For Nunavummiut, 2018 was a year to speak out

Voices raised against sexual abuse and other violence

Grade 5 and 6 students from Simon Alaittuq School throat-sing on Feb. 22 at the closing ceremony for the three-day hearing in Rankin Inlet held by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

By Patricia Lightfoot

Susan Aglukark started off the hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Rankin Inlet  with a song that urged women not to suffer in silence. She didn’t plan to any longer. The well-known Nunavut singer and recording artist made a powerful statement about the man who sexually abused her when she was a child. In the same spirit, many of the witnesses at the hearings raised their voices to call for Nunavut parents, leaders, organizations and church groups to speak up and speak out when they know of abuse—sexual or otherwise.

Susan Aglukark calls out her childhood abuser in testimony she gave to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Rankin Inlet on Feb. 22. (CPAC SCREENSHOT)

Some have clearly heard this message. Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, vowed that Canada’s national Inuit organization will dedicate itself to the prevention of child sexual abuse in Inuit Nunangat, beginning with an expert forum to tackle the issue that was held in Ottawa.

In other stories from 2018, tuberculosis, a disease that has been consigned to history in much of Canada, continued to ravage the territory, though a commitment was made by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott on behalf of the federal government to eliminate the disease from the four regions of Inuit Nunangat by 2030. Screening clinics, organized by the Government of Nunavut, took place in Qikiqtarjuaq and Whale Cove.

There was high political drama last year, starting with the removal of then-premier Paul Quassa during the second sitting of the legislature. Later in the year, during the third sitting, Premier Savikataaq deprived then-minister Pat Agnakak of her portfolios for breaching cabinet confidentiality. She initially refused to resign, but then did so, calling out the premier for being “heavy-handed.”

Tragedy struck the Kivalliq region, where two men were killed by polar bears in two separate incidents. This left the region fearful and angry about what people saw as inadequate hunting quotas.

Water remained an issue in the territory, with a shortage in Iqaluit and regular boil water advisories in various communities, including Igloolik, Kugluktuk, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove. 

After myriad consultations and a scramble to develop municipal bylaws and territorial legislation, the recreational use of cannabis became legal throughout the country on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The consequences, apart from an immediate boost to the coffers of the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission, have yet to become clear, but we can assure our readers that at Nunatsiaq News we will be watching this and other developments in the territory closely in 2019.

Here is the Nunatsiaq News list of our most memorable Nunavut stories from 2018:


  • Gjoa Haven historian Louis Kamookak was named an Officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General Julie Payette “for his relentless dedication to collecting and showcasing the stories of the Inuit of Nunavut” a couple of months before his death. Other appointees included Gérard Duhaime, James Eetoolook, Minnie Grey, Andrew Qappik and Doug Stenton. 
  • A diesel-run heater used to thaw frozen pipes led to the first Iqaluit fire of 2018. The City of Iqaluit’s fire department received a call at 10:55 p.m. on Jan. 1 for a fire that would leave building 2217, a five-unit housing complex on Apex Road, in ruins and its residents displaced by the time the flames were fully extinguished at about 9 a.m. on Jan. 2.
  • Pangnirtung elders, youth, parents, counsellors, school staff and other residents began two weeks of workshops designed to produce a five-year community wellness action plan.
  • Veteran Nunavut leader Jack Anawak, who ran in the 2017 territorial election, was sentenced  to 30 days in jail after earlier pleading guilty to drinking and driving.
  • Jonathan Nuss takes a turn around Taloyoak on his snow skate in January. He’s shared this new hybrid sport with local youth. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JONATHAN NUSS)

  • Voters in Baker Lake chose to change their community’s liquor laws by opting for unrestricted alcohol purchasing.
  • Youth in at least 15 Nunavut communities heard that they should have the opportunity to learn computer science over the next two years, thanks to $1.7 million in federal funding given to expand the territory’s te(a)ch program.
  • The Government of Nunavut launched a round of territory-wide consultations  to hear how the territory should regulate legalized cannabis.
  • The Northern Lights trade show, which showcases the business and culture of Canada’s North, began on Jan. 31 in Ottawa.


  • February was Inuktut-language month, Uqausirmut Quviasuutiqarniq, a time for Nunavummiut to celebrate Inuit language and culture. The theme for last year’s celebration was Inuit Ukpirijangit Unikkaangillu—Inuit beliefs and myths.
  • SSi Micro announced that it had begun offering a new 4G cellphone service, called SSi Mobile, starting in Clyde River and Chesterfield Inlet—two communities that were not currently served by Nunavut’s dominant cellular operator, Bell.
  • The Jerry Cans, Kelly Fraser and Tanya Tagaq all received nominations for the 2018 Juno Awards, the country’s largest music awards event.
  • The principal at Clyde River’s Quluaq School, Rebecca Hainu, was among 40 outstanding principals in Canada selected by the Learning Partnership, which honours principals across the country every year.
  • TB specialists and other health care staff went to Qikiqtarjuaq to screen residents of the Baffin community, which had the highest incidence of the infection in Nunavut.
  • From left: Dr. Mike Patterson, Nunavut Health Minister Pat Angnakak, along with Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa and his executive secretary Kailey Arreak, help launch a community-wide screening clinic for tuberculosis in Qikiqtarjuaq in February (FILE PHOTO)

  • Cutting Ice, a book about the the life and art of the groundbreaking Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook, is launched.
  • The National Inquiry into Missing and and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held its first official event in Inuit Nunangat, with a three-day hearing in Rankin Inlet. Sexual abuse—and Nunavut’s silence about it—is what killed Betsy Kalaserk, the inquiry heard, and that abuse will continue to slowly kill many until Nunavummiut decide to speak up against it and seek help, said Kalaserk’s niece, Laura Mackenzie.
  • Susan Aglukark started off the MMIWG hearings in Rankin Inlet  with a song that urged women not to suffer in silence. She didn’t plan to. The well-known Nunavut singer and recording artist ended the hearings with powerful testimony about the man who sexually abused her when she was a child.
  • Grise Fiord church, the only place of worship in the High Arctic community, was gutted in a fire. Embers from a wood stove appear to have caused the blaze.



  • Vandals broke into Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake over the Easter weekend, where they smashed multiple windows and doors, stole $1,000 in cash and took video surveillance equipment.
  • A Nunavut RCMP officer died in an off-duty snowmobile mishap just outside Kugluktuk.
  • A Clyde River man drowned, while bear hunting along the floe edge. A group of five men were polar bear hunting about 65 kilometres southeast of the Baffin community, when one man fell through the sea ice and didn’t re-surface.
  • The Government of Nunavut pulled out of the ambitious Grays Bay Road and Port project, following a decision by the federal government to reject a funding proposal that would have covered 75 per cent of the project’s approximately $500-million price tag.
  • Former Sanikiluaq teacher Johnny Meeko was sentenced to eight years and one month, likely in a federal prison, for 14 convictions on sex crimes against children committed over a 35-year period between 1972 and 2007.
  • Ike Haulli, once a highly respected business owner from Igloolik who until recently served as chair of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, was exposed as an egregious sexual predator.
  • NTI president Aluki Kotierk addressed the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. She called for new federal legislation to recognize Inuktut as one of Canada’s founding languages. 
  • Nunavut RCMP warned the public about unsafe conditions near the floe edge in Iqaluit, after a hunter lost his snowmobile and qamutik.


  • A 22-year-old Clyde River woman who was found dead at the Tammaativvik patient boarding home in Iqaluit was part of a murder-suicide.
  • The federal government announced funding for a new cargo warehouse for First Air in Iqaluit and to upgrade or replace aging airport terminals in Kugluktuk, Naujaat, Kimmirut, Whale Cove and Chesterfield Inlet.
  • A crowd gathers in Rankin Inlet to inspect one of the many trout caught in a fishing derby that took place over the long weekend in May. (PHOTO BY KELLI MCLARTY)

  • GN and RCMP representatives visit Pangnirtung in response to a plea from the hamlet council for help in stopping reoccurring violence and suicide attempts made by youth in the Baffin community.
  • The Winnipeg Art Gallery hosted a groundbreaking event for its new Inuit-focused art centre with municipal, provincial and Indigenous officials on hand, including former Nunavut Commissioner Piita Irniq and Rankin Inlet hamlet councillor Theresie Tungilik, who are members of the gallery’s Indigenous circle. The Inuit art centre will serve as the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, with much of the collection from Nunavut.
  • You have to spend money to make money,” says Premier Quassa in response to questions in the legislature about the money spent on the Northern Lights trade show in Ottawa.
  • A young man, formerly from Cambridge Bay, was charged with the murder of a librarian in Ottawa.


  • A new exhibit, called Tunirrusiangit, featuring the work of two of Cape Dorset’s most acclaimed artists, the late Kenojuak Ashevak and the late Timootee Pitsiulak, launched at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
  • Of 35 public housing units flagged last year for “urgent intervention” over mould infestations, 32 of those units are now professionally cleaned up, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., Lorne Kusugak, told members of the legislative assembly.
  • The federal government agreed to extend the inquiry looking at the root causes of violence against Indigenous women for an additional six months, but the MMIWG commissioners say that’s not enough time to complete their work.
  • Hunters in the Kivalliq reqion were told by Nunavut’s environment minister, Joe Savikataaq, that they could harvest an additional four bears this year, bringing the total allowable harvest to 38 bears per year.
  • Following a non-confidence vote tabled by John Main, the chair of the caucus of regular MLAs, Aggu MLA Paul Quassa was ousted as premier and replaced by Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq.
  • Sixteen of Nunavut’s 22 members elected in the Government of Nunavut voted to remove Premier Paul Quassa from cabinet on June 14. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

  • Nunavut MLAs finally passed Bill 7—the territory’s Cannabis Act—making way for the legal, online purchase of small amounts of marijuana.
  • Several inmates at Baffin Correctional Centre rioted, barricading themselves in one unit of the jail. The resulting damage was severe enough that  some inmates had to be transferred to facilities in southern Canada until repairs could be made.
  • Nunavut’s former chief coroner, Padma Suramala, sued the GN for wrongful dismissal. Suramala had been Nunavut’s chief coroner since 2010.


  • Uqqurmiut artists released the 2018 Pangnirtung Print Collection during the Nunavut Arts Festival in Iqaluit. It was the first print series to be released since 2011.
  • An Arviat man who died during a polar bear attack is being remembered as a hero for protecting his children. The 31-year-old man was gathering eggs with his children on Sentry Island, about 10 kilometres off the coast of Arviat, when a polar bear approached the group.
  • Nunavut’s first whale of the season was harvested in Coral Harbour. After the hunt, crews hauled the eight-metre-long (27-foot-long) bowhead whale onto the shore and butchered the animal, distributing muktuk among community members.
  • Facebook will be available in the Inuit language by 2019, the social media company announced on July 9, Nunavut Day.
  • The Government of Nunavut announced that it is bringing back its Department of Human resources, six years after that department was dissolved in 2012.
  • After Iqaluit’s landfill on West 40 Rd. caught fire, it took about two hours for 25 members of Iqaluit’s Fire Department to get that blaze under control.
  • Parks Canada announced up to $900,000 in funding for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to operate a pilot Guardian program to involve Inuit in managing the new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area.
  • A panel of three judges dismissed the federal government’s appeal of a landmark decision made in Dec. 2016 by Justice Bonnie Tulloch, who found that Kivalliq Hall fulfilled the requirements to be classified as a residential school. That opened the door for former students of Kivalliq Hall to file for compensation.



  • Education Minister David Joanasie announced new plans to amend the 2008 Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act. Territory-wide public consultations were scheduled to run in the fall in every Nunavut community
  • Public hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls took place in Iqaluit to explore the social and health effects of colonial violence. Elisapee Davidee Anigmiuq recounted how, as a child in federal day school in Iqaluit, she was told by her teachers that she was not allowed to speak Inuktitut.
  • On World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, Inuit gathered around the North and at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to draw attention to the need for more suicide prevention efforts in Inuit Nunangat, where the suicide rates are roughly 10 times higher than in Canada as a whole.
  • Northwestel announced that it would be offering faster, more affordable internet services in Iqaluit, starting Oct. 1, and that the service should be available to every Nunavut community by the end of 2019.
  • SSi Micro’s new cellular service is launching in Iqaluit on Saturday, Sept. 22.The service, called SSi Mobile, is already available in 15 communities across Nunavut and  Over the next few months, it’s expected to be available throughout Nunavut.
  • The new air terminal in the western Nunavut community of Taloyoak finally had its official opening.
  • Clinicians and TB nurses headed to the Kivalliq region to host a five-week screening clinic in Whale Cove.
  • Nunavut Inuit are now joint owners with the federal government of artifacts discovered recently aboard one of the ill-fated Franklin expedition’s vessels. Among the finds: a water pitcher from an officer’s cabin on the lower deck of the HMS Erebus, along with pieces of rigging from the wreck’s upper deck.
  • Nunavik’s Makivik Corp., which owns First Air, and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., owner of Canadian North, signed a merger agreement to create one “premier northern airline.”


  • Heavy sea ice on the Arctic coast prevented a barge from delivering supplies to Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk in western Nunavut. Fuel, construction supplies, heavy equipment and vehicles were among the supplies stranded in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.
  • Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak resigns from cabinet on Oct. 25, after losing her portfolios the previous day as punishment for a breach of cabinet confidentiality. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

  • The Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s revenues nearly doubled over the past year, to $31 million from $18.4 million, according to the organization’s annual report presented at its annual general meeting in Iqaluit.
  • What meteorologists call a “weather bomb” hit Iqaluit, along with other south Baffin communities, as extreme winds, reaching 114 kilometres per hour by the early hours of  Friday, Oct. 5, knocked out power and ripped metal roofs from buildings.
  • Baker Lake’s hamlet council passed a motion of non-confidence in its sitting mayor, who was charged with assault. Shawn Attungala faces one charge of assault following a Sept. 8 domestic dispute, the Nunavut RCMP said.
  • Tanya Tagaq, better known for her critically acclaimed throat-singing performances and art, earned a prestigious Giller Prize long-list nomination for her first book, Split Tooth. 
  • Cannabis became legal across Canada on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Nunavut’s sole provider is Canopy Growth, whose is supplying weed online to a number of provinces.
  • The first packages of legal marijuana arrive at Iqaluit’s post office from Ontario-based supplier Tweed. This particular order was made on Oct. 17, the day cannabis became legal in Canada, and arrived in Iqaluit Oct. 25. (PHOTO COURTESY OF @TULUGAKCHATTER/TWITTER)

  • Nunavut Resources Corp.’s chief operating officer, Scott  Northey, announced at the annual general meeting of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association that the corporation’s bank account had been drained of about $300,000.
  • Premier Joe Savikataaq removed Iqaluit–Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak’s cabinet responsibilities, saying she had committed a serious breach of cabinet confidentiality in remarks she made at the previous day’s sitting of the legislative assembly. Angnakak initially refused to resign her cabinet position, but then stepped down the following day.
  • NHL player Jordan Tootoo gave an emotional announcement on Oct. 20 that he was retiring “without regret,” so that he can focus on working with Indigenous youth.



  • Nunatsiaq News launches a new mobile-friendly website.
  • Inuit who were taken from their families as children and taken south to be adopted between the late 1950s and early 1980s can now apply for an estimated $25,000 each in compensation for the harms they suffered.
  • The Federal government announced family-friendly changes to the Nutrition North program. The new measures include a high-level subsidy rate that increases existing subsidies on items like milk and infant formula by 25 per cent.
  • Nunavut wrapped up a second community screening clinic for tuberculosis. No infectious cases were found in Whale Cove.
  • Residents of Cambridge Bay don’t need to dream of a white Christmas. A three-day blizzard that started on Dec. 12 brought them more snow for the holidays than many can remember.
  • Kitikmeot Inuit Association voters re-elected their incumbent president, Stanley Anablak, on Dec. 10. Veteran Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. vice-president, James Eetoolook, was re-elected to yet another term as second-in-command at that organization.
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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Monica Connolly on

    You forgot to mention that after Ms Angnakak’s resignation, the Assembly passed a motion of censure

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