Critic of Makivik ousted after second election

Nunavik man questions board election flip-flop


A Kangiqsujualujjuaq man is furious that his recent election to Makivik Corp.'s board of directors was overturned by a loss in a second election held a week later.

David Annanack first ran in an election held March 5 against the incumbent director, Willie Annanack, winning the seat by 10 votes.

But even as David Annanack was out in the village celebrating his victory, he says a handful of people were organizing against him, complaining to Makivik that they didn't have time to vote because the polling station at the co-op store closed down at 5 pm, not at 6 pm.

A second election was held a week later at the municipal office, March 12, during a blizzard when many were out on the land, checking their trap lines. Annanack lost by eight votes this time, with fewer numbers of beneficiaries turning out to vote.

"I was kind of puzzled as to why they wanted another election. There's something fishy," Annanack said in a telephone interview earlier this week.

Annanack says he thinks the real reason the second election was held is because he's been such an outspoken opponent of what he calls the "lottery" winnings of Makivik executives and board members.

Annanack has been a vocal critic of bonuses received last year by directors of the Makivik-owned airline, First Air.

The total of the bonus payments to First Air directors, nearly all of whom are Makivik executives or employees, is said to be at least $1.5 million, with $600,000 received by Makivik president Pita Aatami.

Aatami, who is up for re-election March 27, also sits as the chairman of First Air's board of directors.

Each of Makivik's 16-member board of directors, who approved the resolution calling for the bonus, also received $5,000, in addition to their $40,000 annual stipend.

Annanack says he wants to get rid of the conflicts of interest in Nunavik organizations.

He wants beneficiaries to have more of a voice running these organizations such as Makivik, as well as a share in any payouts of money earned by subsidiaries owned by beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

"If the board of directors are allowed [to get money], so are the other beneficiaries. I've been saying that. A lot of people are wishing to receive at least $5,000. They owe money to the public," said Annanack. "It's a scam."

Annanack, whose grandfather was instrumental in founding the co-operative movement in northern Quebec in the 1950s, said the money belongs to everyone.

The first Inuit fishing and logging co-operative was established in April 1959 in George River (now know as Kangiqsualujjuaq) when 20 hunters each purchased a one-dollar share entitling them to one vote at the co-op's AGM.

Annanack swears he'll ask his supporters for personal donations so he can get to Inukjuak next week for Makivik's annual general meeting even ‘though he will not be his community's official representative around the table.

"Definitely there has to be a change, regardless of the vote, there has to be change. Somebody has to speak out. Something has to be done. I think there's a dictatorship. I want to see change I want to see the younger generation take over," Annanack said.

Annanack, 53, who has served as municipal councilor and president of the landholding corporation in Kangisualujjuaq, now works in mining exploration, hiring up to 30 local workers every summer.

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