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Youths charged for arson after school fire

Sept. 9, 2015, Cape Dorset, Nunavut - Police have laid charges in a fire that destroyed the only school for junior and senior high students in the Arctic community of Cape Dorset.

RCMP say investigators have determined that the fire at Peter Pitseolak school on the weekend was deliberately set.

Three youths between 13 and 16 years old face arson-related charges.

The school's 150 students will be accommodated in Cape Dorset's elementary school, Wende Halonen, a spokeswoman for Nunavut's Education Department, said Tuesday.

Beginning on Thursday, students from Peter Pitseolak will go to class in the afternoons at Sam Pudlat school. The elementary students will get their school in the morning.

Halonen said neither group will lose classroom hours under the arrangement.

The fire happened before the year's worth of school supplies arrived on a sea lift, so high school students will have an adequate supplies of notebooks, she said. Other supplies, such as replacement computers and textbooks, are being sent from the territorial capital of Iqaluit.

The building itself will be a bit harder to replace.

Halonen said there will be a new school, but not until 2018. The department later clarified that there is no firm date for replacing the building and late 2018 is the "best-case scenario.''

Education Minister Paul Quassa was to fly to Cape Dorset on Tuesday to meet with community leaders and make plans to keep classes running, but his plane was delayed. He was going to try again on Wednesday.

Peter Pitseolak school is named after an Inuit artist, carver and photographer.

Cape Dorset is on the southern coast of Baffin Island in Nunavut and is home to about 1,400 people.

September 9, 2015
By The Canadian Press