Some incumbents upset in territorial election
Eight incumbents lost their seats after all the ballots were counted in the 2017 territorial election on Oct. 30.
In Rankin Inlet South, Lorne Kusugak avenged his 2013 loss to Alexander Sammurtok. Meanwhile, in Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, former Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie displaced Tom Sammurtok.
John Main succeeded George Kuksuk in Arviat North-Whale Cove.
Elisapie Sheutiapik prevailed over Paul Okalik in Iqaluit-Sinaa. In Iqaluit-Manirajak, Adam Arreak-Lightstone beat Monica Ell-Kanayuk.
In Pangnirtung, Margaret Nakasuk took over from Johnny Mike.
Isaac Shooyook lost his seat to David Akeeagok in Quttiktuq.
Joelie Kaernerk became the new MLA for Amittuq by ousting George Qulaut.
Returned to the legislative assembly were incumbents Paul Quassa (Aggu), Joe Savikataaq (Arviat South), Simeon Mikkungwak (Baker Lake), Tony Akoak (Gjoa Haven), Allan Rumbolt (Hudson Bay), Pat Angnakak (Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu), George Hickes (Iqaluit-Tasiluk), Emiliano Qirngnuq (Netsilik), David Joanasie (South Baffin), Joe Enook (Tununiq) and Pauloosie Keyootak (Uqqummiut).
Jeannie Ehaloak (Cambridge Bay) made her debut and former MLA Patterk Netser (Aivilik), who served from 2004 to 2008, made his return.
Mila Adjukak Kamingoak of Kugluktuk was the only acclaimed MLA in 2017.
Inuit guardians complete first season
The 21 Inuit guardians protecting the wrecks of the Franklin ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror wrapped up for the season in early October and guardian Jonathan Puqiqnak said he will be seeking a return in 2018.
“I’d be interested in going there again,” said Puqiqnak, who served a pair of two-week shifts with three other people at the HMS Terror site near King William Island in August and September. The first shift was more active with cruise ships, sailboats and barges passing through the area, said Puqiqnak, who turned 34 in November.
Of the 21 guardians Parks Canada hired in 2017, three were designated as storytellers for tourists in Gjoa Haven, one was a cook, and there was also a youth guardian.
Money flows in for heritage centre
Momentum was building for Inuit to reclaim artifacts and bring them home. Following the lead of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) matched its pledge of $5 million toward a planned Nunavut Heritage Centre at NTI’s annual general meeting in October.
Not only does the Nunavut Agreement call for the establishment of a permanent home for the “conservation and management of a representative portion of the archaeological record,” but as QIA noted, “there are currently more than 140,000 artifacts stored and preserved in other jurisdictions,” and “the Government of Nunavut has been spending millions since 1999 to store them outside of Nunavut.”
Geese died of natural causes
More than 1,000 starving geese couldn’t overcome fog and strong winds near Cambridge Bay in August, according to veterinarians who examined the remains of some of the birds.
The snow geese, greater white-fronted geese and cackling geese – mostly young specimens – died Aug. 16-20 at Long Point Beach. The veterinary lab results determined that the birds had little to no fat and shrunken chest muscles.
In addition to being malnourished, it was also detected that one of the birds had a toxic amount of salt in its brain.
It’s suspected that the starving birds were consuming significant quantities of sea water due to being dehydrated.
Quassa chosen as premier
One ballot is all it took for the Nunavut’s newest assembly to elect Paul Quassa as premier.
The elder statesman was selected to lead for the next four years over three other candidates: Patterk Netser, Joe Savikataaq and Cathy Towtongie.
“I am out of words,” Quassa said after his win was announced.
New Speaker Joe Enook directed the leadership forum.
With three of the four candidates for premier from the Kivalliq region, Iglulik’s Quassa emphasized his lineage, which he traced to all three regions, stressing his knowledge of the entire territory.
“Understanding Nunavut as a whole is important, that’s my strong point,” he said.
Cabinet portfolios assigned
Premier Paul Quassa installed chosen MLAs to their new cabinet positions as follows:
Joe Savikataaq – Deputy Premier and Minister of Family Services;
Elisapee Sheutiapik – Government House Leader, Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, and Minister of Environment;
David Akeeagok – Minister of Finance;
Pat Angnakak – Minister of Health, and Minister responsible for suicide prevention;
Jeannie Ehaloak – Minister of Justice, Minister responsible for Qulliq Energy Corporation, and Minister responsible for Status of Women;
David Joanasie – Minister of Education, Minister responsible for the Nunavut Arctic College, and Minister of Culture and Heritage;
Lorne Kusugak – Minister of Community and Government Services, and Minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation.
Workers train at cruise ship ‘boot camp’
Ten Nunavummiut were enrolled in a new two-week ‘boot camp’ to become qualified to work on cruise ships in the Arctic.
The training, based in Iqaluit and sponsored by the industry and the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, allowed the participants to meet formal qualifications to fill a variety of roles on the growing number of cruise ships traversing the Northwest Passage.
“I think it’s important for Nunavummiut to be hired as guides when travelling throughout Nunavut, which is what we are primarily doing,” said Jason Edmunds, expedition leader with cruise ship company Adventure Canada.
“But what has made it very difficult for a lot of the industry, including ourselves, is that a lot of the training that’s required for some of the guides, like Zodiac drivers or bear monitors, is very difficult or even impossible to get in Nunavut.”
Football team’s name again condemned
The Edmonton Eskimos football team once again faced demands that it change its name.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said publicly earlier in November that the Canadian Football League franchise, founded in 1949, should have a more “inclusive” name.
Norma Dunning, a PhD candidate in Indigenous studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, agreed. She referred to “Eskimo” as an outdated term and a racial slur.
“We have to understand that an institution, such as the Edmonton Eskimos, will appear as though they are helping and respecting the less fortunate, or the underdogs of society, when in fact they are not only disrespecting but suppressing Inuit peoples,” Dunning said.
Homicides drop to all-time low
There was only one homicide recorded in Nunavut in 2016, the lowest number recorded since Nunavut became a territory, according to Statistics Canada.
A six-year-old girl was fatally stabbed in Coral Harbour in May 2016, representing the one homicide victim that year. A woman in her 20s was charged in relation to the girl’s death.
Nunavut has had as many as seven homicides in a single year, in 2007 and in 2011.
There were four homicides in the Yukon in 2016 and three in the Northwest Territories.
The number of Nunavut homicides will be higher in 2017 than 2016 due to a few fatal and highly publicized standoffs between police and Nunavut residents earlier this year, among other incidents.
IqaluEAT bears fruit
What began in 2014 as an effort by five core volunteers to bring fresh, high-quality and affordable produce to the capital became a newly incorporated community cooperative with several projects on the go.
IqaluEAT held its first annual general meeting the evening of Nov. 6, with the original team of five: Michel Potvin, Francois Fortin, David MacDonald, Catherine Couture and Christina Rooney.
They reported on successes, projects in progress and dreams for the future.
MacDonald laid out the success of the farmers’ markets since the first was held in August 2014.
In total, IqaluEAT has held 11 markets, in spring, summer and fall.