Former cabinet minister vies with president of Kitikmeot Corp.

Kugluktuk candidates agree on friendly rivalry


Between them, the two candidates who want to represent Kugluktuk in Nunavut's legislature have held nearly every major job and elected position in the Kitikmeot and share similar ideas on how to help their community progress.

Peter Taptuna, running in a territorial election for the first time, manages the Angoniatit hunters and trappers organization. Taptuna is also president of the Kitikmeot Corp. and volunteer director of search and rescue operations in Kugluktuk.

Donald Havioyak, a former hamlet councillor, was elected as Kugluktuk MLA in Nunavut's first election in 1999, and served in the first Nunavut cabinet as minister of culture, language, youth and elders.

He resigned a year after his appointment to cabinet, saying he wanted to pay more attention to the needs of his riding.

Most recently, Havioyak was president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association.

Hayioyak said he and Taptuna, who have often worked together in the past, were surprised to see they were the riding's only candidates in the Oct 27 election.

The two agreed to run a short and friendly election campaign, which was launched only after last week's federal vote.

And they're both promoting the same message to Kugluktuk voters, to turn out and vote for the candidate of their choice Oct. 27.

"People have their own choice. It can go either way. We're happy with that," Havioyak said in a telephone interview last week.

However, Havioyak still wants be the one who wins.

In the 1999 election, Havioyak won by a tight six-vote margin. In 2004, he lost his re-election bid to Joe Allen Evyagotailak.

Havioyak then took the KIA presidency and moved to Cambridge Bay, where he worked to promote mining in the Kitikmeot region.

These experiences will better help him represent Kuglukturmiut in Iqaluit, said Havioyak, who is a bilingual speaker of English and Innuinaqtun.

"They want a voice. They want their concerns to be raised to the legislature and the [government] departments. They want a representative who can speak for them. I want to be their voice," he said,

Havioyak said he will push for a mine training centre in Kugluktuk to better prepare Inuit for work in the mines – "before you know it, they will be opening up, and the best way to maximize the benefits is through jobs and business opportunities," he said.

If elected MLA, Taptuna will lobby for more projects to improve the state of housing, education and health care in Kugluktuk.

Taptuna, who "thrives on challenges," is credited with turning around Kugluktuk's HTO, eliminating its debt and building up community support.

"I've proven I can complete what's put in front of me," he said.

Taptuna, a former heavy equipment operator, started his first job at age nine and has paid taxes since he was 11.

His reputation as a reliable, hard worker led to an appointment as mayor in 2005, when Kugluktuk teetered on the brink of collapse.

The hamlet's senior administrator had quit his job, and his wife, the hamlet's only financial worker, quit her job too, leaving the hamlet office with no administrative or financial expertise.

Around the same time, mayor Stanley Anablak also resigned. Taptuna was appointed mayor, and the Government of Nunavut also appointed an administrator.

As MLA, Taptuna wants to "bring the people closer to the government," saying many Nunavummiut "don't even know where Kugluktuk is."

Kugluktuk is Nunavut's most westerly riding, 430 kms west of Cambridge Bay and 2,100 kms west of Iqaluit.

Kugluktuk, population 1,300, whose residents are 90 per cent Inuit, is the only community in the riding.

The voter turnout in Kugluktuk was the second highest in Nunavut in 2004, in part because of an enumeration error that pegged turnout at around 134 per cent. Turnout was 88 per cent in 1999.

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