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'It's been a long road': Arena in Whale Cove, Nunavut, reopens after more than 4 years

The arena in Whale Cove, Nunavut, is finally open to the community after being closed for more than 4 years.  (Noel Kaludjak/CBC  - image credit)
The arena in Whale Cove, Nunavut, is finally open to the community after being closed for more than 4 years. (Noel Kaludjak/CBC - image credit)

For a community like Whale Cove, Nunavut, four years is a long time to be without a hockey arena.

Hockey is one of the most popular activities for youth and adults alike in the small hamlet, and in the Kivalliq region as a whole.

The arena in Whale Cove finally re-opened last month after being closed in December 2019 because of boiler issues.

"It's been a long road," Brian Fleming, the hamlet's senior administrative officer, told CBC.

After the arena closed, there were ongoing issues in trying to replace the boilers.

Paul Qiyuk, Whale Cove's recreation coordinator, said they had ordered new boilers on sealift the year following the arena closure, but they didn't make it up in time.

Qiyuk said the hamlet brought in new ones by plane, but they weren't up to building code. When it made yet a third order, they were the wrong size.

In the meantime, young people used makeshift skating areas on lakes and put up goal nets. The school gym was also open for floor hockey.

Pieces of heating equipment sit in Whale Cove's arena in March 2024.
Pieces of heating equipment sit in Whale Cove's arena in March 2024.

Pieces of heating equipment sit in Whale Cove's arena last month. (Noel Kaludjak/CBC)

But for the community, it was never the same as having a place to skate and gather indoors, Qiyuk said.

Since the arena closed, the building was also closed for other sporting events.

Fleming said back in 2019, the arena froze up just before Christmas after fuel wasn't delivered on time, causing the power to go out.

"It wasn't just the boilers, it was the entire heating system," Fleming said. "The whole system had to be replaced."

Fleming said with the arena finally open, he hopes there won't be any more problems in the future.

"I really hope this is it," he said.