Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Ottawa October 25, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Participants debate election, community involvement at Inuit children’s org AGM

"We want a transparent process, that the board nominations actually take place at the AGM"

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Ottawa-based Inuit Deborah Tagornak and Sytukie Joamie at the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre annual general meeting Oct. 20. (PHOTO BY KELLY BUELL)
Ottawa-based Inuit Deborah Tagornak and Sytukie Joamie at the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre annual general meeting Oct. 20. (PHOTO BY KELLY BUELL)

KELLY BUELL

OTTAWA—Debate, even if it involves criticism, is not a bad thing: it just means people are engaged.

The Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre, which held its annual general meeting in Ottawa Oct. 20, featured a pointed discussion about how the centre fills positions on the board of directors.

“Last year, Deborah [Tagornak] and I were talking about the nominations. We want a transparent process, that the board nominations actually take place at the AGM,” said Sytukie Joamie, who was recognized during the meeting for the work he does with Inuit children.

“Up north members are accepted at the AGM. What’s happening now is an internal process. A few people could select whoever they want. What Deborah was saying last year, I support.”

The OICC, which offers programs and services for Ottawa-based Inuit families and children including Inuit children adopted by non-Inuit families, was launched in 1997 under Tungasuvvingat Inuit, another Inuit community service provider in Ottawa.

It became an independent organization in 2006, offering programs that range from a daycare centre and Inuktitut kindergarten to classes for youth, elder and parents, and workshops.

The meeting, held at Rideau High School in Ottawa, got underway with throat singing, a community feast and then more throat singing before discussions about the organization’s past year got underway.

The OICC’s executive director, Karen Baker-Anderson, then addressed the 60 or so people who had gathered for the AGM, saying that her organization makes an effort, through word of mouth, mail-outs and social media, to solicit board members for election. But that doesn’t always yield results.

“People said thanks, we got your nominations, they’ve been posted,” Baker-Anderson said.

Lynda Brown, director of youth programs, echoed Baker-Anderson’s sentiments.

“We’re encouraging Inuit parents to come out and be the voice of their children,” she said.

Tagornak, who attended the meeting, said she would like to see changes on the board, including increasing the percentage of Inuit representatives. “We want [the nominations] more open to the community to include Inuit elders,” said Tagornak.

And Joamie said board members ought to review, in public, the process by which nominations are conducted. He added the same concerns were raised last year but he doesn’t feel anything changed as a result.

Following the discussion, board members decided they would meet to discuss the nomination process.

In the end, discussions around the board election was moot because only five people came forward to fill five seats.

The new members included Alyssa Flaherty-Spence.

“I was fortunate when the board asked me to be involved,” said Flaherty-Spence, who wants to see Inuit children in Ottawa get something she never had: access to culture and language.

Leila Mahoney, who also joined the board, thanked the OICC for their good work and said, “I want to help any way I can.”

The board’s auditors made a presentation as well to assure members that OICC’s books are in order.

Members also offered a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting for Ovilu Goo-Doyle, a tireless promoter of Inuit language, culture, art and empowerment, who passed away in May.

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