Well, valued readers, this is the final edition of Kivalliq News for 2017 and what a year it’s been.
Voters went for change on a number of fronts, including the territorial election, which saw a number of incumbents go down to defeat in the Kivalliq.
New Premier Paul Quassa was also quick to shake up the Government of Nunavut, reaching outside its ranks to bring in new blood such as Pujjuut Kusugak of Rankin Inlet, who is set to become the Deputy Minister of Education.
Agnico Eagle Mines is moving ahead with its Whale Tail project near Meadowbank and that, combined with the start of Meliadine in Rankin Inlet, means a continued economic boost to the region.
The code sharing policy between our regional and territorial airlines turned out to be a colossal flop, further alienating their customer bases by straining the tenuous, at best, relationship between Northern airlines and their paying customers.
The long-heralded new Rankin Inlet arena finally turned the corner and has local hockey fanatics convinced it’s finally going to happen.
The Rankin arena is, arguably, the busiest in Nunavut and serves the vast majority of hockey players across the Kivalliq with the numerous tournaments it hosts each season from atoms all the way to senior men’s.
The community of Arviat continues to grow at an impressive rate and, led by Mayor Bob Leonard, continues to lobby long and loud for much-needed infrastructure to help keep up with its rapidly expanding population.
The hamlet did receive a shot in the arm with the election of John Main as the Arviat North/Whale Cove MLA.
Main is a bright light coming in as a rookie to territorial politics with a solid track record, and sterling reputation as someone with the ability to make things happen.
The battle for increased polar bear quotas in Kivalliq continues to rage, with science seeing a far different picture of the population numbers than hunters and community members trying to avoid the ever-increasing number of bears being spotted in and around communities, especially Arviat.
Science, on the other hand, has a better picture of caribou populations, and continues its fight for low quotas against Kivalliq hunters, too many of whom are more concerned about making money from shipping the meat around Nunavut than they are about subsistence hunting or herd management.
The two will continue to be long, hard struggles for both sides moving forward.
Great things in sports happened in a number of Kivalliq communities in 2017, as evidenced by the number of territorial awards captured by our region.
A large number of Kivalliq athletes have also been selected for their various sports to compete in the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in the NWT.
Hockey, volleyball and soccer across the region, and gymnastics in Rankin Inlet, continue to grow ever stronger and set their sights ever higher as we approach a new year.
In education, things are a bit rocky as 2017 comes to a close, with a number of Kivalliq schools still being short of teachers, and controversy brewing over Actua’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Challenge moving to replace the long established Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Challenge developed by the Kivalliq Science Educators Community and used in the region for more than 20 years.
An exciting year with more than a few issues set to stay in the spotlight as 2018 unfolds. Exciting times, indeed.
Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a happy New Year.