'I can't tell you anything'

CamBay principal quits with no explanation


Nunavut government officials are silent about why Michael Simms, who served as the principal of Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay last year, resigned from his job shortly after teachers returned to school Aug. 19.

Simms' resignation, which caught many teachers in the school off guard, was provoked by a dispute with the local District Education Authority over money, said a source within the school who wishes to remain anonymous.

This dispute was also linked to the DEA's disapproval over Simms' decision to send hides from two animals hunted by a local student and a hunter to a Yellowknife taxidermist, the source said.

A muskox and a polar bear were to be mounted for a school diorama, similar to the one featuring a stuffed muskox at Cambridge Bay's airport. A mix-up in paperwork apparently left the school open to being threatened with violations of Nunavut's export act.

During his year in Cambridge Bay, Simms encouraged the development of on-the-land hunting programs for Kiilinik students. At the same time, he upgraded the school's computers. He also had plans to install an on-line learning system – all of which would cost money.

Karen Wilford, the head of the DEA in Cambridge Bay, said she could not comment on Simms' resignation or any of the circumstances that led to his decision to leave.

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"I can't tell you anything," Wilford said in a telephone conversation from Cambridge Bay.

Millie Kuliktana, the executive director of the Kitikmeot School Operations, and Margaret Joyce, the Kitikmeot regional school superintendent, told staff at Kiilinik High School not to speak to reporters about any aspect of Simms' departure, teachers at the school said.

Kuliktana and Joyce, who were in Cambridge Bay last week, could not be reached for comment.

Simms, 62, resigned the day before school started Aug. 21. The KSO rejected his resignation and offered him an indefinite leave of absence.

In an email message, Simms declined to discuss his resignation.

"Suffice it to say that the whole experience here was outstanding, and I have enjoyed this assignment more than any I have had in the past – absolutely no regrets."

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In an interview last year, Simms said his goal was to make the school a warm and safe place, generating and receiving love from its students.

Brenda Illaszewicz has taken over as acting principal of the school, which has 190 students from Grades 7 to 12.

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