Kitikmeot heritage centre on track again

Despite the last-minute funding cut that MLAs imposed last week, work on the Kitikmeot Heritage Society will go ahead this year.



IQALUIT — Construction of a Kitikmeot heritage centre attached to a new high school in Cambridge Bay will go ahead this season as planned, despite a last-minute funding cut imposed last week by Nunavut MLAs.

Kim Crockatt, the president of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, says construction of the centre will begin this year in conjunction with work on the school. Construction will continue next year as originally planned.

“Because the project is going to be done over the next couple of years we can’t see how it will effect the project,” Crockatt said. “Construction will start this year,” she said.

Last week, Premier Paul Okalik agreed to cut funding for construction of the heritage centre after regular MLAs staged a walk-out on May 3.

Instead of spending $500,000 this year on the heritage centre, the government will spend $200,000 on it during this fiscal year, and another $200,000 next year.

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That produces a shortfall of $125,000. But Crockatt said the Kitikmeot Heritage Society’s should be able to raise that much through its own fund-raising efforts.

“With fund-raising that we’ve already done, we have one more proposal that we’re awaiting confirmation on and that will bring us well over the $125,000 that we need,” she said.

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society is seeking funding from the federal government and private corporations, and even has fund-raisers working in England, Crockatt said.

The people of Cambridge Bay are also fund-raising to pay their share of an expanded gymnasium in the new school. Crockatt said the heritage society was careful to not compete with those efforts.

“We didn’t want to ruin the chances of one thing over another. So we decided to go outside,” she said.

The society was unsure if funding for the project would arrive this year. As a result, society members expanded their fund-raising efforts to cover the higher costs of expanding the school after construction, Crockatt said.

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With construction now scheduled to begin this year, Crockatt said the extra money will go towards more improvements to the centre.

Debate in the legislative assembly surrounding the replacement school came right down to the wire and within hours of a sealift deadline.

With construction now secure, Cambridge Bay Mayor Keith Peterson acknowledged the regular member’s right to question the government.

“The regular members had some questions and they asked the cabinet members to speak to them. That’s fair enough. Obviously we don’t like seeing things taken down right to the very, very last minute. It’s rather nerve-wracking,” Peterson said.

Both Peterson and Crockatt talked about the Kitikmeot elders who worked on designing the heritage centre. Some were worried they would not live to see the project completed.

“It was really important to the elders. They’ve been involved in aspects of the planning and their ideas are threaded throughout,” Crockatt said.

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