In 2010, Nunavik spins its wheels
Many big projects delayed, postponed
Many of the big projects that Nunavik residents hoped for in 2010 ended up languishing within the backrooms of the various bureaucracies that serve the region.
A plan to release the final agreement on Nunavik’s new regional government, which would trigger a community tour and a referendum, was postponed until early 2011.
Another plan, to build 1,000 new social housing units, never materialized, much to the chagrin of Makivik Corp. president Pita Aatami, who told a Montreal newspaper that his organization was considering legal action over the issue.
Plan Nord, a new northern economic development scheme that Premier Jean Charest bragged about for most of the year, never materialized either, and officials agreed to postpone its release until 2011.
And a plan to replace Nunavik House, now located in a grungy, dangerous section of St. Jacques West with a larger facility in Villeray falls apart after racially-tinged complaints from some Villeray residents.
Meanwhile, police-reported numbers on crime continue to climb, as do reports of serious child abuse.
• A Chinese-Canadian mining partnership completes its takeover of the Canadian Royalties’ Nunavik Nickel Mine project. Jien Canada acquires all of the company’s outstanding common shares for 80 cents per share, and a B.C. mining exploration company Goldbrook Ltd. now owns 25 per cent of the voting shares of Jien Canada.
• Tamaani, Nunavik’s wireless internet provider, upgrades wireless access for its 2,000 residential users. The company rings in 2010 by doubling speeds and offering larger daily download limits – without raising users’ monthly bills. Download speeds for regular customers are offered up to 512 kilobits per second.
• Searchers find a Quaqtaq man missing on the land for three days. Charlie Nuvuka leaves Kangirsuk midday on Jan. 7 alone en route to Quaqtaq by snowmobile, then loses his way in blowing snow. Searchers find Nuvuka about 10 kilometres outside Quaqtaq late Jan. 9.
• In a Jan. 21 Makivik Corp. election, Michael Gordon is re-elected to a second term as vice-president of economic development, while newcomer Andy Moorhouse easily beats out four other candidates to land the position of corporate secretary.
• Nunacell Inc., Makivik’s newest subsidiary company is open for business. Nunavik’s first and only cellular phone service is officially launched, offering prepaid local and long-distance calling, as well as text messaging, to customers in Kuujjuaq.
• Nunavimmiut must protect and care for their children and “start acting like adults,” two wellness counsellors tell the Kativik Regional Government council meeting in Kuujjuaq. “We need to act like adults and not do whatever we want,” Lizzie Ningiuruvik says. Ningiurvik and Timothy Sangoya of Nunavik’s Nunalituqait ikajuqatigiitut wellness group say Nunavimmiut can curb their drug and alcohol use. “These alcohol and drugs are killing the Inuit way of life,” Sangoya says.
• As revealed by information presented at the KRG meeting in Kuujjuaq, Ottawa ponders a plan to build 1,000 new social housing units in Nunavik, with Makivik Corp. possibly throwing in some cash to see the deal move ahead. A commitment from the federal and provincial governments to build 1,000 additional social units in Nunavik was expected for sometime in 2009. At year’s end, such a plan had yet to be announced.
• The KRG fires Jobie Epoo from his job as interim police chief of Nunavik’s Kativik Regional Police Force after he pleads guilty Jan. 20 to charges of impaired driving charge and causing mischief under $5,000.
A dozen uniformed police officers from the KRPF and the Sûréte du Québec parade into the meeting of the KRG regional council on Feb. 25 to show off their efforts in seizing drugs and bootleg alcohol.
• By next January, Nunavimmiut receiving medical care in Montreal are to have a spacious new residence, says a Feb. 25 news release from the Nunavik regional health and social service board board. The move to relocate Nunavik’s patient services in Montreal comes in response to a recent regional campaign to move Nunavik House away from an undesirable section of St. Jacques St. in the southern end of Notre-Dame-de-Grace.
• Nunavik athletes participate in the Arctic Winter Games, which take place March 6 to 13 in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
• The Parc national Tursujuq proposal is “a good project,” although it falls short of offering “all possible protection to rare, endangered or vulnerable species and their habitats,” says a Kativik Environmental Quality Commission decision on the planned provincial park between Kuujjuaraapik and Kuujjuaq. The KEQC members add nine conditions to their decision, which must be met before Quebec gives the final authorization.
• Eighty-three per cent of people in Inukjuak vote yes to a hydroelectric project proposed for a site just outside of their community. Called Innavik, the $67.5-million project involves the construction of a small dam across the Inukjuak River and the creation of a reservoir behind the dam.
• Sixteen dog teams set off March 22 from Quaqtaq for the 450-kilometre Ivakkak race to Kuujjuaq.
• The FCNQ re-elects Mark U. Ammamatuak of Salluit as its president, during its annual general meeting in Akulvik. Aliva Tulugak of Purvirnituq continues to serve as vice-president for Hudson Bay, and Charlie Tukkiapik of Quaqtaq continues on as vice-president for Ungava Bay.
• Pita Aatami, the president of Makivik, speaking to the organization’s annual general meeting in Kangiqsualujjuaq on April 13, attacks news organizations for focusing on Nunavik’s problems. “We’re no different from other populations around the world,” Aatami says. “Journalists are always looking for a story, especially when something has gone wrong.” Aatami also claims that Nunatsiaq News has published false reports in the past.
• Nunavik self-government, Quebec’s “plan nord” for northern development and the “dog slaughter” issue rank among the biggest items discusses at the Makivik Corp.’s AGM in Kangiqsualujjuaq.
• Royalties from Xstrata’s Raglan nickel mine will arrive in residents’ mailboxes in the form of coupons rather than cheques. The $8 million windfall will be divvied up in coupons for exchange at co-operative stores, Northern stores or Newviq’vi in Kuujjuaq, Makivik executives announce.
• Quebec police investigate the death of a Kangirsuk man. On April 11, the family of 41-year-old George Lucassie reports him missing. Lucassie is found later that day about four km from the village with bloodstains on his clothing. He is later pronounced dead at the local health care centre. The Sûreté du Québec order an autopsy on Lucassie’s body to help pinpoint the cause of his death, but the cause of his death remains unknown — even after the autopsy.
• People in Kangiqsujuaq takes part in a public consultation on off-highway vehicles on April 19, part of a Quebec-wide effort to determine how rules should be enforced on the use of snowmobiles and four-wheelers.
• Unforeseen delays pushed the delivery of Nunavik’s new government agreement until early summer, says the NRG’s chief negotiator, Minnie Grey.
• Nunavik hunters will be able to take about 45 more belugas this year and the federal fisheries minister approves a quota of 270 for the 2010 hunt. Johnny Oovaut, chairman of the Nunavik Marine Regional Wildlife Board, believes the plan should relieve some of the tension around the beluga hunt.
• Makivik reverses its plan to distribute part of this year’s Raglan trust money as coupons for exchange at three retailers in Nunavik. Instead, beneficiaries will receive their payments in cheques. Makivik’s executives decide that the portion of this year’s fund going to Nunavimmiut outside of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq will be distributed in cheques.
• Some teachers in Puvirnituq’s Iguarsivik school say they’re fed up with being punched, hit, threatened with violence and treated with a lack of respect by the Kativik School Board and talk about these complaints in the French-language daily, Le Journal de Montreal . After getting punched in the stomach April 19 by two students, Iguarsivik teacher Pierre-Luc Bélisle, says he was surprised to see the students back in school two days later, as if nothing had happened.
• The Nunavik regional board of health and social services and the northern module, which runs Nunavik patient services in Montreal, wants to turn a former Chinese hospital in Villeray into a new patient residence for Nunavimmiut receiving medical treatment in the city. But the proposed move from Notre-Dame-de-Grace, where the current patient residence, Nunavik House, is located, to 7500 St. Denis is far from certain, and faces racial opposition from some Villeray residents.
• A governance training workshop for Nunavik women takes place in Puvirnituq, with more than 40 women gathering at the week-long workshop organized by the Saturviit Inuit Women’s Association of Nunavik.
• With a new interim police chief, Aileen MacKinnon, and more than $1.5 million in new crime prevention money, the KRPF says it’s ready to tackle Nunavik’s rising crime rates. So far in 2010, the total number of criminal files handled by the region’s police is up by 1,000 cases compared to the same period in 2009, from 1,786 in 2009 to 2,663 in 2010.
• A 1,000-unit housing catch-up construction program is still in the works. The KRG and Makivik say Nunavik’s catch-up housing program must be linked to Quebec premier Jean Charest’s Plan nord, his much-touted plan to develop northern Quebec’s “economic potential,” by tapping into its water power and mineral resources.
• June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an international day created by the World Health Organization in 2006 to draw attention to the mistreatment and neglect of elders. In some Nunavik communities, there special events for elders and to raise awareness about elder abuse.
• Parenting, Inuit culture and wellness: these are among the many topics that 140 youth from Nunavik discuss in Inukjuak during the region’s first youth conference, June 21 to 25.
• Nunavimmiut are in shock after the drowning deaths of four young men this week in three separate incidents across the region. At least one of the three incidents involved the dangerous activity of racing snowmobiles across water, called “watercross” in the South.
• People in Salluit learn what lies ahead for their community on the Hudson Strait, where some buildings have cracked and slipped due to melting permafrost. The community’s future growth will be channelled into the South Plateau, an area of solid bedrock, which lies above the existing community in the direction of its airport. Construction in these new areas on the South Plateau will allow Salluit to grow, and by 2026 its population may reach 2,200.
• Kangiqsujuaq elder Naalak Nappaaluk dies June 8. Through his stories, Nappaaluk, 81, brought a forgotten part of history to life for new generations of Inuit and newcomers to the region. Nappaaluk worked closely with Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute for decades to teach and preserve traditional Inuit activities.
• Charges are underway at Puvirnituq’s airport, where this year will see the doubling of the apron where aircraft park, a new garage and work on a posh new $6.5 million air terminal.
• Representatives from the KRG and the KSB cut a red ribbon to officially open the Ivirtivik training centre for Montreal Inuit on June 22. The Ivirtivik centre, located on the second floor of a modest brick building at 4590 Verdun Street, in the heart of the Verdun borough, will offer services to the estimated 800 to 1,000 Inuit who make their homes in Montreal.
• Canadian Royalties Inc., now owned by China’s Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co., signs a letter of intent with Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin Inc. for engineering, procurement and construction management services at its Nunavik Nickel project, the company announces June 25.
• Nunavik’s Avataq cultural institute picks up a national award in culinary achievement for its home-picked herbal teas. The first year of the new Governor General’s award in “celebration of the nation’s table” recognizes Avataq for the creation of its five blends of Northern Delights herbal teas.
• The 2010 Quebec Games in Gatineau feature competition from a Nunavik delegation for the first time in the sporting event’s history. Two regional volleyball teams from Nunavik — one male, one female — participate.
• Keeping fit is top on the list of activities when about 200 Junior Canadian Rangers from Nunavik, James Bay and Lower North Shore gather in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu from June 30 to July 7 for their annual Okpiapik summer camp. During their stay, the Junior Canadian Rangers, aged 12 to 18, are involved in a variety of outdoor and training activities like canoeing, kayaking and biking.
• A new group of residents in the Montreal neighbourhood of Villeray want their borough council to lift a moratorium that prevents the renovation of a former Chinese hospital into a patient residence for Nunavik Inuit receiving medical care in the city. The newly-formed citizens group show up July 6 at a meeting of the Villeray-St-Michel-Parc-Extension borough council to show their support for plans to renovate the former Chinese hospital at St. Denis and Faillon East.
• The gospel singing group of Johnny, Rhoda and Lizzie perform July 19 in Kangirsuk, where they are one of the opening acts during the second annual Arctic Char Festival. Quebec premier Jean Charest goes fishing there after visiting Kuujjuaq July 5 to announce that Quebec will spend more money on Nunavik’s health and social services system.
• Lynx Mobility Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian telecommunications company, OmniGlobe, and Nunacell Inc., a subsidiary of Makivik, say they plan to expand cellular coverage in Nunavik to Salluit, Inukjuak and Puvirnituq.
• A new summer program reunites the dozens of teachers who come and go from Nunavik communities every year with their former students. The “Proud Reunions” summer camp finishes its second summer run in Inukjuak, while a successful pilot program also runs in Kangiqsujuaq. Its goal is to bring popular former teachers back to the community to lead a weeklong camp workshop for about 40 students, while training local youth as team leaders.
• As many as 30 Inuit children in Montreal need foster care, but there are no Inuit foster families for them, says the Batshaw Homes for Children. When Batshaw can’t find Inuit families for the Inuit children under youth protection, the centre tries to find other aboriginal families for them, generally either Cree or Mohawk.
• The 15th edition of Kuujjuaq’s Aqpik Jam draws a large audience, with big names like Nunavik singers Elisapie Isaac, Beatrice Deer and Sylvia Cloutier. They and more than 20 other performers take the stage at Kuujjuaq’s town hall between Aug. 10 and 13.
• A group of 80 high school students board the Lyubov Orlova Aug. 6 in Kuujjuaq and leave Nunavik for a 16-day educational voyage. Joined by a team of 30 polar scientists, educators and artists, the Students on Ice group, which includes students from Nunavik and Nunavut, sails around the northern end of Nunavik to Baffin Island.
• John Duncan, the new minister of INAC, offers what Irwin didn’t: an official apology from Canada. “On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, we would like to offer a full and sincere apology to Inuit for the relocation of families from Inukjuak and Pond Inlet to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay during the 1950s,” Duncan says in a speech.
• Tommy Palliser, the Inukjuak man involved in a 2009 car-surfing incident in Montreal, that left another man dead, pleads guilty to a charge of criminal negligence causing death. Palliser enters his plea in Inukjuak on Aug.30 before Judge Claude Bigué. Palliser, who has been out on bail since his arrest, could face life imprisonment, according to the maximum penalty under section 220b of the Criminal Code of Canada.
• The Nunavik regional health and social services board announces Sept. 9 that its board has decided to abandon a plan to renovate a former Chinese hospital in the Villeray borough of Montreal into a patient boarding home for Nunavimmiut receiving health care services in Montreal. “The injury inflicted is too deep to proceed with the relocation project,” says Alacie Arngnak, the president of the health board.
• Tired of waiting for a 1,000-unit social housing program, Pita Aatami, president of Makivik, says Makivik Corp. may sue the federal government as a last-ditch way of solving the region’s critical lack of housing. ” If they don’t respect their obligations, we won’t have a choice. We will have to go to court,” Aatami says Sept. 13 in La Presse.
• Nunavik leaders must step up and deal with the “emergency” caused by the continuing neglect and abuse of many children in the region, the Quebec human rights commission says in a report released Sept. 20 in Kuujjuaq. “The situation involving Nunavik’s children continues to be quite alarming, because the level of social distress appears to be increasing,” the 55-page report says, citing growing rates of suicide and crime. Pita Aatami, president of Makivik, says the plight of children in Nunavik who are abused and neglected is “not an easy issue to deal with,” Aatami says at the report’s release in Kuujjuaq.
• A Kangirsuk man faces a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of a woman from Puvirnituq on Sept. 15 or during the early hours of Sept. 16. George Nassak, 43, appears by videoconference in front of a judge on Sept. 17, to face a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Siasi Tukalak, 35.
• The Avataq Cultural Institute and the region of Nunavik lose a great storyteller. Isaacie Padlayat, Avataq’s vice-president and a life-long proponent of Inuit culture, dies Sept. 26 at the age of 76.
• A decision to postpone the unveiling of Plan Nord is taken Oct. 22 in Kuujjuaq, when representatives from the plan’s 11 working groups hold their fifth meeting, Quebec native affairs minister Pierre Corbeil tells the Nunatsiaq News Corbeil does not list what’s in the long-awaited plan, but he does say that Plan Nord would contain a special section on housing for Nunavik.
• In speech delivered Oct. 28 to the Inuit studies conference in Val d’Or, Makivik president Pita Aatami says Nunavik Inuit will turn their back on Plan nord unless Quebec agrees to improve living conditions in the region within the next three to five years.
• Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québécois visits Kuujjuaq on Nov. 8. Opinion polls suggest that if an election were held now in Quebec, Marois and her Péquistes would defeat Jean Charest’s unpopular Liberals and likely form the next government.
• Eighteen-year-old Louisa Pilurtuut of Kangiqsujuaq gives birth Nov.16 aboard an Air Inuit Twin Otter medevac between Kangiqsujuaq and Kuujjuaq.
• The union that represents KSB teachers says its members will vote on a strike mandate before Christmas if the board does not agree to certain demands, including better services for special needs students and lowering the value of the taxable housing benefit for teachers from the south.
• The Canadian Opera Company performs versions of the children’s opera production Cinderella at schools in Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq Nov. 16 and 17. The COC also stops at Xstrata’s Raglan mine to perform a short program of operatic arias for staff there.
• Taqralik Partridge’s short story of an Inuk couple living in Montreal wins first place Nov. 23 in the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s 2010 writing competition. Partridge, originally from Kuujjuaq, is a Montreal-based spoken word artist and Avataq Cultural Institute’s director of communications.
• A six-year-old boy in Salluit dies after being struck by a vehicle when the sled he was playing with slides onto the road the evening of Nov. 29. The boy is pronounced dead shortly after at the local nursing station.
• Reports of child abuse on Nunavik’s Hudson Coast are on the rise. Reports to youth protection authorities rose from 910 there last year to 1,217 in 2010, a meeting of KRG regional councillors hears Dec. 1 at their meeting in Kuujjuaq. “A lot of the escalation we’re seeing is in the cases of physical abuse,” says Marianne Martin, the KRG’s director of youth protection for Hudson coast. “It’s not pushes we’re talking about, it’s burns, bruises and broken bones.”
• Hydro Quebec plans to do a feasibility study in Kangiqsualujjuaq in 2011 to see if the Ungava community is the right site for one or more new generators which that produce 700 kilowatts of power.
• Quebec police arrest a 25-year-old man in connection with a hit and run that killed a Salluit boy Nov. 29 and charge him with failure to remain at the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license.
• Some pregnant women in Nunavik’s seven Ungava Bay communities are outraged that travel costs will no longer be reimbursed when they choose to ignore the midwifery services now offered at Kuujjuaq’s Tulattavik hospital and fly to Montreal instead. They say it’s a step backwards for the government to no longer pay transportation expenses for their patient escorts, whose travel was previously covered by the health care system.
• An agreement-in-principle between Nunavik’s teachers and their employers is “almost there,” says a spokesperson for the employer’s negotiating committee.
• Johnny A. Oovaut is elected mayor of Quaqtaq. Following a by election held Dec. 8, Oovaut, a longtime former mayor of the community, beats out two other contenders to secure the village’s top job again.
• The public release of a plan to create a new regional government for Nunavik is postponed until early 2011. Negotiators are hoping to launch a community tour in January, then hold a referendum in March. The Nunavik Regional Government would amalgamate the existing health and education boards with the existing KRG, and put them under the authority of a new Nunavik Assembly. The Nunavik Assembly would look much like the existing KRG council, with the addition of a government leader and four other executive members chosen in a Nunavik-wide election.
• Kuujjuaq’s big new diesel-powered electrical power plant officially opens Dec. 14.
• A six-year-old Kangirsuk girl recovers in a Montreal hospital after four loose husky dogs attack her.