Pond Inlet incumbent seeks full term as Nunavut MLA
Joe Enook hopes to expand on brief two years of work for Tununiq
Two years is barely enough time for a first-time MLA to learn the job in Nunavut’s legislative assembly and show results for voters.
Joe Enook won an overwhelming mandate in 2011 to do just that for the constituency of Tununiq.
Now up for re-election on Oct. 28, Enook said he looks forward to following through on what he started, for a full term.
“I’m going to be in a much better position to represent Tununiq without having to learn the ropes all over again,” he said.
To win by a landslide two years ago, with more than 60 per cent of votes over three opponents “was pretty humbling,” Enook told Nunatsiaq News.
“I just hope that the people of Mittimatalik [Pond Inlet] will give me the opportunity to represent them again in the next assembly.”
Enook said his biggest concern so far for Tununiq, which covers Pond Inlet and surrounding lands and coastlines in the north of Baffin Island, has been the lack of marine infrastructure.
“It’s about saving lives,” Enook said, pointing out that the lack of a harbour or docking facility in Pond Inlet makes boating hazardous.
“Even if the federal government says there is no commercial value, I would suggest that you can’t put a value on a person’s life, when someone loses their life when trying to save a boat,” he said, “which unfortunately is what happened a number of years ago.”
The incumbent MLA said he is thankful for the work of the government’s outgoing minister of transportation, Peter Taptuna, for funds needed to build a boat launch in the community.
“It doesn’t solve all problems, and it was just, in my opinion a short-term fix. It would be part of a bigger solution,” Enook said. “My job as MLA is to make sure that bigger solution happens sooner than later.”
The need for marine facilities in the ice-free summer season increases as the Pond Inlet’s ever-growing population tops 1,600, he said.
The Mary River mining project, which Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. is building some 160 kilometres away in the southern end of Tununiq, makes Pond Inlet a potential boom community, Enook said.
Even though the mine will be a “fly-in, fly-out” camp with its own infrastructure, “there’s going to be residual effects on Pond Inlet that we have to be prepared for,” he said.
“We fully expect to have an influx of people coming to Pond Inlet to work on Mary River,” he added. “And that’s going to put a strain on our housing needs.”
Covering housing shortages are not a priority unique to Pond Inlet, he said, adding that he is prepared to work at this issue for all Nunavummiut.
Another priority, in his community as well as others throughout the territory, is the need for support on mental health issues, and the lack of addiction services.
“Unfortunately too many of our communities have problems with people with addictions, both alcohol and drugs,” he said. “Yet we don’t give it the attention, or the money that it requires.”
Many services for both mental health issues and addictions are offered outside the territory, he said, “but I really wonder if we could not do the people more justice by giving the services here in Nunavut.”
Enook left his home town of Pond Inlet in 1993 to work for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in Iqaluit, he said.
He later served as president of Nunasi Corp. for 10 years, and returned to Pond Inlet in 2010.
“I think people appreciate the fact that I never really left — in quotation marks — Pond Inlet,” said Enook. “I always tried to maintain a certain level of intimacy with Pond Inlet and Mittimatalikmiut.”
Also running for election in Tununiq is David Qajaakuttuk Qamaniq.
Qamaniq could not be reached at the two phone numbers posted for him on the Elections Nunavut website and there was no answer at his financial agent’s number.