts of colonialism, testified an expert at the Sept. 10 MMIWG hearing in Iqaluit.

“(Inuit) have seen a lot of changes in our lives. There are a lot of things I went through that confuse me,” said Elisapee Davidee Aningmiuq, who offers cultural programming in support of community health and well-being with the Tukisigiarvik Centre.

She described federal day school abuse, which instilled shame toward Inuit culture.

“They were putting us down as Inuit for speaking Inuktitut. It was like a ‘not good enough’ sign on your chest,” she said.

In federal day school she was forbidden from speaking Inuktitut and teachers struck her with a ruler as punishment. The abuse she experienced by staff at day schools resulted in a fraught relationship with her own children, whom she would scold over the use of English in her home, she said.


The Grizzlies debuts at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival is where The Grizzlies – a based-on-a-true-story film about how a lacrosse program helped prevent suicides in Kugluktuk – made its premiere.

Nunavut actor Paul “Ike” Nutarariaq was on hand for the event. He said he was struck by the genuine warmth and friendliness of so many celebrities.

“They really want to get to know who you are and what kind of life experiences you have… they really had a very deep interest in what it was like up in the North,” Nutarariaq said. “It really was a phenomenal experience as an Inuit actor… to go to TIFF was really amazing.”


School insurance hits record high

The amount the Government of Nunavut is doling out for school insurance reached the highest annual total yet: more than $1.8 million.

That’s up from $1.5 million in 2017-18, $653,891 in 2016-17, and $190,730 in 2015-16.

The GN’s deductible – the amount the government would have to pay towards repairs or replacement of a damaged or destroyed school – remains at $20 million. Six schools are worth less than that, meaning the GN would have to cover the entire replacement cost if destroyed. Those schools are Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet, Paatsaali School in Sanikiluaq, Qarmatalik School in Resolute, Umimmak School in Grise Fiord, Nanook School in Apex and Iqaluit’s Ecole Des Trois Soleils, according to Jeff Chown, deputy minister of Finance.

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