‘Major safety concern’: Nunavut’s aging schools spur thousands of maintenance requests

Reports from 2022 include fuel spills, ‘extremely dangerous’ doors and glycol seeping through floor

Clockwise from top left: Tusarvik School, Joamie School, Inuujaq School and Paatsaali High School. These schools have experienced many maintenance issues over the past year, ranging from broken doors and windows to heating issues, fuel leaks and plumbing problems. (File photos)

By Madalyn Howitt

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(38) Comments:

  1. Posted by ? on

    If education wasn’t free parents would care what’s going on in schools no one cares it’s free drop it place for kids for 9 months ?

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    • Posted by James on

      Education is only free to those who do not work and pay taxes. The tax payers pay for the education system.

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      • Posted by ? on

        That’s what Nunavut lives off not working ? if I quit my job today I’d take home more $$from not working how sad is that ?

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  2. Posted by iThink™ on

    There are countless angles to approach this problem, one that leaps out is that we have 25 communities meaning the need to replicate of services 25x, resulting in thinly stretched resources across the board.

    To suggest this might not be a desirable or sustainable situation seems obvious, yet it is a conversation we appear incapable of having. That fact, in my opinion, is a hurdle we need to clear if we are serious about progress in any area.

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    • Posted by Barry on

      Yes, why replicate services 25x when we can forcibly relocate Inuit to other areas. What can go wrong?
      “In forcibly relocating Inuit, real progress will be found!” – iThink™, probably

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      • Posted by iThink™ on

        Hi Barry… your comment is exactly the kind of non-sense I was thinking when I wrote. As long as people are going make ludicrous and spurious associations like this will never be able to talk seriously about anything.

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        • Posted by Barry on

          Is your solution residential schools? A “consolidation” of population? Do tell us.

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      • Posted by John K on

        Barry’s comment is what you call a “Strawman” argument.

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    • Posted by Decentralization Sensation on

      The fantasy, at the cost of (insert here: children, healthcare, language, culture, infrastructure, jobs, services, housing ), is that there is an inherent right and obligation on government to magically multiple services x25 and make them equal of exceed what is available in Ottawa. It is a fantasy because of logistics in Nunavut. It is fantasy because of capacity in Nunavut. It is a fantasy because there is no economic argument for it.
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      Yet here you have people like Barry, and like many Premiers, and like NTI Presidents, who push and push and push public governments to go this route. Public government does what it does and responds in a mediocre fashion and schools fall down and we can’t have clean water in the capital city.
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      We cannot mention centralization, relocation, etc. because people have a conniption fit about residential schools. About sixty’s scoop. About TB.
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      People are so naive. And it is unfortunate that individuals with a self-serving agenda thwart discussion and policy solutions with hyperbole and disassociated links to past events and more recent narratives about “how it really was”.
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      Nunavut deserves another 30 years of squalor and bandaid buildings and services because we permit the loudest voices to prevail, not the most reasonable.

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      • Posted by Barry on

        Yes, how dare Inuit talk about the harms of residential schools and forced relocations.

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          • Posted by Barry on

            Yes, it’s terrible that the residents of Nunavut want basic services. And it’s horrible that Inuit have a “conniption fit” about residential schools and other injustices. We all get your point.

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            • Posted by John K on

              Barry has moved from strawman arguments to gaslighting.

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              • Posted by Barry on

                It is rather you that is gaslighting. Look up “projection behaviour”.

                “We cannot mention centralization, relocation, etc. because people have a conniption fit about residential schools. About sixty’s scoop. About TB.“ <- an example of telling Inuit to stop talking about injustices such as residential schools.

                Is your solution residential schools? A “consolidation” of population? Do tell us. You won’t of course. But keep spewing, it’s great.

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                • Posted by Why no one responds to you on

                  Intelligent people are right to avoid conversation with those who intentionally misrepresent and distort their points.

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            • Posted by Reality on

              Relocation is necessary for most people in their lives and has been for all peoples historically. People leave bad situations for better all the time.
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              It’s of course acceptable to talk about residential schools and 60s scoop and dog slaughters, but the hyperbole that anyone can be “forced” to do anything in 2023 in anyway remotely like historical events is a straw man and red herring. It’s strategic: to keep decentralization as the policy let’s stop anyone from talking about centralization by using past atrocities as examples of what happens when Inuit move. As if Inuit are not nomadic people culturally.
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              To me it is not only logically flawed, but ethically questionable whether the conversation about the future of Nunavut should be manipulated on the back of stories of suffering that are not remotely relevant to the discussion. It is nothing more than sensationalism. We are on to your game Barry.

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        • Posted by Isn’t This What You’re Trying to Say? on

          How dare Nunavummiut talk about rationalization of resources and a better future. Isn’t that what you mean Barry?

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          • Posted by Barry on

            Indeed.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      In northern Ontario, first nation’s teens have to go to Thunder Bay for high school. The results are atrocious. Just listen to the podcast “thunder bay” if you don’t believe me.

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  3. Posted by Name Withheld on

    Government of Nunavut is at its best here!! CGS is known to have long-term staff who have overstayed their mandate in a position that doesn’t care what maintenance repairs are being done in these schools or health centers. They are no different from public housing staff who drives around all day and are taxi drivers for their spouse and family members.

    1. You have engineers-Project Managers, directors, and technical officers who sign off the construction of these schools, and health centers (Capital and Infrastructure projects within Nunavut by Government of Nunavut, -Namely under CGS.

    2. You have a Superintendent in each region who supervises the settlement maintainers in the smaller communities. The settlement maintainers usually hire casuals under them to assist in work orders and demands.

    CGS DM should be getting on top of this and asking a lot of questions about why these work orders aren’t being tended to.

    How much training do these settlement maintainers and casual need to stop a leaking faucet or to install a door closer?

    How much OT are they putting in each week, but you continue to see the work demands going up and not getting any lower?

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  4. Posted by concerned on

    It is time that the territorial gov’t bring back the Dept. of Public Works. It is time that they take qualified Red Seal tradespersons to head up each division of trade, hire apprentices and combine the trade school (NATE e.g.) and work experience to make them qualified tradespeople. The academic only high school curriculum does not work for everyone. Implement trades high school curriculum as well. Get it done now so that the GN CGS is not reliant only on contracting the work out.

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  5. Posted by iThough on

    No care/not my problem attitude, kids alighting school buildings, parents and their social issues passed down to the kids. School buildings are/were not designed to take that amount destruction/abuse. Roots, problems have roots, look for those and do what needs doing to correct it.

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    • Posted by ithought on

      ithought

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  6. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    Also , all the schools and Government buildings need proper ventilation systems (air exchange). This became apparent since the arrival of Covid in our lives. We also have TB , RSV and flu season in our territory, all respiratory illnesses highly transmissable. We have a new variant of Covid that is highly transmissable and no updated vaccines yet. Other jurisdictions have remedied this ( ventilation). With climate change. our summers have become much hotter, making it unbearable to work in the Gn offices during summer, veritable greenhouses, hot houses.. Not every office have windows to open . high time to get air conditioning in the office spaces

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  7. Posted by Taxpayer on

    In Cambridge Bay, for years in a row, the footings for the Elementary School and Utilities Outbuilding have been dug up for what seems like repairs to underground water and heating lines. Every summer, the same areas are dug up, and similar pipes are yanked out and put back in.

    It certainly makes one wonder whether these facilities and equipment were designed and selected properly, or whether the repairs or solutions have been adequately thought and carried out.

    If it was not designed properly, the GN should be accessing their engineer’s insurance in order to financially protect taxpayers from these costs. If the repairs are not being done right, hopefully the GN is not paying the contractors anyway. There is no transparency in either case.

    Weeks of earthworks every summer cannot be cheap. This must represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs every year, a big chunk of the $18M mentioned above. How many years more will they keep doing what seems to be the same thing?

    As this seems to be an ongoing problem, perhaps they need to think about placing the pipes above ground and enclosing them and heating them. At least this way, they are readily and more cheaply available for the next time something fails and needs replacing.

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    • Posted by Northern Inuit on

      but with the acting director at CGS overseeing the work being completed, I’m sure the work across the street of the RCMP Building is much more of a huge concern isn’t it. I know at the evacuation of Yellowknife, their biggest concern was how they would ensure their refreshments would be kept in stock.

      but to your point, it’s amazing how much money they have spent with underground work and excavation to no end. will it ever be done?

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      • Posted by Hunter on

        RCMP detachments and their buildings are federal buildings and are maintained by Public Works Canada.

        Nunavut schools are territorial buildings maintained by Community & Government Services

        Just pointing out that CGS does not over see repairs and maintenance to RCMP buildings in Nunavut

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        • Posted by Name withheld on

          Rcmp buildings and facilities are maintain by contractors not PSPC, PSPC only provides crown housing to members in Iqaluit.

  8. Posted by Classrooms in crisis on

    Meanwhile CBC is reporting 81 teacher vacancies as we head into the year.

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    • Posted by Welcome to the Market on

      Huge shortage across the whole country. The days of surplus teachers we can attract from elsewhere are behind us and will be for a number of years.

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    • Posted by Children deserve better on

      I almost died laughing listening to the Minister of Education say how well the plan is going for teacher recruitment that the Dept has in place when the conversation should be about teacher retention! But the GN really seems to dislike teachers and is so unsupportive that it’s amazing there are any teachers in Nunavut schools-like every other jurisdiction in North America, the GN takes advantage of teachers’ goodwill to children and young people. NTEP might be graduating new teachers every year, but how long will they stay in the profession?

      Does the public know how many Inuit teachers have left the teaching profession in the last, say, 10 -15years? Does the public want to know WHY those teachers have left? That would be an incredibly interesting and enlightening conversation to have, but it’s one not likely the Regional School Operations and the Dept of Education would want to be made public. The leadership of the GN and its’ management is colonial in so many ways (under the guise of IQ, but we all know how that doesn’t happen in most GN workspaces.) . Management is an Old Boys Club.

      On the CGS issue…did you hear about the huge glycol leak in one of the Rankin schools last winter which closed it to students for over 2 weeks? Work being done in schools without permits and so some work is not being done to code? Work on schools that isn’t started until late July/early August so classes have to be cancelled until other arrangements can be made…How will full-day Kindergarten even be possible in most schools? Many are already overcrowded and there are not enough classrooms to make this possible. There has been no thought given to population growth and the fact that schools have to be enlarged and modernized, much less maintained obviously isn’t obvious. Classrooms still have carpet in them that is probably over 15-20 years old but CGS doesn’t get the work requests done over the summer which schools submit before summer. The same thing can be requested multiple years in a row (such as the removal of carpet) and it still is not done over the summer-that doesn’t help anyone’s breathing -and then those awful ventilation systems….School buildings are falling apart due to neglect.

  9. Posted by Atii on

    The GN must invest in the training of skilled tradespeople in every community in Nunavut. It also must invest in stock-piling commonly used material in each community, so construction season does not have to wait for sealift.
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    There is more than enough work for them to do, maintaining existing infrastructure and building new.
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    The investment would more than pay for itself.
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    No more fly in fly out for regular work, only for occasional specialty skills.
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    More Inuit would be earning a living, rather than collecting Family Assistance.
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    The GN would be collecting personal income tax, rather that money going to the governments of other jurisdictions. It would even be collecting income tax from Nunavut based businesses that employ Inuit tradespeople.
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    The tradespeople who build new schools, arenas, and houses can be expected to sign their work, just like any other artist.

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  10. Posted by Maintenance on

    Maybe we can ship some teachers to Nunavut and they can realize their not to bad here in Nunavik, they paid very low monthly rent and complain all the time about minor stuff, they call in night because lights bulb not working or battery of smoke detectors need to change, I imagine they stay before at their mom place downsouth.

  11. Posted by 867 on

    Seems like the only way a community gets a new school is after an act of arson is committed. Sad!

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  12. Posted by Palaugaa on

    See it for what it is,contractors taking advantage of GN,look back when a certain community had surplus inventory but was sent to the landfill,see it for what it is,contracts are more important than education!

    • Posted by What it is on

      These contractors are often under the veil of being Inuit owned, onion companies, who flow a kickback to the elite Inuit on the backs of the taxpayer, and by extension the poor.

      • Posted by That’s true…. on

        Sure, this is the way the luminaries who designed the system either wanted it to be, or lacked the wisdom to anticipate.

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