October 2017 – Nunavut Year in Review

by Editorial Board- January 5, 2018

Inmates damage prison

Iqaluit

Four inmates together destroyed much of the Baffin Correctional Centre overnight Sept. 25, the Department of Justice publicly revealed three days later.

Deputy minister William MacKay said in a written statement Sept. 28 that significant damage was done, which resulted in the destruction of 85 per cent of the building’s medium security bed space and 33 per cent of the maximum security bed space. The department did not provide further details on the damage.

The four inmates responsible for the mayhem were transferred to a correctional facility in Ontario.

 

Tackling TB

Nunavut

Eliminating the extreme and disproportionate rate of tuberculosis (TB) among Inuit in Canada is the goal of a new task force announced in early October by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott.

A result of the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, formally created earlier this year, the task force is to address the rate of active TB, which for Inuit in 2015 was more than 270 times higher than the rate in the non-Inuit, Canadian-born population. Nunavut is hardest hit, with a rate of 119.2 per 100,000 population.

 

Kugluktuk prepared to build continuing care centre

Kugluktuk

The Hamlet of Kugluktuk is ready to build and staff a 24-bed continuing care centre, if the Department of Health will sign a service agreement to use the facility.

The hamlet has its own equity to devote to the project and has financial institutions prepared to lend the balance, deputy mayor Grant Newman said. Because legislation doesn’t allow the hamlet to directly own and operate the facility, the municipality would work with two separate arms-length entities.

“One would own the building and one would run the services and have the staff,” Newman said, adding that the reception from the Government of Nunavut has been “very positive.”

“The government (pays) X amount of dollars per bed, per month and that covers the cost of everything: the building cost, the staffing and O&M (operations and maintenance) costs,” said Newman.

photo courtesy Qaggiavuut
The cast of Kiviuq Returns, seen here while rehearsing at the Banff Centre for the Arts, created an Inuit language theatre production, and shared their love of Inuit songs, dances and stories with youth in the North and south throughout their summer tour. From left to right: Lois Suluk of Arviat, Vinnie Karetak of Arviat and Iqaluit, Kurri Panika of Rankin Inlet, Trisha Ogina of Cambridge Bay, Christine Tootoo of Rankin Inlet, Natashia Allakariallak of Iqaluit, and Pakak Innuksuk of Iglulik.

Surviving a plane crash

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

Tommy Sharp couldn’t believe neither he, fellow passenger Barney Tootoo, nor pilot Shawn Maley, currently of Yellowknife, was injured – or worse – after Maley’s Cessna 180 floatplane crashed during takeoff from a remote fishing camp about 185 km west of Rankin Inlet on Aug. 26.

“When we got off the water, I looked to the side – because it’s kind of hard to see over the dash when you’re taking off – and I could see the ground coming up at us pretty damn close,” Sharp recalled.

He said the whole episode happened incredibly fast. He said one second everything seems fine, then the world is literally turned upside-down the next.

Tootoo said after getting out and taking a good look at the plane, he thought it was amazing the three of them just walked out of there the way they did.

 

Close call with polar bear

Taloyoak

In the faintest light of dawn, Nauyaq Ugyuk stared down a polar bear at close range on Sept. 10.

At about 4:30 a.m. that morning, their dog, which accompanied Ugyuk and his wife Jeannie to their fishing camp, started barking.

“I jumped out of my bed and grabbed my rifle right away,” Ugyuk recalled.

Without a scope or his glasses, he aimed his rifle as the large carnivore strode directly toward him.

When it got within three to four metres, Ugyuk could clearly hear the bear breathing and growling.

“If I missed the first shot, I’m not sure if I would have had time for a second,” he said.

 

Call for seasonal shipping shutdown

Kitikmeot

Ships breaking through Northwest Passage ice are endangering hunters and caribou, according to the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board, which urged a seasonal halt to shipping.

The board called for an end to vessels disrupting caribou migration routes from the second week of October until July, said Bobby Greenley, a board member in Cambridge Bay, where the wildlife board’s AGM was held Sept. 19 to 21.

“Who are the ones that decided or are making up all these rules and regulations for the shipping to come through?” he said. “They should be contacting us up North here to help decide on these rules.”

 

Huge achievement for mine worker

Meadowbank/Arviat

Once a student support assistant, Arviat’s Gabriel Ulayok, on the urging of his brother and a friend, signed up at Meadowbank Gold Mine as a haul truck driver in 2012.

Almost six years later, he is the mine’s face of success – qualified to operate the RH120 shovel, which, as training coordinator Gabriel-Antoine Cote notes, is “one of the largest and most sophisticated pieces of equipment in the global mining industry.”

“It takes time and effort to climb up, to become what you want to be. But you can become anything you want to be,” said Ulayok. “Follow your dream.”

 

Reshaping alcohol perceptions

Nunavut

The Nunavut Liquor Commission aimed to change the way Nunavummiut think about alcohol.

“We’re trying to move away from the binge-drinking culture, toward a more responsible culture,” said manager of corporate policy for the Department of Finance Mads Sandbakken. “Trying to make people more aware of their own drinking habits, their own drinking patterns, and try to discourage binge drinking.”

Two portions of alcohol per day for women, and three for men, is responsible, and no more than five days a week, according to the commission. It’s considered binge drinking if a woman has four or more drinks in one sitting, five or more drinks for a man.

 

Canada takes ownership of Franklin shipwrecks

Uqsuqtuq/Gjoa Haven

The debate between Canada and Britain over ownership of Franklin expedition artifacts ended with a conciliatory gesture by the British. The Government of the United Kingdom announced in October that it will relinquish ownership of the wrecked Franklin ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, in the Queen Maud Gulf, to Canada.

“I was happy to hear that it was going to be given over to Canada,” said Gjoa Haven Mayor Joanni Sallerina. “I’m more excited because it’s on King William Island.”

 

Inuktut stabilizing

Nunavut

The use of Indigenous languages among Inuit appeared to be stabilizing after years of decline.

Sixty-four per cent of Inuit reported the ability to converse in an Indigenous language, primarily Inuktitut, according to 2016 census data released by Statistics Canada last week.

That result is equivalent to the national survey conducted in 2011.

Census data in 2006 and 1996 showed higher figures, with more than 70.9 per cent and 73.5 per cent of Inuit, respectively, able to converse in an Indigenous language.

Nunavut’s Inuit language community showed particular strength with 89.1 per cent of Inuit able to conduct a conversation in an Indigenous language.

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