Kivalliq mayors irked by Nunavut MLA no-shows at meeting
Coral Harbour mayor walks out on annual forum
This year’s Kivalliq Mayors’ Forum in Rankin Inlet was a flop, according to some mayors from the region.
That’s because no Nunavut MLAs or other high-level decision-makers from the territorial and federal governments attended.
The lack of attendance by the people who control budgets and craft territorial policies made the Sept. 10 to Sept. 12 meetings useless, said Dorothy Ningeocheak, mayor of Coral Harbour, who promptly left after day one of the three-day conference.
“I thought it was a waste of time,” Ningeocheak said. “We have some issues and concerns from our community that we want to voice out to the government, and they were not there.
“I had no idea they [MLAs] were not coming, because they always do.”
Other Kivalliq mayors agreed that the timing of this year’s forum was bad. MLAs and other senior officials were busy in Iqaluit at the same time, preoccupied with the last sitting of the legislative assembly before the Oct. 28 territorial election.
“It was kind of bad timing,” agreed Robert Janes, mayor of Rankin Inlet. “I’m not sure if the premier actually realized that there was a mayor’s meeting going on at the same time,” he laughed.
Ningeocheak said her community faces serious issues related to health care, a top concern that she was hoping to discuss with the territorial minister of health, or the deputy minister.
For starters, her community has no regular doctors, she said.
“We see a doctor probably every two weeks, or every month here in Coral Harbour,” Ningeocheak said, adding they usually fly in from Winnipeg or Churchill, Manitoba. “Sometimes people need to see a doctor right away, and it takes that long.”
Ill patients of any age, in urgent need of care, must fly to hospital in Winnipeg, she said. In many cases, by the time they make it south for treatment their condition worsens.
Ningeocheak recalled one patient from her community, in his late 30s, who’s been in Winnipeg since mid-June.
“If he had been given help sooner, he’d probably be home now,” she said. “But he’s in a wheelchair now because it was too late to give him the help he needed. He’s got all kinds of other complications now.
“We need help,” said Ningeocheak.
Arviat’s mayor, Bob Leonard, was also dismayed by the meeting’s bad timing.
“We usually have some participation from ministers, MLAs. Even senior civil servants, people who are able to make decisions,” he said. “It is important, I mean that’s how we get some things in the budget, or on the agenda of the legislative assembly to deal with.”
Most mayors agreed that attendance by officials from Manitoba for the Hudson Bay Regional Roundtable portion of the meeting, made the three-day conference worthwhile in the end. The regional roundtable opened Sept. 11 in the afternoon, and took up half the conference.
Among other delegates, that part of the conference hosted health officials from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the Churchill Health Centre, who discussed coordination of services with Nunavut and other health care issues with the territory’s assistant deputy minister of health, Leonard said.
“This was big for us,” he said. “It’s the first time anyone senior from health has attended.”