Kimmirut wants arena to combat suicide problem
IQALUIT – For the people for Kimmirut, getting an indoor arena is at the top of their Christmas wish-list.
Mikidjuk Akavak, the newly elected mayor of Kimmirut, said there is a need for an arena to give young people something to do.
“We have been asking to have an arena built here for the last 15 years and nothing has happened,” Akavak said.
Akavak was born and raised in the small South Baffin community and says he understands the social issues that arise there.
“I think it’s visible today that the young people do not have a whole lot of areas where there are not a whole lot of facilities to exert that energy they have,” Akavak said.
Suicide a factor
There have been two suicides in Kimmirut over the last year, which Akavak attributes to not enough activities for young people.
“Two suicides is pretty high for a small community,” he said.
He uses himself as an example. “If I go out hunting a lot and not take care of my kids, that would mean I don’t care for my kids as I should. If we’re paying too much attention to thinks like the hunters’ support program, we’re actually setting aside our future generation.”
“It does matter. Kids feel unloved and they turn to these ideas that they are not good enough,” Akavak said.
He said young people need to feel there’s a sense of community in a a small place. “But I think this is evident here in Kimmirut.” Akavak goes on to say that people are not totally disregarding their kids.
Akavak compared the Nunavut Tunngavik’s hunters support program to young people.
“It’s hard to say and you have to draw the line. The hunter’s support program is really good, but it’s really a want instead of a need. I think the arena is more of a need for the kids than a want for the hunters.”
Akavak said he doesn’t know what Kimmirut’s previous council has done regarding the arena, but he said he’ll make this a priority as he sets out on his three-year term as mayor.
“I think it would improve the not only pride in the community but the well-being of the community. The spirit of the community would be lifted, like the RCMP has said a hundred times,” Akavak said.
Akavak said the arena would provide hockey teams, skating with the family and be a place where young people can go.
“If, for example, you play hockey with kids, you interact and spend time exercising and have quality time together.”
What’s going to happen
Akavaks says he’s now circulating a petition in Kimmirut calling for a new arena.
And he says the territorial government has indicated that the arena will be built by the year 2000.
But he doesn’t think that commitment may be kept.
“As far as I am concerned, the year 2000 is going to be a year of transistion where we go from the GNWT to Nunavut. Both governments are going to be too busy to give it priority.”
He said he’s waiting for a response from Manitok Thompson, the minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, and from their MLA, Goo Arlooktoo.