Repulse Bay — or Naujaat? — elects new mayor, votes to change community name
“They always say Naujaat, but I also think there’s some attachment to the name Repulse Bay"
Repulse Bay has a new mayor; Solomon Malliki, who was elected in a May 12 by-election.
Malliki, a former student community counsellor at the local Tusarvik school, won with just 84 votes.
Second-place candidate Marcel Mapsalak finished with 68 votes, while Johnny Tungilik received 16 votes.
The by-election was triggered by the departure of former mayor, Hugh Haqpi; Malliki will serve his remaining mayoral term which ends January 2015.
And one of the first issues the new mayor will likely debate with the hamlet council is whether to change the community’s name back to its original Inuktitut moniker, Naujaat.
On May 12, voters also cast a ballot in a local plebiscite that asked residents if they would like to see the hamlet use its former name, Naujaat, which in English means, “nesting place for seagulls.”
Eighty-two residents voted in favour of Naujaat, while 73 people cast a ballot in favour of keeping Repulse Bay. Only 36 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
The vote is non-binding, hamlet officials note, and only serves as a way for hamlet council to gauge the community’s interest in the proposed name change.
“They’ll likely debate (the plebiscite results) at the next meeting,” said Kowesa Etitiq, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer. “They could have decided that on their own, but they wanted to find out from the community.”
The hamlet does not require a majority vote in a plebiscite to make the change, he said — under the municipal act, if a hamlet wishes to change the name of their community, it can do so by sending a letter requesting the name change to the minister of Community and Government Services.
Locally, however, Etitiq said many people already refer to the community as Naujaat in daily conversation.
“They always say Naujaat, and we refer to each other as Naujaarmiut,” he said. “But I also think there’s some attachment to the name Repulse Bay.”
A number of Nunavut communities have already made the move to revert back to their Inuktitut names, although those changes were made under Northwest Territories legislation.
Those communities include Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), Arviat (Eskimo Point), Kimmirut (Lake Harbour), Kugaaruk (Pelly Bay), Kugluktuk (Coppermine) and Taloyoak (Spence Bay.)