Nunavut firefighters head to nationals

August 9, 2017 - Iqaluit

Firefighter Andrew Jr. Iqalukjuak of Clyde River was excited to be picked for a second time to compete at the National Aboriginal Firefighter Competition scheduled to take place Aug. 12.
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Naujaat cleans up the community

August 8, 2017 - Kivalliq

Community members in Naujaat hit the streets on Aug. 4 armed with garbage bags, gloves, rakes and a goal of picking up as much garbage as they could.

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Proper training for RCMP saves lives

August 8, 2017 - Qamanittuaq/Baker Lake

There’s an old, racist stereotype about the ‘drunken Indian.’

You all know of it. Some of you will have experienced it first-hand: that assumption by some people that if you belong to an Indigenous group, you have a drinking problem.

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Training recommended for RCMP in 2012 death

August 8, 2017 - Qamanittuaq/Baker Lake

A coroner’s inquest into the death of Paul Kayuryuk has resulted in 17 recommendations from the jury.

Jury members listened to testimony from RCMP officers and family members from July 24 to 27.

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Toxic dump to be cleaned up

August 3, 2017 - Iqaluit

Seven years after an original work plan was completed, Transport Canada has awarded Iqaluit-based Kudlik Construction Ltd. a reported $5.4 million contract to clean up a decades-old contaminated dump site by Sylvia Grinnell River on the outskirts of the capital.
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Riit takes the big stage

August 3, 2017 - Toronto

The 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) opening ceremonies featured several fantastic performances of dance and music, both traditional and modern.
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Community buy-in is smart business

August 2, 2017 - Nunavut

It was a real-life example of David vs. Goliath, pitting the small High Arctic community of Clyde River in a fight against big oil and the Canadian government.

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Cam Bay hires cruise ship coordinator

August 2, 2017 - Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay


Cathryn Epp is the cruise ship coordinator and economic development officer for the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay.

Cruise ship passengers from around the world coming to Cambridge Bay this summer don’t know it, but Cathryn Epp is racing to ensure they have a most memorable experience.
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Progress needs to benefit all in Nunavut

July 31, 2017 - Nunavut

It’s summer in Nunavut, and as the beaches fill with sealift containers, the streets – in the capital, at least – are filled with visitors and construction vehicles. They’re both critical to the Nunavut economy but we can see the fallout when the two clash.

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Showing leadership

July 31, 2017 - Cambridge Bay

A leader steps up in times of crisis, and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations. Looking back in our brief history as Inuit, this is how the leaders, the alpha male and alpha female held the small hunting party together.

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Social struggles don’t override satisfaction

July 31, 2017 - Nunavut

Nunavut’s uneven economy, health care challenges, high crime statistics and low graduation rate are all reinforced in a new Conference Board of Canada report, and yet Nunavummiut are mostly happy.
That made an impression on Adam Fiser, senior research associate with the Northern and Aboriginal Policy Group at The Conference Board of Canada.

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Food price gap persists in Nunavut

July 31, 2017 - Nunavut

As Ottawa continues to review feedback from Northerners on the Nutrition North program, the latest data shows food prices remain stubbornly high in Nunavut.

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Does mass gun storage make sense?

July 31, 2017 - Nunavut

Should Nunavummiut lock up their guns in a single storage facility in each community?
That’s the prospect Justice Paul Bychok raised during a July 11 sentencing in a case involving armed robbery in Iqaluit. Bychok said there are an “alarming” number of firearms offences in the territory.

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Regulatory body approves Kitikmeot gold project

July 31, 2017 - Kitikmeot

Construction could begin on the Back River gold mine by next summer if the federal government approves the project, which now has the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s backing.
The review board issued its endorsement of Vancouver-based Sabina Gold & Silver Corp’s project on July 18 in a 400-page document that contains 94 conditions.

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NIRB kicks off oil and gas strategic assessment

June 1, 2017 - Qikiqtaaluk

With $2.6 million of federal funding and a two-year time frame, the Nunavut Impact Review Board hope to complete an Oil and Gas Strategic Environmental Assessment for Baffin Bay and Davis Strait (SEA) to inform potential development in those waters. Read More

Withdraw Bill 37, ITK tells GN

May 31, 2017

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) has received the full weight of support from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s (ITK) board of directors in its call for the Government of Nunavut to withdraw Bill 37. Read More

What next for Bill 37?

May 22, 2017
Education Minister Paul Quassa, seen here launching the Inuit language literacy application Uqausiit Pinnguarutiit to kindergarten and day care students March 8, says it’s vital Bill 37 to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protect Act pass in some form so the Government of Nunavut does not get sued.
NNSL file photo
















Nunavut’s public government and Inuit at odds over education and language


by Michele LeTourneau

Northern News Services


Education minister Paul Quassa says it’s vital Bill 37 to amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protect Act pass in some form.

“If the dates for Inuktitut and English or French bilingual education stays as is in the Education Act, the Government of Nunavut risks being sued, by Nunavut Tunngavik for example,” he said.

But the Standing Committee on Legislation saw things differently when it halted the progress of the bill May 5.

“When the house reconvenes for its spring sitting, the standing committee will formally recommend that Bill 37 … not proceed further in the legislative process,” announced chairperson Tom Sammurtok, citing, “the overwhelming lack of consensus in support of the bill in such areas as language of instruction, the role of district education authorities and increased employment of Inuit teachers.”

If the bill is allowed to fall off the order paper, as suggested by the committee, the work of reviewing and revising the Education Act would be up to the next government.

The next territorial election is scheduled for the fall of 2017.

Quassa, as the bill’s sponsoring minister, does have the option to move that Bill 37 go to the Committee of the Whole – but, as it stands now, only at this government’s final fall sitting scheduled for September, due to timelines in the Rules of the Legislative Assembly. That motion would be voted on by the members of the Legislative Assembly. Or, Quassa could present a motion to waive the 120-day period when the next sitting begins May 30.

Also at the next sitting, the option is available for members to introduce a motion that Bill 37 be withdrawn from the order paper – which sounds exactly like what the standing committee said it would do.

Outside government, those opposed to Bill 37 have a lot to say.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk told Nunavut News/North that while the standing committee’s decision was good news, the focus now needs to be on the Inuit Employment Plan for teachers.

“One that’s robust enough, that’s resourced,” she said.

“We’ve been willing and open to work with the Department of Education. We’ve been encouraging them to provide us with a draft.”

That draft has reportedly been recently delivered, but Kotierk says her staff has described it as “a plan for a plan.”

Kotierk cites a lack of budgeted resources and a lack of dedicated staff as proof the GN isn’t serious in moving forward with bilingual education.

“There’s frustration on our side that things are so slow,” she said.

Quassa says anyone who knows governments knows they are slow. And he rejects the idea that the dream of bilingual education will die on his watch.

“Inuktitut is a big issue and certainly is mine because I’m the one who negotiated this Nunavut land claims to ensure that we retain our culture and language. And as the minister of education that has always been my priority,” he said.

Kotierk is looking for commitment from the GN.

“If you have a priority you need to make sure there are resources dedicated to the priority,” said Kotierk.


BREAKER: What changed?

Kotierk and NTI are not the only ones frustrated. Nunavut News/North received a two-page letter from former Department of Education staff member Shirley Tagalik who was the manager for Early Childhood and School Services Division beginning in 1999.

“I was hired mostly because I was the only Nunavut educator with a Masters in Education, specifically in curriculum and instruction,” she told Nunavut News/North in an e-mail, adding sometime in 2004 that division became Curriculum and School Services.

“When I left the department (in 2009), the dismantling of our division was already well underway.”

Jobs were moved from Arviat – where curriculum work was being done – to Iqaluit, explained Tagalik.

“But since there were not Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ)-qualified people there, (the director) shifted the job roles and began to dismantle IQ as well. Over the ensuing 8 years this has just been scaled up as QQ (Qallunaat Qaujimajatuqangit) staff do what they know and try to discredit what they don’t understand – IQ.

“Those of us who worked to develop a made-in-Nunavut curriculum have been marginalized and discredited. So we have been removed from being able to impact the system in any way – unless we are willing to run for government.”

Tagalik says there was a great deal of work that had been completed by 2009 – foundation documents, curriculum and other work – that never saw the light of day.

“I think that we were very close … We would have had one of the most exciting senior high offerings anywhere in Canada. We were pretty far along with junior high, but we needed to have more modules available in Inuktitut.”

Nunavut News/North requested an interview with Deputy Minister Kathy Okpik who has been in her position for 11 years, even as ministers have changed. The department instead offered Assistant Deputy Minister John MacDonald, who has been in his position since Oct. 2014.

“When you think about the 2008 (Education) Act, that piece of legislation would have very quickly overtaken previous strategies, documents or vision documents in terms of priority, in terms of allocation of resources,” said MacDonald.

“In 2009, as legislation came into force, frankly the department would have been – and was, I can certainly tell you that – it had to shift gears and focus on, first of all, the implementation schedule that was associated with the act. There were pieces coming into force, some of them vastly different from what would have been the case before.”

MacDonald says the department would have been busy developing new regulations, training, support and communications.

“It’s often lost, in terms of the general discourse, how much of an effort and what the magnitude of that type of project is. There are no other jurisdictions that have, from scratch, created an Education Act, certainly not in the last 50 to 60 years.”

As for previous curriculum which may have been developed and the apparent halt in progress, MacDonald said the time-frame fits with the department shifting focus, adding the momentum prior to 2008 would have been due to department staff working within already existing legislation inherited from the Northwest Territories.

MacDonald also said that this government’s focus is the early years and literacy.

Meanwhile, Tagalik is angry.

“What a travesty is being brought onto Inuit by the few gatekeepers who believe that the system they know must be superior when in fact it has had years to prove its worth and continues to fail our children on every front,” she said.


BREAKER: What about rights?

Qajaaq Ellsworth left his position as Quassa’s executive assistant largely over Bill 37, which he considers problemetic for many reasons he shared with Nunavut News/North over the course of two hours.

“As soon as I learned the proposal was going to be delaying the coming into force of ILPA (Inuit Language Protection Act) by at least ten years, I had serious concerns about that,” said Ellsworth.

“Also being aware that ever since any type of consultation’s been done with Inuit over the last 50 years – you can open up any report – all these big meetings Inuit have taken part in over many, many years … One of the top recommendations is always for education in our language.”

Ellsworth says he struggled to understand the department’s motivation to create a system ill-suited to Nunavut’s unique circumstances of language and culture and to bring forward the proposals in Bill 37.

“It seems to me the government is more interested in protecting their own butts than they are bringing forward positive change,” said Ellsworth.

He points to Quassa seeking and receiving delegation of authority for sections 8 and 9 of the Inuit Language Protection Act, for which the Minister of Culture and Heritage is normally responsible. Minister George Kuksuk signed Section 8 and 9, which relates to education, over to Quassa.

“There are provisions in the Inuit Language Protection Act for the education system. But the Inuit Language Protection Act is a stand-alone piece of legislation that deals specifically with the protection of Inuit languages,” said Ellsworth, adding dates were part of the Inuit Language  Protection Act not the Education Act.

“The fact that we have the guaranteed legal right to education in our own language is pretty substantial,” said Ellsworth, adding that should not be walked back.

MacDonald said the two acts needed to be working together.

“We can’t have conflicts in sections and timelines or implementation schedules. So we said, ‘In proposing amendments to the Education Act, let’s also propose amendments to the Inuit Language Protection Act.”

He adds: “With Bill 37, there was a vocal group that did not want to see Bill 37 go through. That’s their prerogative. If you’re looking at it from the lens of language protection and you don’t like the proposed changes that might be a way of looking at it. The intent was only to avoid a conflict. I would respectfully disagree with somebody thinking that we’re trying to create a loophole.”

As for Kotierk, she questions how it is a Grade 9 student in Nunavut who speaks Inuktitut walks into a Nunavut classroom and cannot speak Inuktitut because their teachers are not Inuktut speakers.

“How different is that from residential school … in our own homeland. How different is that,” she asked.


One man dead, another charged

May 19, 2017


Iqaluit RCMP found an unresponsive male at an Apex residence in the early morning hours of May 19.

RCMP and City of Iqaluit ambulance responded to reports at approximately 5 a.m., according to the news release.

“Local emergency personnel attended and rushed the 23-year-old male to the hospital. Shortly after arrival to the hospital, the male was pronounced deceased,” stated Sgt. David Lawson.

“The incident was treated as suspicious and the RCMP’s V Division Major Crime Unit took over the investigation with the assistance from the Forensic Identification Section.”

A 37-year male was arrested in relation to the incident shortly after noon the same day.

Police did not release details related to the suspicious circumstances.

Charges had not yet been laid by press time.

— Michele LeTourneau

New songs from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit

May 16, 2017
Emerging artists from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit joined up with Twin Flames musical duo to create six new works in March. From left, Lazarus Qattalik, Kenny Taptuna, Gordon Kaniak, Tooma Laisa, Twin Flames’ Chelsey June, Mary Itorcheak, Twin Flames’ Jaaji, Leanna Wilson and Corey Panika.
photo courtesy Qaggiavuut

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North West Company buys airline

May 6, 2017

The North West Company (NWC), which owns and operates Northern and Northmart stores across Nunavut, announced April 28 it has purchased an air carrier and is terminating its cargo contracts with the Kivalliq- and Manitoba-servicing carrier Calm Air. Read More