November 10, 2000

Nunavut now has two time zones

Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk to stay on central time for the winter

AARON SPITZER
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — After a week of confusion, clocks in the territory’s westernmost hamlets are now synchronized — an hour behind the rest of Nunavut.

The Nunavut government last week retreated from its unified-time-zone policy, permitting Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay to stay on central time for the winter.

"The community is back to normal now," said Joanne Taptuna, the mayor of Kugluktuk. "We live in one community. Why go with two times?"

The government’s announcement came Nov. 2 at a crowded public meeting in the Cambridge Bay hamlet office. There, Jack Anawak, the minister of community government, surprised residents by saying the two communities could have their own time zone.

Anawak said the Nunavut government would allow its employees in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay to operate on central time year-round, putting them one hour behind the rest of Nunavut for six months during the winter.

At the end of October the two communities had rebelled against Nunavut’s unified time zone, refusing to shift to eastern time with the rest of the territory for the winter.

Cambridge Bay remained on central time, while Kugluktuk, even farther west, reverted to mountain time, which they had used before the advent of Nunavut’s unified time zone in 1999.

The rebellion sparked a stand-off with the government that for several days threw the communities into chaos: hamlet clocks were set to one time, school and government-office clocks to another.

In Kugluktuk, where a two-hour time gap existed, government workers found themselves heading to work before most townspeople even awoke. Schoolchildren’s classes were ending hours before their parents got off work. Husbands and wives were forced to keep wildly different schedules.

"It was frustrating for GN employees and hamlet employees," said Taptuna. "It was separating the people of the community and that’s not right."

Because of the discord, Taptuna said her townspeople were quick to agree to Anawak’s compromise proposal, even though it meant winding their clocks an hour forward to central time.

But she said the 200-plus Kugluktuk residents who attended a Nov. 3 meeting to vote on the compromise also insisted the hamlet keep pushing for an eventual return to mountain time.

"The community has accepted, but they told us not to give up lobbying," Taptuna said.

She said there’s still resentment about the way the Nunavut government decided to go on eastern time, which Kugluktuk residents felt was done without consulting them first.

"That’s what really ticked us off," she said. "They were making decisions and dictating to the people. We did remind them about ... people coming first."