Nunavik in 2012: a look back at the year that was
New leadership at Makivvik, a new provincial park
The Inuit of Nunavik began 2012 by choosing a new president for the Makivvik Corp., when Jobie Tukkiapik upset incumbent Pita Aatami in an election held Jan. 19.
At the same time, many question marks surround an impending mine development boom and the Quebec government’s Plan Nord scheme for encouraging such development.
• Three candidates continue their campaign for the presidency of Nunavik’s Makivvik Corp., Jobie Tukkiapik, Charlie Watt, Harry Tulugak and Pita Aatami. The election is scheduled for Jan. 19.
• A rookie Nunavik police officer who was on duty in Tasiujaq on Sept. 19, 2011, when a young woman was sexually assaulted while in custody in the back of a Kativik Regional Police Force vehicle, is cleared of any wrongdoing after an investigation by Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions. A 24-year-old Tasiujaq man faces a sexual assault charge.
• The Quebec government dishes out $300,000 to help pay for a new co-op hotel in Umiujaq, where tourists are expected to be drawn by the new Tursujuq provincial park.
• Kuujjuaq residents get a sneak peek at possible all-weather road routes to southern Quebec at a public meeting held by Transport Quebec officials.
• A recount reveals that Jobie Tukkiapik had eked out a narrow, 13-vote victory over Pita Aatami in the Jan. 19 Makivvik Corp. election, in which only 50 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.
• Isabelle Parizeau is named acting director general of the Kativik Regional Government, replacing Jobie Tukkiapik. In May she’s confirmed as the permanent director general.
• Xstrata starts work on a wind turbine that would be installed at Nunavik’s Raglan Mine by 2015.
• Kuujjuaq teacher Etua Snowball, who performs under the name Sinuupa, releases a new album called Culture Shock. Later in the year, the album wins an aboriginal music award.
• Putugu Tukalak, 34, of Puvirnituq, is charged Feb. 1 with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his spousal partner, 26-year-old Talasia Tukalak-Ivilla-Nutataluk. Talasia Tukalak died the day she arrived home from a medical trip to Montreal, and her story forms a big part of a devastating feature on Nunavik published by La Presse later in the month.
• Census data reveals that Nunavik’s population grew to 12,090 in 2011, up 12 per cent from the population figure recorded in 2006. Kuujjuaq’s population figure reaches 2,375.
• A study done by McGill law graduate Joey Flowers finds the Kativik School Board is too paternalistic in its handling of Nunavik students attending college and university in the South.
• Minnie Grey of Nunavik receives a National Aboriginal Achievement Award at a ceremony held Feb. 24 in Vancouver.
• La tragédie inuite, a multi-page exposé of Nunavik’s deteriorating social conditions, published Feb. 25 in La Presse, sparks controversy across the region. Some people say the series is insulting to Inuit, while others praise La Press for exposing the region’s social problems, which include school drop-out rates of about 80 per cent, and widespread homicide, suicide and substance abuse.
• Two Kuujjuaraapik men die in a murder-suicide incident in which one man, Aakava Horne, 32, shoots another man, Sam Weetaltuk, 22, then turns the weapon onto himself.
• Brian Jones, the former chief of the Kativik Regional Police Force, receives an absolute discharge in a case alleging the misuse of proceeds of crime money. The court found Jones did not pocket any money and used the funds to make contributions to crime prevention activities.
• Fifty-three athletes from Nunavik participate in the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, winning 36 ulus.
• Makivvik Corp. delegates gather in Chisasibi, Quebec’s southernmost Inuit community, which is located in James Bay Cree territory, for the organization’s annual general meeting. A “discussion paper” produced in the wake of the April 2011 rejection of a proposed Nunavik Regional Government receives little discussion.
• In the Quebec Liberal government’s budget, finance minster Raymond Bachand announces $10 million to study the possible extension of Hydro Quebec’s grid into Nunavik.
• On March 20, Nunavik musher Peter Kiatainaq wins the Ivakkak dog team race.
• Managers of the Tamatumani Inuit training program at Xstrata’s Raglan mine call on the Quebec government to provide more training money through Plan Nord.
• Noah Nochasak, 24, of Nain, Labrador, arrives in Kangiqsualujjuaq April 4 after completing a 550-kilometre trek through the Torngat Mountains with 55-year-old Jerry Kobalenko.
• The Quebec government holds a Plan Nord job fair at the Palais de Congrès in downtown Montreal on April 20 and 21. The event, which features an appearance by Quebec premier Jean Charest, draws a big crowd of student protestors. An Inuit delegation from Nunavik walks out after Charest delivers a French-only speech.
• The Nunavik health board announces that they’ll try to find a West Island location for a permanent boarding home for Inuit patients in Montreal. Right now, the health board uses the YMCA on Tupper St., just steps away from the infamous Cabot Square.
• Nunavik’s annual beluga hunt opens May 3. The total Nunavik quota of 315 animals, distributed among communities according to a complex arrangement, is approved by the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board.
• Influential lawyer Jean-François Arteau departs his job as executive assistant to the president of Makivvik Corp. to take on a new job as vice-president of the Société d’habitation du Québec, the provincial social housing agency.
• The Nunavik health board sends out an alert that warns of a tuberculosis outbreak in the region that is centred in Kangiqsualujjuaq. By the end of the month, the number of active cases there soars to 48.
• The Nunavik Regional Committee on Sexual Abuse Prevention launches a program called Good touch/Bad touch, which is aimed at helping children protect themselves against sexual abuse.
• Laval university researcher Gérard Duhaime presents research that shows four in 10 Nunavik households live below the poverty line.
• The Nunavik Investment Board goes belly-up, closing its Kuujjuaq office and ceasing operations after failing a forensic audit, which found some its loans went to relatives of board members.
• The manager of the Kativik Regional Housing Bureau reports that social housing tenants owe $1.2 million in unpaid rent from 2011 alone and that accumulated arrears since 2000 total $15.1 million.
• Kuujjuaq swelters under record high temperatures. On June 2, the temperature high reaches 26 C, an all-time record for that day.
• The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services announces it will not renew the contract of executive director Jeannie May when it expires Sept. 7. May, along with Alasie Arngak, the chairperson of the board, has faced possible disciplinary action since December of 2011, when allegations of credit care misuse surfaced following an audit of the board’s finances done by a company called Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Arngak had previously departed the chairperson position.
• On June 8, Nunavik celebrates its first “Housing Pride Day,” an event aimed at encouraging people to look after their social housing units.
• Also on June 8, Joey Flowers becomes Nunavik’s first Inuk law school graduate.
• Makivvik Corp. hands out $6,700 to 145 Nunavimmiut, who had either owned a sled dog team or whose spouse had owned a team, from a $3 million fund paid out by Quebec in compensation for the “dog slaughter” of the 1950s and 1960s.
• The Eastern Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay areas are closed to beluga hunting as of July 9, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announces.
• The centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec party names accountant Stéphane Robichaud as its candidate for Ungava in a Quebec election widely expected to be called later in the summer.
• A 39-year-old man dies of a completed suicide attempt while in the custody of the Kativik Regional Police Force in Puvirnituq.
• The Nunavik health board issues a “user guide” for Inuit patients in Montreal. “Never be intoxicated or display disrespectful behavior,” the pamphlet says.
• Alice Annanack and her husband, Tommy Baron, fight off a polar bear that attacked their camp.
• Quebec Premier Jean Charest calls an election for Sept. 4.
• The Aqpik Jam music festival kicks off in Kuujjuaq Aug. 14. At the end of the festival, Quebec comedian and impressionist André-Philippe Gagnon, who’s performed in Las Vegas and in other international venues, closed the festival before a packed house inside Katittavik auditorium in Kuujjuaq.
• A survey released by the Quebec ministry of natural resources and wildlife releases a study that shows the George River caribou herd numbers only 27,600 animals, down from the 385,000 counted in 2001.
• A Transportation Safety Board investigation finds that the crew of an Air Inuit DHC-8-102 Dash 8 aircraft used their instrumentation “improperly,” risking a mid-air collision with another Air Inuit Dash-8 on Feb. 7, 2011 near Puvirnituq. Air Inuit has since issued a safety alert to its pilots prohibiting them from using their instrumentation that way.
• On Aug. 27, the Nunavik health board reports that a major tuberculosis outbreak in Kangiqsualujjuaq has been resolved. The board used a portable X-ray machine to screen nearly all residents aged 15 and older. Eighty-nine people in the community of 874 people developed tuberculosis after the outbreak started in November 2011.
• Luc Ferland, the incumbent MNA for the riding of Ungava, which includes Nunavik, holds on to his seat in the Sept. 4 Quebec election. The Parti Québécois, led by Pauline Marois, form a minority government. Only 28 per cent of Nunavik voters bother to cast ballots.
• At a two-day meeting Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, representatives from all of Nunavik’s major organization kick-start a process aimed at producing a home-grown development plan called Parnasimautiliaq Nunavimmut, based on Plan Nunavik, the region’s response to the Charest government’s Plan Nord.
• The parents of 15 French first-language students in Kuujjuaq decide to education their children outside the school system after the Kativik School Board refuses to support a plan to hire two teachers who would teach their children full-time in French.
• The Kativik Regional Government reports that about 60 per cent of its workforce of 320 employees in Nunavik are Inuit. But at the Kativik Regional Police Force, only five per cent of employees are Inuit while 95 per cent are non-Inuit. At the Raglan mine, only 17.1 per cent of the workforce is Inuit.
• The municipality of Puvirnituq passes a bylaw easing most alcohol possession restrictions in a move aimed at reducing bootlegging.
• Nunavik’s Saputiit youth association remains frozen, with its finances still in disarray. An audit report found that in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, well before current president Elizabeth Annahatak was elected and when Jonathan Epoo still served as president, there were “major deficiencies in the internal control system.”
• After a series of quiet meetings with executives from Norterra, the parent company of the Canadian North airline, Nunavik’s Makivvik Corp. announces that it has decided not to sell First Air to Norterra or any other buyer. “After a rigorous review of its strategic options, the board confirmed its decision to retain full ownership of this important investment,” Makivvik said. At the same time, Kris Dolinki, First Air president and CEO announces he will resign his position as of Oct. 12. Chris Ferris, VP of marketing, steps into the job on an interim basis.
• Bob Rae, the interim leader of the federal Liberal party, visits Kuujjuaq Oct. 12, when he meets with Maggie Emudluk, the chair of the Kativik Regional Government and Jobie Tukkiapik, the president of Makivvik Corp., and visits the classroom of award-winning teacher Etua Snowball. Afterwards, Rae talks mostly about the social housing shortage and the region’s high cost of living.
• The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency opens an environmental assessment process for the massive Hopes Advance Bay iron project near Aupaluk. Oceanic Iron Ore Corp. proposes a $4.46 billion project for extracting 10 to 20 million tonnes of iron ore from an area between Kangirsuk and Aupaluk, to be shipped directly to China.
• Maggie Cruickshank of Akulivik tells the world about her frightening encounter with a hairy bigfoot creature she encountered while berry-picking.
• At a three-day conference called “Inuusitta Makitjuumigiaqarniga,” more than 60 Nunavimmiut meet to talk about ways of re-establishing wellness, safety and social peace within the troubled region.
• Romeo Saganash, the MP for the MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, announces that he’s taking time off to deal with an alcohol dependency problem. He makes the statement Oct. 22., following his removal Oct. 19 from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Val d’Or.
• The Montreal-based shipping firm Fednav signs a deal with Canadian Royalties to ship nickel and copper concentrate from the Nunavut Nickel mine to Europe. Fednav places an order with a Japanese firm to build a Polar Class 4 ice-breaking bulk carrier to fulfill the contract. Canadian Royalties is controlled by Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co. Ltd. of China through its Canadian subsidiary Jien Canada Mining Ltd.
• The Kativik Regional Police Force and the Kativik Regional Government find themselves at the centre of a big scandal. Denise Robinson, a KRPF officer, goes public with a story of how she was sexually assaulted by a fellow KRPF officer, Joe Willie Saunders, on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, 2010 in Kuujjuaq. She said the KRPF paid her non any or benefits after the incident. Her attacker, on the other hand, received full pay and benefits until the day he was convicted.
• Arctic Fibre Inc. announces that they’ve amended their undersea fibre optic proposal to include a backbone line that would run from Cape Dorset through Kuujjuaraapik and Chisasibi down to Montreal and New York City.
• Dr. François Prévost, a coroner who is head of general medicine at Puvirnituq’s Inuulitsivik health centre and an associate professor at McGill University and the Université du Québec’s Abitibi-Temiscamingue campus, says Nunavik’s unreliable telecommunications system, provided by Bell Aliant, is so bad it’s a risk to public health and safety.
• Inspectors from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seize beluga mataaq and meat from seven hunters from Kangirsuk, Tasijuaq and Aupaluk.
• Quebec’s Parti Québécois government announces Nov. 14 that it’s creating the Secrétariat au développement nordique to oversee northern development.
• Kuujjuaq’s Tulattavik hospital receives accreditation from Accreditation Canada.
• Maggie Emudluk of Kanigqsualujjuaq is elected as chairperson of the Kativik Regional Government for another three years,
• Sammy Annahatak, 35, of Kangiqsujuaq, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Peter Jaaka, 58.
• Nunavut’s health board announces a plan to stamp out bed bugs.
• The Makivvik Corp. announces the names of candidates for an election to be held Jan. 17 for a vice president of economic development and a corporate secretary. Adamie Alaku is challenging incumbent Michael Gordon for the vice president position, while Sarah Airo, Daniel Epoo and Maggie Putulik are challenging Andy Moorhouse for the corporate secretary position.
• Minnie Grey is named executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services.
• At an even held Dec. 14 in Umiujaq, Quebec government officials declare they will move ahead with Parc national Tursujuq, the third provincial park to be created in Nunavik. The Quebec government agrees to expanded boundaries that include the Nastapoka River and the upper and lower seal lakes.
• A Montreal community police officer commissions a video that provides with safety tips to help them avoid the pitfalls of infamous Cabot Square, located near the YMCA patient hostel on Tupper St.