'A cry for help': Cape Dorset reels after new arson charges
'We don’t deserve and we can’t afford to lose another school in Nunavut,' says MLA
The recent arson charges in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, stem from a "cry for help," says the community's MLA.
Last week four youth between ages 13 and 17 were charged with arson in two separate incidents at the community's elementary school.
Both incidents come one year after a fire sparked by young people sniffing camping fuel burned the community's high school to the ground. The alleged target in the recent case, Sam Pudlat Elementary School, has been hosting extra students and staff to make up for the loss of the facility.
A new high school will cost the cash-strapped Nunavut government $34 million.
"We don't want to see this again in our community," said David Joanasie, the MLA for South Baffin.
"We lost a school already, we don't deserve and we can't afford to lose another school in Nunavut."
Joanasie admits that the small community of approximately 1,500, offers limited activities and resources for youth.
"These incidents to me are a cry for help," he said. "It just further reinforces that there's a need for further collaboration and work to be done."
'They really need help'
Former teacher Annie Manning Lampron agrees that it would be heartbreaking for the community to see another school burn down.
"They really need help," she said of the teens in Inuktitut, "We need to ask them directly 'Why are they still doing this?'"
Both Joanasie and Manning Lampron agree that the only way to tackle this problem is for the community to work together.
"Everyone has a role," said Joanasie. "As parents, what can we do? What is our role? We have to look at that too."
'A big wakeup call'
"It was not always this way," Joanasie said.
"There is a disconnect today."
The MLA points to a history of colonialism that alienated Inuit from their traditional ways of life, language and culture.
"This is a big wakeup call. We need to take it very seriously."
The RCMP have released few details about the recent arson incidents, but did confirm the youth involved in the second incident have been released. Those in the first incident remain in custody — one is due in court on Sept. 23, while the other is due in court Sept. 30.
with files from Jordan Konek