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News Briefs: Monday, December 19, 2011

Council to vote on budget

Fort Smith town council will vote on a 2012 budget at its Dec. 19 meeting.

The proposed budget calls for a two-per-cent increase in municipal property taxes. That works out to about a $41 increase per $100,000 of assessed value.

The budget, which would cover the Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 fiscal year, has already passed first and second.

- Paul Bickford

More fireworks in Smith

The annual New Year's Eve fireworks display in Fort Smith will be bigger and better this Dec. 31.

A Fort Smith company, TDC Contracting Ltd., is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012 - on Jan. 2 to be exact - and has made a donation to the town for the fireworks display.

Usually, the Town of Fort Smith spends $5,000 on the fireworks. This year, TDC has matched that amount.

- Paul Bickford

Stomach flu warning

Dr. Lorne Clearsky, the NWT's chief public health officer, is advising of a territory-wide outbreak of viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu.

While not related to the influenza virus, it is very contagious.

Viruses, such as the norovirus, are the most common cause of gastroenteritis.

Symptoms can last between one and 10 days, depending on the virus, and can result in vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, low-grade fever and watery diarrhea without blood.

While most people recover without problems, elders, people with pre-existing health conditions or young people may be at risk for dehydration.

There is no treatment for viral gastroenteritis, but those who fall ill should drink plenty of water (without caffeine) for proper hydration. Hand washing, staying home if ill and cleanliness all prevent spreading the virus.

- Paul Bickford

Aulavik plan gets seal of approval

The Aulavik National Park management plan has been completed by Parks Canada and approved by their local and regional Inuvialuit partners, according to Ifan Thomas, superintendent of the Western Arctic Field Unit.

"The plan has now been submitted for approval by the chief executive officer of Parks Canada and decision by the federal minister of the environment responsible for Parks Canada," he said.

Aulavik National Park is located northwest of Sachs Harbour on Banks Island.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Ice road detour


The Tuktoyaktuk ice road was closed on Dec. 12 after a plow truck sank into the ice near Cockney Channel at approximately 3:15 p.m.

"It's not a normal occurrence," said Carol Maring, acting regional superintendent for the Department of Transportation.

"A big thing with us is safety. This just shows when people travel on that road they have to be certain what they are using, that the ice can handle that."

Road workers built a detour around the truck and checked the ice thickness that evening. No one was injured during the incident, Maring said.

"We're grateful everyone is OK," she said.

The ice road reopened the next morning to traffic weighing up to 4,500 kg. As of Dec. 14 it was open to traffic weighing up to 6,000 kg.

Rough, slippery and loose snow sections will be encountered throughout the ice road, according to the department.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Jigging to start the holidays

Tetlit'Zheh/Fort McPherson

Approximately 100 people filled Fort McPherson's recreation complex on Dec. 10 for the first old-time dance of the Christmas season.

James Herbert acted as square dance caller and Howie McLeod, James Rogers and Angus Alunik of the Good Time Band supplied the jigging tunes.

Holiday events last weekend in Fort McPherson included a window-decorating contest on Friday, a Santa parade on Saturday and a snow sculpture contest on Sunday.

The next chance for dancers to warm up their slippers will be on Dec. 26 when a women's feast and dance is scheduled to be held.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Community visit delayed


The Arctic Energy Alliance's visit to Ulukhaktok has been rescheduled until the third week of January, said Donald Andre, regional energy project co-ordinator.

Andre had planned to be in the community from Dec. 12 to 15, but was forced to move the date back after injuring his arm.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Seasonal events in Fort Resolution

Deninu K'ue/Fort Resolution

There are several activities planned for the remainder of the Christmas and New Year season in Fort Resolution.

On Dec. 23, there will be a family sliding party near St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church.

On Dec. 31, a New Year's Eve youth bash will be held at Lakeview Arena.

Also on Dec. 31, there will be an adult New Year's Eve ball at the community hall, including a meal and a dance.

The events are being presented by the recreation department of the Hamlet of Fort Resolution.

- Paul Bickford

Fishing, crafts and lights for Christmas


This past weekend residents in Aklavik had a chance at winning $1,200 in prizes during the Christmas fishing derby being held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition, a craft sale was held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sittichinli Recreation Complex.

On Sunday the complex was scheduled to host a coffee house and family skate with Santa Claus at 8 p.m., and today the house-decorating contest will kick off at 6 p.m.

There will be 12 prizes of $150 for best theme and 12 prizes of $150 for best lights.

The event is sponsored by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

New Year's Eve bash in Norman Wells

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

A "first night" celebration will be held at the Norman Wells community hall on Dec. 31.

There will be a feast at 6 p.m. followed by board games, live music, dancing and an ice cream buffet.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and residents are invited to bring their own instruments to play along.

All ages are welcome to attend, but children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian 15 years of age or older.

For more information contact Sherry Hodgson.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Handgames for Christmas


On Dec. 25, residents of Behchoko will have the opportunity to keep busy in the community.

St. Michael's Parish will be hosting a mass at noon. In addition, there will be handgames held throughout the day and a drum dance in the evening.

For more information contact the Tlicho office.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Workshop on Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program


A pelt handling workshop was offered at the Behchoko Cultural Centre on Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Participants learned more about the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program and had an opportunity to sell their moose and caribou hides.

Later that day the cultural centre hosted a traditional arts and crafts sale.

- Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison

Santa Sleigh in Fort Smith

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Santa Sleigh, an annual Christmas tradition in Fort Smith, is back for another season.

The nightly tour - featuring The Santa Sleigh on a trailer pulled by a pickup truck - began Dec. 10 and will wrap up Dec. 23.

The trailer is adorned with lights, plays Christmas music and features Santa Claus sitting on the sleigh.

Michel Labine, who has organized the tradition in recent years, said half of the town is visited each night, and the whole town will be toured on Dec. 23.

Labine noted The Santa Sleigh begins its tour at about 6 p.m. each evening and runs to about 9 p.m.

Each season, dozens of people volunteer to play Santa or drive the truck.

The Santa Sleigh was started more than 20 years ago by now-retired Aurora College instructor Duncan MacPherson.

- Paul Bickford

Respect the ekwewa


ekwewa (Bluenose West caribou) are coming close to us for the first time in six years. Try not to shoot the leaders. Just shoot one or two for now just to last till Christmas, and let them settle down, and graze, and eat, and rest. By that time, thousands will come and there will plenty for everyone.

Respect ekwe when you shoot them. Do not leave the wounded. Make sure you kill them. Follow them to ensure that they have been killed.

Don't leave waste anywhere. Take care of the bones. After you're done eating, bury the bones. Don't put them in the garbage. Store them until you can take them out and put them somewhere on the land.

If we treat ekwe with respect, they will come back again. We have the ability to sustain the herds for the future.

Submitted by Michael Neyelle (from the elders, including Charlie Neyelle and others)

Police suspect Iqaluit death was homicide


Police are investigating the suspicious death of 36-year-old Matthew Petooloosie of Iqaluit, who was found at a house in the city's 300 block Dec. 12. Police were called to the house just after 3 a.m., and are investigating the death as a homicide, according to an RCMP press release.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

- Casey Lessard

Celebrating Amundsen

Uqsuqtuuq/Gjoa Haven

Gjoa Haven resident Joanni Sallerina will speak before the Norwegian ambassador and guests in Ottawa on Dec. 14 as the embassy is celebrating the 100th anniversary of explorer Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole.

Sallerina will speak on how Amundsen met hunters and the impact he has made around the Netsilik region.

"(Amundsen) had helped Inuit by hunting with a rifle and, in return, he got them to make caribou clothing," said Sallerina, adding they also traded between each other.

The Norwegian embassy is reaching out to Gjoa Haven residents because Amundsen wintered in Gjoa Haven in 1903, learning from the Inuit something Sallerina said helped Amundsen in his subsequent voyage to the South Pole.

"The Inuit here showed him how to build iglu, showed him how to sew caribou clothing and how to prepare them and how to have a dog team," said Sallerina.

He added he is honoured to take part in the celebrations.

- Jeanne Gagnon

New early childhood education program


Pre-school children in Resolute will have the opportunity to learn Inuktitut and language through a new early childhood education program set to start in mid-January.

Qarmartalik School principal Jennifer Borden said the program will welcome eight children aged two to five, both in the mornings and afternoons. She added the program will focus heavily on Inuktitut and language. Resolute has not had a daycare since the last one closed in 2004.

"We feel it's necessary to start something in the school so the kids have Head Start (programming) before they join the kindergarten program," she said. "I'm having a morning session and an afternoon session for that reason because I think we have so many young pre-school kids in Resolute Bay that I think the spots will fill up pretty quickly."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Order bestowed

Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet

Nunavut Commissioner Edna Elias officially presented Nellie Kusugak with the Order of Nunavut bestowed upon her late husband, Jose Kusugak, posthumously a week ago in Rankin Inlet.

Jose had been officially named as an Order of Nunavut recipient in the legislative assembly this past June.

The Order of Nunavut Act was passed by the legislative assembly in December of 2009. The Order of Nunavut was created to honour individuals who have provided an outstanding contribution to the cultural, social, or economic wellbeing of Nunavut. It's the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual by the Government of Nunavut.

- Darrell Greer

High tide floods water source

Kugaaruk/Pelly Bay

Salt water was coming out of the community's taps when the tide flooded Kugaaruk's water source earlier this month.

Kugaaruk School principal Michael Bartley said the school and residents drank bottled water for four to five days as the tide flooded the community's water source, apparently due to the heavy wind. Salt water being heavier than fresh water, it sank so workers pumped the salt water from the bottom of the pond. He added it was nice to see the community pulling together to get the problem fixed.

"I remember, I went to turn the sink on to brush my teeth and it was all salt water coming out," said Bartley. "There is lots of snow around. There is lots of fresh ice so people were just going and getting themselves some ice or melt the snow. It was nice to see the whole community working together like that, all supporting each other and understanding it takes a lot of hard work to get things done."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Christmas games may return to sea ice


Christmas games organizers are hoping storms hold off to allow sea ice to freeze more and give Pangnirtung residents the chance to play games in the fiord again. Games have not been played at Christmas for safety reasons for the past three years, but conditions are better this year, recreation director Peter Evic said.

"It used to be annual, but now that we haven't been getting good quality ice, it's too dangerous," he said, noting the recent cold and calm weather means good sea ice is forming.

"We usually get a storm before Christmas, so if we don't get a bad storm it looks like the ice may be here for the winter."

Indoor and outdoor games are planned starting Dec. 26, but the decision on which games will be played was not available to Nunavut News/North by press time. A full calendar is available on the hamlet's website.

- Casey Lessard