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Kugluktuk, Nunavut, opens $2M heritage centre

After two years of construction, the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, opens the doors to its brand new visitor and heritage centre today, largely thanks to a donation by BHP Billiton.

After two years of construction, the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, opened the doors to its brand new visitor and heritage centre Thursday.

The Kugluktuk Visitor Heritage Centre is a two-storey building in the shape of a traditional copper ulu, or knife.

The museum is in the part of the building that represents the blade; in the handle are two conference rooms and the art gallery.

The project is the brainchild of Ernie Bernhardt, a former mayor of Kugluktuk.

“I had my mind set up only for this design. I knew deep in my heart it is going to instill pride in Inuit people."

Don LeBlanc, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, says the museum is the big attraction.

"You don't realize until we got into this project how much stuff is out there and the talent that's there. Relics, things from way back that we were able to bring into the museum."

Artist Robert Ayaligak has been carving stones from the islands around Kugluktuk for 18 years.

"It is very exciting. It means I will have a place to sell my carvings," says Ayaligak. "Less walking to find the tourists. It means income for my family."

The building cost $2.1 million.

BHP Billiton, a multinational mining company, provided the majority of the funding.

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