Rankin Inlet South’s Alexander Sammurtok wants to help youth, elders

“I think I could speak out for all their concerns”


Alexander Sammurtok is running for election in Rankin Inlet South Oct. 28. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE JOUDRY)

Alexander Sammurtok is running for election in Rankin Inlet South Oct. 28. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE JOUDRY)

It’s a two-person race in Rankin Inlet South for the Oct. 28 territorial election, with Alexander Sammurtok running against incumbent Lorne Kusugak in the redrawn riding.

Sammurtok, a recently-retired civil servant with the Government of Nunavut, decided to put his name on the ballot after debating the idea for years.

What does he have to offer to his constituents?

“I think I could speak out for all their concerns, no matter how small or large they are,” Sammurtok told Nunatsiaq News.

Sammurtok, originally from Chesterfield Inlet, came to Rankin Inlet in 1986 to work for the territorial government.

After the creation of Nunavut, he held different positions within the Community and Government Services department until his retirement last winter.

Sammurtok also sat on the board of directors of the local co-operative association.

Now he said he feels that he has more time to devote to politics — and to people in his community.

And he said he wants to focus on both young and old.

As for his priorities, if elected: to promote on-the-job training for young adults in Rankin Inlet.

“I see this a lot — high school graduates or Arctic College graduates with diplomas, but they don’t seem to be able to get any sort of job,” Sammurtok said.

Sammurtok said he could help them by working towards creating more on-the-job training by working with local businesses or government departments – experience that could help prepare youth for longer-term careers or higher education.

Sammurtok said elders in his community lack the care they need to age in a safe and secure environment.

“We need 24-hour homecare for elders if they’re alone and there’s nobody to care for them, or if their families are too busy with their own lives,” he said.

That’s something most communities could use. Sammurtok said he struggled finding care for his own elderly father, who lived in nearby Chesterfield Inlet.

Sammurtok, a father of four and grandfather to 13, faces off Oct. 28 against the more politically-experienced Kusugak, a former mayor of Rankin Inlet who just completed his first term as MLA and is running for re-election in the new riding.

The old riding of Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove was replaced by the new seat of Rankin Inlet South in 2011, which takes in all of Rankin Inlet below the boundary dividing it from Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet.

The small hamlet of Whale Cove is now part of Arviat North-Whale Cove.

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