August 13, 2004

A fan of Polar Penny

As a former co-worker of Penny Cholmondeley in Vancouver, I followed her career path to Iqaluit and the adventures of “Polar Penny.”

Reading her blogs and photos on a semi-regular basis, it always sounded like an interesting and inviting place. Yes, even the skeleton of an old truck can be attractive to the artistic eye and open mind.

Regardless of the subject matter, her writings always made me feel like Nunavut was a place I’d want to visit — and for Nunavut Tourism, isn’t that kind of the whole idea?

Apparently I’m not alone in that either, as the article notes numerous positive e-mails from elsewhere in the world. Seems to me, anything that draws more tourism to the area should be commended, regardless of whether it’s an “official” channel or not.

Frankly, I think Nunavut Tourism shot themselves in the foot with this one.

Matt Ion
Burnaby, BC

August 13, 2004

Was employee illegally fired?

Re: “Nunavut Tourism fires web-logging staffer”

I happen to have seen this blog before it came down. I liked it. And in my humble opinion, unless Ms. Cholmondeley’s contract with Nunavut Tourism specified that she was not to publish anything about Nunavut without permission of her employer, then her right to free speech has been trampled on by Nunavut Tourism and I for one hope she both takes advice from a lawyer and appropriate action.

I don’t know how Nunavut Tourism can fire an employee based on an anonymous complaint — it’s kind of suicidal on their part.

Anyone fired on the basis of an anonymous complaint should file a grievance — or if non-unionized, hire a lawyer.

Her case would probably be iron-clad had she not mentioned exactly what employer she worked for on her website, but still, even with that, the employer would have a tough time winning this case, unless they could show she had violated an employer policy that she was clearly aware of, or a clause in her contract.

Sounds to me that her employment has been illegally terminated. There’s far to much of that kind of employer attitude in the North.

Nunavut Tourism’s apparent attempt to both quash free speech in a democratic society and to cover-up the legitimate, and personal, opinions of a citizen brings more disrepute to the territory that Ms. Cholmondeley’s honest and forthright musings on life in Iqaluit.

George Lessard
Former President
NEU Arviat Local 009
Fort Smith

August 13, 2004

Thank for helping with the Illungajut gathering

I would like to thank the people who gathered at Illungajut on July 18, 2004.

I would especially like to thank the original residents, who shared their experiences and way of life with us, and who want to know more of where we came from.

They lacked convenient material things, but they were rich in relationships, place in community, knowledge of hunting, sewing and love for their fellow man. Thank you for sharing the shock of assimilation, and how you woke up one morning when life was good, spring was coming, and a plane came, and you left your warm qammaqs to live in tents at Pangnirtung, when it was minus 30.

How you survived this, I don’t know. But, then you survived other hardships.

Thank you to Geela and Maaku Sowdluapik, Maanasa and Aiga Evic, Seemee and Taina Angmarlik, Aimusi and Mary Arnakak, Inuki Akulukjuk, Pepeelie, Olootie, Lucy Kuniluisie, Norman, Adamie, Stevie, Madeleine Qumuaqtuq, Davidee and Nathaniel Qaqasiq, Joopa and Peah Sowdluapik,Peter and Rosie Kilabuk, and Karen and Darren McCartney, and all our children who were there with us.

A very special thank you goes to Saciasie Sowdloapik for the beautiful cross that was erected at Innaaruruluk. After the cross was erected a pod of bowhead whales graced us with their presence, lots of them.

I took it as a sign that we were indeed blessed as our ancestors were. We will never forget the seal Seemee prepared for us, the cooks who prepared it like our parents. Thanks to Norman Qumuaqtuq for the pitsi and maktaaq, and thanks to Olootie for the kuannik.

Thanks to you all I am richer in spirit and knowledge for me to pass on to my children, qujannamiiqpaaluk!

Leesee Qaqasiq

August 13, 2004

Deadbeat dad’s employer helps him dodge payments

For the past 10 years, I have been trying to collect money from the father of my children.

Maintenance Enforcement of Nunavut had not provided me with any changes of information to my file. I had moved to another community and I went to Maintenance Enforcement here and they could not help me with any further investigation.

Maintenance Enforcement in the Northwest Territories can only deal with other Maintenance Enforcement offices, but they cannot investigate outside of their jurisdiction.

I know the father of my children has been working for the past five to six years and I remember him making only five payments in 10 years.

The reason I have not been receiving payments from him, is the company where he works has been hiding his salary from Maintenance Enforcement. This corporation has been paying a salary to the father of my children under a different name.

This is to avoid him paying maintenance. I have told the Maintenance Enforcement about this, but they have refused to investigate. I called the corporation about it and they said he had been working for them for a while. I explained that I’ve have not received any payment from him.

I would really appreciate if Maintenance Enforcement would get an investigating team, because they are supposed to be the enforcer.

I called Maintenance Enforcement about this and I was upset to hear someone say, “If you do not like how the system works you might as well close your file and go after the father yourself.”

This is why I am writing this letter to the editor. I am not the only person under these circumstances, I am doing this for my children and the mothers out there.

Sarah Papatsie

August 13, 2004

Many factors cause alcohol abuse

The National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) would like to express our appreciation to Nunatsiaq News for noting the Ajunnginiq Centre’s forthcoming publication on alcohol problems in Inuit communities.

We recognize that this is a sensitive and emotional issue for many people and communities, and would like to clarify the objectives and content of the paper. The article that appeared in the July 30, 2004 issue of Nunatsiaq News states that “giving up booze isn’t the way”, and that our report “encourages drinking in moderation.”

In fact, the report provides a comprehensive overview of theories of alcohol abuse and addiction, and provides information from a large body of research that indicates that a range of interventions, from complete abstention from alcohol to harm reduction approaches, such as moderation in one’s drinking, are required.

The Ajunnginiq Centre works closely with national and regional Inuit organizations, which have identified a need for more information and resources about alcohol problems.

The paper provides knowledge and evidence from national and international organizations, including Inuit organizations and communities, and summarizes the recommendations of the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and other alcohol/addictions experts. Inuit communities are making many positive efforts to reduce the problems caused by alcohol. To enable communities to better reach that goal, the paper describes current services and also identifies key findings so that communities can consider a variety of options for effective prevention and treatment programs.

The evidence indicates that:

It is also important to note that problem drinking, and in particular binge drinking, has been identified as a public health priority by many countries around the world, as well as by the World Health Organization.

Theories about problem drinking, research and options for service development and delivery, including self-help programs, are explained in detail in the full document, which is in the process of being printed for distribution. Copies will soon be sent to all communities. In the meantime, an electronic copy is available on NAHO’s website at

Thank you again for your assistance in raising awareness of our new report. We can be reached at 1-877-602-4445, or

Tracy O’Hearn
Director, Ajunnginiq Centre

August 13, 2004

Thank you Iqaluit!

I want to thank all Iqalungmiut and all my family friends for all the laughs, little tears, and everything else that made our short visit a really good one.

Thank you to Don Coughlin and Enosik Ejetsiaq, and their sons Aaron and Gelow; Kelly and Ashley; Paujungi Akpik; Annie Akpik and sons; Matto and Jimmy; Levena and Ooleesia; brothers Zeke Ejetsiaq and Etulu Ejetsiaq; my niece Lau, Olayuk Akesuk, and their kids; Sattie Aqpiq; and my youngest sister, Quyuq Ejetsiak, and her daughter Oolayou.

Thanks especially to Lazarus and Mae Aupaloota, daughter Lizzie and her brother Simonie; the Alainga family; cousins Mary and Elisapee Sheutiapik; Betty Brewster; John Amagoalik and wife Evie; Itee and Koalie; Eva Michael, Simonie and Martha Michael; Johnny and Pia Pallister; Qaumaqtaq Korgak; Denis Cote and daughter Rosemary Cote (for Mike) and all the guys he hung out with.

A special thanks to Dr. Paul Stubbing and the staff at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

So sorry for for some you other people who I may have forgotten to include. Thank you so much.

We visited your Legislative Assembly building and found it to be the best looking one we’ve ever seen and the only one I’ve ever eaten some muktaaq in. Thank-you girls. Last of all, thanks Jim!

Nipisha and Mike Bracken
Kitchener, Ont.

August 13, 2004

Fisheries critic clarifies position

Having read your editorial containing references to the undersigned, I felt the need to set the record straight for your readers.

As far as I’m concerned nobody, other than the Inuit, has the right to determine how, when and where fisheries adjacent to Nunavut should be developed for the maximum benefit of the Inuit people. Anyone who suggested that I even expressed an opinion on that matter are lying and confusing the issue. Mr. John Efford has deliberately or otherwise caused confusion by making reference to a hook and line operation which was not even referred to at any time by the undersigned.

What we have expressed concern about is the transfer of a factory-freezer trawler, owned by Icelanders and Greenlanders, to a Canadian flag to catch turbot which could be caught by at least 11 Canadian harvesting companies with trawler capacity to catch two and half times the turbot quota. We are not referring in any way, shape or form to any proposal to catch turbot by hook and line.

Furthermore, the Scandinavian trawler is being given what the foreign owners describe as a “generous quota” of shrimp to be caught off Labrador and the east coast of Newfoundland. The source of this shrimp and the reason Canadian shrimpers are being denied access is under a shroud of secrecy because of lack of transparency by DFO, politicians and others. The fishery IS a Common Property Resource and the people deserve the right to know all the details.

We first learned about the giveaway of Canadian quota in an article in an Icelandic newspaper. I attach a copy of that letter and I suggest you publish a copy of the latter so your readers can see that project from the perspective of the Baffin Fishery Coalition’s foreign partners and judge for themselves who is really in charge of the Greenland/Iceland owned trawler.

Another annoying factor is while Geoff Regan and politicians like Efford approve the awarding of this shrimp quota to the Factory Trawler, the same Greenland owners are advising NAFO they intend to blatantly disregard the scientifically based shrimp quota on the Nose of the Grand Banks and fish ten times their allocation. In other words Canada and DFO are “given a kick in the teeth” in NAFO for generously awarding a shrimp quota to the Greenlanders off Labrador and Newfoundland. And Regan and Efford are supporting this kind of behavior by the Greenlanders!!!!!!!

The very best of luck to the Inuit people. May they develop their fisheries to the benefit of their people as has been the case in Iceland and Norway. I can assure you that DFO administration of fisheries off Newfoundland and Labrador, since we entered Confederation and transferred management to Ottawa, has been an unmitigated disaster. At the present rate of mismanagement we will lose many more thousands of our population to central and western Canada within the next five years or so. We have already lost 60 thousand people from fishing communities in the last ten years.

Mr. Editor, you will have to excuse us for expressing deep concern regarding shrimp quotas being awarded by DFO to the irresponsible Greenlanders. These same people have advised NAFO they plan to overfish and destroy shrimp resources on the Nose of the Grand Banks. Furthermore, we are deeply suspicious of people like Efford and Regan, as well as the people who fed you inaccurate information such as contained in your editorial. What are their motives?? What do they hope to gain??

Yours very truly
Gus Etchegary
Portugal Cove/St.Philips, Newfoundland

August 6, 2004

IMAX film could boost tourism in Nunavut

I read "Nunavut's Tourism Industry Stagnant" in your July 23 newspaper with great interest. Tourism is one of the world's best economy boosters, it is educational and inspirational to the visitor and the visited. It is clean and non-polluting.

The Inuit, The People project, an IMAX format film, is trying to boost more tourism to Nunavut for many years to come in a big way.

This project is about how we live in Nunavut today. It is the biggest billboard for Nunavut's tourism and its art. Some IMAX format films show for over 20 years around the world when they are made with great care and Inuit, The People is going to be made the best way possible, to promote Inuit, Nunavut, culture, language, art, great scenery, hospitality, the will to survive, and how we use traditional knowledge mixed in with modern ways. After reading your article, it gave me more determination to do my part to contribute to Nunavut's economy.

There is much opportunity in the tourism industry as we know, but we who live in Nunavut will have to be trained properly in the hospitality industry. There is the bed-and-breakfast model we can learn from, since running hotels is very expensive in the smaller communities.

To promote Nunavut through an IMAX format film (15/70 film) is a very expensive project, but it is going to be worth every penny spent because it is going to be seen by many more people, for many more years.

Also, when the profits starts to flow in, it will be put into a foundation which will directly benefit Nunavut students who wants to continue their education in the media and communication arts. To do this, the Nunavut government, the federal government, Inuit organizations and big businesses need to fund this huge project. This project belongs to all Canadians, since visitors will have to go through the southern cities to get up here, so all Canada will benefit.

The direct benefits to the Inuit during its production are huge. We will have Inuit managers, we will use local outfitters, stay in hotels, buy local materials, buy local foods, rent boats and snowmobiles, hire elders as advisors, hire seamstresses, Inuit clothing designers, local airlines. Inuit, The People will be shot in all areas of Nunavut.

If this is not the answer to Nunavut's tourism industry being stagnant, I don't know what is.

Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, C.M.

August 6, 2004

Thanks for help with boat trip

I am writing this letter to thank all the people who were so willing to help on our journey from Iqaluit to Rankin Inlet.

The people of Kimmirut, and especially Sandy Akavak and his wife, Timoon, Naudla, Jimmy Manning in Kingait as well as others. The Rangers in Coral Harbour and Noah Kadlaq. John Shimout their crew as well as all the people of Coral Harbour, especially people like Matoo and Sagiaqttuq, Leoni, Paul and Madeline and crew on our final leg from Winchester Inlet to Rankin.

After a week of travelling as the only boat it was like getting home when we met them. The trip was an enjoyable experience for me, Simeoni, Haley and Tommy, although there were some minor problems. All in all, it was clear that people in the communities of Kimmirut, Kingait and Coral Harbour reacted instantly when there was a need to and it revives our faith in human nature and our willingness to help.

Thanks again people of Nunavut.

Jack Anawak, Simeoni, Haley and Tommy
Rankin Inlet

August 6, 2004

Thanks for Iqaluit's beauty and hospitality

I had the opportunity to visit Iqaluit for the annual mines ministers' conference from July 19 to July 22. I just wanted to thank the community of Iqaluit for their great hospitality, friendly attitude and unprecedented effort to host the meeting in your beautiful city.

I, like all the guests to your city, were so very impressed by the beauty, friendly people and great hospitality. I am already planning my return visit with my family. You have a beautiful city, great people and a very special place to live, I'm truly envious. Thank-you again for a fabulous visit.

Dan M. Jepsen
Executive Director & CEO
B.C. & Yukon Chamber of Mines

August 6, 2004

Woman turned down for turbot and shrimp quota

I am writing this letter as the owner of Jencor Fisheries Ltd. This letter is in formal protest of the ongoing situation with Baffin Fisheries Coalition, who have been negotiating for the use of a foreign vessel and the operations involved.

In addition I will provide insight into my dealings with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in Iqaluit.

I am the sole owner of Jencor Fisheries Ltd. and I have been trying to get my enterprise up and running for the last year and a half. My sole purpose in setting up this company was to show by example that it is viable for Inuit to be actively involved in the Nunavut fishery.

As a beneficiary, I would like the NTI president and other Nunavummiut to know what problems I have been running into throughout that time.

First of all, I have received support from different organizations and levels of government, including other Inuit organizations and for this I am grateful. I would like to thank the public from all parts of Nunavut for supporting and encouraging me right up to present day.

Before I begin I would like you to know, I support BFC and NWMB in principle. BFC has been the main instrument in regards to the offshore and inshore fishery for the past several years. They have shown what can be done in the new northern fishery.

I believe in some areas they have exceeded what might have taken years for an organization to do, for example in the training and hiring of Inuit, supporting exploratory fisheries, and coordination with other fishery organizations, to name a few. I support the jobs it has created in Nunavut, which are really hard to get, especially for unilingual Inuit.

I support the NWMB in principle. I understand what great accomplishments they have made to date. I know it is not easy to run management boards in Nunavut, where Nunavut has a very big wildlife base and many lives are dependent on wildlife. I understand the NWMB has about 25 communities to look after in one office, and not to mention the overload of work they have to do, plus the shortage of employees it has. For many of these reasons, I have deep respect for what NWMB stands for in Nunavut.

Having said the above, here are some of the serious problems I would like to address. I will first address my dealings with BFC.

BFC gave me the run-around
I first wrote them a proposal to fish in June 13, 2003, and then I met with the board on June 19, 2003. At that time, I had requested turbot and shrimp quota rights from the board members. In the end, BFC wrote me a letter as to why they couldn't do it. The letter in return guided me as to what needed to be done if I wanted to fish for BFC.

I have basically accomplished what they had requested. I wrote another proposal to fish for the coalition at the beginning of this year, in February, 2004. I received a couple of letters and e-mails regarding questions they had, and more specific questions. I responded to them two out of three times, but in the last e-mail I received, I could not believe the questions they had asked for.

The questions were like "What price will we have to pay for turbot being landed into Pangnirtung?" I believe the price could be negotiated once quota had been allocated, not before. It is my understanding this was how companies that fished for BFC in past years were treated. By that time, I knew I was getting the run-around with the BFC.

When I asked for turbot quota this year, I asked for 500 metric tonnes out of the 4,000 metric tonnes they have. I had assumed that if I asked for a smaller amount, I would have a better chance to receive the quota. I did not ask for any shrimp quota this year, as I wanted to concentrate with turbot quota.

Now, I might have a chance to get turbot quota from the South - I had to go south to get northern turbot quota. I have not received turbot and shrimp quota from the BFC or the NWMB up to this date.

I believe the BFC has received around 11 proposals to fish for their quota this year, most of them Canadians. I do not see why they have to go foreign, because Canadians are very capable of fishing Canadian quota. I understand the business part, where the business needs to stay above bankruptcy, but I also understand the need to support Nunavummiut, and if not them, then Canadians.

Plus, I've heard they have joined an agreement for leasing a vessel for two years. Why not just say royalties? The way I understand it, leasing could be just another term for royalties. Under the charter agreement, depending on the type of charter agreement, it may mean nothing.

One important fact I would like to point out, BFC does not represent all Nunavummiut, and I do not wish to be represented by them. My company is 100 per cent Inuit owned, and I have no southern partners.

No response from NWMB
My experiences with the NWMB are very similar as with BFC. I wrote my first proposal in January 2003 requesting turbot quota, and in May 2003 requesting the new shrimp quota that was allocated to Nunavut, and in March 2004 requesting turbot and shrimp quota. I wrote an appeal letter in December of 2003, for the allocation of the new turbot quota. I haven't heard where this appeal process is up to today.

To this date, I have not received turbot or shrimp quota from the NWMB.

I met with the chairman on one occasion when the new 4,000 metric tonnes was given to Nunavut, and I asked him what I would need to do to receive the turbot quota. He told me it would go through the same process as always where they send applications out to whomever may be interested in this quota.

I never received any application or notice about it and in the new shrimp quota they received in May, 2003, I only found out through the grapevine one day before the deadline to put in a fishing plan and a proposal to fish. For anyone who lives in Nunavut and you want to start your own fishing business with turbot and shrimp, I doubt they will receive any support from NWMB.

I could understand it if it was benefiting the communities directly, then it would be very workable. I feel it is important to recognize NWMB has agreed to issue me an experimental snow crab license in Zones 0A, 0B and the Nunavut Settlement area. The problem is that without access to another species, it is next to impossible to fish this license, as the research into the crab fishery is limited at this time.

NWMB allocated the turbot and shrimp quota for three years, with this year being the last year. They will re-allocate all the quotas they have before next fishing season, but with NWMB solely supporting one organization, once again there will be no quotas allocated to other communities, to a company like mine, or to other companies who want to get started in the fishing industry. NWMB was the driving force in the creation of BFC, so it is then understandable that they are maintaining BFC's monopoly in Zone 0A.

I don't agree with conflicts, but I feel I have no choice but to address this matter. I have been considering writing this letter for quite some time. I believe it is important to let Nunavummiut know what I have been dealing with in attempting to start my own enterprise.

I am a strong believer in Nunavut and I want Nunavummiut to succeed in the fishing industry, but reality hits hard sometimes. I hope the NWMB and BFC will support Nunavummiut regardless of who they are and what they want to accomplish.

I am going to own a fishing vessel some day, with or without their help. It's sad that there has to be a fight within Nunavut especially when the fishing industry is new to this part of the world.

And it is also sad if anyone new from Nunavut wants to go fishing for turbot and shrimp. They will not get support from BFC and NWMB, as NWMB has repeatedly announced they are in full support of BFC.

If turbot or shrimp quota is not given to Jencor Fisheries Ltd, then please give it to the other communities, where unemployment is really high. I do see where BFC and NWMB want to create jobs, but with the amount of Nunavut quota there is, they can create a lot more jobs out there.

Leesee Papatsie
Jencor Fisheries Ltd

August 6, 2004

Pangnirtung fisheries interests want too much

There has been a lot of hoopla lately about the reported charter of a "foreign" fishing vessel by the Baffin Fisheries Coalition. Well, the f-word label has been demonstrated to be unfounded, and the vessel is indeed Canadianized under DFO rules.

It is now common knowledge that Newfoundland developed its own offshore fishery with the use of foreign vessel charters (real ones, not Canadianized ones) and much of today's Atlantic fishing industry still has majority foreign investment.

Even Newfoundland's John Efford came out to endorse the BFC charter arrangement, and Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik boarded the MV Inuksuk on its ceremonial visit to Iqaluit to demonstrate solidarity with the BFC's incremental investment approach. The issue is beginning to settle.

But the spotlight is now shining on the Pangnirtung fisheries mafia (Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd. and Cumberland Sound Fisheries Ltd.), who want out of BFC, and with half of BFC's - i.e. other Baffin communities - total quota in hand.

It is the Pangnirtung fisheries interests who have stirred up the self-interested Newfoundland fishers and politicians, and who wound up Senator Willie Adams in his attack upon the BFC. A groundswell of animosity towards the BFC charter vessel was really crafty orchestration by Pangnirtung folks, who want most of the quota from a scuttled BFC and who oppose more fish plants in Baffin - knowing fish plants are really about getting more quota and subsidies and dividends, and not really about creating local employment.

The BFC has given Pangnirtung a fortune in free fish landed at the Pang plant in recent years, which fish Pang has sent to market with no further processing to further boost its own revenues. In fact, Pang learned long ago that the money made on offshore fish is not landing it in Pang, at great expense and with troublesome labour problems, but in landing it in Newfoundland and getting that easy cheque in the mail... they just want more of it.

That half-million dollar filleting machine they bought was not in the interests of local employment either - they could have cost-effectively supported a plant daycare service to ease the mostly female plant labour problem. It was just another tool to get more quota to reflect the new capacity - or to feed the monster.

While Cumberland Fisheries brings in more than $1 million a year, their corporate entity, Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd., conveniently loses money and keeps them in the government subsidy gravy train, and supports their position to keep other fish plants out.

Cumberland Sound Fisheries pays its shareholders dividends from offshore revenues - fish not landed in Pang - while government pays the subsidies and the losses tied to the plant.

(Name withheld by request)

(Editor's note: Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd. is the company that owns and operates the fish processing plant in Panniqtuuq. Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd. is owned 51 per cent by the Nunavut Development Corporation (a GN Crown corporation), while Cumberland Sound Fisheries Ltd. (a group of local Inuit), own the other 49 per cent. The writer wants his name withheld for fear of retribution.)

August 6, 2004

No rights or benefits for urban Inuit?

Your editorial "Kiviaq's Lonely Quest," on July 30, was very timely for my family, as we live just outside of Ottawa.

My 18-year-old daughter's application had just been rejected that day by Nunavut Student Financial Assistance Program (FANS), due to the residency requirement. I wasn't surprised, but my daughter had worked so hard to get this point in her life that it was also a major blow to her aspirations, self-worth and motivation.

Like any other 17- going on 18-year-old graduating from high school, she wanted to take a year off and learn Inuktitut and be back in Nunavut, to experience and reaffirm her Inukness. But the possibility of her ending up homeless, and the lack of existing programs in Inuktitut language and culture made it difficult to support her move back to Nunavut. That wasn't a concrete plan, but a romantic one.

The past year, we soul-searched with our daughter, and when she decided on her field of interest, she applied to four universities, and was accepted at two of them. The University of Windsor had a good four-year B.A. program, but Windsor is too distant from home in case of emergencies. She accepted the University of Ottawa, keeping in mind that this is the least expensive choice by cutting costs where she can: five-day-a-week meal plans, and no living expenses. She would come home on weekends and do her housekeeping chores.

This is very good, considering that she attended Nakasuk and Inuksuk schools in Iqaluit through Grade 10 and has gone back to Iqaluit to work each summer. Her first year in Grade 11 surprised us, as the first semester was a lot of repetition from Inuksuk. This convinced us that the academic curriculum in Nunavut is up to par with provincial schools. That was a very pleasant surprise.

Back to the rejection from FANS. I made the first contact with them nine months ago in November, with a simple request for a letter of rejection. This letter of rejection from our affected service agency is required in order for her to be eligible for an Ontario-based aboriginal scholarship program. FANS encouraged her to apply.

When we realized that we had missed the Ontario-based scholarship deadline in May, due to her late documentation received from school, we then applied to FANS. Since then, it has been a lesson in their inability to make decisions and their lack of awareness of time constraints. We would send the required documents, and then have to make calls or emails, because if we didn't, we didn't hear from them.

My personal experience, having dealt with FANS this year, was frustrating, in the sense that I got the feeling that nobody is really in charge of the program.

One person told us one minute that they never received her application, and would she send it right away. When I got on the same phone call, they said they did have her application and that there were four people reviewing it that minute. They said a decision would be made by 4:00 p.m. the next day.

On the next day, there was no decision, but they said management was consulting with their lawyer. The next day, we finally got the rejection letter that we asked for nine months earlier so we could apply for Ontario funding.

It sounds like there is no leadership, and no clear-cut rules and criteria when it comes to urban Inuit. Being an Inuk and a woman, and I dealt with people of the same gender at FANS, I sensed that they had a difficult time giving bad news and making negative decisions.

Make your rules clear, even if it means hanging up a sign saying "Urban Inuit need not apply."

And remember that you are dealing with young people who haven't left home yet and don't have the experience dealing with outside service agencies. They often don't know what questions to ask or to assert themselves. Talking and consulting with competent staff makes it easier for them, when they feel at ease and are convinced that the staff are actually there to serve them.

I recently learned that the Inuvialuit have a scholarship program that doesn't discriminate on the basis of residency. If you are enrolled in the Inuvialuit claim, you qualify no matter where you live.

This is especially frustrating, as my daughter came to Ottawa to complete her high school and only spent nine months here, going back to work in Iqaluit each summer. Can Nunavut learn from the Inuvialuit education policies, which don't discriminate against their own people ?

The other concern I have is that large numbers of Inuit now live in the South, some by choice, some for health reasons, some for economic reasons, and some because Inuit society has shunned them - HIV/AIDS affected persons, persons fleeing from abusive relationships, gays and lesbian, and mentally and physically handicapped people.

In the meantime our governments continue to receive per capita funding for aboriginal services. If so, how do we take advantage of the benefits?

I know of two other parents, originally from Nunavut, who will be facing the same systematic discrimination next year, as their daughters both plan to attend university in Kingston. Hopefully they will be able to get funding .

I have lived in the South over 20 years on and off. I have seen students from the North trying to survive while attending university. I have gone to food banks to assist stay-at-home pregnant mothers when their husbands' student grants, even with a supplementary grant, could not support a family of four. I have seen bright young men and women come down to further their education and then quit because it is so foreign and there are no support systems for them.

My argument for why my daughter's application should be approved was that she was used to urban living and had her family support systems in place. Those two in itself indicated some likelihood of success or retention.

At the moment we are trying another angle, where we might have a chance with our land claim enrolment status. We read in a pamphlet from NTI that one of the benefits is scholarships through your regional Inuit association. We are applying to Kakivak and NITC. Payments are required now, and we have deferred payment once already and will be asking for another extension. So this has been challenging for us as a family.

We are determined that if there is a perception out there that Inuit get free education, there is a way. I just have to find it! It has been very challenging and I share this personal story in that hopes that some changes will be made to include all Inuit in the claim and the benefits that come with it.

If no funding comes through from our Inuit representative organizations, our last chance is going to Inuit and Indian Affairs. As it has been my experience, I will be told that all Inuit education funds have been funnelled through bilateral agreements (government-to-government) and through land claims agreements with Inuit. Why don't I apply to them?

Attending university is very foreign to most of us when we live in Nunavut, because there are no universities in our homelands that we can strive for (no visible proof, making it much more pie-in-the-sky). Our parents have never seen universities, so they can't prepare their children, let alone give them reasons to complete high school and go on to the next step. There are not enough jobs to go around with a high school diploma nowadays.

If we are serious about our children making the next step, let's not only talk about creating universities in Nunavut, but allow for Inuit to attain a higher education in the South no matter where they reside, while we make this transition.

Most southern Inuit, and there are many - we are told over 1,000 Inuit live in and surrounding rural areas of Ottawa - have come south for a reason and should be entitled to every benefit that is afforded to those Inuit living in the North, as most go back to their community eventually.

Simona Arnatsiaq
Plantagenet, Ont.

August 6, 2004

In loving memory of Aloupa Joseph Watt

Aloupa Joseph Watt: 1976 - 2002

In the early morning hours of July 31, 2002, my world as I knew it came tumbling down around me.

This was the day that my son's life was senselessly taken away by someone who belonged in jail, but instead was free to have access to guns, which he was known to be dangerous with.

Two years ago, on August 2, Aloupa at 26 years old, left his family forever. Through his death, he gave life to others by donating his organs. His name appears on a monument in Sherbrooke, Quebec, along with many others who are named "Ambassadors of Health" for their "gift of life."

Aloupa will never be forgotten, and he lives on in others as well as in our hearts. We miss him and our lives will never be the same without him, but we are grateful that he was a part of us even if for a short time.

Minnie Grey