July 2019 in review: Contaminants improperly stored; tiny homes planned; Kugluktuk residents protest against RCMP

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A look back at 2019’s top stories, month by month.

Contaminants left improperly stored

Niore Iqalukjuak, a former mayor of Arctic Bay, says these rusting barrels at the former Nanisivik airport contain dry chemicals for use in fire extinguishers.
photo courtesy of Niore Iqalukjuak

Former Arctic Bay mayor Niore Iqalukjuak brought attention to the state of rusting and leaking barrels of fuel laying on the ground and decaying bags of chemicals at the old Nanisivik airport, about 30 km from Arctic Bay by road.

John Hawkins, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, didn’t attempt to defend the government’s handling of the hazardous waste since the Nanisivik airport shut down in 2011.

It’s not acceptable,” Hawkins said. “To be totally honest it did fall off the radar for some years… We’re advancing the plan to fix it.”

He didn’t have a firm timeline for when the hazardous waste would be removed.

Cambridge Bay to introduce tiny homes

The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay revealed plans to design a subdivision consisting of tiny homes, each encompassing 450 to 500 square feet and shaped like an iglu.

The project, which has obtained federal funding, was in the design phase. It’s known locally as Qaggiq – a place of community renewal and celebration.

Initially, about a dozen tiny homes, with a price tag below $200,000, will be built within the next two years, said Marla Limousin, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer. Cambridge Bay’s community plan envisions a subdivision of 15 to 30 tiny homes further into the future, but more funding will be needed.

Kugluktuk residents protest against RCMP

Close to 25 residents in Kugluktuk called upon the police to be more responsive to complaints as they protested outside the RCMP detachment on July 24.

For about half an hour, community members held signs and chanted “serve and protect.”

Residents Quentin Norberg and Ron Tologanak said they feel that crime in their community has been worse since liquor restrictions were lifted via a plebiscite that took effect in December 2018, but they said police aren’t always responsive to complaints about crime.

A community meeting with the RCMP, attracting approximately 100 people, was subsequently held on Aug. 2. Some attendees demanded that the police put more officers in Kugluktuk.

Reaching the century mark

Gjoa Haven’s Jonathan Hiqiniq holds his great, great granddaughter Allison. Hiqiniq turned 100 years old on July 27. photo courtesy of Bernice Tavalok

Gjoa Haven’s Jonathan Hiqiniq turned 100 years on July 27 and he couldn’t believe it himself, his youngest daughter said.

“He used to tell us that he thought he’d never come to 100 years old,” said Susie Hiqiniq. “He’s so amazed today that he’s still around.”

Jonathan has close to 80 grandchildren, Susie estimated. He also has great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren. He and his wife Martha, who passed away a few years ago, had 13 children of their own. Seven of them are still alive.

Jonathan was raised on the land and came to Gjoa Haven when there was “just a little store and a couple of houses,” said Bernice Tavalok, Jonathan’s granddaughter.

Military year pushes Indigenous youth to excel

Rayjean Palluq signed up for the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont. He graduated from the one-year course June 7.

“Overall, it was an amazing year. You learn so much. There’s crazy highs and there’s some hardships. You meet all kinds of people,” he said.

The program was designed to provide students of Indigenous heritage with individual, group and cultural experiences that will help build leadership and life skills, explained Second Lieutenant (2Lt) Mark Emmerson, assistant public affairs officer at the college.

“The ALOY program includes sports, field trips, leadership development, military training, cultural support activities and individual learning plans. Through these learning plans, participants take part in individual and small-group tutorials for pre-university (non-credit) and first-year university courses,” Emmerson stated by e-mail.

Participants were enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces for one year as an Officer Cadet and received free tuition and books.

24-page book unveiled by Nunastar Properties Inc

On July 7 Nunastar Properties Inc. threw a couple of free community events. Families were invited to a BBQ. There was entertainment by Aasiva and Looee Arreak between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. During that time, for the 50th anniversary of the Astro Hill development, Nunastar Properties unveiled their 24-page book. The book which was called A Vantage Point to History illuminated Astro Hill’s earliest days in the community’s consciousness, and ongoing development.

The publication included a brief biography of Nakasuk “the philosopher guide,” as well as the ship Effie M. Morrissey’s captain, Robert Bartlett, the seafaring escort for the Americans’ “hunt for an Arctic airbase.”

The company stated in the book that it’s hard to overstate the positive economic impact of Astro Hill in the 50 years since 1969.

“Estimates suggest that over 3,000 people have worked in its residential, commercial or hospitality operations. Approximately 750 of these were first time jobs, launching many careers. Dozens of local businesses were created by former employees who got their start on Astro Hill,” stated the company.

The book outlined current and future Nunastar plans, based on a 25-year master plan, to further develop the property.

“The plan ensures Astro Hill will continue to be a major contributor to the growth of a dynamic, modern community that improves the quality of life for residents and guests,” it stated.

Taxis to charge in advance for fares

No cash, no service – that was the new rule implemented by Iqaluit’s taxi companies on July 15. It was due to the high number of customers not paying for their taxi rides. Caribou Tuktu Cabs drivers, along with the handful of small independent companies, decided ask customers to pay the $7 fare in advance.

The move was supported by the City of Iqaluit’s Bylaw 590, the Taxi Bylaw, which stated, “The taxi driver may request the passenger to pay the fare in advance.”

“It’s gotten out of control,” said Caribou Cab’s owner Danny Savard. “A customer took a driver for three rides. Three stops. She got out and she said, ‘I asked for a white driver. I’m not paying you,'” he explained.

The new dispatch system, which included a tablet in every Caribou Cab car, also had a video and sound recording system. That move, said Savard, is helping resolve disagreements between customers and drivers. And it will help with oversight to ensure drivers are paid.

Savard said the number of complaints against drivers have lessened since the tablets were installed. Valid complaints, supported by video footage, amounted to an estimated 50 per cent.

“We’re tightening up the screws all the way around in the industry,” said Savard.

-with files from Rajnesh Sharma