The Arctic on
by JIM BELL
IQALUIT--For Jose Kusugak, his narrow election victory over Cathy Towtongie for the presidency of Nunavut Tunngavik on Tuesday is "special" in more ways than one.
That's because Kusugak's youngest daughter, Special, had her own reasons for hoping her father would win.
"The children have their own idea of this political world," said Kusugak, who gained 2,039 votes to Towtongie's 1,815. "It's more personal for them than for us."
Unofficial results show that 6,464 votes were cast out of a possible 11,058 for a turnout of 58.5 per cent.
Special friends in Iqaluit
Kusugak's children didn't care much if their father held onto his powerful political position¬they just didn't want to lose their friends in Iqaluit if the Kusugak's moved back to Rankin Inlet.
"There was a little girl, Lorraine, who is 10 years old, telling her mother 'Special's father better win, because I don't want Special to leave Iqaluit.' She said, 'Mom, I wish I could vote because I would vote for Special's father.'"
He said his daughter Alana was also going through an emotional roller-coaster when the election results were coming in.
"It's not because her father might lose his job--it's because she might lose her friends."
Easier victory for Ningeocheak
But for Kusugak, NTI's presidential vote was just as much of a nail-biter.
In contrast, Kusugak's colleague on NTI's executive, incumbent second vice-president Raymond Ningeocheak, easily defeated eight other candidates with 2,209 votes. Bernadette Makpah finished second in that race with 1,314 votes.
"That was a really boring race. Ours was exciting for every minute," Kusugak said, saying he joked about it with Ningeocheak first thing Wednesday morning.
Besides facing a strong challenge from Towtongie, who nearly beat him in a byelection held two years ago to replace former president Paul Quassa, Kusugak also turned aside strong campaigns run by Iqaluit Mayor Joe Kunuk and former BRIA president Pauloosie Keyootak of Broughton Island.
"There were times when I thought, 'what is our future going to be like if all of a sudden I have the rug taken away from me.' It was a pretty incredible evening."
But by evening's end, the final count had Kunuk in third place with 1,336 votes, and Keyootak fourth with 1,121. Andy Kowtak of Whale Cove finished well back of the pack with 153 votes.
More aggressive stance
For Kusugak this week's victory, together with other lessons he's learned in his first two years as NTI president, have taught him that it's all right to be aggressive in defending either himself or the interests of Nunavut Inuit.
During this campaign, including all-candidates' debates broadcast on CBC and TVNC, he and other candidates had to defend themselves against a variety of accusations.
"I was going to just let things go as I normally do. but in the last two years, I've found that pacifism is not necessarily a good Inuk trait--which means we have to stand up against outright untruths, even if they're non-intentional."
For example, in a televised Inuktitut debate broadcast Friday on CBC's Igalaaq show, Kusugak and Towtongie got into a disagreement over the facts of an elders' benefit program run by the Inuvialuit land claim organization.
"I am committed. I have chosen to represent my people the best way I can and when I was feeling that I might lose this election, at times it really did hurt me in the heart. So for the next three years I will commit to making sure that the truth stands out. If anybody is giving wrong information to the people, then we will be out there to correct it," Kusugak said.
Two different messages?
Kusugak also took a swipe at CBC Radio news for how they handled a story accusing him of saying one thing about non-Inuit business people in Inuktitut and another in English in an election brochure.
"Last night when I talked to [CBC announcer] Jeannie Arreak, I was saying that when I was in Pang, Bill Sackett [a CBC reporter] called me up... to find that my Inuktitut and English were different in the last paragraph.
"CBC is so predictable. Just when I needed my material to get read, he puts it on the news... It was just the kind of publicity we needed to get the material read and it was on the news. So thanks to CBC."
For the future, Kusugak says it's clear beneficiaries have sent a message endorsing the way he's run NTI over the past two years. He said that includes the aggressive stand NTI has taken in forcing the GNWT to respect Article 24 of the Nunavut land claims agreement, and the work that NTI has done with the Nunavut Implementation Commission's "Footprints in New Snow" report.
Developing a trust
He also said NTI has done a good job in staffing its organization almost entirely with Inuit.
"We're developing trust amongst the electorate," Kusugak said. But he said that doesn't mean everything will stay the same for NTI: "Maintaining continuity, in my opinion, also means being open for change."
The "incredible numbers" gained by Cathy Towtongie and Joe Kunuk show that those candidates had good ideas too, Kusugak said.
"I'm really open to both Cathy and Joe for some of their campaign material. I hope that now the campaign is over that they don't drop their ideas and pass them on to us."
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by TODD PHILLIPS
IQALUIT--Hunters in Coral Harbour are suspicious a backroom deal took away their right to hunt the first bowhead whale in Nunavut's waters.
At a January bowhead hunt planning meeting in Iqaluit, delegates from across Nunavut picked Duke of York Bay, northwest of Coral Harbour, as the site for the first hunt.
But last month, the nine members of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board reversed that decision and switched the hunt to Repulse Bay.
Coral Harbour's hunters and trappers organization is now crying foul and wants the wildlife board to explain their decision.
"This decision-making process stinks of the backroom," said former Aivilik MLA James Arvaluk.
Arvaluk is the spokesman for the Aiviit Hunters and Trappers Organization in Coral Harbour. It sent out a three-page news release last week blasting the wildlife board.
Arvaluk says if board members think it would be too expensive to have the hunt near Coral Harbour, then they want to see the cost analysis.
Otherwise, Arvaluk says hunters in Coral are suspicious that the board's impartiality may have been tampered with.
"We really don't know what's going on inside that Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. Who's influencing them and why? We don't know."
Arvaluk said the board members aren't elected, but are appointed to oversee a non-partisan, non-political management board.
"If they are going to be getting away from the independence from the political pressures from any one of these governments and organizations, then one would ask the question, what's going on here?"
Arvaluk says that could set a dangerous precedent for the way decisions are made by the host of other Nunavut-related bodies that are being set up.
Decision has been made
The chairman of the wildlife board says nothing unseemly went on at the Cambridge Bay meeting where the decision was made.
Ben Kovik said he was advised not to respond to the criticisms leveled by the hunters and trappers organization in Coral Harbour.
"I'm getting tired of this," Kovik said. "As the chairman I really can't do anything more. The decision has been made."
Kovik though, denies the decision was made in secret.
"How can it be backroom politics when it's an institution of public government that decides where the hunt will take place?" Kovik said. "They didn't do it behind closed doors, that's for sure."
He says a representative of the GNWT's department of renewable resources, federal fisheries and department of the environment officials, and some Kitikmeot political leaders were at the meeting.
Why the change?
One member of the wildlife board who was at the Cambridge Bay meeting says the decision was changed mainly because of information provide by another board member.
That member said he had talked to elders in Repulse Bay and Coral Harbour about the location of the hunt.
He advised the other members that the elders said ice conditions and strong currents in Duke of York Bay would make it harder to land the whale there.
But Arvaluk says that's not what he's heard from elders.
"That's funny. Because our elders are saying that almost all of the time it's ice free, even if there's ice around in Foxe Basin," Arvaluk said.
He said he can't understand why the wildlife board has risked damaging its credibility with the public with its actions.
"Because most organizations, especially the government, will try everything in their power not to arouse the public like that, to keep their credibility. This is a credibility question," Arvaluk said.
He said many people in Coral Harbour were proud to be hosting the hunt and were planning summer holidays and visits from relatives from other communities around the hunt in Duke of York Bay.
Now, he says, they'll have to fly to Repulse Bay if they want to take part, and many can't afford that.
The wildlife board member said board members may also have been concerned with having the first hunt in Coral Harbour because that's where Kovik was raised and it might appear that he had influenced the decision.
The nine-member wildlife board is made up of chairman Kovik, representatives from Nunavut's three regions, and representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik, the GNWT and the federal departments of fisheries and oceans, and environment.
Last February, new federal fisheries minister Rear-Admiral Fred Mifflin approved the hunt of one bowhead whale in Nunavut's waters.Back to Nunatsiaq News
by JANE GEORGE
Special to Nunatsiaq News
COOKSHIRE, Quebec--The Makivik Corporation opens its 19th annual general meeting in Inukjuaq on Monday, March 25, with an agenda packed with ceremonial, practical and politically-charged items.
Makivik President Zebedee Nungak is expected to highlight the uphill battle Nunvimmiut have waged during the past year on many fronts. Makivik delegates will evaluate the performance of their investments and meet with representatives from the provincial and federal governments.
Quebec boss will visit
On Tuesday, the Quebec Minister for Native Affairs, Guy Chevrette, will attend the meeting.
An agreement on a regional government for Nunavik fell apart last autumn, but the transfer from Quebec of jurisdiction over airports and policing in Nunavik will be finalized on April 1.
In Inukjuaq, Quebec can also point to the construction of the new $20 million training centre as a witness to its good will in dealing with Nunavik.
But, recently, Makivik Corporation has begun negotiating directly with the federal government to gain more regional autonomy for Nunavik as well as the finalization of an agreement-in-principle on offshore claims.
Irwin also expected
Ron Irwin, the federal minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, is also expected in Inukjuaq on Thursday.
Irwin's expected to talk about the progress of self-government talks with Nunavik.
Irwin will also likely sign a $10 million deal between Ottawa and the High Arctic exiles.
Delegates will also talk about other social and economic issues, like Nunavik's Arctic foods venture, and the task forces on education and justice.
General elections will be held Friday Mar. 29th for the positions of treasurer and second vice-president
Incumbent treasurer Peter Adams is facing a challenge from former Makivik president Charlie Watt.
According to opinions expressed by voters in the major centres of the Ungava and Hudson Bays--Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq--this race is seen as a campaign between the old guard and the new.
Watt's last electoral battle was in 1994, when he lost the presidency of Makivik to Simeonie Nalakturuk.
Peter Adams of Kuujjuaq is expected to receive support from his home community during this race.
Six candidates for the position of second vice-president may divide the vote in an election most are hesitant to predict.
Incumbent Jackie Koneak of Kuujjuaq faces a slate of popular and well-known candidates, including TNI director George Berthe, former Makivik corporate secretary Daniel Epoo, cooperative leader Elijah Grey, long-time political activist Putilik Papigatuk, and outspoken businessman Johnny Peters.
Results of the Nunavik-wide election will be announced as the meeting winds down on Friday March 29.Back to Nunatsiaq News
by JASON van RASSEL
IQALUIT--More than 150 people have already signed up for the first Nunavut Mining Symposium to be held in Rankin Inlet March 29-31, said conference coordinator Marion LaVigne.
The idea, LaVigne said, is to bring together mining and exploration companies, government, Inuit organizations and other businesses to learn from each other and to do a little business.
"It's a big matching thing to get everybody talking to one another so it's a win-win situation," she said, adding that some people are coming from California and Colorado.
Meet and greet
Feisal Somji, who works for a Vancouver based exploration firm, said the conference is a chance for the southern companies to meet with people in the north--people who could be potential suppliers or employees.
"It's not just who the existing players are--we like to work as much as we can with the local people," he said. Somji is an environment manager with Canamera Geological Ltd.
As a long-time prospector in the Keewatin region, Glen Dickson of Richmond, B.C., said he values the opportunity to meet people who live in the region.
It also lets him promote his company, Cumberland Resources Ltd., which is exploring two gold properties in the region.
"Of course, we'll be flying the flag up there, too," he added. Promotion is also on the mind of Kivallivik MLA Kevin O'Brien, who sees the conference as a chance to get the word out about mining in Nunavut.
"We get to meet people who are in the [mining] business and get them to acknowledge that the Keewatin--and Nunavut--are open for business as far as exploration goes."
That may have been made easier last week, when O'Brien was one of a group of Nunavut representatives who traveled to a national mining conference in Toronto.Back to Nunatsiaq News
IQALUIT--They'd been on the job less than four months, but Premier Don Morin announced this week that he was changing his cabinet.
The same eight people remain in cabinet, but four have new titles and new duties.
Morin says he also moved eight senior bureaucrats around to help "accomplish the priorities of the government," and to "implement our Agenda for Change."
Who's on the move...
Premier Morin gives up economic development and tourism to Stephen Kakfwi. In exchange, Morin takes on the intergovernmental affairs job.
Kakfwi, who has been under fire for his department's decision to dismiss the NWT's chief coroner, Jo MacQuarrie, loses his justice portfolio to Health and Social Services Minister Kelvin Ng.
One of Kakfwi's last official acts as Justice Minister was to announce Wednesday that MacQuarrie would not be laid off.
Kakfwi keeps his duties looking after national constitutional affairs.
But Kakfwi also picks up the department of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and is charged with combining it with Renewable Resources and Economic Development and Tourism to form a new department.
"The new department will have the prime responsibility for developing and implementing strategies to meet this government's priority of sustainable development and job creation," Morin said Wednesday in the legislative assembly.
Deputy Premier Goo Arlooktoo adds the NWT Housing Corporation to his existing duties as Minister of Public Works and Services.
Morin also announced that eight senior bureaucrats, mostly deputy ministers, were moving around.
* Andrew Gamble is out as deputy minister of transportation. Instead, Gamble will oversee the amalgamation of the departments of Economic Development and Tourism, Renewable Resources and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
Gamble was in the centre of a political storm earlier this year when Inuit groups accused him of being in a conflict of interest. Gamble sat on the board of directors of Canarctic Shipping while the GNWT was preparing a call for proposals for marine resupply services.
An independent review found Gamble wasn't in a conflict, but he stepped down from Canartic's board anyway.
* Bob Doherty replaces Gamble as deputy minister for the department of Transportation and leaves Public Works and Services.
* Ken Lovely moves from his deputy minister's job at Health and Social Services to one at Public Works and Services.
Other senior officials on the move include David Ramsden from MACA to health and social services, and Joe Handley from renewable resources to the housing corporation.
Penny Ballantyne becomes the new MACA minister, Don Cooper becomes the new deputy minister of justice, and Bob McLeod gets a post as acting deputy minister for renewable resources.Back to Nunatsiaq News
by Nunatsiaq News
IQALUIT--The stalled project to make Rankin Inlet the fuel supply hub for the eastern Arctic will now be studied by a committee, Transportation Minister Jim Antoine announced Wednesday.
People in Arviat will no doubt be happy to hear that their MLA, Kevin O'Brien, will chair the committee.
Arviat residents howled in protest earlier this year as their neighbours in Rankin Inlet prepared to become the fuel supply hub for the eastern Arctic.
Arviat's hamlet council waded into the debate over a $15.6 million project to build and operate a tank farm in Rankin Inlet. They argued that building the tank farm there could disrupt the bulk fuel and dry cargo distribution for the whole region.
The committee will be made up of O'Brien, Keewatin Central MLA John Todd, Aivilik MLA Manitok Thompson, the Kivalliq Inuit Association, the Keewatin Chamber of Commerce, and representatives of six Keewatin communities.
"The committee will review all the options, costs and related community concerns to determine the best approach to the delivery of bulk fuel and dry cargo to the Keewatin communities," Antoine said in the legislative assembly Wednesday.
Antoine has asked the committee to present its report by the end of June 1996.Back to Nunatsiaq News
In an article on page 13 of last week's Nunatsiaq News we mistakenly spelled Igloolik's award-winning video company Igloolik Izuma Productions, when it should be Igloolik Isuma Productions.
We apologize for any embarrassment or confusion this error may have caused.Back to Top
Elections for Inuit political leaders used to be low key affairs. Little or no money was spent on campaigning and promises were rarely made. The campaigns were also polite, and there were no or very few accusations made at opponents.
Today, it's different. The stakes are higher.
The positions being sought are now well-paid positions, and many of them come with real power.
The voters are also more aware and are expecting more from campaigners. These days, candidates have to spent money, travel to the communities and have a platform. They are also expected to have clear positions on certain issues.
The debates between candidates are also sharper and more intense. Allegations or accusations are now part of the game. There is even evidence of some negative campaigning.
The days of innocence in Inuit political campaigning are gone. Political campaigns in Inuit communities are tame and civilized compared to southern Canada--and are by no means close to the very dirty politics of Americans--but the low key affairs are no more.
This is regrettable, but it is not all negative.
Because the voters are now more demanding, the candidates have to have clear platforms.
Also, the voters will not tolerate unacceptable behavior from their political leaders anymore. The candidates are forced to higher standards of conduct.
This Corner Quotes
"I will be like a pit bull. I will bite the government on the leg every time he walks by."
--A High Arctic Exile, responding to the lack of an apology from the Government of Canada.
"We have to forgive them for they do not know what they do." --A High Arctic Exile, commenting on Gerard Kenney and Mary Carpenter, two outspoken critics of the Exiles
"What do you expect him to say? He's one of the people who screwed up."
--A High Arctic Exile, after Gordon Robertson said the government should not compensate the survivors of the relocation.Back to Top
by Alootook Ipellie
Call me a dinosaur. Not in the literal sense, though. A relic of the past, but still very much alive.
A couple of weeks ago, I had this incredible dream. More a nightmare in some ways in the way it evolved and ended. Many of my dreams and nightmares take place in the Great White Arctic; and in most of them, in Iqaluit.
I was in a car with two other Inuit going north along the Koojesse Bay beach. A normal day, until the ragged ice along the coastline suddenly started shooting skyward, forming itself into a tall cliff, the top of which began falling to the ground. Too close for our comfort, so we had to stop and get out of the car and run back where we came from, leaving the car to be crushed by the falling ice.
Certain chaos was all round. People were screaming and running away from the beach area. Then I looked up to the sky where hundreds of northern lights were dancing in the clear, crisp night. They were parallel to each other. What an incredible sight!
I couldn't believe what was to happen next. Suddenly, the ends of the northern lights closest to us began to move towards land. They were breaking into sections, still dancing with their brilliant colors. And just as they were about to land amongst us, they all turned into giant dinosaurs of millions of years ago!
What thundering sounds as they landed on their huge hind legs. Jurassic Park revisited? Even Stephen Spielberg couldn't have thought of such beautiful special effects in one of his movies.
The only thing we could do was try to avoid being stomped to death by these relics of many millenniums ago. I was reminded of how gasoline, when poured into water, becomes all the colors of the rainbow. And so, these northern lights dinosaurs were dancing in their rainbow colors all around us, making us stumble along the tundra as we tried so hard to escape the horrendous chaos.
The scene in my mind's eye was not unlike the Bible's Armageddon; a great and final conflict between the forces of good and evil. People all round me were attempting to run away from certain death, others grouped in clusters standing still, their eyes having been gouged out, blood dripping down their cheeks, crying crimson tears.
What to make of this horror filled dream that had turned into an attention-grabbing nightmare?
It then occurred to me that one could not trust any of the people around, even in Iqaluit where I had grown up. One was never sure whether the person you thought you knew for a lifetime was on the side of good or evil. And so what happened was that you were left to fend for yourself in this situation. A trusted, old friend for a lifetime had become a source of evil.
The lies, perhaps, the message behind this particular dream-turned-nightmare; that each of us is an island, a lonely soul, trying forever to be accepted by our peers who have exactly the same destiny and therefore destination.
And that, my friends, is the scary part about our lives. The fear that we will all die broken-hearted and very much alone with our souls. Yes, please do call me a dinosaur.Back to Top
I thank Bishop Reynald Rouleau for apologizing to the former students of the residential school in Chesterfield Inlet.
He must not have been there when there were students going there.
Those former students have to be very grateful. Because of the education you got in Chesterfield Inlet, you can now be the managers in the government. Because you went to school in Chesterfield Inlet you can now help people according to the level of education you have.
Those former students in Chesterfield Inlet seem to be looking for a reason to hate somebody, for something that is now over and done with and in the past.
Is the Bishop the only one that needs to apologize? I don't think so. We too have to apologize to our follow Inuit that we have hurt¬other men and woman.
I envy the bishop who has come to apologize in Igloolik. I envy that he has apologized.
We have hurt people emotionally by our actions. We have to apologize to the people we have hurt emotionally and other means by our actions like the bishop did.
Arctic Bay, NT.
Last weekend, people in the much-maligned community of Iqaluit took some time off to celebrate the town's new status as the future capital of Nunavut.
For those Iqalungmiut who participated, it was a well-deserved break--a chance to show pride in a community that's had a pretty rough time these past few years.
Not so long ago, this community and many of its leaders were badly humbled when the GNWT summarily dismissed its town council and installed an appointed administrator.
It was the right thing to do. But it was a major shock for those who didn't see it coming and it stung.
But Iqaluit always has been a place where people have come to be humbled.
Just look at Martin Frobisher. You can find the remains of his botched expedition just a few miles down the bay from here, including the futile holes that he and his crew dug into the permafrost to dig up useless rocks he thought were gold.
Or Charles Francis Hall, who came here looking for another unlucky explorer by the name of John Franklin. Hall didn't find Franklin, but he did find some of Frobisher's useless rocks.
Hall took them back to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, whose archaeologists came here not long ago, only to be humbled by a big pile of paper called the Nunavut land claim agreement. They had a lot of trouble, apparently, with parts of Article 33, which says Inuit must have a say in the doings of archaeologists.
And a few decades before the American archaeologists got here, another bunch of Americans showed up.
These ones worked for an outfit called the Strategic Air Command, and they came here looking for a good place to build an airstrip for the desperate war they were fighting in the 1940s. They found one, and built themselves a pretty good airstrip too.
They also put up a lot of other buildings--including the one that houses Nunatsiaq News these days.
It turned out that the U.S. airstrip was never really needed. Even before the end of war people considered it a white elephant, and a colossal waste of money.
But because of that blunder a real community was born.
It's a community made up of people who have absorbed all the punishment that life can dish out, but who have never given up.
Yes, it's true. Iqaluit is a place whose people have endured problems with booze, drugs, crime, suicide and other social horrors. Those who campaigned against Iqaluit as capital of Nunavut never grew tired of pointing that out.
But they forgot that the people of Iqaluit never lost their spirit, and because of that they too were humbled.
That spirit was in evidence everywhere last weekend, as Iqaluit residents took the time to celebrate all that's good in this community. The people who played, danced, feasted, and went to church are the people who have always kept that spirit alive.
They know Iqaluit's secret. People here just don't know how to give up. That's what makes Iqaluit a worthy capital of Nunavut. JB
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These materials are Copyright (C) 1996 Nortext Publishing Corporation (Iqaluit), and may be freely distributed throughout the Internet, or other electronic computer networks or bulletin boards, as long as this notice remains intact and the articles are reproduced in their entirety. These materials may not be reprinted for commercial publication in print or other media without the permission of the publisher.
Last updated March 22, 1996
Jason van Rassel is a GreatCanadian.® E-mail comments to: