Kugluktuk high school fire deliberately set: Nunavut RCMP

“Arson is the cause of the fire which may have been started by young children”

The high school in Kugluktuk remains closed this week after a Sept. 3 fire, which police say appears to have been deliberately set by young children. The fire caused damage and may have affected air quality inside the building, so students have not yet returned to class in the school. (File photo)

By Jane George

(Updated on Sept. 18)

The fire that caused about $100,000 worth of damage to the Kugluktuk High School Sept. 3 appears to have been deliberately set by young children, the RCMP says.

“The investigation has determined arson is the cause of the fire, which may have been started by young children,” states a Sept. 11 release from the Kugluktuk RCMP.

Const. Charles Bond said anyone with information about the fire, or who knows who is responsible for the fire, should contact the police.

The fire has meant that students attending the school have been put into temporary classrooms, following several days when classes were suspended. The school has 256 registered students.

Temporary classrooms have been set up in hamlet’s recreation centre and the elementary school.

The parent of one student told Nunatsiaq News that attendance has been low since the fire. The Education Department, however, disputes this.

“According to the principal’s attendance chart for the month, the average attendance is 73 per cent for the month of September, which is not ‘low.’ In fact, five grades have between 74 and 81 per cent attendance this month,” said a statement from the department.

Power has been back on in the damaged high school since last week, but concerns about air quality remain: the results of an air quality test carried out this past Monday will only be known on Friday, community sources said.

Kugluktuk High School received attention earlier this year from the film The Grizzlies. Shot in Iqaluit, the film was based on the story of a lacrosse team that was active in Kugluktuk in the early 2000s..

The name “Grizzlies” is also used for many of the high school’s teams that compete in sports like hockey, soccer, volleyball and table tennis.

The current disruptions at the high school, which this year also has a new principal and several new teachers, comes as the local district education authority has disbanded.

New DEA members won’t be elected until Oct. 28, when voters in all Nunavut communities will go to the polls to elect mayors, municipal councils and seven-member district education authorities.


An earlier version of this story misstated the number of students registered at Kugluktuk High school: it’s 256, rather than 346, students. This story has also been updated to reflect the fact that the Education Department disputes that school attendance has been low since the fire.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by bad news on

    If this continues, insurance costs will be unaffordable in Nunavut.

    Congrats everyone.

  2. Posted by Opinionated on

    Is that mean other communities will have to wait another year or two to get a new government building? Because the money have to be used to repair the school, that was set on fire on purpose?

    Nunavut communities, schools should have a security to prevent from people breaking in or prevent the fire. There’s would be less damage if someone watch over the school during the night.

    • Posted by bad news on

      The GN did put 24 hour security at the new Kugaaruk and Cape Dorset Schools because of new insurance requirements and it’s costing them a fortune.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      That is exactly what this means Opinionated. Other capital projects are now on hold for full year (or longer) while the GN redirects money to repairing this school. It is time that these miscreants are held responsible; and since we can’t put young kids behind bars the next best thing is to hold their parents and/or guardians accountable.

  3. Posted by hunter3 on

    There isn’t a single person reading this article who didn’t already knw that kids were responsible for the fire. Maybe parents need to start doing some jail time on behalf of the crimes of their poorly-raised children. Let’s see how fast parents start parenting then!

    • Posted by Westerner on

      How will they parent from prison? haha Get your head out of the sand. Obviously this is the deed of a misguided child, but punishing others rather than the person responsible is just crazy. Even in this case.

      • Posted by hunter3 on

        Obviously it’s an impossible idea, but can you imagine how many parents would sit up and take notice if they knew they would be held accountable for their kids criminal activity?? That’s the point I was trying to make.

  4. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    Has anyone ever wondered if fires are being set by copycats? There was a lot of media attention earlier this year when there was a spate of fires being set in Iqaluit. We have since seen acts of arson in other communities. Rather, they seem to happen way more frequently than before.

  5. Posted by Pootoogook on

    What’s with all the firebugs in Nunavut?

    Kids need an education and they go and burn down a school?

    We need an educated workforce and no one realizes, setting fires under buildings is a costly thing for governments to re-build. Especially a school.


  6. Posted by Opinion8edn8vel8y on

    Why is everyone pressing their anger on the misguided children. As much as I hate to acknowledge that these children are simply a so-called “product” of traumatized parents and families, we are forgetting the organizational structures in which we expect them to “learn” how to be a contributing citizen of the economy. What is the local government doing to address the social issues in an effective way? Stop pushing money at them and go and see how they have to live their lives. Maybe then people will rethink their shitty attitudes and want for REAL change. Why are the teachers not being questioned in their dealings with these children? They spend everyday with them and should know what they are going through at home and reporting accordingly. Employees of the modern society are too lazy to do the paper work and use their voices for the ones who can’t. It’s too much work for them. Money comes and goes, and should! These kids deserve attention, kindness and love. No matter how difficult.

    • Posted by Former_Kug-Resident on

      You call the teachers lazy? Their job is to teach the kids, not raise them! Save your lazy labels for the parents of these misguided youth.

    • Posted by get real on

      From this post it’s obvious that you don’t work within municipal government, the school system or are from this community or you would never make such a broad stroke statement about the (supposed lack of) opportunities available in Kugluktuk for youth.

      Teachers are the predominant resource of volunteers for all of the athletics and extra-curricular programs offered to youth in Kugluktuk. Each of these programs run multiple times a week, evenings and weekends for all age groups. On a daily basis these teachers come in early, donate their lunchtimes and leave late to oversee meal programs and social groups for students to participate in. They work with the students throughout and outside of class time to ensure they have all of the support possible to succeed (both emotional and academic).

      The hamlet administration spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on community development, youth and recreation programs specifically to support the health and wellbeing of the youth of Kugluktuk. Many positions to oversee these programs are paid for out of pocket by the hamlet and operate in evenings and weekends to give kids opportunities to play and grow in a safe and supportive environment. These are not simply “throwing money” at a problem, but are paying the utility expenses for the variety of meeting spaces to operate these programs and the staff to facilitate them (expenses which are unavoidable and can not be disregarded). This also includes the positions of bylaw officers and other night watchmen, these roles are not supported by territorial or national funding programs but are paid by the local government to assist the efforts of the RCMP to patrol the community at night. These are thankless roles and its so discouraging to see comments like yours as it diminishes the tireless efforts of these people and undermines the positive effect they have on their community.

      The problem is not with the existing governance and social programs, or the lack of commitment to their success by its workers. The problem lays solely in a lack of respect for what it takes to maintain all of this. This lack of respect starts with the adults of the community and is perpetuated by their children of whom they set an example for. The cost to construct and maintain these programs, facilities and the staff who operate them is expensive as it is, and the vandalism in Kugluktuk is not isolated to this one incident. Purposeful arson by minors is an ongoing problem, and there is nothing else that teachers or government employees can do to intervene without overstepping their boundaries.

      For any readers who are from outside of the community it must be stated that for every child who acts out through arson and vandalism there are 25 others who are respectful, well behaved and understand the consequences of their actions. The problems Kugluktuk are facing can be traced back to a specific handful of children, but by the laws that protect their rights the ones who cause these damages can not be charged and ultimately their disciplining must be enacted by their care giver. The solution should never be to remove a child from their home (unless absolutely necessary) but to ensure that the family understands the consequences of their childrens actions and are supported to ensure that disciplinary action is taken.

      The responsibility to parent these children falls solely within their families and the responsibility to maintain their supervision and repercussions should not fall on anyone else but their caregivers. To ask the teachers and the municipal government to become personally involved in the discipline of the children setting fires is beyond the rights of those adults to interfere in the families personal affairs as well as the rights of the family and the children involved. If the child is too young to be prosecuted by the RCMP, do you actually think that the responsibility to parent this child falls on the hamlet or on the teachers? Or maybe the finger should be solely pointed on their care givers and the repercussions fall on them as a result.

      In the spirit of consensus based government (the foundation of Nunavuts political structure) and the demonstration of Inuit values and principles in all aspects of daily life, something along the lines of a traditional community council should be established for situations like this. This council would be comprised entirely of elders and prominent Inuit leaders in Kugluktuk and they would determine how to make families personally accountable for the actions of their children. They would define the repercussions for the minors who set this fire as they are too young to prosecute through the law and would demonstrate to the youth of Kugluktuk that all negative actions will have far reaching consequences. Repercussions would not be monetary but rather in the form of community servitude to restore pride in the community and try to undo the damage that their children have caused.

      If a child has no respect for the school then at the very minimum they should understand that their actions affect the people they love in more profound ways than just being displaced from the school during its repair. They need to realize that their parents, grandparents, siblings and caregivers will be punished as a result of their recklessness. Until families are held accountable for the decisions of their children we will continue to see arson, vandalism, theft and disrespect for authority in the youth of Kugluktuk.

  7. Posted by Reality for sure on

    The reality is there are to many experts and advisors who
    are not doing their jobs in Nunavut but getting big wages
    and milking the cash cow of Nunavut for all they can get.
    No wonder nobody gives a shit .
    Why should they do the work of others for free ! !
    Get rid of the freeloaders regardless of race.

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