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The Labradorian top stories of 2018

Flowers set adrift in memory of Luke Cooper, the North West River man who is presumed dead after his canoe capsized July 15, float on the water by the boat launch in North West River on Aug. 15.
The disappearance of Luke Cooper was one of the biggest stories of the year in the region. - Contributed

Northmart fire

A fire broke out at Northmart in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the early morning hours of Sept. 15.
A fire broke out at Northmart in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the early morning hours of Sept. 15.

On Sept. 15 the Northmart store in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was the scene of an electrical fire. The store, one of two grocery stores in town, was closed for almost two months before reopening in December.

It was determined that the cause of the fire was electrical and not suspicious in nature. Many residents were concerned with not being able to get to the only other grocery store on the other end of town, spurring at least one local business to offer to shuttle people to the other store.

Luke Cooper disappearance

Luke Cooper went missing on July 15, 2018.
Luke Cooper went missing on July 15, 2018.

On July 15 Luke Cooper went missing. It is believed that he drowned in the river near North West River but as of this time, there has been no body found.

The disappearance has been the subject of much controversy in the area.

The RCMP called off the search for Cooper on July 17 but his family hired divers to continue the search for weeks after.

A vigil was held for Cooper on Aug. 15.

Tuberculosis outbreak in Nain

Dr. Gabe Woollam, Labrador-Grenfell Health's vice president of medical services, speaking at a community meeting held in Nain on April 6.
Dr. Gabe Woollam, Labrador-Grenfell Health's vice president of medical services, speaking at a community meeting held in Nain on April 6.

Following the death of 14-year-old Gussie Bennett in March, over half of the community of Nain was screened for tuberculosis (TB).

The number of suspected and confirmed cases went to over 50 by June.

Labrador Grenfell Health ran numerous TB clinics in the community and screened over half the population, even bringing an x-ray machine to the isolated town to make the process easier.

New ferries for Labrador

Peter Woodward, CEO of Labrador Marine Inc., spoke at the Chamber of Commerce in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday, Sept. 7 to announce the new ferries.
Peter Woodward, CEO of Labrador Marine Inc., spoke at the Chamber of Commerce in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday, Sept. 7 to announce the new ferries.

A plethora of government officials were in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sept. 7 to announce two new ferries servicing Labrador. Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker announced that beginning in 2019, two newer ferries would be replacing the current older ones.

The new ferry for the north coast, the MV Grete, will replace both the MV Apollo and the MV Ranger, combining passengers and freight on the same boat and allowing, for the first time ever on the coast, a roll-on roll-off service allowing vehicles to be transported with passengers.

Vale going underground

Former Premiers (from left) Roger Grimes, Brian Tobin and Clyde Wells attend the Voisey’s Bay underground mine announcement Monday in St. John's.
Former Premiers (from left) Roger Grimes, Brian Tobin and Clyde Wells attend the Voisey’s Bay underground mine announcement Monday in St. John's.

In June the provincial government announced that work to extend the Vale nickel-copper-cobalt mine into an underground operation had already begun.

First ore from the new mine, being established at a capital investment by Vale of about $2 billion, is expected in April 2021.

The announcement meant a significant increase in the life of the mine and new, high-paying jobs for Labradorians. The Vale project will offer employment during regular operations of 1,700 jobs in Labrador and in the processing facility in Long Harbour.

Birch Island boardwalk damaged by fire

A section of the boardwalk was damaged by fire.
A section of the boardwalk was damaged by fire.

Water bombers were overhead in the skies in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on June 17 combatting a fire by the newly constructed boardwalk near Birch Island. Happy Valley-Goose Bay Fire Chief Brad Butler told The Labradorian they deemed it to be suspicious.

“It’s surrounded by the creek, it’s very curious,” he said. “There may have been people in the area, there are still many factors that are being looked at.”

Marina Biasutti-Brown, executive director of Healthy Waters Labrador, the group responsible for raising funds to build the boardwalk, estimated about $2,000 worth of damage to the structure. The cost of the repairs was covered by a local business.

Local man sentenced on child pornography charges

David Inkpen.
David Inkpen.

David Inkpen, 36, of Happy Valley-Goose Bay was sentenced to 23 months plus three years probation for over 80,000 images of children aged four to 14 the RCMP found on electronics belonging to him.

Inkpen, who was sentenced in June, was also added to the sex offender registry for 20 years and has to submit a DNA sample.

During his probationary period Inkpen will not be permitted to own any phones, tablets, or computers that connect to the internet unless it's for work.

Illegal gambling in Sheshatshiu

Former Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation chief Andrew Penashue is facing nine charges, some of which are related to an alleged illegal gambling house.
Former Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation chief Andrew Penashue is facing nine charges, some of which are related to an alleged illegal gambling house.

The RCMP raided an illegal gaming house in Sheshatshiu in October. Cpl. Rick Mills with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay detachment told The Labradorian at the time they seized 11 VLTs, an automated teller machine (ATM) and other related items.

Following an investigation former Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation Chief Andrew Penashue was charged with multiple offenses, including illegally operating a gaming house, operating video lottery terminals (VLT) without permission of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and three weapons related charges.

Four of the charges are under the Criminal Code, four are under the Lotteries Act and one is a violation of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation bylaw against video lottery terminals on the reserve. Penashue’s first appearance in these matters is scheduled for Feb. 4.

Labrador’s first snowmachine

Jamie Brake, an archaeologist with the Nunatsiavut Government, spearheaded the project to get the relic salvaged and restored.
Jamie Brake, an archaeologist with the Nunatsiavut Government, spearheaded the project to get the relic salvaged and restored.

After sitting on the ice for nine decades the first ever snowmobile in Labrador rode again in Nain in January of 2018.

Jamie Brake, an archeologist with the Nunatsiavut Government, led the team who recovered the converted Model T Ford and was the one who got to drive it. Brake said the location of the snowmobile has been known since it was abandoned by scientists 90 years ago near Nain, but recent activity in the area prompted the Indigenous government to move the relic.

American scientists brought the snowmobile to Labrador in 1927 to assist in their research and just left it there when they departed.

Cain’s Quest

Innu Hawks from Natuashish cross finish line for second place.
Innu Hawks from Natuashish cross finish line for second place.

The self-proclaimed largest snowmobile race in the world captured the hearts of Labradorians again in 2018. Cain’s Quest, held every two years, brings together the different communities of Labrador and showcases the raw natural beauty.

Andrew Milley of Labrador West and team mate Robert Gardner of Maine USA captured first place for the second time in a row and the Innu Hawks of Natuashish came in second.

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