Candidate for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president: Levinia Brown
“By working well together, and with solid communication, we can only move forward”
With Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s presidential election set for Dec. 12, Nunatsiaq News is profiling each of the four candidates. We asked the candidates the same four questions. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity. We will run them in alphabetical order.
Advance polling for the election is on Dec. 5 and voting by proxy is also possible. For more information on the election, you can go here.
Levinia Brown served in the Nunavut legislature as MLA for Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove between 2004 and 2008 and sat in the Nunavut cabinet as deputy premier, minister of health and social services, minister responsible for the status of women and minister of community and government and services. She is also a former mayor and deputy mayor of Rankin Inlet.
What are the issues most important to beneficiaries that you would raise as NTI president?
Beneficiaries are speaking out that they want 24-hour nursing homecare. That seems to be the priority that I’m hearing. Elders are being sent away far from home and it’s not fair at all. Beneficiaries want us all to get together and see what we can do about the urgency of 24/7 care [for elders].
I would also advocate for food security. I would meet and talk with the Government of Nunavut and come up with solutions. Food prices are out of control.
[Inuit] want transparency and openness on NTI’s [finances]. I was hearing, even when I lived in Winnipeg, that people were asking why don’t I run as president, or even vice-president, because they thought I would speak on their behalf when it comes to the money that NTI is using.
One area that was mentioned a lot is Nunavut Trust money. [NTI] used to have insurance money for when a beneficiary died and I understand that it was discontinued in June 2011. Some people want to know why it was discontinued and if it will be reinstated again. These are very legitimate questions and people want to know—the beneficiaries want to know.
I truly believe beneficiaries have the right to know [more about NTI spending] because the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement was an agreement for all beneficiaries so I believe its important to let them all know where the money is going. [Beneficiaries are asking me]: the top people [at NTI] are they benefiting? Is it only them?
Given the historically low voter turnout and vote splitting in NTI elections, executive members are often elected by a minority of votes cast. How do you make NTI elections more meaningful? Is NTI losing its political legitimacy?
I believe that’s part of it. The low voter turnout is definitely a concern. Beneficiaries mention there have been too many elections: that people are tired of elections. That’s one part.
If we were to visit more communities as elected members, have radio shows and have meetings with the communities, I think that would boost voter turnout, which is so important in every community in Nunavut.
The president and other NTI and regional Inuit association executives control the management of the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp., formed with $175 million in federal settlement money. As this is not a public body, how would you ensure that this vital service remains transparent and accountable?
I see a lot of documents going out. My question would be, are they reaching the beneficiaries? Are they reading these documents, even though they are very important? I’m wondering if they know the policy.
It’s important to keep training beneficiaries. Another thing I hear as I campaign is why can’t the beneficiaries be trained to management jobs, supervisor roles, directorship and those [kinds of jobs] instead of being janitors and chambermaids, kitchen helpers, waiters.
Why aren’t they being trained for higher-up positions? In offices, why are [beneficiaries with high school diplomas] not shadowing [other employees]? [In the federal government] they hire so many [interns], why don’t they do that in the GN too? Maybe they do, but beneficiaries need more publications, not just written but also on social media.
There are many positive things happening. There’s progress, but we need more numbers in those areas [of employment].
NTI needs to work with other stakeholders, such as the GN and RIAs, to carry out their mandate. What would your general leadership style be with your other stakeholders? What specific tools would you use to ensure constructive working relationships?
I welcome that opportunity. By working well together, and with solid communication, we can only move forward. The techniques that I would use as President is invite [the Government of Nunavut] to NTI meetings. I’m sure that’s happening but its got to happen more regularly so that we are heard and taken seriously.
Its so important that all designated Inuit organizations have good working relationships with the GN and the federal government because they too have signed the NLCA, so the communications should never break down and we can address all these issues together.
A policy is taken seriously. Sometimes verbal agreements disappear and we don’t hear it again. Once it’s in writing, it’s a document.