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After the fire: Kugaaruk attempts to rebound after losing only school

A week after their only school burnt down, residents of Kugaaruk, Nunavut, are moving forward despite heavy hearts. School will resume in temporary classrooms over the next two weeks.

School set to resume in temporary classrooms over the next two weeks, says principal

The stone front entrance of Kugaardjuq school was the only part of the school to survive the fire. The entrance was designed with community input to pay respect to a stone church built in the area in the 1940s by an oblate priest. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)

A week after their only school burned down, residents of Kugaaruk, Nunavut, are moving forward despite heavy hearts. School will resume in temporary classrooms over the next two weeks.

Scroll below to see photos from the community and to meet people affected by the fire. 


'I didn't believe it was burning,' says Maria Qagutaq, a custodian at the school, sitting with granddaughter Helen Kringorn. 'My son woke me up at 2 am. I watched it burn from my bedroom window.' (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
The remains of Kugaardjuq school. The fire started on the evening of Feb. 28. The volunteer fire crew fought the fire for about 10 hours. The crew stopped the fire from spreading to the nearby diesel power plant and hamlet office. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
'By the time we got to the crawl space, I knew we lost it... it was terrifying,' says Vincent Ningark, Kugaaruk's fire chief. The community's only fire truck was no match for the fire blazing inside the walls of the school. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
This was the school's gym. It will be torn down later this week. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
'It just makes me feel so bad. It just hurt me a lot,' says Fabian Qirngnuq, a Grade 12 student hoping to graduate this year. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
A toppled sign in front of Kugaardjuq school. Temporary classrooms for Kugaaruk's 300 students are being set up throughout the community. Kindergarten will be held at the community daycare. Grades 1 through 6 will be held at the local church. High school classes will be split up into three separate buildings. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
Principal Jerry Maciuk says, 'Every effort is being made to make sure that our potential eight or nine graduates from Grade 12 this year, we will make them graduate... we cannot give up easily.' Maciuk is working closely with Government of Nunavut officials to fly in school supplies to the community. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
The school 'meant a lot for the community because every day students go their for breakfast and lunch,' says Stephan Inaksajak, mayor of Kugaaruk. 'It was very sad seeing the school burning.' Inaksajak is hopeful to get the free breakfast and lunch program back up and running within the next two weeks. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
'It's really sad. It's really sad for the whole community,' says Pauloosie Nungaq, a Grade 10 student. 'It's going to take time to heal the community. It's a big loss. It's almost the whole community. It's a school.' (Mitch Wiles/CBC)
'I miss the school already,' says Clifford Tigvareark, a Grade 10 student. Given the remoteness of the Nunavut community and short construction season, it will likely take three or four years to build a new school in Kugaaruk. The replacement cost of the school is in the neighbourhood of $30 million. (Mitch Wiles/CBC)

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