Frustrated with no action on Cambridge Bay School


It has been almost 14 months since the high school burned to the ground here in Cambridge Bay.

I should be proudly writing to you saying that we have a new facility on the way that has involved the community and is going to answer a lot of our problems. Everyone knows what is coming next…

We picked ourselves out of the ashes and got to work right away, making space available for last year’s classes. Everyone involved was terrific, far too many to mention at this point. We were also busy working on the end replacement — with division looming we didn’t want to lose our school replacement for another year.

We had the key support in place, or at least we thought we did. But the bureaucrats didn’t like it and we all know that when they don’t like something, nothing is going to happen, and absolutely next to zip has happened. It’s a “let’s-wait-them-out” strategy.

I should mention to you why they didn’t like what we were asking of them. We figured that since our old school wasn’t a seven-hour a day facility, the new one wouldn’t be either. There was a request to put an extended gym in place and to include a culture and heritage centre in the school, as it had been in the old building. This would keep the school operating 12-14 hours a day as it had been in the past.

The problems are that the changes we requested do not fit Nunavut’s new school cookie-cutter. The second problem is that the government of Nunavut is low on money and large on lists.

We met with everyone, including the premier and a lot of ministers, but magically enough, not the minister of education, who was stuck on the land.

Our community has told the Nunavut government that we would, if asked, consider coming up with 10 per cent of the extra costs if necessary, and that is one heck of a lot of bake sales and auctions. What we have got in return is a lot of rhetoric, a lot of excuses, defensiveness, and no action.

We are concentrating on our young and old to bring them together under one roof again — this holds so much promise. If we wait for the rhetoric to clear, it will be years away, perhaps many, but doing this now saves a lot of money.

Maybe I am entering the zone of my own rhetoric, but what is not rhetoric is that our young people have lost a lot by being located under many roofs with so many young people and not enough good things to do. The community is suffering and we need to have the good plans and hopes of the community realized so we can put a positive spin on this tragedy.

The sad thing is that we were told up front that these changes were possible and should be done now, and we didn’t feel it was a gamble. But it certainly has the looks of being a bad gamble.

Government as to pony up on this one and do the right thing for the people of the community, and to send a message to the people of Nunavut that schools are important, and that entire community involvement is another ingredient.

I apologize for sounding frustrated, because I would rather have my energies going to forward.

Wilf Wilcox
Cambridge Bay

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