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Monday, January 9, 2017

Deline murder accused in court

A 31-year-old Deline man who was charged with second-degree murder over the holidays appeared in territorial court in Yellowknife on Jan. 3. Jonathan Tetso is accused of killing 65-year-old Irene Tetso in the community on Dec. 23, according to court documents.

He is being held in custody until his next court appearance on Jan. 31.

- Kirsten Fenn

Ice roads closed

High winds and poor visibility shut down the Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk ice roads as of Jan. 6, according to the Department of Transportation.

The Deline access road was also closed until further notice, as well as the winter roads to Wekweeti, Whati, Behchoko, Gameti and Dettah. The Dettah ice road was expected to open Jan. 7.

The Mackenzie River crossing at Inuvik and Fort McPherson were open as of Jan. 6, as well as the N'Dulee crossing near Wrigley and the Liard River crossing.

Road advisories were in place for most other roadways, with the exception of Kakisa, Enterprise, Hay River, Fort Resolution and Fort Smith.

- Kassina Ryder

Alcohol seized in Behchoko

Behchoko RCMP seized hundreds of bottles and cans of alcohol over a three-day period during the Christmas holidays, a news release said.

While an exact number wasn't provided, police said they found more than 340 containers of alcohol during traffic stops conducted between Dec. 30 and Jan. 1.

The amounts were: more than 130 375-ml bottles, 200 355-ml cans and an additional 10 bottles of alcohol of various sizes.

Behchoko residents voted to lift the community's alcohol ban during a plebiscite on Dec. 12 but the ban is still in effect until legislation is amended.

- Kassina Ryder

Indigenous youth sought

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is looking for indigenous representatives to sit on its youth council, information from the commission stated.

Seats are available for one Inuit, one First Nations and one Metis youth for a three-year term. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 25.

The deadline is Jan. 13 and applications are available on the MHCC website.

- Kassina Ryder

Sachs Harbour dives into fundraising

Ikaahuk/Sachs Harbour

Fundraisers are expected to take place throughout the month of January to help send Sachs Harbour children to Inuvik for swimming lessons, said recreation co-ordinator Doreen Carpenter.

Children and youth between the ages of six and 14 will be travelling to Inuvik's Midnight Sun complex in February to participate in the lessons, which are scheduled to take about a week to complete. Carpenter also said the community's New Year's Eve fireworks display was particularly special this year, with both residents and the community government supplying fireworks. The fireworks and bonfire event took place at the beach.

"There were so many fireworks this year you didn't know which way to look," Carpenter said.

Other Christmas highlights included a visit from Santa on Dec. 23 at the community gym, as well as a parade.

- Kassina Ryder

Youth centre opens in Deline

Deline/Fort Franklin

The new home of the Brian Kenny Youth Centre opened in Deline on Dec. 23, said recreation co-ordinator Carla Kenny.

The new facility is located across from the Victor Beyonnie Building and features foosball and air hockey tables, as well as a pool table. The centre is open each evening. Kenny said between the youth centre, activities at the gym and the local arena, there is plenty to keep the community's young people busy.

"They have all these choices of what they can do during the evenings," she said.

Recreation staff are also discussing activities for adults, such as opening in the afternoons so people can play pool.

The community also held a successful Santa Claus parade on Dec. 21, Kenny said. Residents decorated their cars and trucks and followed Santa's float through town.

- Kassina Ryder

Aklavik Christmas has something for everyone


Every single day from Dec. 3 to Jan. 1 featured a different Christmas activity in Aklavik, said recreation co-ordinator Dean McLeod.

"We did 32 events for our community," he said.

Activities included everything from gingerbread house making to jigging contests and talent shows. The community arena was open throughout the holidays and bonfires were also held outdoors. McLeod said the event attracted people from surrounding communities in addition to Aklavik. He said the event's success was due to the hard work of volunteers and participants.

"We just wanted to thank everybody for taking part in all our Christmas and New Year's activities," he said. "We hope everybody enjoyed them."

- Kassina Ryder

Ice time for everyone in Tulita

Tulita/Fort Norman

Public skating is available at the Tulita Community Arena every night of the week, according to the arena schedule.

Sunday features hockey practices for Novice, Bantam and Midget, and Atom and Peewee players, followed by public skating from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Public skating is also available from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday evenings.

On Tuesdays, public skating takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays its held from 5:30 to 6:30 and from 5:30 to 7:30 on Sundays.

- Kassina Ryder

Mushers unite

Deh Gah Got'ie Koe/Fort Providence

The Deh Gah Dog Mushers Club will be holding its Christmas sled dog races on Jan. 14 and 15.

There will be a 14-mile, 12-dog run at noon both days, followed by a seven-mile, six-dog run at 2 p.m.

Races begin at the Snowshoe Inn parking lot.

On Jan. 14, there will be a dance at 9 p.m. featuring the Johnny Landry Band at the Snowshoe Lounge.

- April Hudson

Tuktoyaktuk brings back the sun


Tuktoyaktuk's annual Sikiniq Nuimavia Katyvikput Festival is scheduled to take place from Jan. 11 to 14 and Mangilaluk School hopes to participate, said principal Krista Cudmore.

While the school hasn't yet finalized its plans, Cudmore said staff have been discussing ways to get students involved. Staff are also working on getting sports up and running after the Christmas break, including basketball.

The school's Christmas concert, which took place on Dec. 14, was also a big hit, Cudmore added.

Students performed comedy sketches, songs and plays to entertain friends and family in the audience.

"Our Christmas concert went really well," she said. "Almost every class participated in it."

- Kassina Ryder

Gifts for all in Ulukhaktok


A Christmas party for Ulukhaktok's youngest residents was held on Dec. 23, said RCMP Cpl. Tina Chan.

Local RCMP partnered with Helen Kalvak School, the health centre, the hamlet and Aurora College to deliver the party, which was held at the Simon Kataoyak Community Centre.

Fundraising for the event had been taking place since August when RCMP sold Ulukhaktok RCMP merchandise to passengers on the Crystal Serenity cruise ship.

In addition to selling merchandise to passengers, the Crystal Serenity also donated $2,000 toward the party.

About 100 gifts were purchased for local children.

Chan said she wanted to thank recreation co-ordinator Joanne Ogina, Ulukhaktok resident Diane Cobb who made all of the desserts for the event, and fellow RCMP officer Const. Duncan Marsh.

- Kassina Ryder

Kicking off the new year

Tthek'ehdeli/Jean Marie River

The Jean Marie River First Nation held a New Year's celebration on Jan. 7, including a community feast and fireworks.

The event featured Fort Providence drummers.

- April Hudson

Free skates and skating at Norman Wells arena

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

The Ray Persson Memorial Arena is offering the use of skates to anyone who doesn't own a pair, said Jordon Balanuik, pubic works foreman.

"There are skates here to borrow if you don't have any," he said.

"We have probably two dozen different size skates for people that don't have skates."

Now that the Christmas holidays are over, the arena is open to the public from 3 to 5 p.m. during the week.

In addition to public skating, the facility is also being used for hockey games and speed skating.

A full schedule is being provided at the Norman Wells town office and on the community's Facebook page.

Balanuik encouraged residents to enjoy the facility.

"We're looking forward to having people stop by," he said.

- Kassina Ryder

Still waiting for input


Sabina Gold and Silver Corp. is still waiting for input from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on the Back River Project, the company stated in a Dec. 29 update.

In June 2016, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended to the federal minister that the gold mine not proceed to the next phase of permitting.

"We had hoped to receive a decision from INAC before the end of the year," stated Sabina president Bruce McLeod. The file continues to be under consideration by the department.

The minister can reject or accept the NIRB report, or return the project to NIRB to be reconsidered.

Since the report, Sabina has worked to address uncertainties, such as the risk to caribou populations. The company is also working with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association to develop the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement required for the project, as well as collaborating with regional communities and hunters' and trappers' organizations.

"We appreciate the strong support we have received from Kitikmeot stakeholders and responsible parties, support that I believe is unprecedented for a mining project in Nunavut," stated McLeod.

Kitikmeot communities provided letters of support for the project, stating that it would increase employment opportunities and improve the economy in the region.

"We have been working diligently with all appropriate parties in the interim," he stated. "However, despite these efforts it is likely that we will not receive word from the minister's office until early in 2017."

- by Beth Brown

Christmas hampers raise $12K

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

Youth in Gjoa Haven raised $12,000 between September and December to provide Christmas food hampers to every house in the hamlet.

Around 225 baskets were filled with items such as ground beef, chicken, hot dogs, crackers and rice, said Robby Qammaniq of the hamlet learning centre, who organized the fundraising project with about 15 participating youth.

"There's a lot of hardship that occurs during Christmas time, especially financial hardship," he said.

This was the second year for the Christmas Hamper Committee. The plan was to raise $10,000, as last year's $8,500 total raised was not enough to fill hampers for every home.

All shopping was done in the community, and all funds were raised within the hamlet as well.

The youth hosted movie nights, community dances, sold iPods and collected donations from businesses.

"The young people were very motivated to do volunteer work," said Qammaniq. "They were on top of their game every time we did something."

- Beth Brown

Togetherness at Christmas games


Holiday celebrations in Kugluktuk were a success, hamlet SAO Don LeBlanc reported.

"There was a lot of Christmas spirit in the air. We had a great turnout," he said.

Organized events included dancing, community games and a brilliant show of New Year's Eve fireworks on the ice.

"The Northern lights were dancing in the sky. That, combined with the fireworks, was just beautiful," said LeBlanc.

"It brought in the new year in a nice way."

He said there were few issues with substance use in the community over the period.

"It was a good Christmas."

- Beth Brown

Scavenger hunt in the community

Kimmirut/Lake Harbour

Recreation coordinator Martha Ikkidluaq reports that fun was had over the Christmas holidays in Kimmirut.

One of the activities was a scavenger hunt.

"We (the recreation department) did a scavenger hunt on behalf of Kakivak Association with the $250.00 donation they gave to us," Ikkidluaq said.

Five people came away with prizes.

Ningeorapik Kolola, Iola Michael, Lyta Korgak, Noah Lyta and Daniel Nungutsuittuq each took home a $50 gift card for the Northern store.

- Michele LeTourneau

New year and Canada's birthday all in one


As one of 19 cities across Canada chosen to celebrate the launch of Canada 150 on New Year's Eve, Iqaluit Action Lab threw a celebratory party that lasted all day, topped off with 17 minutes of professional fireworks on the sea ice, starting at 20:17.

The celebration drew more than 700 people.

Robyn Campbell, with the non-profit, later stated in a news release that the day-long activities were a success.

"This was the first event presented by the non-profit Iqaluit Action Lab. This event was also a community economic development initiative that contributed over $85,000 to our local economy. The professional fireworks show cost $12,500," said Campbell.

The economic benefits included paid work for more than 50 local presenters, performers and support crew, who helped provide five-and-a-half hours of musical, cultural, and creative activities.

Volunteers, businesses and community organizations pitched in to make the event a success.

- Michele LeTourneau

Plans for Black History Month


A special concert will be held at St. Jude's Anglican Church in Iqaluit Feb. 4.

Black History Month Nunavut is organizing its first gospel concert as a pilot project, said Kabelo Mokoena, who hopes to see a variety of groups come forward to sing.

"The performing groups should have at least two songs from their country of origin in their vernacular languages of choice. Each group will perform and showcase their traditional/cultural wear from their country of origin followed by their songs of choice," said Mokoena.

"After the individual group renditions and all the groups will join for the last part of the night. We will also have speeches and other acts."

- Michele LeTourneau

Ellesmere park named top place to visit

Qausuittuq/Resolute Bay

At the beginning of each January, travel website lists the top 20 places in Canada to visit during the coming year.

This year, Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island made it to the number seven spot.

Quttinirpaaq, which means land at the top of the world in Inuktitut, can be reached after flying 800 km on a Twin Otter charter aircraft from Resolute. The park extends to the Polar Ice Cap - the last edge of North America before the North Pole's sea ice begins, the editors note.

"What better year to tick this once-in-a-lifetime adventure off your bucket list than 2017, when Parks Canada is granting free access to national parks and historical sites from coast to coast," according to the write-up.

"In this Arctic wilderness and ancient Inuit homeland you'll get to explore a vast, starkly beautiful polar desert where ice caps completely envelope mountains, kilometres-thick glaciers slouch toward frozen seas, and resident wildlife, including muskoxen and wolves, are so unaccustomed to humans they do not react to you in fear. The highest mountain in eastern North America (Barbeau Peak) is also here, as is a thermal oasis near Lake Hazen, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the world above the Arctic Circle," stated Mark Sissons.

- Michele LeTourneau

Mental Health Commission calls for youth applications


The Mental Health Commission of Canada is looking for eight new youth council members.

"Three of the vacant seven seats are designated for indigenous representatives to be filled by one First Nations, one Inuit, and one Metis youth," stated the commission in a call for applications.

Applicants must be between 18 and 25 years of age, and ready to commit to a 36-month term of service on the council.

"Members will be asked to participate in various MHCC projects in order to provide youth representation and perspectives. The Youth Council, for example, recently developed a youth-focused version of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada," according to the website.

Being on the council includes travel to two annual meetings, as well as communication via email and teleconference with other members of the commission. All expenses are paid for and the youth will receive an honorarium.

The call for members closes on Jan. 13.

- Beth Brown

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