Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Sanikiluaq travels through time

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Sanikiluaq (Jan 09/06) - Ferris Bueller was taking his day off in theatres, the Montreal Canadians beat the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup final and a town called Chernobyl had become infamous worldwide.

The year was 1986 and the hamlet of Sanikiluaq put a plan in place. Letters were collected from all over the community and locked in a steel box, to be opened on Jan. 1, 2006.

NNSL Photo/graphic

The grand opening of the time capsule at Nuiyak school in Sanikiluaq. Twenty years ago, residents wrote letters, which they read on Jan. 1. 2006. Johnny Meeko used bolt cutters while John Jamieson steadied the chain to find out what had been tucked away for two decades. - photo courtesy of John Jamieson

The large steel box had been tucked away in a storage space in Nuiyak school - bound with a thick chain - for 20 years. On New Year's Day, the community gathered to crack the lock and see what was inside.

When it was closed, there were only 350 residents in Sanikiluaq. When the box was opened, the community numbered 790 people.

In the box were more than 300 items, letters and packages. The capsule had been sealed as a part of the grand opening of Nuiyak school.

The school is still standing, much to the surprise of "The Great Sam Kavik."

The lofty title is how Kavik signed his letter when he was 23 years old.

He didn't think residents would find the box. He thought that whoever survived the Third World War might dig it up.

"I remember thinking (when I was writing the letter) that I wouldn't make it. I thought there was going to be World War III and maybe somebody else might find it," said Kavik.

Luckily for Kavik - and the rest of us - his dire prediction was off the mark. There were no post-apocalyptic radioactive mutants to open the box, just his kids.

At the time, he didn't expect to have children, but now he has five and was thrilled to share his envelope with them.

Kavik's sister Lucy Sala was 19 years old when the chain was locked. She had forgotten that she had even put a letter in the box.

"It was signatures from people in the community. I didn't expect it," said Sala.

One of the letters had the youth shaking their heads. It contained a one dollar and a two dollar bill.

The kids learned that there was a time before the loonie and toonie.

After opening the box and sharing the contents, the residents did to only logical thing. They prepared new letters for 20 years from now. On Jan. 1, 2026, at 3 p.m., the box will be reopened.

"I put in a letter for my kids, with pictures," said Sala.

Deborah Thomas has been in Sanikiluaq as the recreation director for 18 months.

She didn't have a letter waiting for her, but made sure that the recreation director 20 years from now will have something in the capsule.

"I wrote several, one for the rec director in 2026. It was for them to remember that despite the frustration and the lack of funding, they are making a difference," said Thomas.

Letter from the past

Excerpt from Zaek Novalinga's letter in the time capsule, written on Nov. 6, 1986. Novalinga died on Dec. 21, 2001:

"Our new school was just completed this year and we have been waiting for the member of our executive council members who was suppose to come here to open the new school officially but they have to cancel their visit four times this year they were scheduled to come in tomorrow and they cancel the visit again.

This time local council and committees decided to open the new school officially tomorrow at 2 o'clock in the afternoon with or without the Minister of Education...

I hope the Regional Government Offices will work with you more closely in your time in the year of 2006.

By the time you read this letter I will be 67 years old pensioner if I am still around. Could you let me know you have read this letter. I'm sure that I will be here in Sanikiluaq doing my time as an old man.