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News Briefs: Monday, June 18, 2012
Erasmus running for national chief

Bill Erasmus, chief of the Dene Nation, announced during the National Healing and Reconciliation annual barbecue in Yellowknife on June 11 that he is running for election as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

"We have to speak out, First Nations are under constant threat by outside interests," Erasmus stated in a news release announcing his candidacy. "We need to organize ourselves in a way that provides for implementation of our treaty and aboriginal rights, including title to our lands and resources."

There are seven other candidates. The election will take place July 18 in Toronto during the Assembly of First Nations' annual meeting.

- Lyndsay Herman

Norwegian elected

Keyna Norwegian has returned as chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation in Fort Simpson. She received 61 votes in the June 11 band election. Olinto Beaulieu was her closest challenger with 47 votes. Norwegian previously served as chief from 2003 to 2009.

Jim Antoine, who most recently was chief, was elected to band council. He will be joined by Steven Jose, Cynthia Browning, Jonathan Tsetso, William Cli-Michaud, Emma Amundson, Bertha Norwegian and Betty Hardisty.

- NNSL staff

Dangerous offender application considered

Whether Robert Bonnetrouge of Fort Providence will be designated a dangerous offender, a long-term offender or subject to regular criminal sentencing won't be determined until August, at the earliest. On June 4, Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau granted a Crown prosecutor's request to adjourn sentencing to Aug. 13 because the Crown still needed to review Bonnetrouge's psychological evaluation.

Bonnetrouge was found guilty in September of forcible confinement and sexual assault against two teen girls.

- Lyndsay Herman

Aurora College president resigns

Sarah Wright Cardinal resigned as president of Aurora College on June 13 to pursue a doctoral degree in education. Wright Cardinal, who was born in Fort Smith, was appointed on Aug. 24, 2009 to what was supposed to be a five-year term.

Sydney O'Sullivan, interim chair of the board of governors, said criteria for a new president will be decided by the board in the near future and the board will appoint an interim president to fill the position for three to four months.

- Lyndsay Herman

Siglit language classes

Ikaahuk/Sachs Harbour

A Siglit language class is growing strong through the efforts of the Sachs Harbour Brighter Futures Program.

"We use our Siglit dialect to teach people that are interested in learning the language again or people that were interested (in learning it for the first time)," said Lena Wolki, a Sachs Harbour elder.

"We got books from (the Inuvialuit Communications Society). Its called the Siglitun Book, that's what we based our lesson plans on and it worked pretty good."

Wolki said the last course had between 11 and 14 students and ran every weekday for a month. The next course, which starts in a few weeks, will have the same schedule and two hired language instructors, she said. Interested students can look for the official start date on the radio or on the Sachs Harbour Community Corporation's Facebook page.

- Lyndsay Herman

New caribou-harvesting program

Ikaahuk/Sachs Harbour

The Sachs Harbour Community Corporation is organizing the first community-based caribou hunting program for youth to run this August or September.

Lena Wolki, an elder in Sachs Harbour and active member of the Sachs Harbour Community Corporation, said youth may go out with their parents or with other family members already, but this program is the first community-based program for caribou harvesting.

Wolki said two harvesters will take out five youth each to two different traditional caribou hunting sites for three days.

"What that harvester is going to have to do is show them the proper safe way of cutting and preparing the meat," said Wolki. "Then whatever meat they get is going to be given to the youth and also to any community members that don't have a vehicle of their own to go out hunting or some elders that need meat."

She said some youth who participated in the recent fish harvesting program have already put their names down to participate in the caribou harvesting program as well.

- Lyndsay Herman

School can be a funny place

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

The Norman Wells Laugh-A-Thon takes place this Thursday at the Mackenzie Mountain School at 6 p.m.

This is the fourth time the Mackenzie Mountain drama club has hosted the event. Shannon Caidler, secretary for Mackenzie Mountain School, said the school's drama class will perform a skit to accompany the drama club's comedic play.

Tickets for the laugh-a-thon can be purchased at the door on the event night.

- Lyndsay Herman

Enterprise to cut false alarm fire calls


The Hamlet of Enterprise will be installing a new phone system, partly to cut down on the number of false alarms for the community's fire department.

Under the current system, a call to the fire department - even a wrong number - automatically sets off an alarm for firefighters.

Peter Groenen, the hamlet's senior administrative officer, said under the new system, calls to the fire department will first go through an automated answering service, which will give callers the option of connecting to the fire department or leaving a message.

Groenen said the fire department receives about three or four false alarms a month.

Hamlet council approved the purchase of the new $8,000 telephone system at its June 4 meeting. It should be installed in the next month or so.

- Paul Bickford

Fort Smith challenged to stay active

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Town of Fort Smith is challenging community residents to be active this summer.

The 123 Days of Fort Smith Summer Awesome Challenge began June 1 and concludes Oct. 1. Each day, residents are given a new challenge to complete - walking in the park, jogging around the track, attending a summer event and much more.

People can keep track of all the challenges they complete and submit their results for a chance to win a prize on Oct. 1, which is the anniversary of Fort Smith being incorporated as a town.

- Paul Bickford

Whale harvest on horizon


The Tuktoyaktuk Hunters and Trappers Committee is a bit slow now that tag season is over, said Jocelyn Noksana, secretary for the committee. Noksana said community members will go fishing and whaling during the summer once the ice has gone.

"We do have whale monitors out there and they work with the (committee)," said Noksana. "In the summertime everybody will be fishing and whaling. That's once the ice is gone."

Noksana said the season usually starts soon after Canada Day but it depends entirely upon when the ice is finally gone. She also said there is no quota for the number of beluga whales harvested each year but the annual total brought in is usually between 50 and 60 whales.

- Lyndsay Herman

Kiddies Carnival


The much anticipated Kiddies Carnival takes place this weekend at the Tuktoyaktuk Community Centre.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," said Geoss Solomon, recreation co-ordinator for the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. "It's a yearly thing that we have for the kids to get them out and have some fun."

Solomon said she expects around 200 people, including all the kids in the community, to be in attendance. Activities will include drum dancing, best traditional dress, best-dressed dog, piggy-back races, and musical chairs, among others. Event organizers will award medals to the contest winners, she said.

Solomon said the carnival usually coincides with the Beluga Jamboree in April, but staffing changes pushed planning back a few weeks.

- Lyndsay Herman

Enterprise to seek SAO trainee


The council of the Hamlet of Enterprise is seeking funding from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) to hire a trainee for the position of senior administrative officer.

A motion was passed at the council meeting on June 4 to apply for the funding.

Under the Advancing Local Government Administration Program, MACA supports the hiring of a trainee for two years to learn how to become a senior administrative officer. If the application is approved, a trainee may be hired within the next few months.

- Paul Bickford

Liquor seizure in Kugaarukvalued at $3,100

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

Two people were fined after a "substantial" amount of liquor was seized at the Kugaaruk airport on June 9, according to an RCMP press release.

Two Kugaaruk residents were detained and searched at the airport upon their return to the dry community on a chartered medical flight as escorts, stated the RCMP.

The liquor seized included four 1.75 l bottles of vodka, one 750 ml bottle of vodka, eight 375 ml bottles of vodka, one 375 ml bottle of rum and one bottle of sparkling wine. Police stated the estimated street value of the seized liquor is in excess of $3,100.

The two Kugaaruk residents were charged with unlawful possession of liquor under the Nunavut Liquor Act and fined, stated the RCMP.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Tuberculosis vaccine out of stock throughout the territory


Due to a nation-wide recall of Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine by manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, Nunavut has no tuberculosis vaccine, as of June 15.

Health Canada believes problems at Sanofi Pasteur's manufacturing plant in the Toronto area may have affected vaccine quality. The recalled vaccine had been in circulation in Nunavut since July 2011.

Nunavut deputy chief medical officer Dr. Maureen Baikie said the territory's BCG vaccination program is suspended as of June 15 until further notice.

"We don't believe there will be an adverse outcome from this suspension of the program," she said. "We expect this will not be a long-term supply issue."

She added no babies in Nunavut have had an adverse effect from the vaccine. The vaccine prevents from developing more serious forms of TB.

Any symptoms babies may have had from the vaccine related to the manufacturing problem would likely be mild and would have occurred within a few days of receiving it.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are looking for an alternate BCG vaccine supply.

Nunavut's tuberculosis rate is 60 times higher than the national average

- Jeanne Gagnon

Report calls for Human Rights Commission


Nunavut needs a Human Rights Commission to work in tandem with the existing tribunal, according to a report tabled at the Nunavut legislature June 7.

Report writers Gwen Brodsky and Shelagh Day, who completed the report in February, said it was a mistake for legislators, who passed the Human Rights Act in 2004, to ignore recommendations to create a commission in addition to the tribunal, noting "certain essential functions are missing from Nunavut's human rights system."

One of the fundamental roles not filled by the tribunal is the role of education, informing Nunavummiut about their rights and how to file a concern (Nunavut does not use the word complaint due to negative cultural associations with the word).

The tribunal also does not study or create policies, or work proactively to address discrimination, the authors found.

They recommend the government change the Human Rights Act to include a commission and remove adjudication responsibilities from the tribunal.

Brodsky and Day also want the commission to be given powers to promote and protect human rights, create awareness, and help Nunavummiut defend their rights.

"These functions, though they would be performed by a separate body, would facilitate and strengthen the work of the tribunal," they stated.

- Casey Lessard

Pangnirtung man dies in Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston, Ont.

Tommy Nuvaqiq, the Pangnirtung man convicted of one of Nunavut's most brutal sexual assaults, died in the Kingston Penitentiary on May 28.

Correctional officers found Nuvaqiq unresponsive in his cell at the maximum-security prison, according to Correctional Service Canada. Officers gave him CPR and called an ambulance.

Nuvaqiq was pronounced dead at the Kingston General Hospital around 12:40 a.m.

The police and coroner were informed and Correctional Service Canada will investigate.

Michele Vermette, the prison's assistant warden of management services, said the cause of death has not yet been determined.

"We don't have the autopsy results," she said. "I really have no idea when we'll get them."

Nuvaqiq was sentenced to 18 years after sexually assaulting a 31-year-old woman in Pangnirtung. She was found covered in blood, clinging to life, after she dragged herself to a neighbour's doorstep.

- Kassina Ryder

MLA's spousal assault case going to trial


Defence lawyer Malcolm Kempt left the Nunavut Court of Justice June 4 expecting the Crown might help resolve the assault charges against both South Baffin MLA Fred Schell and his common-law wife Ezevallu Qatsiya. When Kempt returned June 6, a resolution was off the table.

Instead, Schell and Qatsiya, who are accused of assaulting each other April 10 at their Iqaluit home, will go to trial, Schell on August 7 and Qatsiya on November 19.

Kempt represents Qatsiya, 28, and spoke in court on behalf of an ill Patrick Smith, the lawyer for Schell, 59. He said each will testify in the other's trial.

Qatsiya is living in Cape Dorset, while Schell remains in Iqaluit.

- Casey Lessard

Cape Dorset school year-end plans

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

A picnic, penny sale and bingo are some of the year-end activities planned for elementary students in Cape Dorset this month.

A rummage sale, on June 13, of donated clothing from Iqaluit, is the first activity Sam Pudlat School will host this month, said principal David Webber. He said people can fill a bag with as much clothing as they can for $5, or rent a table and sell their own items. Webber said the sale is a fundraiser for school programs, especially the breakfast program.

On June 19, the school will host a student bingo where each student will get four bingo cards and play three games in their classrooms as the numbers are announced through the school's public announcement system, said Webber. The grand prize is a bicycle.

The following day, the kids will enjoy a picnic in a park with hot dogs, hamburgers and activities, said Webber. He said the activities are to keep the kids coming to school.

"It's just another one of those things to add a little bit of, like, 'I want to come to school' feeling," he said. "It keeps the attendance up because this time of year, it's hard to keep them in school."

The activities follow a successful inaugural spring concert on May 17, said Webber.

"The kids were really into it. The teachers put a lot of work into it. The parents who came thought it was great," he said.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Search for missing man resumes

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

The search for the body of a Kugaaruk man who disappeared six months ago resumed on June 6, according to the hamlet, but was called off June 11 because of the fast-melting snow.

Bernard Pujuardjok, 22, left Kugaaruk this past Dec. 5 to visit his girlfriend in Taloyoak but never arrived. Searchers had found footsteps leading away from the man's grub box 65 to 80 km from the community last December but Pujuardjok was never found.

About 20 people had been searching daily for the man's body during the five days but did not find him, said Allen Immingark, the hamlet's office manager. Some of the volunteers camped out in the search area, concentrated where the clues were found last December, while others returned to Kugaaruk daily.

The volunteers involved were mainly from Kugaaruk's search and rescue team, and Canadian Rangers, said Immingark.

"It's too slushy on the land for the snowmobiles and ATVs right now," he said. "They're looking for any funding to try and get a charter aircraft searching."

The hamlet received money for the search from Repulse Bay, Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak last month, he added.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Summer camp in Kugluktuk


Baseball, basketball, soccer, team relay races as well as arts and crafts are some of the summer activities Kugluktuk youth participating in the community's summer day camp will enjoy.

Recreation co-ordinator Jessica VanOverbeek said the day camp runs June 11 to Aug. 17, longer than the two-week camp held in previous years, because organizers received funding to hire a summer programmer. The day camp is geared toward youth aged 7 to 14 and features a weekly schedule of activities with sports, such as archery, soccer, Frisbee as well as educational activities, language session and trips to the library. Many people expressed interest in the camp, said VanOverbeek.

"We are able to do it the whole summer now and give kids something a little bit more structured they can look forward to throughout the week," she said. "Hopefully there will be a good turnout this month and next month and we'll be able to keep it going next year."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Kimmirut cleans up

Kimmirut/Lake Harbour

Looking to win a flight out of town, 100 people helped clean up Kimmirut on June 11, economic development officer Qapik Ikkidluak said. School children spent the morning cleaning, and adults spent the afternoon doing the same.

The adults will be entered into a draw sponsored by the Department of Environment, Nunavut Tourism and First Air. One person from each region - South Baffin, North Baffin, Kitikmeot and Kivalliq - will win a round-trip ticket anywhere First Air flies, and 200 kg of free cargo, GN environment communications manager Jacquie Pepper said.

The South Baffin draw was set to happen July 16 - results were not available by press time - while winners in the other regions will be chosen in August.

- Casey Lessard

Quick fixfor flood-damaged air strip

Qikiqtarjuaq/Broughton Island

Nunavut Airports acted quickly to fix damage to the Qikiqtarjuaq air strip, caused by flooding June 5, hamlet finance director Rikki Butt said.

"The air strip is looking like nothing ever happened," Butt said June 12. "Nunavut Airports left today. There was quite a bit of damage, but crews worked all day and all night and got it cleaned up."

The airport was closed one day, open to Twin Otters until June 8 and then open to ATRs and Dash-8 aircraft.

A flash flood June 6 damaged the road to the sewage lagoon, which hamlet workers are still fixing.

For now, the road is a single-lane only for water, sewage and dump trucks.

- Casey Lessard

Paatsaali ends big first year


Five Sanikiluaq students will get their Grade 12 diplomas June 25, joining another five who did so in December to become Paatsaali High School's first graduates.

"A total of 10 graduates for one year is a pretty huge number for us," principal Tim Hoyt said. "That's big."

Three of the students have already left the school, and the other two have already met the requirements to graduate.

The school has seen few problems since it opened in September, Hoyt said.

"Generally, a very good year," he said. "It's always nice to be in a new building. We have room to move around now."

- Casey Lessard