NEWS: Around the Arctic June 03, 2014 - 4:13 pm

Eegeesiak to quit QIA for pan-Arctic Inuit chairmanship

QIA president expected to be rubber-stamped as next ICC chair this July


Okalik Eegeesiak, 52, the president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, will quit her QIA job this July 24 to take on a new job as international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and spokesperson for the 150,000 Inuit of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia, a QIA news release said June 3.

ICC Canada’s board announced this past January that on behalf of Canadian Inuit, they will put forward Eegeesiak’s name when the ICC chairmanship comes up for “election” on the last day of the organization’s general assembly in Inuvik.

The four voting members of ICC Canada’s board, who represent the four regional Inuit organizations in Canada, chose Eegeesiak for the job at a meeting held Jan. 31 in Ottawa.

By convention, the ICC chairmanship is supposed to rotate among the three biggest regional groups within ICC — Canada, Greenland and Alaska.

This means Eegeesiak’s acclamation to the ICC job is already assured.

Eegeesiak will replace Aqqaluk Lynge, 66, the celebrated Greenlandic writer and political leader whose second four-year term as ICC chair expires this July.

She has served as QIA president since Dec. 14, 2009, when she was chosen in a by-election in which only 28 per cent of eligible beneficiaries turned out to cast ballots.

Eegeesiak was re-elected to QIA’s top job on Dec. 12, 2011, when about 36 per cent of beneficiaries turned out to vote.

That term of office would have expired this December.

At a board meeting this week, QIA’s directors will talk about the appointment of an interim president who would serve until the next QIA election in December 2014.

More than 600 people are expected to attend the ICC’s Inuvik gathering, which is scheduled to run from July 21 to July 24 this year, with the theme “Ukiuqtaqtumi Hivuniptingnun — One Arctic One Future.”

This will include delegates from Greenland, Chukotka, Alaska and Canada, who are expected to talk about things like Arctic sovereignty, resource development, political issues, healthy communities and family wellness, food security, sustainable resource use, and the environment.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already agreed to serve as “honorary patron” for the event and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp. will act as local host.