Cleaning up the capital
Group wants to preserve and pretty up Iqaluit

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Sep 07/98) - What does a newly banded together group of concerned citizens do six weeks before the snow flies in Iqaluit and covers everything for the next several months?

They pick up garbage, build fences around eyesores and spread the word about beautifying the community before it becomes Nunavut's official capital.

"That's all the time we've got before April 1 when people arrive and the world's eyes are on Iqaluit," said Janice Braden.

Helping to head up the fledgling society, the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. employee and her cohorts have organized a founding meeting for the group scheduled for this Thursday evening, September 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Parish Hall.

"Few people are actually from Iqaluit and you get the sense that it's not anybody's home and nobody's really cared for it. We want to change that," said Braden.

Temporarily dubbed the Iqaluit Environmental and Beautification Society, one of their first goals will be to come up with an Inuit name that reflects their goals.

"We're looking for something that means purifying or bringing it back to its natural state," said Braden.

Architect Rannva Simonsen, also part of the team, said that the project was important from an environmental point of view.

"We have to make this town work in a responsible way in the middle of this wilderness," explained Simonsen, who has taken particular exception to the amount of tundra damage and waste that has been generated by the construction companies.

"We have to look at the construction places and get them cleaned up and organized."

Braden noted that a large part of the construction mess actually stemmed from Iqaluit's incredibly rapid growth over the last year.

"Iqaluit has become a victim of its own success. There hasn't been time to think of it as a community that needs to have public spaces...if it grew slowly, people would come into that," said Braden.

Along with asking for input and signing up participants, the pair noted that workshops, a community awareness program and an anti-littering campaign would be launched during the meeting.

While their efforts come just three months after the municipal-run cleanup, they remain optimistic that there is enough spirit in Iqaluit to get the town fixed up before things are official.

"It would be just great if we could do something about it together and make a huge difference," said Simonsen.