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News Briefs: Monday, May 28, 2012

New chief in Deline

Leonard Kenny was sworn in as the new chief of Deline on May 24.

Kenny said he is looking forward to his term as chief and, while there is a lot to do, he feels well prepared for the responsibility.

"I felt very honoured, I was excited," said Kenny. "I was thinking about the challenges ahead of me but I also thought about my own personal experience ... I come to the position with experience so I felt good, comfortable."

Kenny said his work will focus on obtaining self-government for Deline and to revisit a water management strategy for Great Bear Lake.

-Lyndsay Herman

Votes wrongly cast

The Chief Electoral Officer for Elections NWT has determined that two electors were out of town on election day but had ballots cast on their behalf at a Whati polling station during the 2011 territorial election.

The Whati Deputy Returning Officer and two Monfwi electors were issued compliance agreements which acknowledge that a violation of the Elections and Plebiscites Act occurred, but do not contain any admission of guilt.

An Elections NWT press release states five complaints were made to the Chief Electoral Officer after last year's territorial election however four of them had too little evidence to substantiate an allegation.

- Lyndsay Herman

Old post office burns

The old post office in Fort Smith was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of May 19.

Mayor Janie Hobart said the fire occurred just after midnight in the privately-owned building, which was being used for storage.

The building had not been used as a post office for more than 20 years. The RCMP said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.

- Paul Bickford

Arson charge laid

A 19-year-old man in Fort Smith was arrested and charged on May 20 with arson in connection with a fire that heavily damaged a building in Conibear Park on Jan. 1.

The accused is to appear in Fort Smith Territorial Court on May 28.

The RCMP declined to release the man's name because the case was under active investigation.

The fire destroyed the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce building, which was also known as the visitor information centre.

The building was used for community events, including the South Slave Friendship Festival.

Following the fire, what remained of the log building was deemed a safety hazard and removed from the site.

- Paul Bickford

Fort Smith seeks Fire Smart designation

Thebacha/Fort Smith

Fort Smith is working to become the first designated Fire Smart community in the NWT.

Mayor Janie Hobart said Fire Smart is a national program and there are criteria that have to be met.

"The biggest one is the education campaign to encourage all of your residents to make their properties as Fire Smart as possible," she said.

In late May, a door-to-door educational campaign will begin in Fort Smith to provide residents with tips on making their yards as fire safe as possible.

Hobart said the information will be on such things as moving and covering up woodpiles and cleaning up potentially-flammable debris from around houses.

She noted there will also be various activities to promote being prepared for forest fires.

- Paul Bickford

Kids in canoes

Tsiigehtchic/Arctic Red River

Students at Chief Paul Niditchie School are looking forward to their end-of-the-year canoe trip next month.

"We try to make sure we start our year with cultural activity and end our year with a big cultural activity," said Cynthia Wagner, principal of Chief Paul Niditchie School. "This year we started with a canoe trip going to fish camp down the Mackenzie River with all the staff and students.

We went berry picking and canoed there, which was exhausting. Then at the end of the year we take a canoe trip just down the Red (River) and have a barbecue on the shale beach shore and have hot dogs and s'mores and we canoe back."

Wagner said power boats will take the 24 students plus staff down to the barbecue location and the group will canoe back after the barbecue. She said the trip back usually takes around 3 hours.

- Lyndsay Herman

Summer tourism season

Beaufort Delta

The approaching summer months mean the summer tourist season is also approaching and Kylik Kisoun Taylor, owner of Up North Tours, said his team is ready to show tourists around the delta.

"We have tours just about every single day once the roads open up," said Taylor. "(They are) mostly up to Tuktoyaktuk and then we also have tours out into ... the Mackenzie Delta and then we also have tours that go on the Dempster Highway."

Taylor said Up North already has some tours booked in advance, but expects the majority of them to be booked once the tourists arrive.

"Most people book the day of or the day before but we do have tours that are booked ahead of time as well," he said. "There's a lot of international people but I think last year the most people were from Canada, from B.C. But we get people from all over the world, it's pretty crazy."

Taylor said the summer tour season slows down right around Sept. 1 but tours remain available until mid-to late October.

- Lyndsay Herman

Theological college graduation

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Leadership Training (SALT) College in Fort Smith will hold its graduation ceremonies on June 3.

The graduation will take place at the SALT College, beginning at 5 p.m.

SALT is a full-time theological college of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in the NWT.

- Paul Bickford

Night out for vehicle owners in Fort Smith

Thebacha/Fort Smith

The Fort Smith Car Cruise Night is beginning for another summer. Vehicle enthusiasts - and their cars, trucks and motorcycles - are invited to gather in the McDougal Centre parking lot at 7 p.m. on May 30.

Fort Smith Car Cruise Night will be held on the last Wednesday of each month throughout the summer.

- Paul Bickford

Funeral for elder

Tetlit'Zheh/Fort McPherson

Fort McPherson residents were set to gather for a funeral last Tuesday to mourn the death of elder Rachel Stewart.

Chief William Koe of the Tetlit Gwich'in Council said Stewart was over 90 years old and was very well respected in the community.

"She was a wonderful woman," he said.

Koe said the community will be looking forward to the ice clearing out and enjoying some warm summer sun. He said this time of year is well suited for hunting and fishing.

"We have ice moving out in Fort McPherson; as we speak, ice is going out," he said. "So it's a good time for hunting and fishing. Summer weather is coming around."

- Lyndsay Herman

Spring goose hunt

Sachs Harbour/Holman

Goose hunting season started in Sachs Harbour and Holman this month.

Sharon Green, receptionist for the Hamlet of Sachs Harbour, said goose hunters don't need to go far for a successful hunt.

"You could go as close as town and as far as the fishing places and the geese hunting areas," said Green. "All over, everywhere is good."

Green said the season usually takes place during May and June.

Apart from the hunt, Green said residents are waiting for the ice to break up so people can start boating again.

The season will end once geese start laying eggs.

- Lyndsay Herman

Hospital executive director resigns


The executive director of the Qikiqtani General Hospital has resigned.

Bernie Schmidt, who had worked in the role for two years, put in his last day on May 25.

"Bernie Schmidt has resigned as executive director of the Qikiqtani General Hospital (in) Iqaluit for personal reasons," said Ron Wassink, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Services.

He said Lloyd Searcy, the hospital's interim director when Schmidt arrived in 2010, will re-assume that role until a replacement is found.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Habitat plans Apex home


Iqaluit's third Habitat for Humanity home will be built this summer on a lot in Apex donated by the Nunavut Housing Corporation, an NHC release stated.

The organization aims to build, or rehabilitate, decent and affordable homes with no-interest mortgages. A family is chosen for the home, and then participates in the construction of the home, along with other volunteers.

A family has been chosen for this build, and volunteers are still needed. Construction starts June 23.

"I am very pleased to support this initiative for affordable housing in Apex," said NHC president Alain Barriault. "We very much look forward to future projects with Habitat for Humanity in Nunavut."

The home will be part of Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit's plan to build 10 "decent, healthy, and affordable homes" for families in Nunavut by 2020, the release stated.

The previous two Iqaluit homes were built in 2007 and 2009.

- Casey Lessard

Kimmirummiut get belugas

Kimmirut/Lake Harbour

Hunters are having success harvesting belugas, which have returned to the waters near Kimmirut, economic development officer Qapik Ikkidluak said.

"There's been maybe five so far that have been harvested," he said May 22. The first beluga was killed May 20 about 25 km from the hamlet near Anguttua.

The abundance of belugas is "more than last year," he said, especially considering "there wasn't any at all last fall."

- Casey Lessard

They all scream for ice cream

Ausuittuq/Grise Fiord

Now that summer is almost here, it seems inevitable that the children in Grise Fiord would want ice cream.

By request, Umimmak Grade 7 to 9 teacher Tanya Cross helped five Grade 3 to 6 students make their own on May 19 while everyone else in town was at the fishing derby.

"The kids were just bored, so we came to school at 11 (a.m.) and we were here until about 2," Cross said.

The children made the ice cream by hand, and two community members stopped by for taste testing."It was a vanilla, plain kind," she said. "It was good."

Cross was set to make ice cream with some students again this past weekend, but doesn't expect to make it a regular activity.

"It was fun, but it's a lot of work," she said. "Just constantly stirring it and being sure it's cold and frozen. It's tough."

- Casey Lessard

Science trip


Qarmartalik School students and staff will learn more about how sea ice melts and its role in the production of algae during a day trip on May 28 two hours outside Resolute.

Principal Jennifer Borden said they will join four Polar Continental Shelf Program scientists at Sheringham Point, west of Resolute on Cornwallis Island, to see the research the scientists are doing regarding sea ice.

She added they visited the scientists a couple of years ago and it worked out well.

"It's really important," said Borden. "They (teachers) felt the students and the community and all the teachers had such a great learning experience out there that we really had to get out there again."

- Jeanne Gagnon

Exchange trip

Kinngait/Cape Dorset

A group of Cape Dorset high school students visited three farms and Niagara Falls during an exchange trip to Ontario, having hosted a group of Ontario high schoolers in their community.

Sixteen students and three chaperones from Peter Pitseolak School visited three farms - one produce, one dairy and one pig - during their trip to Stratford, Ont., from May 5 to 11, said Andre Samson, one of the chaperones. Samson, also a junior and high school math teacher at PPS, added they went to a one-man play, cooked with celebrity chefs and spent a day at Niagara Falls.

"The kids seemed to have so much fun, it was amazing," he said. "The kids seem to really enjoy the days we were on the farms but they also really enjoyed the day we spent at Niagara Falls. That was probably the highlight of the trip."

The Cape Dorset high school had hosted a group of 15 students and two chaperones from Stratford Northwestern Secondary School from April 21 to 27. The southern students hiked to Kinngait mountain and to the floe edge, toured the co-op printshop and participated in the school's winter carnival, to name a few, Samson stated via e-mail.

The trips were part of a YMCA exchange.

- Jeanne Gagnon

Jewelry-making returns to Kimmirut

Kimmirut/Lake Harbour

Kimmirut's popular jewelry-making course is running again, according to economic development officer Qapik Ikkidluak.

About seven or eight people are taking part, some of them participants in previous classes, Ikkidluak said.

"Rings, earrings, bracelets, pendants," are some of the items they are making for sale, he said. "They enjoy doing it, so I decided to apply for funding for it again, so they can make an income."

Ellen Fraser is teaching the class, which runs from May 9 to June 20 and is funded by the Department of Economic Development and Transportation.

- Casey Lessard

Omingmak Frolics a success: rec co-ordinator

Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay

People had fun and the weather co-operated during Cambridge Bay's annual celebration of spring, according to the hamlet's recreation co-ordinator.

This year's Omingmak Frolics, from May 14 to 21, featured about 15 new activities. The festival went well, said Fred Muise, recreation co-ordinator at the hamlet.

"It was a lot of fun. It was a huge success," he said. "We had some really nice days."

Muise said the snowmobile races were the most popular activity.

"The snowmobile races are what a lot of people go ... watch and enjoy," he said.

- Jeanne Gagnon