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News Briefs: Monday, July 4, 2011

Five fires out of control

As of Thursday afternoon, there were five fires burning out of control in the NWT, according to Judy McLinton, communications officer for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The North Slave and South Slave regions each had two of the out of control fires, while the Sahtu region had one.

There were 42 fires burning across the territory, with 32 being monitored. The others were deemed not to be a threat.

McLinton said the 30 NWT firefighters recently sent down to Alberta to help out with fires there returned June 21.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Noise bylaw amendment

Hay River town council has accepted in principle a change to its noise bylaw to exempt the operation of emergency, enforcement and town equipment and vehicles.

The amendment was accepted at the council meeting on June 27.

- Paul Bickford

MOU on university models

Education ministers of the three northern territories signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on June 30 to explore approaches for university development in the North.

"Signing this MOU takes the first step to bring our governments' shared goal of university development in Canada's North to reality," said NWT Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jackson Lafferty.

To undertake the work, the three governments will form a tri-territorial committee to develop options on how to move forward with university development in the North. It will work to advance discussions with Ottawa on investments to support the idea.

The committee will include two representatives from each territorial government and an appointed chair.

It will produce a discussion and options paper this summer for ministerial consideration.

- Paul Bickford

MLA attends mining conference

This past week Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya attended the International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The conference, which ran from June 26 to 29, focused on sustainability, current trends in energy development and the relationship between the energy and mining sector and First Nations groups.

Yakeleya said it's important developers respect the land and those who live on it.

"If not, they're in for a rough ride," he said.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Contract awarded for fire hall design

Hay River

The Town of Hay River has awarded a contract for the design of a new fire hall.

At its June 27 meeting, council gave the contract - valued at $295,430 plus GST - to Stantec Consulting Ltd. of Yellowknife based on a recommendation from town administration.

The motion to award the contract passed unanimously despite Coun. Andrew Cassidy expressing concern about incomplete information from town administration for what he called a "fairly heavy" decision.

Cassidy noted council did not know the scoring for the seven proposals or who was on the evaluation team.

The councillor said, in the future, he would like more opportunity to go through information for such decisions and consult with members of the community.

- Paul Bickford

Fort Good Hope elder dies

Radilih Koe'/Fort Good Hope

Fort Good Hope elder Mary Barnaby died Tuesday morning in Inuvik. Barnaby was well known for her traditional Sahtu artwork and taught moosehide tanning at Dechinta Bush University last summer. She was scheduled to teach another course next spring.

"What made her so valuable as a teacher was the incredibly high standard she held for herself and held for everyone else," said Kyla Kakfwi Scott, program manager at the university.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Smith gets bike helmet bylaw

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Town of Fort Smith now has a bylaw requiring bicycle riders to wear helmets on public property.

The bylaw was passed by town council on June 23.

It also makes parents or guardians of anyone less than 16 years of age liable to a fine if the young person is permitted to ride a bike without a helmet.

Under the bylaw, the fine is $10 for a first offence, $25 for a second offence, and $50 for third and subsequent offences.

Mayor Janie Hobart said Fort Smith is not the first community in the NWT to have such a bicycle helmet bylaw, noting Inuvik has a similar one.

Hobart said the town has already started an education process on the need for bicyclists to wear helmets through bike rodeos and positive reinforcement with coupons for small gifts.

"We don't want to be out there all the time hammering people for fines," she said. "The big thing is we want compliance."

- Paul Bickford

Canada Day in North Slave

Wekweeti/Snare Lakes

Canada Day celebrations kicked off at 3 p.m. in Wekweeti, according to SAO Grace Angel.

There was a community barbecue and games for kids and adults alike. Residents took part in a balloon toss, potato-sack races and tug of war. In the evening there were traditional handgames.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Stroke of luck

Tetlit' Zheh/Fort McPherson

Longtime Fort McPherson resident Peter Kay Sr. won $10,000 June 25 after striking it big playing TV bingo in Inuvik.

The event was held as a fundraiser for Inuvik's non-profit daycare Tot Spot, and the daycare's program co-ordinator Holly Smallwood said Kay must have been extra lucky that night.

"There was a lot of people playing, more than we've seen for mega bingos," she said.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Celebrating another school year

Tsiigehtchic/Arctic Red River

Chief Paul Niditchie School wrapped up another year of classes. To celebrate, they hosted a school barbecue and graduation for D.A.R.E program participants June 22, followed by a graduation and awards ceremony June 23.

Three kindergarten students and one Grade 9 student, Sylvia Norman, took part in the graduation ceremony.

At the awards ceremony, nine of the school's 31 students were recognized for having attendance at 90 per cent or higher, while Grade 4 student Jacintha Kendi took home awards for top marks in math, science, language arts, as well as a citizenship award.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Star students recognized in Tuktoyaktuk


On June 24, Mangilaluk School presented 138 awards to its students, according to teacher Janie Jones, for everything ranging from excellence in Inuvialuktun and reading to sports and extracurricular activities.

Jones said one of the highlights was the Ryan Walker attendance awards, given to students who attended at least 90 per cent of their classes.

Last year, the school gave out 34 of the awards. This year the number rose to 55.

Ryan Walker, a Mangilaluk School graduate, was on hand to present the awards, which are named in his honour because he graduated with 100 per cent attendance.

Eighteen students were also named to the honour roll for having an academic average of 80 per cent or higher, attendance of 90 per cent or higher and showing positive school citizenship.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Free hotdogs from the RCMP

Hay River

Members of the RCMP detachment in Hay River will be cooking up and handing out free hotdogs at lunch time on July 8.

The annual hotdog barbecue will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on the lawn of the NWT Centennial Library.

- Paul Bickford

Bridge under repair in Cambridge Bay

The bridge from Cambridge Bay to the community's hunting grounds was to be repaired and was expected to reopen on July 1, according to the hamlet's senior administrative officer.

Steve King said Jivko Engineering from Yellowknife came in June 29 to start fixing the bridge that was closed on June 24 due to high water levels in the river.

"The plan was to lift the end of the bridge, to reinforce the ground underneath and to lay the bridge in place again," King said.

"The bridge structure itself hasn't been damaged," he added. "It's just the erosion underneath the bridge supports that caused it to be unstable. All underneath one of the supports on this side of town, it was completely washed out."

King said this is the first time this has happened.

-Jeanne Gagnon

Five sled dogs put down in Arctic Bay after attack on child

Five sled dogs in Arctic Bay have been killed after they attacked a two-year-old boy at the beginning of June.

"The child is back in Arctic Bay, he's doing better and has no permanent damage except scarring to his face, legs and arms," said RCMP Sgt. Greg Sutherland.

The dogs got loose and were roaming the community when they attacked the boy.

Const. Stephan Kilabuk said RCMP in Arctic Bay helped the hamlet bylaw officer catch the dogs.

All the dogs were tested for rabies and were put down after the test results came back negative.

No charges are to be laid

-Emily Ridlington

Boy injured by bullet fragment

A nine-year-old boy in Cape Dorset was injured, on June 29 after being accidentally hit with a bullet fragment while playing, said police.

Five young males found a live .22 calibre bullet while playing on at about 4:30 p.m., the RCMP said in a press release. It adds an eight-year-old youth began hitting the bullet with a rock, causing it to explode.

"One of the youths was struck in the thigh with a fragment discharged by the explosion," Sgt. Greg Sutherland said. "The victim was treated at the local nursing station and is expected to make a full recovery from his injury."

The investigation is ongoing but no charges are pending at this time. -Jeanne Gagnon

Liquor seizure in Pang

Two people in Pangnirtung were arrested for the illegal possession of liquor after police seized 14 mickeys of vodka on June 26.

"The liquor and drug seizures help prevent a spike in calls for assistance from the RCMP," said Sgt. Greg Sutherland in a press.

The pair, a man and woman are schedualed to appear at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Pangnirtung on August 30.

-Emily Ridlington

Airport runway to get short-term fix

Kimmirut/Lake Harbour

Work will soon begin on the airport runway in the community, said the senior administrative officer.

"It's a Band-Aid and we would rather have a better, longer runway," said Akeego Ikkidluak.

The focus this summer is to redo the surface and put in a new electrical system.

The resurfacing of the runway could take up to two years.

After that the government said it is considering doing a preliminary study on the feasibility of relocating the airport.

- Emily Ridlington

Traditional tool-making program a success: SAO

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

A number of Cape Dorset men learned how to make ulus, harpoons, knives and other traditional tools during an eight-week program earlier this year.

Senior administrative officer Olayuk Akesuk said eight to 10 men participated in a traditional tool-making program this past February, March and April, the first time it was offered.

"I think it was very successful. We're going to try and do it again," he said.

He added one of the program's goals was to get young people in the community involved in traditional tool-making.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Off to camp

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

A number of cadets from the 3019 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Rankin Inlet were to participate in the annual cadet summer camp in Whitehorse last week.

The 2011 camp has special significance for the Rankin corps as cadet Warrant Officer Cassandra Gordon will be the first Inuit sergeant major employed at the training facility this summer.

A number of Junior Canadian Rangers from the Kivalliq are also expected to be at the camp last week to participate in an enhanced training session.

Junior Rangers from 37 communities across all three territories and Atlin, B.C., were expected to attend the session from June 27 to July 1 at the camp. The young Rangers were to take part in activities such as abseiling, swift-water rescue, rafting, marksmanship, trapping, woodsmanship and a Canada Day parade.

- Darrell Greer

Water, water, everywhere

Ausuittuq/Grise Fiord

There has been an increase in the amount of water during this spring's thaw.

"This is the first time I've seen Grise Fiord with this many streams and rivers," said Mayor Meeka Kiguktak.

She said for several weeks, at the end of May and the beginning of June, there was flooding surrounding the power plant, under and around the Co-op store.

The hamlet's road maintainer put in many hours of overtime and had to wait several days for everything to dry up.

"There was water in some places we usually don't see streams going down from the hill," Kiguktak said.

She and the road maintainer attribute the additional water to the large amounts of snow that fell during the year.

- Emily Ridlington

Community freezer delayed

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

Kugaaruk will have to wait another year to get its community freezer as negotiations between the territorial government and the hamlet failed to reach an agreement before the sealift deadline, stated the hamlet's senior administrative officer.

Andre Larabie stated via e-mail the hamlet and Nunavut's Department of Economic Development and Transportation worked on funding for a new community freezer but they ran out of time.

"However, due to the tight deadline for the barge and the coast guard, we were not able to complete our negotiation. Therefore, we have decided to push the installation of the community freezer to next year," he stated.

He added the hamlet has a reserved lot for a community freezer.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Spring cleanup


The community of Arviat was completing its annual spring cleanup last week. The cleanup started June 20 and was to end June 30.

A number of special events were scheduled to be held to encourage participation in the cleanup, including a posterdrawing contest for the kids.

Adults received a prize ticket for every bag of garbage, or pile of garbage equal to a bag, they collected during the cleanup. The tickets were entered in a draw held at the community hall on July 1 for a pair of First Air tickets.

- Darrell Greer

Work in harbour restarts for season


Work has once again begun on the small craft harbour.

"We are anxious for it to be ready," said Moe Keenainak, assistant senior administrative officer with the hamlet.

He said workers with Tower Arctic got back to work on the project at the beginning of June.

They are re-doing the containment berm and dredging the basin. Once the sealift comes in, the channel will be dredged.

Keenainak said the hamlet has not been told when the project will be completed.

- Emily Ridlington

Canada Day activities for all

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven residents will have plenty of activities to choose from on Canada Day.

Recreation co-ordinator trainee Kathy Keknek said they'll have a parade led by the fire truck, a scavenger hunt for kids as well as golf and two-on-two basketball tournaments. Residents can also enjoy the free community barbecue, traditional clothing and cake decorating contests, tug-of-war, tea boiling and bannock-making, for instance, she added.

"There's between 250 people and 400 that come to the Canada Day (activities)," she said. "They're pretty excited because Canada Day and Nunavut Day come only once a year. They can't wait."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Supporting students

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI) principal Jesse Payne said the school owes thanks to the local business community, individuals, government departments and various organizations for their continued support of the annual awards ceremony to honour students for their achievements during the school year.

"These students have all accomplished something special in their young lives, and it's important we acknowledge their efforts and reward them for their perseverance, dedication and hard work," said Payne.

"If it weren't for the support we receive, we wouldn't be able to do justice to their efforts."

- Darrell Greer