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Community centre opens
Hamlet council to decide on a name for new building

Katie May
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011

ULUKHAKTOK/HOLMAN - A long-awaited $2 million community centre is set to open its doors to Ulukhaktok residents Feb. 7, and community members young and old are excited about the brand new 3,600 sq. ft. community hall, complete with a kitchen, youth centre and radio station.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ulukhaktok is home to a brand new, $2 million community centre that includes a banquet hall, kitchen, local radio station and the community's first youth centre. Its grand opening celebration is set for March 18. - photo courtesy of Joseph Perry

"People are coming through looking at it and they just can't wait," said project manager Joseph Perry, who's also the hamlet's assistant senior administrative officer. "We're taking bookings now. It's going to be a very, very active centre."

Resident Florence Kataoyak said the community and especially the kids are excited to start using the building. It includes the first youth centre Ulukhaktok's ever had. Before, kids would hang out at the library for a couple of hours after school, but now, Kataoyak says, "they can't wait" for the youth centre to open.

"It's about time we need one," she said."It'll keep the kids out of trouble something for them to do."

The new centre, under construction since the barge came in last fall, is located beside the school in the same spot as the former community centre, which was built about 40 years ago. Perry said the new centre uses up less than half the amount of fuel used to heat the old building in fact, during a test done by the contractors, the temperature inside the building dropped only six degrees over 14 hours without the boilers running in the middle of winter. Along with being more energy-efficient, the centre was designed with Inuvialuit traditions in mind, so the roof is shaped to look like the top of an igloo and the walls are decorated with ulus and traditional prints from the local craft shop which recently celebrated its own grand re-opening on Friday, Jan. 28.

Perry said he hopes the additional infrastructure in will generate more tourism to the community of about 400.

"It's incredible the amount of people who come through this little community," Perry said, adding many more visitors might be lured in to see Canada's first known second-generation polar-grizzly hybrid "grolar" bear, shot by Ulukhaktok hunter David Kuptana last April. The hide is currently being worked prepared by taxidermist's shop in Yellowknife and, as per Kuptana's wishes, a full-body mount will be sent back to Ulukhaktok and displayed at the community hall.

"The bear will never leave the Northwest Territories and I'm glad David decided to bring it back to the community," he said.

Although the initial opening for the community centre is pencilled in for Monday, the community is inviting dignitaries to a grand opening celebration to be held March 18. Before then, the community will have to decide what to name the centre. A list of names of respected local elders is currently before hamlet council, which is expected to make a decision before the end of the month.

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