Nunavut Arctic College mourns loss of student’s two children

“Very much in shock”

By SARAH ROGERS

(updated)

Nunavut Arctic College students are mourning the loss of two young Iqaluit residents who are missing and believed to have perished in the massive blaze that leveled the 300-block of Iqaluit’s Creekside Village Feb. 27.

Authorities have not identified the two young adults, aged 20 and 22, who were the children of an Arctic College student.

Nunavut RCMP said Feb.28 that “there are two people unaccounted for since the fire, they are believed to have been in the fire.”

The victims’ mother, originally from Iqaluit, worked as a medical interpreter at the Qikiqtani General Hospital and was upgrading her training at the college.

The family was reported at home together Feb. 26 when the fire broke out.

“Like any of our students, she is entitled to any help that we’re offering to any of the families affected by the fire,” said Peesee Stephens, dean of NAC. “Her program staff and students have been rallying around here.”

Family connections in Rankin Inlet have also been fundraising to send support to the grieving mother.

NAC officials met Feb. 27 with the students affected by the fire, a group of about 20 families, Stephens said.

“They were very much in shock,” she said. “They’re lost everything.”

Stephens said the college cannot confirm if all students have been accounted for following the fire.

Meanwhile, the RCMP said it continues to investigate and attempts are still being made to locate all the occupants.

Stephens said that, to her knowledge, no students were being treated for fire-related injuries in hospital in Iqaluit or elsewhere as of Feb. 28.

The college began offering counselling services to students and their families, using its own counsellors as well as support provided by the Government of Nunavut’s health and social services department.

As of Feb. 27, all but one family who lost their unit in the blaze had been provided an empty unit in Iqaluit on a temporary basis, Stephens said, until the college can make long-term living arrangements.

“Right now, we’re making sure students have a place of their own for the moment,” she said.

The response to the tragedy has been overwhelming, with the college fielding calls and donations from across the country Feb. 27.

Local donations filled a room the Nunavut Research Institute, providing fire victims with clothing and basic living items.

“Students came in and collected what they needed,” Stephens said. Many of them only had the clothes on their back.”

The Red Cross is expected to arrive in Iqaluit Feb. 28 to provide further support, she said.

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