Nunavut in 2012: a look at the year that was
Mary River moves forward, food price protests grow
One of the biggest highlights of the year was the growth of the Feeding My Family Facebook group, which attracted 20,000 followers and inspired food price protests across Nunavut throughout the summer.
But as the year drew to a close, there were no clear answers on how to fix poverty in Nunavut.
On resource development, the Newmont Mining Corp. dealt a big blow to the economy of the Kitikmeot region when they put their Hope Bay gold project into suspended animation.
But after getting a project certificate for the Mary River iron project on the last working day of 2012, the Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. is on track to start construction this year.
• Polar bear, wolf and fox pelts from Nunavut sell for record-high prices at the Fur Harvesters Auction in North Bay, Ontario.
• As part of their ongoing investigation into the First Air crash that killed 12 people on Aug. 20, 2011, the Transportation Safety Board releases a report that classifies the incident as a “controlled flight into terrain.”
• GN officials announce that Nunavut’s commercial fishing industry will get $4.4 million — half from the federal government and half from the territory — for a pre-training program intended to increase Inuit participation.
• The GN held kicks off an anti-smoking campaign called “Tobacco has no place here” with a country food feast at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit. The campaign is part of a five-year action plan to curb Nunavut’s smoking rate.
• Prime Minister Harper meets with First Nations leaders in Ottawa to talk about “resetting” the relationship between aboriginal peoples and the federal government and creating economic opportunities. Meanwhile, ITK president Mary Simon pushes for a similar meeting with Inuit leaders.
• A new Statistics Canada report shows that a third of people living in Canada’s territories reported being victims of crime – half of which were violent – in 2009.
• The CCGS Amundsen, the big red icebreaker at the heart of Canada’s Arctic science programs, is sidelined by engine problems. The ship is deemed “non-operational” until late 2012 or 2013.
• Government liaison officers are reinstated in eight communities to help Nunavummiut communicate with various levels of government.
• The Newmont Mining Corp. puts the Hope Bay gold mining project on hold, saying they prefer to develop gold properties in other parts of the world.
• Sarah Aiyout, 24, and her sons, four-year-old Victor Jr. and two-year-old Jordee, die in a house fire in Taloyoak. The RCMP concludes that the incident was a murder-suicide.
• Telesat says they will commit $40 million to upgrade broadband equipment and services in the territories over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Arctic Fibre plans to reduce satellite dependency with a fibre optic line through the Northwest Passage.
• Gina Pizzo, principal of Netsilik School in Taloyoak, is named one of Canada’s outstanding principals for the year 2012, for instilling community and cultural pride in the classroom.
• The Northern Lights conference brings North and South together at the Ottawa Convention Centre through keynote speeches, daily conference sessions, a cultural pavilion and a sold-out trade show.
• The Inuit Sub-Commission of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission launches a tour of Baffin communities to collect statements from victims and families.
• Canadian Orebodies announces early estimates show there could be up to 230 million tonnes of iron ore within its Haig Inlet project near Sanikiluaq on Nunavut’s Belcher Islands.
• John R. “Jack” Sperry, former bishop of the Arctic and Order of Canada recipient, dies in Hay River at the age of 87.
• Arctic anthropologist and Inuit advocate Robert Williamson, also known as Quniguapik, Bobbyaluk, or simply, “Bob”, dies at the age of 80.
• Inuit hunters celebrate the end of the long-gun registry. The Harper government’s controversial Bill C-19 was passed on Feb. 15 in the House of Commons with 159 in favour and 130 opposed.
• Northern legislators representing constituencies in five provinces and territories express “serious concerns” over the Nutrition North program in a joint letter to federal ministers.
• The Nunavut Marine Council is established with representatives from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, the Nunavut Water Board, the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
• Nunavut’s finance minister, Keith Peterson, tables what he calls a “cautious, sensible” budget in the Nunavut legislature, projecting a small surplus of $37.7 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
• Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Iqaluit to announce $11.1 million in support of adult education in Nunavut. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak says part of the money will be used by Nunavut Arctic College to develop adult high school diplomas.
• The Piruvik Centre releases an app for Apple products like the iPad and iPod touch, called Tusaalanga for iOS, designed to help people learn Inuktitut.
• The GN releases an action plan to tackle poverty across Nunavut. It’s called The Makimaniq Plan: A Shared Approach to Poverty Reduction and a major goal is to draft poverty reduction legislation.
• Following a Canada-wide tour, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues a report recommending funding for education, healing and cultural revival programs.
• Three Inuit women are honoured at the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation awards: Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq in the field of politics, Nunatsiavut lawyer Violet Ford in law and justice, and Nunavik Regional Government negotiator Minnie Grey for her public service.
• Canadian scientists regretfully announce that the “PEARL” of the Arctic, Canada’s northernmost research station, will stop operating year-round due to a funding cut.
• Lawyers Andrew Mahar of Iqaluit and Bonnie Tulloch of Ottawa become the Nunavut Court of Justice’s latest judges.
• After 25 years of work in support of Inuit art and artists, the Inuit Art Foundation closes its doors, selling off remaining stock at the Inuit Artists’ Shop in Ottawa and discontinuing publication of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
• Almost 300 young athletes from Nunavut and Nunavik converge on Whitehorse, Yukon, to compete in the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. Team Nunavut takes home 50 ulus; Team Nunavik, 36.
• Nunavut’s new license plate is unveiled by Peter Taptuna, the economic development and transport minister. Designed by Iqaluit resident Ron Froese, the plate trades one polar bear — borrowed from the NWT — for another, unique to Nunavut.
• Nunavut filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk, director of the prize-winning feature film, Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner, picks up a Genie award in Toronto for his short documentary, Sirmilik.
• Ashley Sherrard, 37, of Miramichi, N.B., is sentenced to four and a half years for sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman at a party he held in a Baffin hamlet now known only as community “X.”
• Premier Eva Aariak announces that she has stripped Baffin South MLA Fred Schell of all ministerial portfolios after being told of allegations that Schell has “acted in conflict of interest and abused his authority as minister.”
• Premier Eva Aariak talks about Nunavut’s largely untapped energy potential at the Arctic Oil and Gas Symposium in Calgary, calling for “full partnerships” with Inuit.
• Norway may have the “Maud” back, says Canada’s cultural property export review board. The ship, once navigated by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, has been sitting half-sunk near Cambridge Bay since 1930.
• Pond Inlet celebrates the opening of a new indoor hockey arena.
• Theresa Koopa Maktar, David Parks and Thomas Ootook receive Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals in recognition of their contributions to Pond Inlet.
• Nunavut’s first narwhal management plan divides Nunavut into six new management units, increases the total narwhal harvest for Nunavut, and introduces a “tusk certification program.”
• After almost 20 years in operation, the Nunavut Implementation Training Committee, an organization that funds training programs and provides student scholarships, is forced to shut down when its trust fund runs dry.
• Debate ensues when – following an aerial survey – the GN’s environment department calls the polar bear population in Hudson Bay, “abundant and healthy.” Alberta-based researchers, Ian Stirling and Andrew Derocher, say not quite, and call for a more conservative approach to the harvest.
• The Ottawa-based National Aboriginal Health Organization announces it will shut down June 30 after the federal government eliminates its funding
• The body of Johnny Kaosoni is found by a hunter about 88 km south of Cambridge Bay. The Cambridge Bay man had set out 10 days earlier on his snowmobile, dressed for cold weather.
• The GN signs a new 20-year contract with the RCMP. The new agreement contains provisions promoting the use of Inuktitut within the force and to encourage more Inuit officers in Nunavut.
• Health Canada slashes half of ITK’s budget along with another $800,000 annual contribution that Health Canada’s Inuit branch provided to Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada for health promotion programs.
• Mathewsie Alariaq of Cape Dorset is charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of a 16-year-old boy.
• More than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries urge Arctic leaders to develop an international fisheries accord to protect the unregulated waters of the central Arctic Ocean, in an open letter released by the Pew Environment Group.
• A report by the Transportation Safety Board on the grounding of the Clipper Adventurer cruise ship in August 2010 reveals many equipment and decision-making failures.
• The GN launches an interactive climate change website with data, educational resources, and adaptation toolkits available in Inuktitut, English and French.
• After a period of declining heath, Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok of Arviat, one of Canada’s most prominent artists, dies at 77.
• Premier Eva Aariak names Iqaluit West MLA Monica Ell as minister responsible for three portfolios: Human Resources, Status of Women, and Homelessness.
• The timeline for the federal government’s procurement of a fleet of armed vessels to patrol Canada’s Arctic waters is pushed back from 2015 to 2018. In addition, the $3.1-billion project is now expected to cost $40 million more than anticipated.
• Andy Attagutaaluttuk of Igloolik wins the Nunavut Quest race from Igloolik to Arctic Bay, completing the course in 40 hours, 12 minutes and nine seconds. His accomplishment gets him a round-trip First Air ticket and $10,000.
• Robyne Ruff, Sharon Hunting, and Lisa Saxby are recognized by the GN for their contributions to nursing in Nunavut, “where the territory’s 163 nurses are on the front lines offering professional medical care to Nunavummiut.”
• Vanida Plamondon, an in-transition transgendered woman from Nunavut undergoing medical treatment in Edmonton, files a human rights complaint against the GN because it cut off financial support midway through her sex change process.
• Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, says the Canadian government needs to address inequalities and develop a national right-to-food strategy. Conservative government politicians – including Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq – attack his credibility, while ITK president Mary Simon says De Schutter got it right.
• Three survivors and the families of eight victims file lawsuits against First Air, Nav Canada and the Department of National Defence, seeking compensation for First Air flight 6560, which crashed near Resolute Bay in August 2011. Nav Canada and DND also face lawsuits from First Air and families of the pilots and flight attendants who died.
• Dale Drown, 57, a former chief of staff to Yukon ex-premier Dennis Fentie, is named chief federal negotiator for Nunavut devolution by the Harper Government.
• Environmental scientists at Harvard University find that river water is adding lots of mercury, a toxic element, to the Arctic Ocean. Mercury converts into methylmercury, which can accumulate in fish and wildlife in extremely high concentrations.
• A determined group of women dubbed “Women in Action” complete a 220 km walk from Bay Chimo to Cambridge Bay, raising $100,000 for cancer research.
• Statistics Canada reports that 1,132 people were victims of family violence in Nunavut in 2010. Nunavut’s rate of family violence is the highest in Canada.
• Long-time CBC broadcaster Jonah Kelly of Iqaluit dies in an Ottawa hospital at the age of 65.
• Mickey Akavak steps down as the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board’s chairperson and chief executive officer following guilty pleas on charges of assaulting police in 2011.
• The Canadian North airline fires a pilot who flew Dash 8 flight 605 from Qikiqtarjuaq to Iqaluit on May 31 for violating the company’s alcohol consumption policy.
• Keith Peterson, Nunavut’s minister of health and social services, unveils Nunavut’s new birth certificate and encourages all new parents to register their babies.
• Artist Kenojuak Ashevak and musician-broadcaster Charlie Panigoniak are named to the Order of Nunavut, the highest honour in the territory.
• The Department of Fisheries and Oceans lifts international trade restrictions on narwhals, allowing tusks to be exported out of Canada from 16 of 17 Nunavut communities that hunt narwhal, retroactively to 2010.
• Terry Audla is chosen to fill the “very large kamiks” left by outgoing Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president, Mary Simon. Audla beat Robbie Watt by winning 12 of 13 votes from voting delegates at ITK’s annual general meeting.
• The Government of Nunavut tables its much anticipated uranium policy, which endorses uranium mining subject to five conditions.
• People fed up with the cost of living in Nunavut use the Facebook group, Feeding My Family, to organize protest events in Arctic Bay, Grise Fiord, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Pangnirtung, Igloolik, Cambridge Bay, and at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
• The North West Co., targeted by recent food price protests, issues a statement that says since the controversial Nutrition North program started, customers are saving about 15 per cent on a basket of healthy foods.
• The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board fumes over a Nunavut Impact Review Board decision to allow mineral exploration in the heart of caribou calving ground between Arviat and Baker Lake.
• Tuberculosis vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur withdraws Nunavut’s vaccine supply because of potential quality concerns, leaving Health Canada officials scrambling for a new supplier.
• Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announces the federal government will spend $25 million over 10 years on a new research program targeting suicide, tuberculosis, obesity and oral health among Inuit, Métis and First Nations.
• In a summary judgment, Justice Earl Johnson of the Nunavut Court of Justice awards Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. $14.8 million in compensation from the federal government for failing to implement a socio-economic monitoring plan as set out in the Nunavut land claims agreement.
• Nunavummiut converge on Iqaluit to take in the Arctic’s best entertainers at the annual Alianait Festival: Baker Lake’s own “throat boxer” Nelson Tagoona, Simon Lynge, a singer-songwriter from Greenland, and Timber, the lumberjack-themed circus show.
• The remains of former Kimmirut mayor Jamesie Kootoo, 67, is found 40 miles north of Kimmirut, seven months after he left to go caribou-hunting and never came back.
• During a stay at the Ottawa-based patient home Larga Baffin, Solomon Oyukuluk and Ian Shooyook of Arctic Bay accidentally drown in the Ottawa River.
• The Government of Nunavut orders a strict new quota for the Southampton Island caribou population. The total allowable harvest is set at 1,000 animals per year, and all tags are reserved for Coral Harbour residents.
• The Government of Nunavut launches the Country Food Distribution Program, committing up to $10,000 per community per year to offset the cost of harvesting animals and maintaining community freezers.
• Baker Lake Contracting and Supplies Ltd. goes up in flames in what Baker Lake fire chief Alex Iqqaat calls the community’s “worst fire in history.”
• Ten Kimmirut citizens risk their lives to disarm and arrest a man shooting at the community’s RCMP detachment. This follows a March incident when a man in Kimmirut fired multiple rounds at two RCMP staff houses.
• The Winnipeg Art Gallery launches a design search for its proposed $45 million Inuit Art and Learning Centre, which will showcase “the largest Inuit art collection in the universe.”
• Operation Nanook, Canada’s annual northern sovereignty operation, conducts two operations – one in the western Arctic and one in the eastern Arctic.
• In a Davis Strait mission complicated by bad weather, the Canadian Coast Guard rescue a crew member experiencing violent stomach pains aboard Nunavut Sealift and Supply’s shipping vessel Zélada Desgagnés.
• RCMP arrest 58-year-old Johnny Meeko, a former teacher at Nuiyak Elementary School in Sanikiluaq. He faces 29 sex charges alleged to have occurred at the school between 1984 and 2006, involving eight complainants.
• Nunavut gets an almost-perfect credit rating from the rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, “an important step in the GN’s fiscal development,” Nunavut finance minister Keith Peterson said.
• During a visit to Cambridge Bay, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirms government plans to spend $188 million on the future Canadian High Arctic Research Station and its science and technology program. He also names Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq as chair of the Arctic Council when Canada assumes the chairmanship in May 2013.
• Cape Dorset resident Peter Parr, 42, dies in frigid water after his boat capsizes.
• Protests against high food costs continue in Iqaluit and Grise Fiord.
• Annie Neglak, 65, of Cambridge Bay receives the 2012 Council of the Federation Literacy Award for Nunavut. She went back to school in her mid-fifties, completing her Adult Basic Education certificate and then a diploma in Social Services at Nunavut Arctic College.
• James T. Arreak is named the new CEO of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, a position last held by Terry Audla, the current president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
• Shear Diamonds Ltd. puts the brakes on production at western Nunavut’s Jericho diamond mine due to an increasingly weak global market.
• The Nunavut Impact Review Board says yes to the massive Mary River iron mine project, subject to 184 terms and conditions dealing with the mine’s impact on the land, air, and water, people and animals.
• Nunavut Employees Union members avoid a strike by voting to ratify a wage-benefit deal tentatively struck with the Government of Nunavut in July. The agreement means NEU members will receive annual wage increases for four consecutive years.
• Nunavut will resume its tuberculosis vaccination program after receiving 500 replacement vials of the BCG vaccine. The program had to stop in June when the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur voluntarily recalled 4,700 vials of the product.
• Arctic sea ice falls to 3.41 million square kilometres, now the lowest summer minimum extent ever recorded during the 33-year satellite record of ice cover in the Arctic.
• A power failure in Whitehorse knocks out internet, cell phone and landline services to many Northwestel customers across the three territories and northern British Columbia.
• Police in Cambridge Bay seize 200 bottles of liquor and $15,000 worth of illegal fireworks from the Fortrus, a luxury yacht from Australia anchored just off Cambridge Bay.
• In an apparent suicide, a 26-year old man dies in a jail cell in Igloolik. The Ottawa Police Service is sent to investigate.
• Eric Dejaeger, the Oblate missionary accused of sex crimes against Inuit children alleged to have occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, pleads not guilty to 76 charges in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
• Nunavut data from the 2007-08 Qanuippitali Inuit Health Survey reveals widespread mental distress, suicidal thoughts, and experience with childhood sexual abuse.
• The Nunavut Impact Review Board pulls the plug on Uravan Minerals Inc.’s Garry Lake uranium exploration project.
• Curtis Konek, a Grade 12 student in Arviat, is named a role model for his leadership skills by the Global Dignity organization, an independent, non-political humanitarian group.
• Nunavut’s Department of Health and Social Services urges people across the territory to check their freezers and fridges for beef products included in a large XL Foods recall due to possible E. coli contamination.
• Two Arctic teachers, Lisa Kresky from Rankin Inlet and Edward “Etua” Snowball from Kuujjuaq, receive Prime Minister’s awards for teaching excellence.
• Cambridge Bay’s landfill continues to cause the hamlet headaches, despite a recent makeover that cost about $6.5 million. Consultants for the Government of Nunavut’s Community and Government Services department recently visited 14 communities to assess landfill issues.
• The body of Ken Kilabuk, a student at St. Lawrence College who was originally from Pangnirtung, is found by police in the Cataraqui River near Kingston, Ont.
• The Government of Nunavut struggles to find a way to stretch the meager budget for staff housing construction. They need 907 new staff units but only about $5 million is available in the 2013-14 budget. MLAs call for detailed cost estimates.
• After finding that he committed six breaches of Nunavut’s Integrity Act, Integrity Commissioner, Norman Pickell recommends South Baffin MLA Fred Schell pay a $10,000 fine, make a variety of written and oral apologies to the house, his constituents and all Nunavummiut, and meet with “elders” to discuss his conduct.
• A task force report recommends the Nunavut government adopt a “harm reduction” approach to alcohol control through a government-owned liquor sales monopoly and a revamped Nunavut Liquor Act.
• Joyce Kringuk of Repulse Bay receives a life sentence from the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit for the 2008 second-degree murder of her spousal partner, wildlife officer Joani Kringayark.
• South Baffin MLA Fred Schell quits his cabinet job just before MLAs were to have voted on a motion to remove him from cabinet.
• The federal government tables Bill C-47, or the Northern Jobs and Growth Act. Premier Aariak calls it “an important milestone in establishing an effective and streamlined regime for Inuit and government to manage resource development in Nunavut together.”
• A 17-year-old boy is found unconscious outside a Cambridge Bay residence, following a cold night in which the temperature dropped to -24 C. Efforts to revive the young man proved fruitless and he is declared dead.
• Nunasi Corp. announces a board governance makeover: The chair and president of each of the three regional development corporations along with one appointee from each of the three regional Inuit associations will form the Nunasi board of directors.
• The Nunavut Planning Commission finally goes public with a draft Nunavut land use plan.
• Aaju Peter of Iqaluit is honored with the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The lawyer and clothing designer is recognized for her volunteer work promoting and preserving Inuit culture.
• Arviat resident Murray Ugyuk, 70, dies after being pinned under his all-terrain vehicle.
• Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. emphasizes the need to overhaul Nunavut’s education system in its 2010-11 Annual Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society.
• A report by the Nunavut Housing Corp. on its infamous $110-million cost-overrun concludes: “Both the interdepartmental groups and the NHC lacked the experience to deal with this type and magnitude of project.”
• RCMP charge a 16-year-old boy with first degree murder, break-and-enter with intent to commit murder, and breach of an undertaking in connection with the violent death of Tracy Uttak, a young Igloolik mother.
• Terry Audla, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Amalie Jessen, Greenland’s minister of fisheries, hunting and agriculture, head to Brussels to meet with European parliamentarians who care considering a non-binding resolution supporting the uplisting of polar bears to “endangered” status by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which meets in Thailand this March.
• John Duncan, the northern development minister, okays the Mary River iron mine project, closing a four-year-long chapter in the project’s regulatory journey and marking the start of a new phase that deals with licences and permits.
• After abruptly shutting down this past March, the Inuit Art Foundation established a new, rejuvenated board during a meeting in Iqaluit.
• Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock retires after 32 years of service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and three-and-a-half years as commander of V Division in Nunavut. Supt. Lindsey Brine takes command of the division in January 2013.
• The incumbent president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Cathy Towtongie, holds on to her job, taking 1,344 votes, or about 19.6 per cent of the ballots cast in a territory-wide election.
• Three Australian tourists are fined $500 a piece for paragliding off the planet’s largest vertical drop, Mount Thor in Auyuittuq National Park (close to Pangnirtung). Their daring jumps violate section 24 (2) of the Canadian National Parks Act.
• NHL star Jordin Tootoo flies north to visit family and host the Team Tootoo Hockey Camp in Rankin Inlet.
• Three out of four $200,000 prizes go to Nunavut projects at the first-annual Arctic Inspiration Prize at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Vancouver.
• Kitikmeot Foods cancels a muskox harvest planned for mid-February to mid-March because of low numbers of muskox around Cambridge Bay. Board member Bill Lyall says the decision was made with the support of the community.
• Joey Flowers, a recent McGill law graduate, sparks debate with a blog he started called “folks dressed up like Eskimos.” The blog challenges stereotypes about Inuit in “The Christmas song.”
• Marius Tungilik, 55, of Repulse Bay dies alone in his bed. Tungilik was a longtime public servant and the first person to speak publicly about being sexually abused in the 1960s at the SirJoseph Bernier school and Turquetil Hall residence in Chesterfield Inlet.