Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik January 12, 2018 - 3:29 pm

Makivik’s two-term president looks to a third

If re-elected, Jobie Tukkiapik said education and land rights are priorities

Jobie Tukkiapik is looking for a third term as Makivik president, in order to oversee a regional education audit and efforts to expand Nunavik's Category 1 lands. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
Jobie Tukkiapik is looking for a third term as Makivik president, in order to oversee a regional education audit and efforts to expand Nunavik's Category 1 lands. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

Jobie Tukkiapik, Makivik Corp.’s incumbent president, says he needs another term in office to tackle education reform and land rights in Nunavik.

Tukkiapik, first elected as head of Nunavik’s Inuit birthright organization in 2012, said Makivik made important strides in addressing the region’s housing shortage and restructuring the organization with the launch of the Nuvitti Development Corp. in 2017.

But those achievements have made way for new projects and goals, Tukkiapik said.

“When I first ran, I didn’t necessarily see myself running for a third term, but education and identity emerged as overarching issues,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work to do on the quality of education in the region.”

In 2017, Nunavik’s school board, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, revealed that Secondary 5 students were not receiving Quebec diplomas upon the completion of their studies.

That spurred calls for change; Tukkiapik lobbied for an audit of the region’s education system—something Quebec has tentatively agreed to but has yet to embark on.

Makivik has moved to create an internal education working group to work alongside that audit when it happens, and Tukkiapik hopes to be with Makivik to monitor its progress.

Improving the quality of education for Nunavimmiut youth is a “high priority,” said Tukkiapik, whose own children are studying at the secondary and post-secondary level.

Tukkiapik also wants to see another project realized; an increase in the amount of Category 1 lands in Nunavik—a request Makivik has made to the Quebec government.

Category 1 lands are lands reserved exclusively for use among Inuit, roughly 8,150 square kilometres, which were allotted to Nunavik’s communities under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

“But the ownership of land is rather small compared to other land claim agreements that came afterward,” Tukkiapik noted.

In Nunavik, for example, Category 1 lands amount to about two square kilometres per person, while under Nunavut’s land claim, Category 1 lands amount to about 16 square kilometres per person.

The desire to see more land ownership emerged from Parnasimautik, a region-wide consultation that resulted in a blueprint for the region, often dubbed Plan Nunavik.

A regional lands committee is still working to identify the parcels of lands which Nunavik hopes to see converted to Category 1, Tukkiapik said.

With the 2017 creation of Nuvviti, an arms-length development corporation to oversee the day-to-day operations of Makivik’s subsidiaries and its joint ventures and help grow its investments, Tukkiapik said he’s had much more time to look at Nunavik’s social needs.

“That to me is huge,” he said.

Tukkiapik said he’s also optimistic the federal government will deliver on new social housing for the region this year.

Although the region continues to negotiate a new five-year tripartite housing agreement, Tukkiapik said the 2016 federal investment of $50 million for new social housing built a record number of homes in the region.

And Tukkiapik said the federal government has suggested the region will see another $50 million for housing this year.

“We’ve made headway with the federal government in convincing them that it’s not only building social housing; it’s also building an economy for Inuit,” he said, noting the creation of local jobs and contracts for local construction companies.

If elected to a third term, Tukkiapik also hopes to turn more of his attention to cultural programming like language promotion and on-the-land activities for Nunavimmiut families.

“Over my lifetime, fewer families are going out to spend time on the land,” he said. “And that is a key thing to our identity as Inuit.”

Four other candidates are running for Makivik’s top job: Charlie Watt, Lucy Grey, Jackie Williams and Alasie Arngak.

Nunavik Inuit will elect Makivik’s new president on Jan. 18, when local polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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