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Newsbriefs: Monday, July 24, 2017

Keenan McNeely appeals conviction, sentence

Somba K'e/Yellowknife

A Fort Good Hope man, found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2014 death of Charlotte Lafferty in Fort Good Hope, is appealing his conviction and sentence, confirmed Crown attorney Annie Piche.

Keenan McNeely, 21, is reportedly claiming mistakes were made during the trial by Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau regarding testimony from an RCMP officer.

McNeely, currently incarcerated at North Slave Correctional Complex in Yellowknife, also contends he should not have been sentenced as an adult. McNeely, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years.

No date has been set for the appeal.

- John McFadden

Guns, liquor, cash seized in Fort Good Hope

Radilih Koe'/Fort Good Hope

Charges are pending against three men and a woman - while a second woman is being investigated - after Fort Good Hope RCMP made four liquor seizures in one week in the community.

According to a news release from the Mounties, 68 mickey bottles were intercepted at the Fort Good Hope airport on July 13.

On July 17, police raided a home in the community and seized seven bottles of liquor, two, loaded firearms and a sum of cash. On July 19, RCMP seized what they said appears to be home-brewed alcohol from a residence. The next day, after a tip from Norman Wells RCMP, a woman was searched at the Fort Good Hope airport by police and eight bottles of liquor were seized.

- John McFadden

Bears close landfill to pickers


There have been numerous grizzly bear sightings at the Inuvik landfill in recent weeks, stated a news update from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The department recommends extreme caution when unloading garbage at the landfill. The town has closed the landfill to scavenging and picking until further notice.

- Stewart Burnett

Snap up Snap Lake

Somba K'e/Yellowknife

Some $30 million worth of equipment from Snap Lake Mine will go up for auction, De Beers announced on Monday. The live auction will take place in Yellowknife on August 1 and 2. De Beers ceased production at the diamond mine, about 220 kilometres outside of Yellowknife, in 2015.

- Jessica Davey-Quantick

Fort Good Hope fire no longer a threat

Radilih Koe'/ Fort Good Hope

A fire that came dangerously close to Fort Good Hope is no longer a threat, fire operations manager Richard Olsen said in a briefing July 17.

Crews have begun fire smarting activities including thinning and pruning, extending fire guards, assessing buildings and have held one fire smart workshop in the community. The fire is burning on 158.9 sq.-kms of land 27 kilometres east of Fort Good Hope.

Since July 17, 20 new fires have been reported across the NWT, bringing the total to 126 fires affecting 1219.5 sq. kms. Of those, 57 have been declared out, 57 are being monitored, one is under control and 11 are out of control or being fought.

- Emelie Peacock

Dominion Diamond bought out

Somba K'e/Yellowknife

Dominion Diamond Corporation is being sold for US$1.2 billion.

The company announced July 17 its board of directors had unanimously recommended shareholders vote in favour of an acquisition by Montana conglomerate The Washington Companies.

The Washington Companies is a privately held variety of companies operating under one umbrella. Assets include railroads, marine transport and a copper and molybdenum mine in Butte, Mont.

A subsidiary of The Washington Companies will purchase Dominion's shares for US$14.25 a share under the deal, taking a controlling interest in Ekati Mine and 40 per cent ownership in Diavik Mine.

Washington stated in a news release it plans to operate Dominion as a standalone business, honouring the existing commitments to Indigenous communities, including training, recruitment and scholarship programs within communities.

- Jessica Davey-Quantick

Strategic priorities chart approved


The Town of Inuvik approved its strategic priorities chart, which will be included in all future council packages, and is intended to keep the council's eye on the ball with regard to the town's needs.

Council priorities in the present are energy supply options, Jim Koe Park redevelopment, economic development and tourism strategy, addressing homelessness and town practices with regards to environmental stewardship.

- Stewart Burnett

Chip seal starts on starts on Hwy. 5

South Slave

Wood Buffalo National Park is advising motorists that major work is underway on Highway 5 to Fort Smith.

That work - including road widening and culvert installation - is on the 64-kilometre section of the highway that runs through the park to ready the route for chip sealing between now and September.

Some chip sealing has already begun, and the whole 64 kilometres should be chip sealed by mid-September.

Parks Canada is investing $30 million in Highway 5 through Wood Buffalo National Park over a two-year period beginning in 2016 to chip seal the remaining gravel section.

- Paul Bickford

New event at Norman Wells Farmers' Market

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

Norman Wells residents are being encouraged to use old materials to create something new in time for the upcoming farmers' market, said organizer and economic development officer Nicky Richards.

The Farmers' Market and Arts and Crafts Fair is scheduled to take place on Aug. 26 and Richards is asking residents to use recycled materials to create unique works of art.

Participants with the most creative piece will win a prize.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what people come up with," said Richards. "We have lots of stuff in our local dump here that people throw away so you can really just use your imagination."

This year's market is scheduled to run from 1 to about 5 p.m. and is expected to include a squash-judging contest in addition to sale items.

Anyone looking to participate in the market can register up until Aug. 23. Anyone who has registered but isn't able to participate is asked to contact Richards before the day of the market.

- Kassina Ryder

Literacy society sets date for AGM

Hay River

The Hay River Literacy Society has set the date for its annual general meeting.

It will be held on Aug. 10, beginning at 7 p.m. at NWT Centennial Library.

Any interested member of the public can attend the AGM.

- Paul Bickford

Paddlers head to Tlicho Gathering

Wekweeti/Lac La Martre

More than 75 travellers from Tlicho communities were scheduled to leave Wekweeti by canoe on July 20 and head to Behchoko for the annual Tlicho Gathering, said Robert Moretti, senior administrative officer.

The paddlers were expected to begin their travels on Lac La Martre and spend about 12 days making their way to Behchoko.

The group met in Wekweeti the week of July 17 and held barbecues, but the main events will begin when they land in Behchoko.

"The big celebration will take place when they arrive in Behchoko," said Moretti.

This year marks the 13th year of the Tlicho Gathering, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 1, 2 and 3. Events are expected to take place at the Ko Gocho Centre.

- Kassina Ryder

Sachs greenhouse busy in summer season

Ikaahuk/Sachs Harbour

The growing season in Sachs Harbour takes a little longer to get going than in some southern locations, but the Sachs Harbour Community Greenhouse is going full steam ahead now.

"Regardless of the length of the growing season, we make the most of it," said Melissa Davis, greenhouse co-ordinator.

"Our greenhouse is beginning to look lush and green, which is a wonderful sight for us up above the treeline."

The greenhouse had seven plots, but should have moved up to eight by now. Those in addition to handful of hanging baskets and a communal potato plot.

Each plot is planted and tended to by an individual or family. There are about 10 greenhouse members currently gardening in the facility, but that number doesn't include children.

"My children spend a great part of their summer in the greenhouse and they so enjoy watching their food grow," said Davis.

Doreen Carpenter, recreation co-ordinator for the community, gets a lot of Sachs youth involved as well by bringing them in to get their hands dirty and learn about gardening during summer day camps.

The greenhouse is growing beets, radishes, peas, kale, pak choy, berries, collard greens, lettuce, potatoes, herbs and flowers.

Last year, greenhouse member Yvonne Elias managed to prove that potatoes can grow beautifully so high up in the Arctic, said Davis. She's hoping the communal plot works out well this summer.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide ourselves with some food security," said Davis. "I'd like to see our greenhouse produce enough potatoes to be able to deliver some to each of our community's elders."

- Stewart Burnett

Youth Ambassadors wanted


Youth across the Northwest Territories are eligible to apply for the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador (AYA) program through the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, B.C., information from the centre said.

Participants are paid to take part in the 12-week workshop, which begins on Sept. 6 and includes business and cultural training.

The program is an "immersive" training opportunity where participants learn about business in a First Nations museum setting.

It is open to youth between the ages of 16 and 30 who are not receiving employment insurance and have a clean criminal records check.

Participants are expected to enter the workforce or an education program after the workshop is completed.

- Kassina Ryder

Camp for children at Fort Smith library

Thebacha/Fort Smith

A camp to teach children science, technology, engineering, arts and math was held in Fort Smith

The camp, called STEAM Camp after an acronym of theto be taught, was scheduled for Mary Kaeser Library, from July 17 to 21.

It had a two-hour session each day for ages seven to 10 years and another two-hour session for ages 11 to 14 years.

- Paul Bickford

Museum to teach kids about bison

Thebacha/Fort Smith

Children in Fort Smith can learn more about bison on July 25.

Northern Life Museum & Cultural Centre is offering fun and educational activities to teach youngsters about the animals.

The two-hour afternoon event is suitable for children aged eight years and older.

Among other things, they will learn more about the animals that inhabit Wood Buffalo National Park, and the difference between a bison and a buffalo.

The program will be limited to 15 children.

- Paul Bickford

Local short films screening this weekend


The Inuvialuit Communications Society hopes to raise its profile in the community and encourage people to get into filmmaking

"We really want to bring attention to ICS," said Dez Loreen manager of organization.

He's looking to hold workshops and engage with the community to help people get into the industry.

"We want to make this the creative hub of the town," he said.

ICS is hoping to hold regular screenings and is currently setting one up for Aug. 19 in conjunction with Yellowknife's Dead North Film Festival.

Though ICS is an Inuvialuit organization and is hoping to train beneficiaries in all manner of filmmaking and related pursuits, Loreen emphasized that the organization is here to serve all people in the community.

"We don't want to just be inclusive only to Inuvialuit and say sorry to everybody else," said Loreen, adding that the organization will still be promoting Inuvialuit history and values.

"We are the Inuvialuit Communications Society, but it's 2017 and we want grow within the community as well."

The ICS office is at the edge of town by the Nova Inn and Loreen encourages anyone interested in filmmaking or communications pursuits to come by, talk shop, find out what the ICS does, rent equipment or anything else.

"We're trying to build capacity right now," said Loreen, adding that the more people in the community get engaged with filmmaking, the more funding opportunities will likely open up.

His hope is to work with the school to get a film program going, similar to what Yellowknife has.

"If there's anybody in town (who's interested in learning more or engaging with ICS), I'm urging you to come forward," said Loreen.

"There's no ceiling from here. I want to push this place as far as I can. We have great staff, great support, but we're looking for more of it."

- Stewart Burnett

Elders travelling to religious pilgrimage

K'atlodeeche/Hay River Reserve

Elders from Hay River Reserve will travel to Lac St. Anne to participate in the annual pilgrimage, said recreation director Sharon Pekok.

The event runs from July 22 to 26 and is expected to draw participants from throughout Canada.

"They come from all over the place," Pekok said. "A lot of the northern communities go there." This year's pilgrimage is scheduled to include a Dene mass on July 24 and 25.

- Kassina Ryder

Behchoko youth head to summer games

Behchoko/Rae Edzo

Youth in Behchoko are gearing up to participate in this year's Mackenzie Youth Summer Games in Fort Providence from July 24 to 28, said recreation co-ordinator Jesse Bierman.

Approximately 15 youth will travel to Fort Providence to participate. Bierman said last year's event was a big hit.

"Last year was a really good time," he said. "We had about 50 kids from different communities."

The games rotate through communities in the territory each year and typically include sports such as canoeing, swimming, soccer, basketball and dance, as well as traditional games.

- Kassina Ryder

Saturday market is back


The first Saturday Arctic Market of the summer was to have been held July 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Jim Koe Park.

Jackie Challis led an effort, supported by many community members, to reinstate the Saturday markets.

The Inuvik Community Greenhouse began holding Tuesday markets from 6 to 8 p.m. in the absence of the town's usual Saturday markets.

The greenhouse will continue holding its markets, so there will be two Arctic Markets each week throughout the summer.

- Stewart Burnett

Two Beaufort Delta schools awarded for Drop the Pop campaign

Aklavik and Ulukhaktok

Moose Kerr School in Aklavik and Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok were among 14 schools across the territory announced as winners in the territorial government's "Drop the Pop" campaign, which encourages youth to limit their soda intake.

The entire student population at Moose Kerr School made a pledge to drop pop. They worked with teachers going class to class to talk about reasons not to drink pop. They also created posters in support of drinking healthier beverages, such as water. Those who submitted posters earned $10 in Northern Store gift prizes.

In Ulukhaktok, students spent four weeks during the school year focusing on education around eating and drinking healthier snacks and beverages. Students also exercised and engaged in stretching, yoga, cardio, aerobic, snowshoeing and Nordic walking in the afternoons.

- Stewart Burnett

Cruise visits up, visitors down


Some figures are slightly up, others are a little lower as the cruise ship season embarks in Nunavut.

A total of 12 unique vessels operated by nine cruise ship companies are expected to sail into Nunavut communities this summer.

In the past two years, there were 11 different vessels operated by eight cruise ship companies.

However, the total number of cruise ship passengers, assuming maximum capacity, is expected to be down marginally from last year, at 4,637 guests compared to 4,758 in 2016. Those figures still stand tall compared to 2010 to 2015 when passenger numbers ranged between 1,353 and 3,364.

Also declining are the total voyages - 23 this year compared to 25 last year - and total community visits, which will ring in at 51 as opposed to 59 in 2016.

The first cruise ship of the season - the Ocean Endeavour with close to 200 passengers - called on Iqaluit on July 18. The Ocean Endeavour will also be the last ship to sail away from Nunavut, due to leave Qikiqtarjuaq on Sept. 19.

Other Nunavut communities that can expect to host cruise ship visits this season are Cape Dorset, Kimmirut, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Resolute, Grise Fiord, Clyde River, Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk and Gjoa Haven.

- Derek Neary

Accounts needed to shop at beer and wine store


The Government of Nunavut is advising residents that they will need a customer account in order to shop at the beer and wine store when it opens in Iqaluit later this summer.

In a July 14 release, the Nunavut Liquor Commission (NULC) asked customers to create or update their accounts before the store opens. People can do so by downloading an application from the Department of Finance website or picking one up on the first floor of the Parnaivik Building. Government-issued identification with a photo and birth date is required.

For more information contact the NULC by phone (867-845-8475) or by e-mail

- John McFadden

Boy's death ruled a homicide

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

The death of a youth in Rankin Inlet, initially described by RCMP as suspicious, is now being investigated as a homicide.

The youth was originally reported to be 12 years old, but in a July 12 news release RCMP confirmed he was 11.

The victim's name has not yet been released by RCMP, who are waiting for the body to be identified.

- April Hudson

New cafe to open in Kugluktuk


A successful fire inspection and staffing were the only details left to check off the list before the opening of the Tundra Cafe in Kugluktuk, said Co-op manager Derrick Power.

The Co-op was in the process of hiring a cafe manager as of last week and then other staff - exact number still to be determined - would come next, Power said.

The cafe, occupying approximately 900 square feet including the kitchen and convenience store merchandise, will offer seating for 12. It's expected most customers will order food for takeout, Power noted.

The cafe will offer coffee and doughnuts in the morning. The lunch and dinner menu will include items such as pizza, poutine, salads, chicken fingers and wings, French fries, onion rings and ice cream cones. To start, the plan is to keep the establishment open until 10 p.m. Whether those hours are maintained long-term depends on demand, said Power.

He is confident that there will be a strong customer base overall because Kugluktuk, with a population of close to 1,500, doesn't have a similar service.

"Everybody is patiently waiting for the opening," Power said, adding that the interior finish and signage are all in place. "Like I said, before we open we're going to need a manager who is going to run it."

- Derek Neary

Woman charged with theft in Iqaluit


A woman has been charged with break, enter and theft following a burglary in Iqaluit. According to Iqaluit RCMP it happened between July 7 and 14 with numerous items, mainly carvings stolen.

Police have not identified the victims nor said where the burglary took place, but a media report indicated that it was the home of Geneva Chislett and that it happened while she and other family members were with her husband John Manning at an Ottawa hospital. Manning, 57, had been hurt in an explosion in downtown Iqaluit. He died of his injuries on July 9.

Christine Ammaq, 53, has been released from custody for a court appearance on Aug. 24. Police continue to investigate.

- John McFadden

Daycare bounces back

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

The Cambridge Bay Childcare Society temporarily closed its doors for a couple of days early last week because it didn't have enough volunteers to maintain a functioning board of directors or occupy its various committees.

Billy Nicoll, chair of the non-profit daycare, which accommodates up to 46 children, circulated a statement warning that the organization would shut down indefinitely unless family members stepped forward to fill the vacancies.

By Wednesday morning the society was able to reopen the daycare after children's family members offered to fill all 12 board seats.

"Despite this increase (in volunteers), the board continues to require additional support from parents and community members and requests that residents of Cambridge Bay please contact the daycare and sign up for a position with one of its committees," reads a Wednesday statement from the Cambridge Bay Childcare Society.

Nicoll said the board won't offer any comment beyond what's stated in last Wednesday's announcement.

- Derek Neary

New playground equipment in place

Sanirajak/Hall Beach

Children on summer vacation have a familiar place to go with the community's playground again accessible, with several new pieces of equipment featured.

Installation of most of the equipment was carried out last week as a contractor for Edmonton-based playground equipment supplier PlayWorks flew in for four days. A handful of community volunteers assisted in erecting the equipment. After the concrete cured, the green light was given to the children to start playing.

"I know it's been busy. I've seen the kids there," said senior administrative officer Jim Langille.

A couple of pieces have yet to be assembled.

"What was done was what he (the PlayWorks representative) was able to accomplish in that period of time," Langille said. "So we're just working out what's left to be done... does somebody here have the qualifications to do that, or do we have to bring somebody in to do it?"

The playground funding came from the federal and territorial governments as well as through fundraising efforts.

- Derek Neary

New municipal vehicles headed to Qikiqtarjuaq


Residents of Qikiqtarjuaq are anxiously awaiting the delivery of several much-needed vehicles that will be coming on sealift next month, according to senior administrative officer Geela Kooneeliusie.

"We will be getting an an ambulance van, maintenance truck, a by-law officer pickup truck, and a backhoe amongst others," Kooneeliusie said. She was not entirely sure how old the vehicles are that are being replaced but said that the new vehicles are long overdue.

She estimated the cost of the new vehicles to be about $220,000. Kooneeliusie said she is not entirely sure of the delivery date but she expects it to be in mid- to late-August.

- John McFadden

Cleaning up in the rain

Sanirajak/Hall Beach

More than 50 adults and close to 50 children took part in Hall Beach's community cleanup on July 18, one of the highest participation totals that recreation director Lean Kautaq can remember. Even more impressive, they showed up in overcast and rainy conditions to help rid their community of litter.

The volunteers split up into four groups and scoured different areas of Hall Beach to do a thorough job.

"(There's) a very big difference," Kautaq, who helped organize the event, said of the reduction in garbage.

Those who participated were eligible to enter draws for prizes. There were cash rewards for adults ranging from $60 to $300. Youth under age 16 had a chance to win a 32GB iPod.

- Derek Neary

C3 Expedition to arrive in Iqaluit on July 29


Canada's C3 expedition is scheduled to arrive in Iqaluit on July 29. The voyage is being held over 150 days to mark Canada's 150th birthday. Participants are travelling from Toronto to Victoria, BC, via the Northwest Passage aboard the Polar Prince.

The journey is designed to inspire a deeper understanding of our land, our peoples and our country, according to the expedition's website.

The arrival in Iqaluit marks the end of the sixth leg of the journey. Leg seven leaves Iqaluit on July 30 and arrives in Qikiqtarjuaq on Aug. 6.

Leg eight departs Qikiqtarjuaq on Aug. 7 and anchors in Pond Inlet on Aug 14.

The ship departs Pond Inlet on Aug. 15 bound for Cambridge Bay where it arrives on Aug. 26 to complete leg nine.

The final leg in Nunavut - leg 10 - leaves Cambridge Bay on Aug. 27, arriving in Kugluktuk on Sept. 2.

The expedition is an initiative of the Students on Ice Foundation, which has led trips to the Arctic and Antarctica since 2000.

- John McFadden

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