December 11: Nunavut's Choice

The Nunavut Capital Plebiscite
A Special Report on Nunavut

Published December 1, 1995

December 11: The question

How the plebiscite will be run

How we got this far

NIC chief glad it will be over soon

The Iqaluit campaign: dollars and sense

Rankin Inlet bracing for change

Cambridge Bay wants decentralization

Why Iqaluit should be Nunavut's capital:
From the Iqaluit for capital committee

Why Rankin Inlet should be Nunavut's capital:
From the Rankin Inlet for capital committee

How Yellowknife became the NWT's capital

Who worked on this special supplement

December 11: The question

Here's the question you'll be asked in the December 11 Nunavut public capital vote:

The Nunavut Implementation Commission has recommended that the Government of Canada, exercising its authority under theNunavut Actchoose one of three communities of Nunavut as the capital: Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in consultation with the Premier of the Northwest Territories and the President of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, has requested that a public vote be held in Nunavut, to allow the eligible residents to identify their choice of capital for Nunavut.

Which of these communities do you want to become the Capital of Nunavut? [Choose only one]


Rankin Inlet

(Editors' note: This is not a reproduction of the actual plebiscite ballot.)

Who can vote

Anyone who is a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years of age the day before he or she votes, has been a resident of Nunavut since December 11, 1994, and is a resident of Nunavut on the day on which he or she votes, is eligible to vote in the capital plebiscite.

Here's how Nunavut's capital public vote will work

David Hamilton, the clerk of the NWT's legislative assembly has been given the tough job of making sure the Dec. 11 Nunavut capital public vote goes without a hitch. We reached Hamilton recently early one morning at his Yellowknife office, and asked him to explain how the vote will work.


IQALUIT--On Monday, December 11, Ron Irwin is asking the people of Nunavut to say if they want their new capital in Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet.

A week or so later, Irwin, the federal minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, will find out which community got more than 50 per cent of votes cast by eligible voters.

No word yet on vote count

Several leaders have been pressuring territorial officials running the vote to count the ballots in each polling station and to report the results on a community-by-community basis on the night of the vote.

In Canada, that's the normal way of reporting the results of elections and plebiscites.

But as we were going to press, officials said that unless they hear differently, the ballots will be counted in a central location-likely Igloolik. That means it will take at least a week, and probably more time, before the result of the capital vote is known.

Irwin has promised to take that result to the federal cabinet.

Hamilton's decision final

The capital vote guidelines also say that the chief polling officer's declaration of the result is final.

That means that the result can't be appealed. There is no provision for recounts.

Ottawa will still make final choice

Even though the people are getting a chance to say where the capital should be located, it's still up to the federal government to make the final choice.

"It's the people's choice to [Ron] Irwin, who has committed to take it forward to cabinet. But what happens when it gets to cabinet, hey, that's a different story. We don't know that," said David Hamilton, the chief polling officer for the Nunavut capital public vote.

"Cabinet is not bound to take any recommendation from any minister. They can take the recommendation, change it, throw it out, agree to it, or whatever."

Hamilton is also the man who usually spends his time making sure the legislative assembly in Yellowknife runs smoothly. He was recruited by the federal government, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the GNWT to run Ron Irwin's public opinion poll on the capital.

Who can vote?

The Nunavut capital public vote is open to all Nunavut residents-Inuit and non-Inuit-who are Canadian citizens, at least 18 years of age, and who have lived in Nunavut for at least one year.

The ballot for the capital vote will be one of several ballots people across Nunavut will be marking Dec. 11, because that is the same day municipal elections will be held in all but two Nunavut communities-Iqaluit and Nanisivik.

The guidelines for the capital vote were cobbled together by an ad hoc committee after Irwin made his surprise announcement in Rankin Inlet last September.

"As you can imagine it certainly was done very quickly," Hamilton said, adding that some details, such as voting in outpost camps and correctional centres, are still being worked on.

No legal weight

Because the guidelines for the capital vote were put together so quickly, there was no time to pass any new laws or to amend the NWT's Plebiscite Act to give the capital vote's guidelines any legal weight.

That means if anyone is caught cheating, they aren't breaking any law. They are only breaking the guidelines for the vote.

"They are breaking the guidelines, which really has no force of law, so it really is, you are putting a lot of trust and confidence in the voters out there that they are going to adhere to unwritten laws that they have for years," Hamilton says.

Checks and balances

Hamilton says there are a number of checks and balances in place at the polling stations to make sure nobody tries to rig the vote or tamper with the process.

"To what advantage would it be to try and stuff the ballot boxes or anything like that?" he asks.

"I look more on the positive side of people rather than the negative. There are people who would do things anyway. You could put as many precautions, as many things in place, and even in law that people will try to get around anyway."

Many abuses in Quebec vote

But the recent Quebec referendum proved that when people's passions are aroused by an issue, they are sometimes willing to bend the rules in favor of their particular cause.

Quebec's chief polling officer is now investigating many allegations that people on both sides of their divisive referendum campaign may have tried to tamper with the vote.

One safeguard usually in place in elections or plebiscites is the use of scrutineers. They are people who sit and watch the voting and the counting at polling stations to make sure nothing suspicious happens.

No scrutineers

But in the Nunavut capital vote, the GNWT isn't appointing any scrutineers.

"No, we made no process for that. When you have been in this business, and certainly as long as I have in running elections, and plebiscites and ratifications, you would kind of assume that this wouldn't be an issue. It's not something that I would have anticipated that there ever should be a great rush to try to fix the vote," Hamilton said.

Scrutineers are also supposed to make sure that the people voting are eligible to do so.

But in the Nunavut capital vote guidelines, there are no provisions for voters to be challenged at the polls.

Voters do have to sign an oath saying they are eligible to vote, but if they lie, they are not breaking any laws, and can't be punished.

Costly to have scrutineers

Hamilton said, though, that he could appoint scrutineers in some ridings if he got requests from capital campaign representatives from Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet

But he said each side could also appoint volunteer scrutineers. He says, though, it would be expensive.

"Where would you put your scrutineers? Would you have to have one in every community?"

Strict security

Another set of checks and balances in place in the capital vote is the strict guidelines that must be followed by returning officers.

When the polling stations are closed, the deputy returning officers seal the ballot box. Then they initial it with witnesses present.

They then place all unused ballots, spoiled ballots, cancelled ballots and the voters' lists in an envelope that is sealed and attached to the voters box.

Then the ballot box is placed in another double plastic bag and sealed again.

Then senior officials with the GNWT's Department of Municipal and Community Affairs will collect the boxes and transport them to the central location for counting.

"Overnight, if there is no plane to get them out, then they will be held by the RCMP in each location to ensure their security," Hamilton says.

Hamilton says the vote will be counted somewhere in Nunavut, but it won't be in Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet.

"I'm toying with the idea of having it in Igloolik," Hamilton says, "but I haven't decided that."

Although the community by community results won't be released, the voter turnouts in each community will be counted and recorded.

Still time for changes

Hamilton said that there is still time to change the guidelines for the vote if the GNWT, Ottawa and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. want to make changes.

Hamilton says the reason organizers don't want to release the results by community is that there are fears that some communities could be punished if they don't support the eventual winner.

"That's not the way the world should turn-but that's the way the world does turn," Hamilton says.

How we reached the capital plebiscite

IQALUIT--The Nunavut capital debate is an old one--almost as old as the idea of Nunavut.

Since at least 1982, Nunavut residents have been debating about where to put the capital of Nunavut.

* 1971-The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada is formed to provide a united voice for Canada's Inuit.

* 1976-ITC makes the first land claim proposal on behalf of the Inuit of the Northwest Territories. In it, the Inuit of the NWT ask Ottawa to divide the NWT along the tree-line and to create a new territory called Nunavut.

* 1977-Representatives from Kitikmeot, Keewatin and Baffin put together a new land claim proposal that reflects the thoughts of Inuit in the communities.

* 1979-After an annual general assembly in Igloolik, ITC releases a document called Political Development in Nunavut. It says Inuit will not settle their land claim unless Ottawa agrees to the creation of a Nunavut territory.

At that time, many people assumed that Nunavut's capital would be located in Frobisher Bay, as Iqaluit was then called.

* 1980-The NWT Legislative Assembly votes in favour of division and says NWT residents should vote on the issue in a plebiscite.

Kitikmeot residents worried about Iqaluit capital

* 1982-Fifty-six per cent of NWT voters say yes to division. In most Nunavut communities, the yes vote is overwhelming, ranging from 80-95 per cent.

But in the western Kitikmeot communities of Coppermine and Cambridge Bay, many voters said No to division. That's because many people feared that a Frobisher Bay capital would be too far away from their region, and because of uncertainty over the division boundary.

* 1987-Frobisher Bay changes its name to Iqaluit on January 1.

* 1987-After years of wrangling over a boundary to divide the NWT, a committee of political leaders called the Constitutional Alliance sign a deal in Iqaluit know as the "Iqaluit Agreement."

The Iqaluit Agreement is silent on the issue of where Nunavut's capital will be located.

Early in March of 1987, a minor uproar occurs when John Amagoalik, then the chair of the Nunavut Constitutional Alliance, tells the NWT Legislative Assembly that Iqaluit may not necessarily become the capital of Nunavut. Iqaluit's town council holds an emergency meeting.

But the Iqaluit agreement falls apart when Dene chiefs reject the boundary between the two new territories, and the capital issue fades into the background.

* 1990-The Tungavik Federation of Nunavut signs a land claim agreement-in-principle with Ottawa.

* 1991-Over the protests of Dene leaders, Ottawa and TFN strike a deal on a division boundary. In December, they unveil the final land claim agreement. In it, Ottawa promises to negotiate a political accord on the creation of Nunavut.

Nunavut Accord gives life to the NIC

* 1992-Negotiators finish the Nunavut Accord, which becomes the basis for the Nunavut Act. In it, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, the GNWT, and the federal government agree to create the Nunavut Implementation Commission.

The Nunavut Accord says that the NIC will provide advice on the process for selecting Nunavut's capital.

In a plebiscite held May 4, NWT voters says yes to a division boundary, and on November 3, 4 and 5, Inuit beneficiaries say yes to their land claim deal. On May 25, 1993, the Nunavut Accord is signed in Iqaluit.

* 1993-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Tunngavik President Paul Quassa and Government Leader Nellie Cournoyea sign the Nunavut land claim agreement.

NIC appointed

* December 1993-After many delays, Ron Irwin, the new Liberal minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, formally appoints the nine ordinary members of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, and appoints John Amagoalik as the NIC's chief commissioner.

January 1994-The first meeting of the Nunavut Implementation Commission takes place.

Kitikmeot hints at deal with Rankin

* January 1994-Kitikmeot leader Pat Lyall says in an tapedNunatsiaq Newsinterview that Cambridge Bay will drop out of the capital race and support Rankin Inlet in exchange for more benefits for the Kitimeot region.

Lyall and other Kitikmeot leaders deny that this is their strategy.

* January 1994-At a major Nunavut leaders meeting, delegates tiptoe around the capital issue.

* June 1994-The NIC releases a discussion paper on the design of Nunavut's government, which include 10 principles for selecting Nunavut's capital.

* December 1994-The NIC sets out on a tour of all Nunavut communities.

Anawak calls for plebiscite

February 1995-At the NIC's "Nunavut Conference" in Iqaluit, Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak calls for a plebiscite to choose Nunavut's capital.

But Anawak's idea is rejected by the NIC, most Nunavut MLAs, and by NTI. Few other delegates support the idea.

* May 1995-The Nunavut Implementation Commission releases it's first major report, "Footprints in New Snow."

In it, the NIC recommends against holding a plebiscite. Their report contains three detailed models outlining how a decentralized Nunavut government would be designed with either a Cambridge Bay capital, an Iqaluit capital or a Rankin Inlet capital. Each model predicts how jobs and government functions could be spread throughout Nunavut

NIC report favours Iqaluit

* July 1995-The NIC releases "Choosing a Capital." Using material from "Footprints in New Snow," the commission compares the relative merits of Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet as capital locations.

They conclude that in four out 10 areas of comparison, Iqaluit is the best choice. In the other six areas, the three communities are more or less equal. They recommend that Indian Affairs Ron Irwin use that information to recommend a capital to the federal Cabinet.

Predictably, Iqaluit boosters heap praise upon the report, and Rankin Inlet boosters denounce it.

* September 1995-NIC chair John Amagoalik issues a press release saying that Irwin should pick Nunavut's capital as soon as possible. He also chastises Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak for suggesting that the Nunavut capital decision could take years.

Irwin stuns Nunavut with plebiscite announcement

* September 1995-Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak organizes a gathering of political leaders and bureaucrats in Rankin Inlet that is chaired by Irwin.

All of Nunavut is stunned after Irwin emerged from the behind-closed-door gathering to announce that he wants a Nunavut-wide plebiscite help him make the capital decision.

A group of officials hastily meets the following week to figure out a set of guidelines for the vote.

* October 1995-The NWT's chief polling officer, David Hamilton, announces that the plebiscite will be held December 11 in conjunction with municipal elections in most Nunavut communities.

He also says voting results will be reported on a Nunavut-wide basis only

Cambridge drops out

* November 1995-The hamlet council of Cambridge Bay announces they don't want their community listed on the plebiscite ballot. And they say they've made a deal with Rankin Inlet to form a joint committee that will look at making changes to the NIC's decentralization models.

NIC chief glad it will soon be all over

The head of the Nunavut Implemenation Commission says if there's one good thing about the Nunavut capital vote, it's that the decision on where to put Nunavut's capital will be made once and for all.

Lisa GregoireSpecial to Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT--It could be a clean fight. It could be a dirty one. But at least it will be decided, once and for all.

That's how Nunavut Implementation Commission chief commissioner John Amagoalik feels about the December 11 Nunavut capital public vote.

"It's difficult to say at this point how the campaigning is going to unfold," Amagaolik said. "I think it also depends on who's expected to campaign on behalf of their region or their community. If certain people are chosen, it may be more lively or controversial. If other's are chosen, it may be more quiet and civilized. It all depends on who's doing this campaigning."

When asked if he had certain people in mind, Amagoalik said yes but would not elaborate further.

Final decision

And despite the fact the NIC recommended against holding what it believed to be a divisive vote on Nunavut's capital, Amagoalik said he understands why people support it.

"We're making certain decisions for the very first time, and I guess this is why we're having so many plebiscites," he said.

"And also, if we do it this way, nobody can come back and say, 'you guys did it wrong. We should have done it this way.' By having a plebiscite, nobody can be blamed."

Anawak always supported plebiscite

Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak has always supported holding a vote on Nunavut's capital. He says it's the most democratic way to make such an important decision.

"I think the people of Nunavut who have worked so hard to get their dream realized by having Nunavut should be the ones to determine where they want their seat of government to be. I think it's only right that they be given that opportunity," Anawak said.

Anawak said the vote is not a legally binding referendum, but he said he's confident the federal government will abide by whatever the people of Nunavut decide.

"The Cabinet, I'm sure, is not going to get too caught up in the legality that it's only a public opinion poll," Anawak said. "They'll listen to (Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Ron) Irwin who, as far as I'm concerned, is a pretty reasonable man."

Irwin said after the September meeting of Nunavut leaders in Rankin Inlet that the community that gets 50 per cent plus one of the vote will be the community he recommends for capital of Nunavut to the federal Cabinet.

"Once the people have voted to select one or the other, who is the Cabinet to say differently?" Anawak said.

The Iqaluit campaign-dollars and sense

Iqaluit community leaders say their community is best choice for capital because an Iqaluit capital creates the most jobs in other Nunavut communities.

Lisa GregoireSpecial to Nunatsiaq News

OTTAWA--Iqaluit Mayor Joe Kunuk says he wasn't real keen on the Nunavut capital vote when it was first announced, but he thinks Iqaluit will win nonetheless.

"We're still confident that if we go to a plebiscite that we will win, given our voter base in the Baffin," Kunuk said recently.

"Our response to date is that we're happy that finally a decision on how to choose the capital has been made," Kunuk said.

Kunuk said the Iqaluit for Capital campaign has been going well.

It got a boost this fall with a visit to Iqaluit by the mayors of both Ottawa and Montreal. He said the visit helped, "to put into perspective all the figures and facts we fed them."

As for the merits of Iqaluit, Kunuk said the Nunavut Implementation Commission (NIC) has already itemized Iqaluit's strengths in a supplementary report on Nunavut's capital that was submitted to the federal government this summer.

"The Iqaluit model was seen as the most efficient on technical terms," Kunuk said. "In that model, the least jobs would be created in the capital and more jobs would go to other communities."

Jerry Ell, co-chair of the Iqaluit for capital committee, says choosing Iqaluit for capital is a reflection of dollars and sense.

"Any dollars we save in setting up the capital of Nunavut will go toward the residents of Nunavut," Ell said.

"By that I mean when we look at the cuts that are going into place right now, for example social services, those programs are being cut back and that's due to lack of dollars that are out there."

And while supporters of Rankin Inlet stress location as a big factor, Ell said capitals are rarely chosen because of their geography. "It's located where it makes sense."

Ell said Iqaluit is very much a pan-Inuit community and would serve all Nunavut interests as capital.

"People come in from the Baffin, from northern Quebec, from Greenland, from the Keewatin, the Kitikmeot, the western Arctic-there's Inuit from all over Nunavut in Iqaluit itself, so I think there's a more diverse Inuit community and there's more cultural flavour and it's not limited to one geographical location," Ell said.

"I think I could find an Inuk who originated from just about every Nunavut community that is living here in Iqaluit."

When asked if he thought the alliance between Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet would jeopardize Iqaluit's bid for capital, Ell said no.

He said the alliance was more about securing a decentralized government in Nunavut then promoting Iqaluit's rival in the capital contest.

Iqaluit too supports decentralization, Ell said. And the highest degree of decentralization would be achieved under the Iqaluit capital model anyway.

Kunuk was criticized by Rankin Inlet Mayor Keith Sharpe and Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak for writing a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien's chief policy advisor denouncing the vote.

But Kunuk says that he was just doing his job supporting Iqaluit for capital.

But before the letter controversy erupted, Kunuk spoke to <I>Nunatsiaq News<P> and gave his views on the vote.

Rankin Inlet:bracing for change

Rankin Inlet's community's leaders say their community is ready to take on the challenge of becoming Nunavut's capital.

Lisa GregoireSpecial to Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT--Rankin Inlet has coped with change for decades and its people are now preparing for more change-when their community becomes capital of Nunavut.

Rankin Inlet Mayor Keith Sharp says his community has its share of problems, as all other communities do, but Rankin Inlet has always been able to bounce back and move on.

"They handled the move off the land 30 years ago which was a complete change of lifestyle," Sharp said. "Just taking over the capital is no challenge at all for the people of Rankin Inlet."

He says 85 per cent of businesses in Rankin Inlet are owned by Inuit, and that includes most of the major ones. "You don't see that in other places, " he said. That makes Rankin Inlet an Inuit-owned and Inuit-run community.

Benefits from Cambridge dropping out

The community will no doubt benefit from Cambridge Bay dropping out of the race.

Antonio Masone, the senior administrative officer for the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet, says that people in the Kitikmeot and the Keewatin are closely linked, and he expects that many Kitikmeot residents will vote for Rankin Inlet now that Cambridge Bay is out of the race.

"They have many goals and traditions that are in common and have existed for so many years," Masone said.

Ties between Kitikmeot and Keewatin

Henry Brown, the senior administrative office for Cambridge Bay, also said he thinks most Kitikmeot residents will vote for Rankin Inlet. He said family ties between the people of Gjoa Haven, Pelly Bay, Repulse Bay and Baker Lake have always been strong.

"Plus, when you look at a map you see Rankin Inlet is in the middle and I think people would prefer not to travel so far," Brown said.

"It's very difficult for us to get over to Iqaluit. It's a whole day of travel. You have to go down to Yellowknife and overnight, then go the other way. It's a long way. Now maybe if they had better direct runs from Cambridge to Iqaluit, it would help."

(First Air has just announced that they will offer direct flights from Iqaluit to Cambridge Bay, starting next year.)

As for the Rankin Inlet for capital campaign, Sharp said he and others are "putting our plan together," but he said he didn't want to reveal too much too soon. "If I told it to you, everybody would be as wise as I am," he said.

One thing he won't be doing is seeking support from southerners. Sharp said Rankin Inlet for capital supporters considered getting the Winnipeg City Council and business community on side, but decided against it.

"It's a northern vote. What difference does Winnipeg make? Ottawa make? Montreal make?" Sharp said. "It's obvious that Winnipeg will support Rankin and Ottawa will support Iqaluit. That's just good business. But it has nothing to do with the political process in Nunavut."

Anawak isn't biased

Sharp said there's been too much political interference in this debate. And he said he thinks Nunatsiaq MP Jack Anawak has been unfairly accused of being biased.

"I've known Jack for a good many years and Jack always thinks about the whole of the NWT in his decision-making. I have no problems with Jack's decision at all-of course (Rankin Inlet) is his home town."

And if people want to talk divided loyalties, Sharp said they need look no further than the Nunavut Implementation Commission.

He said commissioners were only supposed to recommend a process for selecting a capital, but they went further by leaning toward Iqaluit on technical grounds.

He said certain commissioners have a big stake in where the capital is located and no one bothered to question their motives.

Cambridge Bay wants more decentralization

Community leaders in Cambridge Bay have struck a deal with community leaders in Rankin Inlet. They've pulled Cambridge Bay out of the Nunavut capital vote in return for a decentralization deal that provides the greatest possible benefit for the Kitikmeot region.

Lisa GregoireSpecial to Nunatsiaq News

OTTAWA--It's not about ganging up on Iqaluit. It's about decentralization.

That's what Cambridge Bay Town Manager Henry Brown had to say this week about the joint committee recently formed between Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

It's called the "Joint Committee for Decentralization of Government in the Nunavut Territory."

The Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet hamlet councils issued a joint news release on November 9 saying the committee will, "develop discussion papers, proposals, and recommendations in support of decentralized models of government and public administration," and submit their findings to the Nunavut Implementation Commission.

Brown says it's important that the people of Cambridge Bay and the rest of Kitikmeot are not left hungry when the Nunavut government pie is served up. The committee will make sure Cambridge Bay, "gets their fair share of the decentralization goods," he said.

"This gives them an opportunity to get into the mainstream at least in terms of recommendations. Maybe it's a way to improve their power base. I think that would be fair to say," Brown said. "I think that they're so far over here that they feel they don't have a strong voice."

The idea of forming the committee originated at a Kitikmeot mayor's meeting in mid-October, said Rankin Inlet Town Manager Antonio Masone. He said Rankin Inlet's mayor and councillors were invited to the meeting to talk partnerships between the two communities.

Masone said both hamlet councils knew one community would have to drop out of the race and so the politicians wanted to talk about the advantages of working together instead of against one another.

But it has nothing to do with ganging up on Iqaluit and everything to do with fair distribution of Nunavut's assets and programs.

"Everybody's invited to take part," said Masone. "If the Baffin wants to work with us, they're invited also. We're not trying to gang up on anyone else. We're a pro-active approach. We don't want to antagonize. We want to work together."

Brown said the decision to pull Cambridge Bay out of the race was a difficult but unanimous decision of Cambridge Bay hamlet councillors.

"The action they took to drop out was a hard one because a lot of people wanted them to try anyway, but they just felt it was the responsible thing to do," he said.

Pat Lyall, speaker for the Kitikmeot Regional Council, said he's glad Cambridge Bay finally made a decision. He said the KRC was willing to support Cambridge Bay's capital bid, but didn't know from one day to the next whether they were in the race or not.

He said he thinks hamlet councillors were holding out to try to get a good deal from Rankin Inlet.

"Their attitude was, 'we're going to get everything we can...' I don't know if they talked to Iqaluit or not, but they've sure been meeting with Rankin people."

Why Iqaluit should be Nunavut's capital

We invited capital campaign organizers from Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet to each send us an article explaining why they think their community is the best choice for capital of Nunavut. Here's the article we received from the Iqaluit for capital campaign committee.

Iqaluit for Capital Committee

Iqaluit is truly an eastern Arctic capital. It is the largest Inuit community in Nunavut with efficient transportation and communication links to the Nunavut family of communities. Inuit from across Nunavut have chosen to make Iqaluit their home.

Iqaluit is central to the majority of Nunavut's population. As a prominent Qikiqtaaluk elder observes "...very few capitals are close to the geographic centre of their territories. Capitals tend to be population centres with existing infrastructure. Almost all capitals of nations are not at the geographic centre. This proves that capitals can serve their citizens well even if they are not at the geographic centre."

Baker Lake is the geographic center of Canada, but it does not have the transportation links and infrastructure to be Canada's capital. Iqaluit has the infrastructure, services and population base to be Nunavut's capital.

With excellent air service and few closure days due to blizzards, people traveling to and from Iqaluit for medical, business or personal reasons will find air travel to Iqaluit dependable and efficient .

Iqaluit is the home base of active Inuit organizations and the home of many prominent Inuit leaders. It also has a growing independent business community. Together, public government, Inuit organizations and business are building a strong economic future for Nunavut.

Iqaluit has experienced the growing pains that come with population increases and changing times. Together the community is drawing from the old ways to find solutions to new problems. Services for those in need of support are already in place. Iqaluit has proven it can cope with these challenges with wisdom and maturity.

According to the NIC report, building a capital in Iqaluit will save $15 million. In these economic times this is a significant saving for taxpayers.

The NIC also says that with Iqaluit as capital, more Nunavut communities will share in the economic benefits. The Iqaluit decentralization model puts more jobs into more communities than the Rankin Inlet model.

The Kitikmeot actually receives more jobs under the Iqaluit model than under the Rankin Inlet model.

1999 is fast approaching, and it is essential that a capital be established quickly and efficiently. Less time spent building a capital means more time for getting on with the business of Nunavut. Iqaluit is an experienced regional centre with well established social, medical, educational, communication, transportation and business services.

Iqaluit is ready now to take on the job of capital. Let's work together for Nunavut.

Iqaluit: A History of Accomplishments

* First Inuktitut television production;

* First bilingual newspaper in Nunavut (Inuksuk);

* Main broadcast centre for Inuktitut radio programs;

* Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik: First legal services centre for Inuit;

* First community in the NWT to close its liquor store;

* The site of the signing of the Nunavut Political Accord and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement;

* The first regional health board in Nunavut;

* The first divisional board of education in Nunavut;

The first community in Nunavut to officially change its English name to its traditional name.

The people of Nunavut speak

Naki Ehko:<I>"I would choose Iqaluit because Iqaluit has grown so fast it is able to handle more growth, more infrastructure, beautiful scenery, and the climate is great for all seasons."<P>

Anawak Angnaquq:"Iqaluit should be capital... We have enough infrastructure like water supply and a big airstrip. Iqaluit has a big volunteer community now. Making choices is like being lost. When you are lost it is very hard. You have to look at all the options before going ahead. This is how you have to look at choosing a capital.&lquote;

Abraham Pijamini, Grise Fiord:"I will choose Iqaluit for capital I first went there when there was only the old Ukiivik residence and now look at it in 1995! It has grown so much in such little time. Iqaluit can handle the growth in the future. The airstrip is one of the best. The planes can land even when there is a blizzard. The infrastructure is already in place there."

Ipeelie Kilabuk, Pangnirtung:"I will choose Iqaluit. If Rankin Inlet is chosen, our income taxes will rise so much for me, my children and for my grandchildren. The infrastructure is already in place in Iqaluit. We won't have to build so many new buildings if Iqaluit is chosen. It will cost too much if Rankin is chosen."

Oolootie Koonoo, Iqaluit:"I will choose Iqaluit, even though it is not right at the centre of Nunavut. It is the wise choice. Iqaluit has better infrastructure. Rankin has a lot of social problems."

M.K. 16 years old, Iqaluit:"I would choose Iqaluit. There are places to meet, and you can hear a lot of what is happening. It's bigger and has more buildings."

L.P. 16 years old, Iqaluit:"It just fits that Iqaluit should be the capital. There are more educational facilities here."

Oolayou Komangapik, 16 years old, Iqaluit:<I>"I would choose Iqaluit. There more banks, a hospital, educational facilities, and more things to do. All these will build towards Nunavut."<P>

Iain Monteith, 19 years old, Iqaluit:"There will be more business opportunities for everyone in Nunavut, not just in Iqaluit, if Iqaluit is chosen. Iqaluit as capital will spread out to other communities. In Iqaluit the infrastructure is already in place. Iqaluit can handle the job of capital."

Why Rankin Inlet should be Nunavut's capital

We invited capital campaign organizers from Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet to each send us an article explaining why they think their community is the best choice for capital of Nunavut. Here's the article we received from the Rankin Inlet for capital campaign committee.

Rankin Inlet for Capital Committee

RANKIN INLET--Why is Rankin Inlet best suited to be the capital of Nunavut? It's the question on many minds these days.

Rankin's Capital Committee, which includes many elders, gave this a lot of thought before starting the campaign. Everyone consulted with friends and family throughout Nunavut, and made a conscious decision that it was a wise decision for Rankin Inlet.

One thing is clear: the capital should work for ALL of Nunavut.

Rankin Inlet is willing to share. The Hamlet Council wholeheartedly supports the Nunavut Implementation Commission's stand on decentralization, and will provide all assistance within their power to see that this is done.

Rankin Inlet is centrally located in Nunavut, and accessible to all regions. Discussions have been underway with the airlines for some time, regarding more efficient connections between Rankin Inlet and the Kitikmeot and Baffin, and more direct connections among the communities of Nunavut.

Land connections are possible only with Rankin Inlet, and many elders look forward to the possibility of road or rail links to the south, which, coupled with air connections, will reduce the cost of living for residents of Nunavut.

Traditional travel routes linked the Keewatin and Rankin to both the east and the west. Because of the nickel mine and the relocations of the 1950s, people came from all over to settle in Rankin Inlet. These family ties are still maintained, and people understand the concerns of people from other areas. Rankin became a regional administrative centre in the 1970s, and many local families changed from working in the mine to being a part of the governmental structure. They have not forgotten their origins.

Rankin Inlet is culturally strong. Elders sit on Council, and contribute actively to decisions. Their advice and participation is encouraged in all aspects of community activities, from hockey to education to municipal management. It is clear that they will continue to help in steering the development of the community in the right direction whether or not it becomes the capital. There is an active movement in Rankin to preserve the Inuit culture, from Inuktitut classes to elders teaching in the schools.

Rankin looks to Nunavut, not to the south. Ties with Churchill, Winnipeg and Yellowknife are secure, and people do not feel they constantly must "court" the south. Rankin tends to focus on looking to the other communities, and to planning for meeting their needs instead of those of southern business. There's an attitude of understanding, and a feeling of willingness to make everyone feel at home, a sort of "open door" policy. Rankin's friendliness is obvious.

The dynamic business climate in Rankin is known throughout Canada. Many of the businesses are homegrown and energetic. The majority are wholly or mostly Inuit-owned, and there are many established businesses, experienced in working under northern conditions. A spirit of entrepreneurship prevails, and people are not afraid to take a few risks to establish a business.

Services are rapidly expanding throughout the business community in Rankin. Support of southern business is clear; both the Royal Bank and the CIBC have branches in Rankin Inlet. The drugstore is a partnership between a southern coalition of pharmacies and Sakku Investments, an Inuit birthright corporation.

There is concern, even in Rankin Inlet. People are concerned about the negative aspects of rapid growth. However, the elders had an interesting reaction to this, as well. Several emphasized the fact that sweeping changes to their lifestyle occurred in the 1950s, when many people came in off the land to live in the settlements. Their response: "We handled those great changes all right. These changes cannot be nearly so severe. We'll be all right. At least the choices are ours, now."

Rankin is being proactive in meeting new needs. Schools are expanding to meet current and future needs, both by adding new classrooms and by adding curricula. Students are already cruising the Internet and developing their own "home page". Arctic College is surveying regional and Nunavut-wide needs and responding by designing courses to meet these needs. Medical facilities are expanding, and plans are underway for a hospital.

Retailers such as the Northern Store and the Co-op are expanding their services and retail areas, and a number of small retail businesses are springing up.

Much of the concern centres around limiting the availability of alcohol in the community. Rankin Inlet currently has no public bars, and wants to ensure that access to alcohol is controlled. To this end, the local hotels long ago decided NEVER to apply for a license for a public bar. The Legion made the same decision. And legislation is currently before the Hamlet Council to ban establishment of all public liquor outlets in Rankin Inlet for twenty years.

As much as is possible is being done to deal with potential problems in a proactive fashion. And, leaders are concerned about all of Nunavut, not just Rankin Inlet. Mariano Aupilardjuk put it all very eloquently in an elder's meeting to discuss the capital question: "I dreamed Rankin Inlet became the capital. In my dream, I stood on a high hill in Rankin Inlet, looking out over the vast land. All around I saw many other communities. Not one was left out."

We are fortunate to have been able to make this decision for ourselves, in Nunavut. It is important that everyone in Nunavut participate by getting out to vote on this question. On Dec. 11 let your voice be heard--vote from your mind, and your heart.

If you would like further information or have questions, please feel free to call our Rankin Inlet for Nunavut Capital Committee at (819) 645-2517 or fax us at (819) 645-2518.

How they chose the capital -- in 1967

John Parker served as deputy commissioner of the NWT from 1967 to 1979 and was commissioner from 1979 to 1989. He was also a member of the famous Carrothers Commission, which recommended to the federal government that Yellowknife become the capital of the NWT. Though it's a much-maligned choice today, Yellowknife was a step up from having things run out of Ottawa.

JASON van RASSELNunatsiaq News

IQALUIT--It's been said over and over during the Nunavut capital debate that whichever community wins it mustn't become another Yellowknife.

Over the years, people in Nunavut have complained about how far away Yellowknife is. This time around, the Nunavut government must be decentralized and brought closer to the people, they say.

Yet if you ask John Parker, one of the people who played a role in making Yellowknife the capital, that's exactly what they were trying to do back in 1966.

"We were looking for a place that was as reasonably-and I use the word carefully-as reasonably central as possible, in that people from all over the North could relate to it in as many ways as possible," he said recently from his home in Sidney, British Columbia.

Parker was a member of the Carrothers Commission, a federally-appointed body charged with charting the development of the NWT's government in the 1960s. Among those duties was the matter of recommending a capital to the federal government.

Throughout 1965 and 1966, the Carrothers Commission travelled throughout the NWT, hearing submissions and asking people about which of the five contenders for capital they preferred: Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Simpson and Inuvik.

People wanted Yellowknife

The majority of people the commission heard from preferred Yellowknife, Parker said. In addition to public opinion, the commission did some research of its own and concluded that Yellowknife was the best choice for capital.

Although there were five communities interested in becoming capital, in the end the commission's choice was between Yellowknife and Fort Smith, Parker said.

"Fort Smith, having been established for many years as the administrative centre-but never the capital-the people of that area felt that they had a clear advantage," he said.

But the commission wanted to establish something more than just a seat of government, Parker explained.

"We were anxious that the community not only be a government centre, but that it had another base: an industrial or business base," he said. "We set aside the idea of just trying to create a pure capital, as in Washington, or Ottawa as it was first conceived."

That, plus Yellowknife's central location and transportation links, set it apart, Parker said.

"Fort Smith was seen as being right on the edge of the territories, Inuvik was the edge in the other direction. Yellowknife had the strongest community base of any of the contenders."

Announced in 1967

In January, 1967, Arthur Laing, then the Minister of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, made the official announcement in Yellowknife. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Yellowknife is the target of much resentment from the far reaches of the NWT. But in 1967, the choice of Yellowknife was cause for celebration: as far away as it was, Yellowknife was still closer than Parliament Hill, which is where the territory was run from prior to 1967.

"Before the establishment of the capital in Yellowknife, people all over the territory said nasty things about Ottawa," Parker said. "When Yellowknife was first established, well, then it seemed so much closer for everybody."

Of course, the honeymoon ended as people in the east became frustrated with having to deal with a capital three time zones and thousands of kilometres away.

"The feeling soon developed, of course, 'Well, everything is in Yellowknife, and why isn't it in our community?'" Parker said.

Couldn't predict decentralization

There's no way the Carrothers Commission could have pictured the type of decentralized government being planned for Nunavut, Parker said. Their goals were much more modest: giving as much power as possible to hamlet governments, which were in their infancy back then.

"I suppose what we were leaning towards then was decentralization in the form of the growth of municipal government," Parker said.

"We couldn't at that time foresee the spreading of territorial-level departments other than in a regional sense... because we would have been trying to look too far down the road."

But things like cost and a small, scattered population restrict just how much a government can be decentralized-whether it's the GNWT of 1967 or the Nunavut government of 1999, Parker said.

"It's a tough proposition: everyone wants government as close to them as possible," he said. "But what has to moderate or modify those concerns is the practicality of what can be established considering the population base."

Parker ended his thoughts with a prediction: No matter how fairly the Nunavut government is spread around, people will still complain-just as they complained about Yellowknife.

"Regardless of which community is named capital of Nunavut, I can assure you that the rest of the places will say, 'So-and-so, such-and-such a place is so far away from us,'" he said. "It's inevitable, it's human nature."

This issue of Special Report on Nunavut

This issue of Special Report on Nunavut was edited by Jim Bell ofNunatsiaq News.

The English articles and information items were written by freelance journalist Lisa Gregoire, along with Jason van Rassel and Todd Phillips of Nunatsiaq News.


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