'It's really been sort of 'nightmarish; for us.'

Evicted Iqaluit gym club now homeless


Iqaluit's gymnastics club is looking for a home after being kicked out of Nakasuk School's gymnasium this winter.

The club hasn't practiced since early February, when it was asked by Carol Horn, Nakasuk's principal, to pack up its equipment and move up to the Arctic Winter Games arena.

There the gear sits unused, languishing in the bleachers. It can't be used, because the club's insurance policy doesn't cover the arena, and some of the equipment needs special mounts, which are only found in the gymnasium floor at Nakasuk, said Carolyn Mallory, the club's head coach.

"It cost us a thousand dollars to move the equipment out of Nakasuk and up to the bleachers," she said. "We only charge 25 bucks a kid, so it's not like we have a ton of money to be doing that kind of thing."

The gear had to be moved out of Nakasuk in February, when the discovery of mould in a ventilation duct forced the school to be closed for a thorough cleaning. But the gymnasts haven't been allowed to return.

Horn is out of town and was unavailable for comment, but in a February letter to Peter Geikie, Nunavut's assistant deputy minister of education, she wrote that the club's equipment took up too much space.

The gym equipment used to be stored on and under the gymnasium stage, and in a seacan located on school property.

Horn wrote that the school asked the club to find a new home for its gear so Nakasuk could use the storage space under the stage for chairs, and so students could use the stage for performances and assemblies "throughout the school year [and] not just at Christmas time."

Horn also said the school gave the gymnastics club notice last September that this would be the last year that the gymnasts would be allowed to use the school and that they would have to find a new location for their practices.

In a letter to Nunatsiaq News Mallory acknowledged that the equipment took up space, but said the club always found volunteers to move it out of the way when the school needed to use the stage.

And she wonders why the gymnastics equipment needed to be taken out of the school during the February cleaning when desks and other equipment did not.

Mallory also said a parent who called Horn to ask about the situation was hung up on. In her letter to Giekie, Horn says two phone calls got through to her despite her insistence that she was finished talking about the situation.

"Both calls interrupted meetings with staff or parents," Horn wrote. "When I explained that I could not talk, the caller continued to talk and ask questions."

Mallory believes the decision about who can use the gym rests with the Iqaluit District Education Authority. Representatives from the club were told at a Feb. 26 IDEA meeting that they'd get a decision by the next day.

Instead they heard nothing from IDEA until April 11, when they were told the IDEA supports Horn's decision.

After seven years at Nakasuk, she laments the situation. In the meantime, the club is trying to work out an arrangement with the city to get the club up and running at the AWG.

"It's really been sort of nightmarish for us," Mallory said.

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