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News Briefs: Monday, June 11, 2012
Nahanni Butte evacuated

Nahanni Butte was evacuated on June 9 because of high water levels and the risk of severe flooding.

Helicopters and airplanes were used to evacuate the majority of the community's 100 residents. They were transported to Fort Simpson, where the recreation centre had been turned into an emergency shelter.

Water levels on the Liard River began to rise significantly on June 7. At Fort Liard, where no evacuation was required as of Sunday morning, the river level rose to just under 10 metres from approximately 6.5 metres, according to data from Environment Canada's website.

As of June 10 the ferries at both the Liard River and the Ndulee crossing were closed due to rising water levels and debris.

Guilty plea to arson

A 19-year-old man in Fort Smith has pleaded guilty to a charge of arson in connection with a fire that heavily damaged a building in Conibear Park on Jan. 1.

Lyndon Tyrell McKay entered the plea in Fort Smith Territorial Court on May 30.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 16.

The fire basically destroyed the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce building, formerly a visitor information centre.

The building, which was removed after being deemed a safety hazard as a result of the fire, had been used for community events, including the South Slave Friendship Festival.

- Paul Bickford

Erasmus re-elected

Bill Erasmus will be sworn in as Dene National Chief and Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nation at the 42nd Dene National Assembly in Whati on July 3.

Erasmus was the only nominee for the position when nominations closed on June 2 at 5 p.m. and he has held the position of Dene National Chief since he was first elected in 1987.

- Lyndsay Herman

High forest fire risk

Four forest fires were considered out of control in the NWT, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as of 9:15 a.m. on June 7. One was located in the North Slave region, two were located in the South Slave region and one was in the Deh Cho region.

Three additional fires were under control or held in the North Slave region. No highways were closed due to fire hazards as of press deadline but the department warned that the situation could change quickly.

The department has recorded 21 forest fires in 2012.

- Lyndsay Herman

Smith seniors plan annual meeting

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Fort Smith Seniors Society will hold its annual general meeting on June 19.

The agenda includes an election of officers, financial and other reports, and a discussion of organizational bylaws.

The annual meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Seniors Room at the Fort Smith Rec Centre.

- Paul Bickford

New skills award announced


Aboriginal youth working or studying in the forestry sector now have a new skills award available to assist with the cost of their endeavours.

"We are delighted to offer this award as part of our desire to attract more aboriginal youth to the revitalized forest products industry," stated Catherine Cobden, the interim president and CEO of the Forest Products of Canada in a press release. "There are now huge career opportunities for those with the skills, knowledge and the desire to work in the sector."

The winner receives $2,500, travel to Ottawa to receive the award, and two nights accommodation.

- Lyndsay Herman

Smith's Landing to hold two-day workshop

Thebacha/Fort Smith

Smith's Landing First Nation (SLFN) will be holding a two-day constitution and policy development workshop this month.

The workshop will be held on June 15 and 16 in the Alberta community of Fort Fitzgerald, about 22 km south of Fort Smith.

The topics to be discussed include draft constitution, election code and financial code.

SLFN has reserve land in northern Alberta. Many of the band's members live in Fort Fitzgerald, in Fort Smith and on reserve land just south of the NWT/Alberta border in an area informally called Bordertown.

- Paul Bickford

Bannock making at jamboree


Spring is in full swing in Ulukhaktuk and the hamlet is celebrating with a jamboree from June 15 to 17, said Joanne Ogina, recreation co-ordinator for Ulukhaktuk.

Ogina said between 250 and 300 people usually attend the annual carnival to participate in both traditional and contemporary events including bannock making, seal skinning, fish filleting, drum dancing and square dancing.

She said the most popular activity is the day trip to the traditional spring camping area on the sea ice. Travel time is about half an hour by snowmobile or sled, depending on ice conditions, and it's a site used for eider duck hunting and fishing, she said.

Jamboree preparations have been in the waorks for over a month to ensure everything is prepared and the funds are available to run a successful event.

"First we do our donation campaign," said Ogina. "We do fundraising via bingos, raffles and then I also get our request letters done up usually in April, beginning of April, and we usually get a good, between $5,000 and $7,000 in donations."

After that, Ogina co-ordinates efforts to ensure fire pits are ready, wood is chopped, food is purchased, events are scheduled and prizes are picked out.

Ogina said the hamlet office is accepting donations of game meat, fish, duck, or other traditional foods for the carnival.

- Lyndsay Herman

Harvest draw winners


The Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee announced the winners of the May 2012 Harvest Draw on their Facebook page June 1.

Diane Dillon, Shauna Charlie, Dean Arey, Joe Arey, Clarence Kawana, and Danny Gordon Jr., each won 75 litres of gas for completing their May questionnaires.

The committee draws names each month from those who completed a harvest data questionnaire that month. They increased the number of winners from four to six at a May 10 regular meeting.

The AHTC also stated it will hold another draw for completed June harvest data questionnaires on June 30.

- Lyndsay Herman

Fog foils barbecue


The darkest tan competition is a major event at the Paulatuk End-of-Spring barbecue but the recent weather won't be giving anyone an advantage.

The barbecue was cancelled on June 3 due to cold temperatures and fog, according to Paulatuk recreation co-ordinator Lily Ann Green, but she confirmed the barbecue will happen once the weather improves. Green said another popular event at the barbecue is the goose call competition.

"What people do is they sign up ... and goose call, whether it be a Canada Goose, a Snow Goose or a yellow-leg or whatever," she said. "(The competitors) are hidden so that the judges don't see them but they hear them. They're marked from one to five, five being the highest and one being the lowest. We tally up the scores and we find our winner that way."

Green said it's hard to predict how many people will attend the festivities as many of them are still out on the land hunting or fishing. Anyone is welcome to bring char or goose to cook on grills that will be running all day. Smokies and fresh corn will be made available by the hamlet, she said.

- Lyndsay Herman

In honour of elders


The elders of Aklavik will have a busy week this week as the hamlet celebrates and supports a very important generation of people.

"What we and other organizations have done is come together and plan a full week of events for the elders in our community," said Gladys Edwards, organizer of the Elders Awareness Week. "(The goal is) to bring awareness to the different forms of abuse that some of our elders have gone through or are going through and it's a chance for them to ... get together."

The week will include presentations from the RCMP, the elders' day program and a group of enthusiastic preschoolers. The first event of the week is a sing-a-long at the Joe Greenland Centre at 4 p.m., after the church service.

Moose Kerr School has invited elders to the school on the afternoon of June 13 to read with students and be shown around the school and classrooms by the students.

Edwards said a picnic outside the Joe Greenland Centre will be the finale to Elders Awareness Week on June 15 if the weather permits.

Edwards said three home support workers are available in the community to help elders get to any of the events and the Susie Husky Health and Social Services Centre has a van available for transportation. She encourages any elders who need rides to call the health centre or the Joe Greenland Centre to make arrangements.

- Lyndsay Herman

Canol Heritage Trail youth hike

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

Brave youth from the Sahtu region will embark on a challenging and culturally enlightening journey along the Canol Heritage Trail during the week of July 14 as part of the seventh Annual Youth Leaders Hike.

"The importance of this hike is to get the youth out on the land ... For them to explore the land and talk about the many, many opportunities that lie before them," said Norman Yakeleya, Sahtu MLA and a hike leader. "(The land) is very significantly, culturally important to the Shuhtagot'ine and also to the community of Norman Wells and Tulita."

"I think for the youth, it helps them see the benefits to challenging themselves physically and mentally and the rewards that can come from that ... and being so connected to their land and their culture," said Tia Hannah, co-ordinator and youth leader for the Youth Leaders Hike.

Interested youth can sign up by contacting Yakeleya or Hannah or by visiting the upcoming Facebook page.

- Lyndsay Herman

Rankin Inlet constable found dead

Many in the community of Rankin Inlet are reeling following the sudden death of RCMP Community Const. Adrian (Ip) Pilakapsi over the weekend.

Pilakapsi's body was discovered during the early morning hours of Saturday, June 9.

RCMP have scheduled a press conference to today (Monday) in Iqaluit.

The young constable was highly regarded in Rankin Inlet after being one of the first group of aboriginal community constables to graduate from the RCMP training academy in Regina in April 2011. Pilakapsi, 25, spent a great deal of time with local youth during his year with the Rankin Inlet detachment of the RCMP.

Although having full powers of arrest as a community constable, much of the focus of Pilakapsi's duties was to engage in active crime prevention and build positive relationships between communities and the RCMP.

He also provided tactical, enforcement and investigational support to his fellow RCMP officers when needed.

Pilakapsi often spoke of his career with the RCMP as being his dream job, adding he wanted to be with the force one day for as long as he could remember growing up.

See Wednesday's Kivalliq News for further details.

- NNSL staff

Terry Audla new ITK president

Terry Audla is the new president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, winning the vote by a landslide last week.

The Iqaluit resident was elected to head the national Inuit association during its annual general meeting in Kuujjuaq, Que., on June 6 with 12 votes, surpassing Robert Watt, who received just one. Audla was elected on the first ballot.

"I am very happy and humbled to have been selected," he said. "I will try and work hard to be a good successor to Mary Simon. I hope I will receive the support I need to get to know what I need to do to within each of the regions."

Audla will head ITK for the next three years.Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie congratulated Audla on his win in a press release.

"I know he is a competent leader and (he) will provide steady direction for ITK," she stated.

She added Audla resigned as chief executive officer at NTI upon his election. Arthur Yuan, NTI's director of legal services, will act as CEO until a replacement is found.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Narwhal ban lifted in all but one community


The international trade restrictions on narwhal products has been removed by the federal government for all Nunavut communities except Grise Fiord, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. announced on June 5.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans issued a report on May 31 which found the narwhal hunt to be sustainable, and thus removed the trade restrictions on 12 of the 13 Nunavut communities affected by the ban, stated NTI in a press release. It adds only Grise Fiord continues to be affected as Ottawa is lacking scientific information on the abundance or distribution of narwhals in Jones and Smith sounds, as well as the Parry Channel.

The removal of the trade restrictions is retroactive to 2010. The federal government had announced in late 2010 it would only issue export permits under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species for narwhal tusks harvested from Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Iglulik and Pond Inlet.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Leaving Cape Dorset

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

A new face will sit behind the principal's desk at Peter Pitseolak School in Cape Dorset this fall.

Principal Ed Sheppard is leaving the position for personal reasons as of June 29, heading back to Lewisporte, N.L. Current vice-principal Mike Soares, who will replace him in the fall, said he's very excited to take on the new challenge.

"Ed Sheppard is a master educator. To draw a sports analogy, he is like a Gordie Howe of school principals. He's got all the moves," said Soares. Howe is a professional hockey player who played at the elite level well past his physical prime, retiring from the NHL at age 52.

"Serving under him this past year was wonderful. To have him as a mentor was an invaluable experience. He certainly will be missed, both by the Cape Dorset community and on a personal basis by me as well."Sheppard taught Grades 10 to 12 English at PPS for two-and-a-half years before becoming the principal for two years, until 2009. He left the community only to return last August as principal. Sheppard said he missed the school, the students and the community.

"All of my memories of Peter Pitseolak School and the students are great memories," said Sheppard. "My fondest is difficult to say because I've enjoyed working with the students and the activities we've been involved in so much. They're all fond memories."

He would have stayed longer but he said a family member has medical issues. He will decide on his future later. Sheppard said he should have come up North a long time ago.

"In the beginning, I was a bit reluctant to come North but when I got up here, I really liked the North and enjoyed it, especially Cape Dorset. I have many, many fond memories of Cape Dorset. When I did go home in 2009, I kept wondering about my students, how they were doing," he said, adding he would e-mail the school to learn how everyone was doing. "When I came back in August, it was just like coming home."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Pop hits $6.25 per can in Arctic Bay

Ikpiarjuk/Arctic Bay

Those desperate for a can of pop in Arctic Bay should be prepared to dish out some serious coin.

It will take six loonies and a quarter to buy a single 355 ml can of pop at the Northern store, the unidentified person answering the store phone confirmed. That's the price for pop brought in by air, but the person hung up when asked the price for pop brought in by sea.

At $6.25 per can, the price is about twelve times the same amount of pop at the Loblaws in Ottawa. There, a case of 24 cans sells for $11.99, which equals out to 50 cents per can.

- Casey Lessard

Sessions completed


A series of community-information meetings across the Kivalliq region hosted by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) wrapped up in Repulse Bay this past week.

The meetings were held to provide information on Areva Resources Canada's draft environmental impact statement on its Kiggavik uranium project near Baker Lake, as well as to gather questions and input from the public.

The NIRB representatives travelled across the region during an eight-day period to meet with the public in each Kivalliq community.

- Darrell Greer

Heading to Resolute


The principal at the high school in Iglulik is headed to Resolute next school year to lead the school there.

Vince Pickett, the principal at Ataguttaaluk High School in Iglulik, will replace outgoing Qarmartalik School principal Jennifer Borden starting this fall. Borden is leaving because she is expecting her second child this summer. Pickett, who was principal in Iglulik for four years, has signed on in the High Arctic community for three years.

Some of the motivators behind his move are "a change of scenery, to see another part of the North and an opportunity to work in a small school," he said.

He added he enjoyed his time in Iglulik, working with the community and helping the students.

"Having things done in the school for the first time, for example, we started the music program, we had a shop program this year and we've had students who did a land program for the last two years," he said. "That was very beneficial and very rewarding."

- Jeanne Gagnon

DARE graduation


A number of elementary students are more knowledgeable about the dangers of drugs after completing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in Kugluktuk last month.

RCMP Const. Malcolm McNeil and Const. Tina Acreman taught the 10-week program to 23 Grade 5 students from Jimmy Hikok Ilihakvik Elementary School in Kugluktuk.

The graduation was May 23. The DARE program teaches children about drugs - tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and other substances - the effects of using them and gives them tools to resist pressure to use drugs and engage in risky behaviours.

"They (students) are very receptive to the RCMP and any activity we do in the school," said Acreman. "So the program was very much a success. It's a wonderful program to teach here in the community. It gets us involved with the kids."

She added the program was also taught last year.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Thrift store defers donations for June


Piviniit Thrift Store is in a space bind for the month of June, so it's asking people to either hold off on making donations to the store until July 1, or donate their goods to other charities in Iqaluit.

The space crunch came as a result of the reopening of St. Jude's Cathedral, which owns the land where Piviniit has been storing two seacans full of donated goods for the past two-and-a-half years.

With the reopening, the seacans had to go, Piviniit chair Linda Ham said.

The store sold the seacans, and one was ready to leave the site right away. The soup kitchen has consented to keeping the second seacan on-site until July 1.

Donations to the store have been "overwhelming," so once the store is able to clear space, it will start accepting again, Ham said. She said the men's and women's shelters and the boarding home are worthy charities that also accept donations.

- Casey Lessard

Out of school? Go fish

Kangiqtugaapik/Clyde River

Clyde River residents will help students celebrate the last day of school June 13 with a fishing derby.

The derby will take place on the ice in town, recreation co-ordinator Nina Qillaq said.

Anglers will compete for a first prize of $300, a second prize of $200, and a third prize of $100.

- Casey Lessard