Our top 10 stories of 2018

UFO sighting over North Baffin was our most-read story of the year

The fire at Iqaluit’s Northmart store on Nov. 8 was among the top news stories of 2018. Here you can see heavy equipment being used to break open the building to help expose the fire. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

By Jane George

With nearly four million unique page views in 2018, Nunatsiaq.com offered readers lots of stories over the past year.

But one in particular caught the interest of readers: a pilot’s sighting of an unidentified flying object near the Mary River iron mine in north Baffin Island.

The amazing tale was appreciated by Nunatsiaq News online readers in Canada and around the world.

The top news story of 2018 on Nunatsiaq.com: a UFO sighting in northern Baffin Island.

Pilots reported the sighting of an unidentified flying object on Nov. 24, as they flew from Iqaluit to the Mary River mine.

The pilots were flying a Nolinor Aviation Boeing 737-200 jet, and reported that the sighting took place at about 8:30 p.m. local time.

Their incident report to Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System, or CADORS, gave few details about what they saw, but it suggested the sighting could have involved a weather balloon, meteor, rocket or another unidentified flying object.

On the CADORS report, the unidentified flying object is referred to as CIRVIS/UFO, an abbreviation for “Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings” for a UFO.

Marco Prud’homme, Nolinor’s vice-president, said the pilot told him that he saw a shining light, which changed from red to green to white, and which may have been from a star or a meteorite, but “probably something natural,” Prud’homme suggested.

People in Kugluktuk are joined by family members and co-workers of RCMP officer Graham Thomas Holmes, who died on April 6 in an off-duty snowmobile mishap outside Kugluktuk. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE RCMP)

The second most-read story of the year involved the death of a Nunavut RCMP member in Kugluktuk, who died on April 6 in an off-duty snowmobile mishap near the western Nunavut community of about 1,500.

Graham Thomas Holmes of Shawnigan Lake, B.C, died after he drove his machine over a 30-metre cliff, in a well-known area called Bloody Falls, in Kugluk Territorial Park, where the Coppermine River flows through a narrow gorge about 13 kilometres southwest of Kugluktuk. Holmes, originally from British Columbia, had lived in Kugluktuk for about a year and a half.

Passengers on board the Akademik Ioffe leave the ship on Aug. 25. The Transportation Safety Board is still looking into the circumstances around the cruise ship’s grounding on Aug. 24, about 80 nautical miles north of the Nunavut community of Kugaaruk. (PHOTO @OCEANSENSING/TWITTER)

The third most-read story of 2018: On Aug. 24 Akademik Ioffe, a Russian-flagged 117-metre ship used by One Ocean Expeditions for high-end luxury cruise tours in the Arctic, grounded near Kugaaruk.

The incident is still under investigation by the Transport Safety Board of Canada.

Cruise passengers were evacuated to another vessel while the Ioffe was refloated after it ran aground in the western part of the Gulf of Boothia about 80 nautical miles northwest of Kugaaruk.

In September, Akademik Ioffe headed south under its own power, after Transport Canada determined that it could transit safely.

The ship arrived at its final destination in Les Méchins, Que. on Sept. 25.

Other stories in the 2018 top 10:

An Arviat man who died during a polar bear attack is remembered as a hero for protecting his children. The 31-year-old man was gathering eggs with his children on Sentry Island, about 10 kilometres off the coast of Arviat, on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 3, when a polar bear approached the group. Relatives say the man put himself between his children and the bear, but was mauled and later died from his injuries. He was unarmed at the time of the attack. Nunavut RCMP responded to the incident, at which point another person on the island killed the animal.

• Ike Haulli, a highly respected business owner from Igloolik who until recently served as chair of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, was exposed as an egregious sexual predator. To resolve civil lawsuits launched by four people he sexually assaulted between 1968 and 1986, Haulli must pay damage awards totalling $1.22 million, Nunavut Justice Earl Johnson ruled in a judgment released in early April.

• A worker at the Mary River iron mine, employed by a contractor, dies in a single vehicle incident early on the morning of Dec. 16. The RCMP and the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission are investigating, the mine’s owner, Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., said in a short announcement.

Iqaluit firefighters battled for 22 hours to extinguish a fire at the Northmart store in Iqaluit in Nov. 8. The fire, which started early Thursday morning, led to the evacuation of elders living in a row of apartments located directly behind the store and destroyed its warehouse.

The store said it suffered only minimal damage and opened up only 10 days after the blaze, but many complained about the lingering smell in the store.

A man was shot and killed on Sept. 5 following an overnight standoff with police in the Hudson coast community of Inukjuak, in Nunavik. Quebec’s independent investigation agency, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, took over the investigation of the incident, in which 40-year-old Tommy Ningiuk died in an apparent gun fight with officers from the Kativik Regional Police Force and the Sûreté du Québec provincial police force. The bureau continues to investigate this and other incidents in Nunavik.

Quebec police arrested a man in connection with a suspected homicide that took place in June in Kuujjuaq. when Chloé Labrie, a 28-year-old medical technician originally from Victoriaville, Que. was killed in her home. The SQ arrested Randy Koneak, 20, charging him first with first-degree murder and then with break and enter, sexual assault and causing indignity to the victim’s body.

Many in Iqaluit asked for more mental health services after the death by suicide of a well-liked young man, described as wonderful, lovely, funny and friendly by the city’s mayor. Nanauq Kusugak, who died while in his early 30s, was best known as a side-splitting comic who performed on the Mahaha comedy stage.

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