Nunavik’s top stories of 2020

The region buckles down for the pandemic, work starts on Inukjuak’s hydro project and the main internet provider nearly hits capacity

A work crew prepares a platform to set up a new tent outside of the Tulattavik health centre in Kuujjuaq on Nov. 13. The heated tents are being used by health care workers to give flu vaccinations and to administer COVID-19 tests. (Photo by Allen Gordon)

By Nunatsiaq News

A modem sits in the window of a Kangiqsualujjuaq home. Many Nunavimmiut say they dealt with slow and sporadic internet connections throughout 2020. The region’s main internet provider, Tamaani, said it’s using almost 100 per cent capacity on its satellite. (Photo by Felix St-Aubin)

In a year that was dominated by news of a global pandemic, Nunavik was largely spared. The region was able to keep COVID-19 out — except for a few dozen mostly isolated cases — by restricting travel and keeping schools closed for several months.

Politically, it was a quiet year for Nunavik, with no major new projects or investments announced. One of the biggest challenges the regional government will face in 2021 is meeting the growing demand for bandwidth in the region, after its satellite capacity was almost maxed out this past year.

January

  • George Berthe was elected treasurer of Makivik Corp. on Jan. 16, edging out incumbent treasurer Andy Pirti. Berthe had previously served as executive director of the Tulattavik health centre in Kuujjuaq, president of Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. and interim president of the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau.
  • The Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board held hearings to gather input on the region’s new beluga management plan. The overwhelming sentiment from hunters’ representatives was that the decisions should be made by Inuit, not the federal government.
  • Nunavik health authorities started working on a clinical plan for the creation of a regional hospital, one that could host specialized health care services in the region. The clinical plan is the first of several steps necessary to get such a project through Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services.

February

  • Alicia Aragutak was honoured with the 2020 Indspire Inuit Youth Award — the first Inuk from Nunavik to take home the honour. Aragutak is currently the executive director of the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre in Kuujjuaq. She had previously worked as director of Tursujuq park and was the founder and first president of Qarjuit.
  • Ivakkak, Nunavik’s annual dog sled race, got off to a tragic start Feb. 25 when one of the competing mushers died shortly after the race departed from Kangirsuk. Race organizers say that 24-year old Willia Qullialuk of Kangiqsujuaq, who is originally from Akulivik, died shortly after the race started. The event resumed after a two-day break.

March

  • As COVID-19 cases started to appear across the country, Nunavik — like other regions — moved to into lockdown, shuttering schools, limiting public services and cutting back on flights to and from the region. Both of the operating mines in the region largely shut down. Nunavik’s leaders struck a new committee to help coordinate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, called the Nunavik Regional Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee. That committee imposed nightly curfews and limited alcohol purchases in most communities.
  • On March 28, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services announces the region’s first COVID-19 case in the Hudson Coast community of Salluit.

Alicia Aragutak, executive director of the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre, is the 2020 Inuit Youth Indspire Award winner. (Photo courtesy of Isuarsivik)

April

May

June

At the end of June, Air Inuit relaunched a reduced schedule of commercial flights across Nunavik. (File photo)

July

August

September

“My son was one month old when we started to debate about beluga. Today I have grandchildren and we are still debating,” said Quaqtaq’s Johnny Oovaut, left, seated next to his son Daniel, on Jan. 23 at a hearing on beluga management in the Nunavik Marine Region. (Photo by Elaine Anselmi)

October

November

December

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