Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik January 07, 2014 - 11:58 am

Makivik Corp.‘s treasurer hopefuls promise transparency

Four candidates running to replace outgoing treasurer Anthony Ittoshat

SARAH ROGERS
Michael Cameron
Michael Cameron
Jobie Epoo
Jobie Epoo
Andy Pirti
Andy Pirti
Joseph Annahatak
Joseph Annahatak

On Jan. 16, beneficiaries of Nunavik’s birthright corporation will vote to elect a new treasurer.

The long-time Makivik treasurer, Anthony Ittoshat, who has served in that role since 1999, has decided not to run for a fifth term.

And now four Nunavimmiut have stepped up to compete for the job, including Michael Cameron, Jobie Epoo, Joseph Annahatak and Andy Pirti.

Nunatsiaq News asked them to tell us a little bit about who they are and why they’re running.

Jobie Epoo, Inukjuak

Epoo, a small business owner in Inukjuak, is not entirely new to the Makivik nor to the role of treasurer.

He began working for Makivik’s predecessor, the Northern Quebec Inuit Association, in 1978. Epoo was later elected to Makivik’s board of directors and served as the organization’s treasurer between 1982 and 1988.

Through the 1990s, Epoo served as mayor of Inukjuak as well as on the Kativik Regional Government’s executive council.

More recently, Epoo served as interim chief of the Kativik Regional Police Force until he was dismissed from that position in 2010, following a 2008 impaired driving incident.

If elected as treasurer, Epoo says he wants to establish a body called an investment review board. The group would be made up of financial professionals and Makivik advisors who would adopt a financial plan to best manage its spending and budget.

Epoo would also like to see:

• a uniform policy to obligate subsidiary companies to share their profits with Makivik, instead of paying out bonuses to company directors;

• investments in municipal bonds at the municipal level, to help northern villages realize community projects; and,

• community business development, by making available venture capital funds to Nunavimmiut. “Makivik should be more aggressive in starting new businesses or buying existing ones that are profitable,” Epoo said.

Outside of his role of treasurer, Epoo would like to revisit Makivik’s structure and administration, its terms of office, and how its subsidiary companies’ boards of directors are remunerated.

Epoo promises to be “transparent, honest and open” with Nunavimmiut, if elected.

“I know that the Makivik executive have been hiding from the beneficiaries exactly how much they are paying themselves,” Epoo said. “I am going to fight for discontinuing any double pay.”

Michael Cameron, Salluit

Michael Cameron says he wants to bring his experience managing the budgets of different Nunavik organizations to Makivik to help grow beneficiaries’ compensation and help the organizations make savings.

Cameron has served as a councillor and mayor of Salluit, as local landholding president and an executive member of the KRG council. He currently chairs the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau’s board of directors.

Cameron works as a technician with Bell Aliant, but also volunteers as a firefighter, first responder, and rescue boat captain and with the Canadian Rangers.

If elected treasurer, Cameron would like to see Makivik launch some new pilot projects to help benefit Nunavik communities, such as

• vocational training — as Salluit’s landholding president, Cameron helped establish a diamond drilling program in Salluit. He’d like to help realize similar training initiatives for heavy equipment operating, mechanics, plumbing and other trades;

• beneficiary rates to ship meat from southern stores, much like the country food cargo rates offered through Air Inuit and First Air;

• more encouragement small business development;

• better communication with mining companies working in the region, where Cameron would like to see more community consultations, better access for Nunavimmiut to mining agreements and research on environmental impacts of mining activity.

“I also would like to see that bonuses are minimized if not eliminated,” Cameron said, “and that whatever money that is leftover or surplus is put into (guaranteed investment certificates) and different portfolios and also different cost reduction to you the beneficiary.”

Andy Pirti, Montreal

Andy Pirti says he is a natural choice for treasurer — he has worked in Makivik’s finance department as an investment accountant since 2007.

Pirti grew up in Akulivik and moved to Montreal to study business administration at Vanier College. Before joining Makivik, he worked in Avataq Cultural Institute’s library and archives.

He began working at Makivik’s construction division in 2003, before moving to the organization’s finance department. Since 2011, Pirti has served as adviser to the treasurer.

He also serves as treasurer to the Association of Montreal Inuit.

Pirti says his focus, if elected, would be on growing Makivik’s capital.

“What people don’t realize is that Makivik’s income has not been meeting its operating expenses in the last few years,” he said. “If the capital were to be bigger, the return would be larger.  Larger return means more financial help to the communities.”

Pirti said, if elected, he would:

• ensure Nunavik benefits from mining activity throughout the region, by increasing the involvement of Inuit-owned companies;

• establish a charter of rights for beneficiaries; one of its main points would be to give beneficiaries full access to the corporation’s financial information; and,

• continue to pursue the federal government to agree to a catch-up program to build social housing in Nunavik.

Joseph Annahatak, Kangirsuk

Joseph Annahatak says he is no stranger to financial management. As a member of the KRG executive committee for more than ten years, he was involved with planning and overseeing its annual budget.

Annahatak served as Kangirsuk’s mayor from 1999 to 2009 and spent nine of those years on the KRG’s executive committee. He went on to serve as vice-chair to the KRG’s regional council until 2012.

Since then, Annahatak has moderated Parnasimautik workshops across the region to gather community feedback on regional development.

That experience has made Annahatak aware of the issues facing the region and its residents, he said.

Annahatak said the housing shortage, reductions in the high cost of living and broadband internet are all issues that will require Makivik’s focus and support in the coming years.

“During my long career as a local and regional elected official, I have learned that careful and steady financial management produces results for organizations,” he said.  “Important projects don’t just happen right away; careful planning is important and diligent monitoring is essential.”

Makivik will open advance polls Jan. 9 at municipal or landholding offices in Nunavik communities from 9:00 to 5:00 pm.

On election day, polls will be open in those locations from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm.

Because of multiple attempts to post defamatory comments about candidates, comments for this story are now closed.

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