Nunatsiavut building and rebuilding

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Labrador Inuit look to a future with new facilities and more government meetings

The concept for the exterior of the new Torngâsok Cultural Centre for Nunatsiavut, as designed by architect Todd Saunders. According to information from the Nunatsiavut Government, the 1,300-square-metre facility was inspired by the shapes of traditional Inuit sod houses. Site work is underway and the centre is scheduled to be completed by summer 2014. — Image courtesy of Nunatsiavut Government

Concepts for new, landmark government buildings are being translated into reality in Nunatsiavut, providing unique spaces for cultural reflection and political debate.

Included in the construction is the Torngâsok Cultural Centre — a new, 1,300-square-metre facility to be built in Nain.

Inspired by the shapes of traditional Labrador Inuit sod houses, the concept for the new building was developed by architect Todd Saunders.

“It will help us to work on promoting and preserving and protecting our culture and language,” Nunatsiavut’s Culture, Recreation and Tourism Minister Johannes Lampe told The Telegram this week.

“We have a unique culture, a unique language and a unique history. The Torngâsok Cultural Centre is going to give Nunatsiavut communities and Labrador Inuit a great opportunity to tell their cultural stories.”

In 2005, an office complex housing the former cultural centre caught fire.

“It burned to the ground with everything that we had in there, such as pictures, tapes, transcriptions, arts and crafts and everything else the Nunatsiavut cultural centre, as an office, had worked on for many years. All that was gone,” Lampe said.

A handful of media outlets and volunteer organizations were able to provide a few photos and duplicate pieces of archival information, he said, but Nunatsiavut’s physical, cultural treasure trove was essentially lost in the fire.

“We have to start over and I believe we have started over,” Lampe said Friday. “All we need now is a building to house what we want to show to future generations and to the rest of the world.”

The contract for initial site work on the new cultural building has been awarded.

The centre is to be completed at a cost of about $12 million, according to a Nunatsiavut Government spokesman.

Minister Lampe says he is hopeful construction will be completed by summer 2014.

New assembly building

Meanwhile, the next sitting of the Nunatsiavut Assembly will be held in the new Nunatsiavut Assembly building in Hopedale.

A grand opening for the approximately $8-million building is scheduled to be held prior to the start of the fall session.

The grand opening had been scheduled for March 5, but a frozen town water line resulted in postponement.

Next came the election of a new executive council.

According to new Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo, the new Nunatsiavut Assembly building will make a difference to the assembly  moving forward.

“In the past, the assembly sessions were held in crowded rooms. It wasn’t very comfortable for assembly members and, as a result, sessions were often rushed,” she said, as stated in a news release Thursday.

“The new Nunatsiavut Assembly building provides a much more relaxed atmosphere, and has all of the necessary tools and resources available for members.”


New political schedule

Leo said the Nunatsiavut Assembly will have two sessions added to its schedule this year compared to last.

The body will also sit longer when sessions are held, according to a statement issued by the government.

“As elected officials it is incumbent on us to ensure we are accountable to all beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement,” Leo said.

“We have often been criticized for not meeting enough to deal with issues that are important to Labrador Inuit and to our communities.”

The next session is scheduled for Sept. 10-14 and will include discussion of the proposed regional land use plan for the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area, a key document recently given the stamp of approval by the Nunatsiavut executive council.

The sitting will also be the first for Leo, since taking office June 20.

Subsequent sittings for the Nunatsiavut Assembly are scheduled for: Oct. 22-26, 2012; Dec. 10-14, 2012; Jan. 21-25, 2013; March 11-15, 2013; and June 10-14, 2013.

“These are exciting and challenging times for Nunatsiavut and beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement,” Leo said.

“I look forward to holding this first session, to getting our legislative house in order and moving on with the issues at hand.”

Organizations: Nunatsiavut Assembly, Torngâsok Cultural Centre, The Telegram

Geographic location: Labrador, Nain.Inspired, Hopedale

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Recent comments

  • Juliana
    August 02, 2012 - 13:26

    Don, you come up and live in Nunatsiavut, taxes and food prices wouldn't take long for you and your family hightailing from our coast to your easy living life.

  • Heather
    July 30, 2012 - 20:51

    Don, check your facts. Inuit pay ALL taxes in Canada and have no special tax exempt status ( In most cases Inuit actually pay a higher percent in taxes than everyone else in Canada, even though they are one of the poorest populations and they receive the least in services ( Their food prices are ridiculously high ( yet their 'country foods' are full of environmental pollutants from the (southern) industrialization of the north. ( For many decades, the millions in profits from Labrador's resources like hydro and minerals have flowed out of Labrador, leaving nothing for the people there. ( If the Inuit people are finally getting a tiny bit back in the form of decent buildings to hold their legislature and house their archives, well that's something any province would expect and receive. There's a lot more information to back up what I've cited here, I just took whatever was at the top of the list on google.

  • Don
    July 30, 2012 - 05:59

    What happens when they run out of money, do they come back with their hands in my pockets (the taxpayer) again looking for another handout ????

  • Edmund
    July 29, 2012 - 15:54

    Everything that the government or anyone for that matter builds up there either burns down or falls down due to abuse. Save the taxpayers money and build a steel shell with a nice interior. At least then if the structure burs again they will be able to salvage the shell and start interior renovations immediately and save everyone a lot of money.