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Monday, March 13, 2017
George Niditchie Sr. gets culverts thawed

Department of Transportation workers were thawing culverts at kilometre 141 on Highway 8 near Tsiigehtchic on March 7, Ioana Spiridonica, Manager of Public Affairs and Communications with DOT said in an email to News/North.

Last week, George Niditchie Sr. complained the ice-blocked culverts were resulting in flooding at his fish camp ("Water water everywhere, News/North, March 6). The e-mail, sent on March 9, said the work was being done to prevent flooding on the roadway.

"To protect the integrity of the highway and ensure ongoing safety of the travelling public, DOT staff and equipment were dispatched to open the culvert near kilometre 141 on Highway 8," she said in the e-mail. "This will help alleviate any flooding of the highway. No other work is currently being done in the area."

- Kassina Ryder

EU allows Inuvialuit seal

The European Union announced yesterday it has accepted the NWT's application for the Inuvialuit to be recognized under the indigenous exception to the EU seal products ban.

Seal products harvested in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region will now have unencumbered access to the European market, and be marketed under the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur brand.

Travellers will now also be able to return home to Europe with sealskin products purchased in the NWT.

- Jessica Davey-Quantick

Workers ink new deal

Hay River

The Town of Hay River and its unionized workers have negotiated and ratified a new three-year deal.

The new contract, which is retroactive to the beginning of the year, gives the 20-plus workers wage increases of one per cent in the first year, one per cent in the second year and 1.25 per cent in the third year, stated a news release from the town.

The contract, which will expire at the end of 2019, was reached during three days of negotiations from Feb. 20 to 22.

The agreement is in stark contrast to the last contract negotiations between the town and the union, which resulted in a nearly six-month strike that ended in August 2015.

- Paul Bickford

Inuvik Native Band elections coming up


The election for the new Inuvik Native Band chief is coming soon.

Melba Mitchell, Lawrence J. Neyando and James Firth are all running for chief of the band.

Acclaimed to the position of band councillor are Vern Smith, Kelly McLeod, Amanda Vittrekwa, Richard Ross, Billie Lennie, Bernice Furlong and Barry Greenland.

The general election for chief will be held March 20.

- Stewart Burnett

Travel health notice issued over mumps


Dr. Andre Corriveau, the NWT's chief medical health officer has issued a travel notice about mumps for Northerners travelling south.

"Several Canadian provinces are experiencing a mumps outbreak," the notice states.

"If you are travelling outside of the NWT, please ensure that your vaccines are up to date and you take precautions to avoid being exposed to this disease."

Mumps is spread easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Mumps can also be spread through contact with an infected person's saliva.

- Paul Bickford

Summer seismic blasting cancelled

Kangiqtugaapik/Clyde River

As the Supreme Court of Canada continues its deliberation in Clyde River's case against a trio of exploration companies, those companies have confirmed they are standing down and will not conduct seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait this coming summer.

This is the fourth summer Petroleum Geo-Services Inc. (PGS), Multi Klient Invest AS (MKI), and TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA (TGS) are holding off on using their five-year licence granted by the National Energy Board in 2014.

"We welcome one more year of relief that seismic cannons will not threaten marine life -an essential food source for Inuit -but we also feel that decisions about our very survival should not rest on the whim of oil exploration companies who seek to profit at our expense," stated Natanine in a news release.

The highest court in the nation heard the case Nov. 30, 2016, and Clyde River's lawyer Nader Hasan has previously said it could take up to eight months for the court to render its decision.

"We cannot wait year in and year out with an axe over our heads wondering if we will be able to feed our families and maintain our way of life. Our community and all indigenous communities deserve certainty that our rights are truly protected -as enshrined in the Canadian constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said Natanine. "We need these rights upheld without prejudice and we are patiently awaiting a just outcome to our fight."

- Michele LeTourneau

Income assistance delayed nearly a week


Kugluktuk residents lined up en masse for up to eight hours at a time to receive their monthly income assistance cheques, which were distributed nearly a week late.

Mona Angulalik, a single mother of two girls, said her payment was supposed to be issued on March 2, but she didn't receive it until March 7.

"I had to stay here yesterday, I came from nine to twelve in the morning and then I stayed here all yesterday afternoon, one until seven o'clock in the evening," she said on March 7.

Residents said the delay was due to a lack of human resources, computer problems and poor communication with the Iqaluit office.

"The income worker hadn't gotten approval for signing cheques," she said.

"On Friday she finally got approval -next thing she starts saying she needs a password for the computer."

Without the password, residents were obliged to wait over the weekend.

"It's good we all have patience to wait, but it's not right," said Angulalik. "There are 20 to 30 people still waiting here, mothers or couples with babies."

There were children crying in the background when Lucy Ayalik reached out to Nunavut News/North on the phone.

"We're really upset and mad about this, especially people with kids. There are 22 people right now and yesterday there was over 50," she said.

"It means there are going to be lots of kids that go to school or go to sleep hungry."

Margaret Kigiuna was expecting a cheque of more than $1,000 to support herself, two teenage daughters, and two young grandchildren whose mother is in the hospital.

"It's hard for me to keep coming up here and trying to get income support but still nothing for so long. I don't know how to ask for me and my girls. I have family but it is so hard for me to ask because they have nothing too."

She said finding a job in the hamlet is difficult and many people are unemployed.

"We don't have food in the house, all we have is tea and coffee. Sometimes we eat once a day and nothing else. Sometimes we go without food."

She said the community has no food bank.

Family Services Minister Johnny Mike announced in a March 6 sitting of the legislative assembly that the department's income assistance branch has been allocated 39 per cent or $53.8 million, of the department's proposed operating budget for 2017-18. The manager for income assistance for the Kitikmeot arrived in Kugluktuk on March 8 to assist with the delay.

"All clients who were awaiting assistance received their payment as of Wednesday night," stated spokesperson Jenny Tierney of the Department of Family Services.

- Beth Brown, with files from Shane Magee

Play to learn


Young students at Nakasuk School in Iqaluit were the first littles to be introduced to the Department of Education's new learn-to-read application for smart phones and tablets March 8.

The minister himself, Paul Quassa, led the youngsters through the game. The app is called Uqausiit Pinnguarutiit, which means "playing with words" in Inuktitut. Through interactive play, it seeks to show preschoolers across the territory the shapes of letters and syllabics, teach them to connect the sounds to the shapes and help them learn Inuktut words.

"Early learning is the foundation of student success throughout school and beyond," said Quassa. "The interactive nature of Uqausiit Pinnguarutiit will capture the interest of young children, and help them strengthen their literacy skills by building their knowledge of Inuktut."

The app only needs to be downloaded once, at home or at school, for free through app stores.

While there are two modules now - clothing and animals - new modules will be added over time.

- Michele LeTourneau

Aglukark to mentor musicians


Renowned singer Susan Aglukark will be sharing her knowledge with emerging artists in a master class March 26 and 27 in Iqaluit.

Organized by the Qaggiavuut Society, the class will focus on career management and is offered to artists who want to take their musical careers further.

"The workshops are part of Qaggiavuut's Inuit World Stage project to provide support to Inuit performers who demonstrate dedication to their art and an interest in advancing their careers," stated executive director Ellen Hamilton. "Ms. Aglukark is also one of the respected mentors in the program, providing individual support and advice to emerging Inuit musicians."

Musicians and songwriters from Iqaluit and other Nunavut communities will be taking part.

- Michele LeTourneau

Lunch time reading

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

Qiqirtaq Ilihakvik is getting ready for its fifth literacy lunch.

The lunch time reading event was started in the fall as a way to encourage literacy in the home.

Parents have been visiting the school to read with their students and enjoy meals served by the student council.

"It's to help foster a love of reading with families," said school literacy coach Ed Seymour.

Material includes Inuktut books published by the Inuit-owned company Inhabit Media. During lunch, Seymour does a read-aloud session for the families.

As many as 35 people have attended the literacy lunches that are offered to individual classes.

"I've had a number of parents take books home to read with their children on their own time," he said.

- Beth Brown

Funds for the fire


An Ontario woman who visited the hamlet on exchange in 2014 has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the Kugaaruk school that burned down on Feb. 28.

"As someone who has as many fond memories as I did there, I am trying to help this community in any way possible," Ailiyah Mederios states in her funding call.

The GoFundMe, which launched March 1, had raised $715 by March 8, with an end goal of $5,000.

A rough estimate for cost of a new school is $30 million and it could take three years for the new building to be completed.

- Beth Brown

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