Arviat businessman wants Nunavut policies on jobs, training, education
“The results we’re getting is that our Grade 12 graduates aren’t prepared for anything.”
Airo Pameolik says he wants to put the Government of Nunavut back on track.
And the Arviat businessman is weighing in by taking his first jab at territorial politics.
Pameolik is running for election in Arviat South against two contenders: Joe Savikataaq and Peter Alareak.
His motivation? Frustration with the current government.
“I think the government has lost its focus or its purpose, which in my mind revolves around the land claims agreement,” Pameolik said. “It’s supposed to benefit Inuit, but I think it’s working against us.”
Pameolik said the creation of Nunavut brought with it promises of better education, training and more jobs for Inuit.
Today, he said, the Government of Nunavut has come nowhere close.
“We’re failing our kids,” he said. “The results we’re getting is that our Grade 12 graduates aren’t prepared for anything.”
And the graduates who are prepared have few options in a community like Arviat, he said, adding that decentralization hasn’t succeeded in bringing anything to the Kivalliq besides low-level administrative jobs.
Pameolik said he is a strong proponent of Inuit language and culture, but he says there is sometimes too much emphasis on those things in Nunavut’s education system.
English has become the working language in the territory, he feels, and that should be reflected in the classroom.
“Our kids need to be prepared to work in the trades, in offices, but they’re not,” Pameolik said. “Kids need to be involved in the political process, and they need to be involved in the process of taking care of our people.”
Pameolik, 61, moved to Arviat from Coral Harbour in the early 1970s.
Most of his career has been spent with the Northwest Territories and now Nunavut housing corporations, overseeing regional operations and maintenance.
Pameolik has spent the last seven years running his own Panaainaaq Construction firm, which build mostly residential housing in Arviat.