First-time Iqaluit candidate wants treatment centre, affordable housing
“I am passionate about my platform,” Gideonie Joamie says
Gideonie Joamie’s concern for the social and economic well-being of his fellow Iqaluit residents has driven him to seek election in the city’s Iqaluit-Tasiluk seat in the Oct. 28 election.
Foremost among his concerns is the possible opening of liquor stores in the Nunavut capital.
“Iqaluit was devastated back in the 1970s, when we had a beer store,” said Joamie, 40, who credits his father Akeeshoo Joamie for encouraging him to run in the election.
MLAs voted for changes to the Nunavut Liquor Act in the last sitting of the legislative assembly, in Bill 64, passed just before the election campaign started.
The bill makes it possible for liquor stores to open in Nunavut communities.
“It was said that Iqaluit was a preferred site,” Joamie said Sept. 27, the day he filed his candidate declaration.
“I’m not against the amendment, and I’m not against a beer or wine store. But we don’t have an addictions treatment centre in Iqaluit or in Nunavut. I felt that this was putting the cart before the horse.”
Many convictions in Nunavut court, particularly for violent crimes, are acknowledged as being “alcohol-related,” said Joamie, and “the passage of the amendment to allow for a beer and wine store, without committing the government to build a treatment centre, was what really got to me.”
“We’ve already gone through this episode of chaos. So it’s important that someone in the assembly pushes for an addictions treatment centre,” he said, which is what he intends to do.
The first-time candidate has eight years experience working in the territorial government’s department of Culture and Heritage, most recently as a director of policy and planning.
“I hope that people can understand that I’ll bring insight. I understand how the government runs,” Joamie said.
Joamie and his wife Napatchie Itorcheak live in the centre of Iqaluit with their four children.
And Joamie said he has volunteered for various organizations and events in the community since his teens, starting with the Christmas Games.
More recently, Joamie served on the planning committee for Iqaluit’s bowhead whale hunt in 2011, as secretary-treasurer and Iqaluit representative for the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, and chairman of Quliruaq Inc., a subsidiary of the Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association.
Also among his priorities” affordable housing for Iqalummiut who work in the private sector. Joamie said he believes the city’s rental rates are “inflated” by the territorial and federal governments.
“If you’re not lucky enough to be employed by the government, be it federal of Nunavut government, you’re barely going to scrape by. Because the prices have been set by the government. They’ve snatched up units at ridiculously high prices and it’s having a trickle-down effect,” which exacerbates poverty, he said.
Joamie’s platform, posted on his Facebook page, Gideonie Joamie for MLA-Tasiluk riding, also includes:
• improved mental health services in Iqaluit;
• ensuring Iqalummiut get jobs on major projects such as Qulliq Energy’s proposed hydro dam and the new Iqaluit airport construction project; and
• developing an offshore turbot fishery for Iqaluit.
George Hickes and Travis Cooper are also running in Iqaluit-Tasiluk.
“I am not running against anyone, that’s totally not my mindset,” he said. “I am passionate about my platform.”