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Ukkusiaksalik Park opening postponed

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Jun 27/01) - The indefinite postponement of the opening of the territory's newest national park is being met with indifference by Kivalliq officials.

The park, to be named Ukkusiaksalik, for "place where you find stone for making pots," is located south of Repulse Bay at Wager Bay.

It was scheduled for opening on June 13, but it was postponed indefinitely.

David Aglu-kark, chief neg-otiator with the Kivalliq Inuit Association, which took part in negotiating an impact benefit agreement (IBA) for the park, said "Inuit have nothing to lose" if the park doesn't materialize.

The IBA between the government of Nunavut, the federal government and KIA gives Parks Canada control of the land in exchange for money and other benefits.

A spokesperson for Parks Canada said conflicting schedules caused the postponement.

"It's hard to get everyone together with people out on the land and politicians out for the summer," said Elizabeth Seale, field unit superintendent for Parks Canada in Nunavut.

Some sources say the park could have its opening ceremonies in September. But no one seems to be holding their breath.

"Whether it happens or not, and if it never becomes a park we really have nothing to lose," said Aglukark two weeks ago after the cancellation.

Aglukark said he couldn't release details of the IBA package until after the official signing at the inauguration.

He said Inuit will receive a "few million," and called it "a pretty good package."

A recent CBC report said Inuit will get $10 million and four jobs.

Levi Katokra, spokesperson for the hamlet of Repulse Bay, said last week he was indifferent about the park's opening.

"I doesn't matter to me if it opens or not," he said.

But in an initial interview two weeks ago, Katokra said there was some disappointment in the community at the inauguration's postponement.

Seale said Parks Canada proposed a national park for the Wager Bay area in 1978.

She said it is a prime candidate for a national park because it represents the biodiversity of the Kivalliq region.

Once the inauguration signing takes place the park will still need parliamentary approval. No new dates have been set.

There are 39 national parks in Canada.