OCTOBER 2018 IN REVIEW: Jordin Tootoo retires; plea for foster homes; barge blunder in Kitikmeot

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Former NHLer Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet and his dad, Barney Tootoo, take in the atmosphere of the morning skate for the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Man., on Oct. 19, 2018. Jordin announced his retirement from the NHL in October. photo courtesy Wheat Kings family

Tootoo retires from NHL
Brandon, Man.

Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet announced his retirement in Brandon, Man., on Oct. 19.

Tootoo was in Brandon to attended the Wheat Kings game that evening, ending his major junior and professional hockey career in the same community he launched it. Drafted 98th overall by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Tootoo, 38, played 723 games in the world’s top league, amassing 65 goals, 96 assists, 161 points and 1,010 penalty minutes during a 13-year career that also saw stops in Detroit, New Jersey and Chicago.

 

Franklin ship artifacts on display
Gjoa Haven/Cambridge Bay

More than 170 years after the Franklin expedition ships HMS Erebus and Terror sunk, artifacts found resting on the Arctic Ocean floor were recovered and temporarily displayed for Kitikmeot residents.

Nine items retrieved this summer from the ill-fated 1845 mission by British explorer Sir John Franklin were exhibited in Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay. Among the artifacts were a ceramic pitcher and a copper alloy navigational tool known as an artificial horizon roof, both discovered in the officer’s cabin on the lower deck of Erebus. Pulley wheels, a nail, a pin and rigging from the upper deck were also retrieved.

Gjoa Haven’s Sammy Kogvik was one of the people who got a look at the Erebus artifacts on display.

“It’s very exciting for me. I saw some other stuff that I’d never seen before,” he said.

 

Brian Tagalik and Pitsiulaaq Ashoona pitched a tent outside of the Nunavut legislative assembly to bring light to their chronic, invisible homelessness. NNSL file photo

Family camps in front of legislature
Iqaluit

After four years without a home, Brian Tagalik and Pitsiulaaq Ashoona pitched their tent outside of the Nunavut legislature to bring awareness to invisible homelessness in Iqaluit.

“It will give the public outcry that people need to realize the true scope of housing in Nunavut,” said Tagalik.

The two are common-law partners and are now sleeping outside with their two children, ages one and seven, until their situation is remedied.

Homelessness has imposed an unpredictability that controls their everyday lives, said Ashoona as she sat in the legislative assembly after a meeting with ministers and MLAs.

 

Inuktitut names added to map
Pangnirtung

The newest map of Auyuittuq National Park will have Inuktitut place names after years of consolidating local knowledge and consulting historical records.

The Inuktitut place names map team started its work in 2014, holding workshops with the park’s Inuit knowledge working group over two years, though it used data that is at least 130 years old.

The Inuit Heritage Trust shared data about the park from its earliest efforts to record place names dating back to 2010. It also used historical maps and information recorded by Parks Canada staff over the years.

“We took all that information and put it on one big map,” said Karen Routledge, a historian with the Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate for Parks Canada.

 

Plea for more foster homes
Nunavut

The Department of Family Services is putting a public call out for foster homes, in anticipation of future need. The department currently had 45 foster homes on the roster at the time but anticipated needing more homes for new or repeat cases, said deputy minister Yvonne Niego.

It’s the first time the department has made the appeal through the media, Niego said.

“This year we wanted to cast a wider net and inform families of what it would be like to host a child,” said Niego.

In total, there are 450 children in care, with 250 in foster homes across the territory. The department has enough homes to foster those children.

 

Final barge fails to reach Kugluktuk, Cam Bay
Cambridge Bay/Kugluktuk

Ice stopped the final sealift barge from reaching Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, and an airlift of most supplies was arranged as an alternative.

The Government of the Northwest Territories’ Marine Transportation Services (MTS) division came under heavy criticism from businesses and individuals in both communities for not sending the barge earlier in the season. The decision not to send vehicles by plane – leaving them in storage in Inuvik – also upset some customers.

 

Cannabis becomes legal
Nunavut

Nunavut, along with the rest of Canada, woke up to the reality of legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17.

Customers over the age of 19 could now order cannabis, and a Canada Post agent verifies the buyer’s age upon delivery at the post office.

The Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission is not planning to open its own stores and any licensing regime for dispensaries will be held off until 2019, said Dan Young, the GN’s director of Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis.

The department has an obligation to give municipalities the opportunity to reject dispensaries in their communities, but the details on how exactly a community will be able to deny a dispensary will be ironed out in a future regulatory regime, he said.

 

Faster but problem-plagued internet
Iqaluit

Following Northwestel’s October launch of its higher-speed Tamarmik Nunalitt network, some Iqaluit customers complained of large internet usage spikes that they couldn’t account for.

Some customers said the spikes occurred when their modems weren’t connected or when they were on holidays. A Northwestel spokesperson said the company was looking into the issue.

 

Baffinland production increase approved
Mittimatalik/Pond Inlet

With the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s support, the federal government approved Baffinland Iron Mines’ request to increase production to six million tonnes of iron ore at the Mary River mine in 2019, up from 4.2 million tonnes. The Nunavut Impact Review Board had recommended against the increase, citing environmental and wildlife concerns.

The news coincided with the announcement of a renegotiated Inuit Impact Benefit agreement between Baffinland and the QIA, promising greater payouts, better training and improved environmental monitoring.

 

Pat Angnakak

Stripped of portfolios, Angnakak resigns
Iqaluit

Premier Joe Savikataaq, citing a “serious breach of cabinet confidentiality in the legislative assembly,”

relieved Pat Angnakak of her Nunavut Housing Corporation and Qulliq Energy Corporation ministerial portfolios.

The following day in the legislative assembly, Angnakak denied breaching confidentiality, arguing that she had consulted with the premier’s staff before publicly revealing draft amendments to the GN’s staff housing policy in response to an MLA’s question. Angnakak said it wasn’t the first time that Savikataaq had “taken direction from others rather than leading, himself,” and added that the GN needs greater transparency, including greater accountability from deputy ministers.

 

NTI to study self-government
Nunavut

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) announced it’s going to look at the prospect of Inuit self-government.

The 25th anniversary of the Nunavut Agreement served as a reminder to NTI president Aluki Kotierk, as well as regional Inuit leaders, that many important aspects of the Nunavut Agreement remain to be implemented.

“Over a number of years there’s been some disappointment, for instance, in whether Article 32 is being used by the territorial government when it’s designing policies that relate to social and cultural programs,” said Kotierk, referring to the territorial governments attempts to revise the Education Act and develop Inuit employment plans, for example.

“Inuit organizations have felt there’s been resistance to work together on things to make things better for Inuit.”