Nunavut’s top 5 stories of 2022
Mining, housing and COVID-19 top the list
Over the past year, Nunavut saw government decisions that will directly impact the lives of its residents: the release of a housing strategy, funding for daycare and the rejection of a mine expansion.
Here are Nunavut’s most important news stories of 2022.
1 – Baffinland expansion rejected
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. had an eventful year.
In May, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended against approval of the company’s proposal to expand its Mary River iron mine, stating the environmental impact would be unpredictable and that Baffinland was ill-equipped to manage or mitigate it.
The future of the proposal then went to the desk of federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal.
A few weeks later, Baffinland CEO Brian Penney asked Vandal to grant an emergency order to allow the company to increase its shipping limit.
Vandal rejected the request on June 1, prompting the company to issue termination notices to 1,100 employees. Vandal later approved the request after Baffinland went through the NIRB regulatory process. The company then rescinded its layoff notice.
Then in mid-November, Vandal rejected Baffinland’s larger expansion proposal, saying the NIRB’s recommendation was clear.
“The era of Ottawa overriding Indigenous nations, Indigenous governments for resource development projects in the North, is over,” Vandal told Nunatsiaq News.
2 – Nunavut 3000
On Oct. 18, the Government of Nunavut announced a plan to build 3,000 housing units in seven years.
In partnership with NCC Development Ltd., the plan was dubbed Nunavut 3000, or Igluliuqatigiingniq, meaning building homes together.
Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., made the announcement alongside Premier P.J. Akeeagok, Education Minister Pamela Gross, NCC Development Ltd. chief executive Clarence Synard and students of the Sanatuliqsarvik Nunavut Trades Training Centre in Rankin Inlet.
The government is planning to build 300 transitional housing units, 1,400 public housing units, 900 affordable housing units and 400 market housing units by 2030. It will cost about $2.6 billion.
This plan also provides an opportunity for Inuit to be trained in the trades industry, according to the plan. Training and labour requirements will be a part of contracts, it states.
“I think it’s an ambitious target and one we’re lined up to aggressively meet,” said housing corporation chief executive officer Eiryn Devereaux in October.
3 – Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. flies to France
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. went to France in September to seek the extradition of Johannes Rivoire, a priest accused of sexually abusing children in Nunavut between 1960 and 1992.
Included in the delegation was a group who accuse Rivoire of abusing either them or their family members. NTI president Aluki Kotierk and chief executive officer Kilikvak Kabloona also took the journey.
Before they left on Sept. 12, the prospects of meeting with Rivoire or having the French government agree to extradite him were unknown; Rivoire’s lawyer said Rivoire would not meet with them, and the French government does not extradite nationals.
Although France did not agree to extradite him to face justice in Canada, Rivoire did agree to meet with his alleged victims when they travelled to Lyon on Sept. 14.
“The deep hurt that I have … that I have carried for so long, some of it is lifted,” said Steve Mapsalak, one of Rivoire’s accusers, in Inuktitut, speaking with reporters the following day.
Since the trip, the process has started to kick Rivoire out of the Roman Catholic order he spent his career serving, and a prosecutor in France aims to have Rivoire face justice for his alleged crimes.
4 – A new chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic begins in Nunavut
The new year began with the spread of Omicron and COVID-19 news conferences hosted by the Government of Nunavut. By mid-January, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said a full lockdown wasn’t justified anymore.
“Living under the most stringent measures for a long period of time when people are fairly well-vaccinated just — it doesn’t make sense,” Patterson said. “It’s not something that we could defend continuing on much longer.”
In March, the GN announced it would gradually lift restrictions until officially ending the 754-day public health emergency on April 11.
On that day, Nunavummiut did not have to wear masks any longer or isolate if they were sick. There were no more limits on gathering sizes and the isolation hubs ended.
It also meant the government would stop releasing COVID-19 data related to cases and vaccination rates, such as the ages of those who were getting sick and what hospitalization rates were like.
5 – Cheaper daycare comes to Nunavut
On Jan. 24, Nunavut was one of the last Canadian jurisdictions to sign onto the federal government’s $10-a-day daycare plan.
On Dec. 1, the territory became the first province or territory to roll it out.
The territory’s goal is to provide child care at the reduced rate to 59 per cent of Nunavummiut. To do so, leaders want add 238 spots to the 1,082 daycare spots that already exist.
They acknowledge making cheap daycare available to everybody is a complicated process, seeing as all of the territory’s communities are isolated from each other.
Currently, licensed daycares exist in every community except Sanirajak, Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay. Families in these three communities will not be able to take advantage of the deal unless they get licensed daycares.
The France trip was a wasted trip, all on our expense too with out reason, where are the answers for this trip ? Nunavut ambitious scheme to build 3000 houses with a cost of 2.6 billion dollars won’t happen at that cost it will only double and eventually flare off with the federallies -not our government in this Nunavut we call a territory everything else should fall into place but not elaborate schemes that are in the billions…happy new year everyone . We were always on our own -all of nunavumiut …..except when federal government steps in to help .our designated inuit organizations can’t do much to help all commoner inuit but freeload from the federal government to exploit our lands instead .
I would have thought the Inuit Elders at Embassy west and Raymond Ningeocheak ‘s trip back home would be one of the top stories
Nunavuts first ever gold medal at the games? is that not top story worthy or because it was a success and not something woke its not that big of a deal?
Pretty embarassing the most interesting story to come out of Nunavut this year to all Canadians as Eekee made history is left to the wayside. Classic eastern bias! Little do they know the Kitikmeot is still a part of Nunavut for now.