Reflecting on the year that was 2018, Nunavut made progress in many important ways but will stand out for the leaders who fell and those who looked to rise up.
It will be remembered most as the year a Nunavut premier – and elder statesman – was ousted. As one of the leaders who negotiated the Nunavut Agreement, Paul Quassa’s public shaming as an “autocrat” with questionable integrity stirred anyone with an interest in Nunavut.
Our eyes were seared by the contrasting images of MLAs shamed by the process and that of new Premier Joe Savikataaq beaming with pride at the elder’s takedown.
The later takedown of Health Minister Pat Angnakak for allegedly breaching cabinet confidentiality despite consulting with the premier led the legislative assembly to censure the premier and cabinet.
In January, we were saddened to see former MP and MLA Jack Anawak fall, pleading guilty to a second incident of impaired driving, which resulted in a sentence of 30 days in jail.
In contrast, Iglulik sexual abuser Ike Haulli left a path of misery for his victims, with a high likelihood they’ll never receive compensation from the disgraced businessman.
And we praise the judge who rejected the lenient sentence offered by both the prosecution and defence requested in favour of a longer term for former Sanikiluaq teacher Johnny Meeko, who used his position to sexually abuse children over 35 years.
Others moved the territory forward.
The year started with the swearing-in of 24-year-old Ningeolaa Killiktee as mayor of Kimmirut.
In February, The Jerry Cans rocked the Junos stage, and brought with them pop singer Riit, Trade-Offs frontman Josh Qaumariaq, throat singer Avery Keenainak and Northern Haze member James Ungalaq.
Kelly Fraser and Tanya Tagaq were also nominated.
In Iqaluit, the women’s shelters recovered from a tumultuous time after a financial scandal involving the former executive director. Meanwhile, the city’s food centre recovered from its own financial crisis.
In July, De Beers’ purchase of the Chidliak diamond project between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung raised hopes for another resource project in Nunavut. More good news for mining came with the green light from Ottawa for a water licence for Agnico Eagle’s Whale Tail pit north of Baker Lake and the steady progression of the company’s Meliadine project near Rankin Inlet.
On the flipside, the Kitikmeot recoiled at the federal government’s rejection of the Grays Bay Port and Road Project. Then the territorial government pulled its support of the project, too.
Those in the Kitikmeot and many Nunavummiut mourned the loss of Louie Kamookak, best known for his contributions to the discovery of the lost Franklin ships, but also for his work keeping Inuit cultural knowledge alive and sharing it with the next generation.
In the Kivalliq, friends mourned the deaths of two men – from Arviat and Naujaat – killed polar bears last summer, the first such deaths in 18 years.
In 2018, Nunavut couldn’t find teachers to hire, the Kitikmeot didn’t get its final barge sealift, Jordin Tootoo retired from the NHL, and Kenojuak Ashevak set a Canadian auction record for her Enchanted Owl.
Oh, and Nunavummiut were free to consume cannabis. For some, this was the only news that mattered.
For 2019, we wish our readers all the best, and dare to predict little. After a year where a Nunavut premier was removed from office, it’s possible it could happen again. We could also get a new MP, and even a new prime minister.
Or none of the above. Anything is possible.
Happy New Year!