Baker Lake assured of a new mayor in two-way race
Current mayor not seeking re-election; 12 candidates running for council
Baker Lake will have a new mayor after Oct. 23.
With current Mayor Richard Aksawnee not seeking re-election in the upcoming municipal vote, there is a two-way race to replace him between candidates Kevin Iksiktaaryuk and James Taipana.
In all Nunavut communities, along with the races for mayor, there are also elections being held for municipal councils, district education authorities and, in some communities, alcohol education committees.
With a population of just more than 2,000, Baker Lake is one of the larger communities in the Kivalliq region. Situated at the mouth of the Thelon River, it is close to the geographic centre of Canada.
Baker Lake is known for its natural resources industry with Meadowbank Mine nearby, as well the hamlet’s arts and crafts sector.
After finishing as the runner-up in a five-way race for mayor in the last election in 2019, Iksiktaaryuk is running again.
“I’ve always had an interest in helping the community,” he said.
Iksiktaaryuk points to his experience within the hamlet, where he was voted in to replace a councillor who resigned in March 2022. He was also a council member from December 2017 to October 2019.
“I feel like we’ve had some good momentum … and I felt like it was time to try again,” Iksiktaaryuk said of his time on council and his decision to run again for mayor.
He also cites his work on community committees in his decision to run. He is currently a member of the recreation committee and Agnico Eagle legacy committee, and has been a member of others such as the health and wellness committee.
Iksiktaaryuk is employed by the Government of Nunavut’s Culture and Heritage Department in the public libraries division. Previously, he worked with Qulliq Energy Corporation.
He said that if he’s elected, implementing a long-term plan for Baker Lake is one of his main goals.
“Whether it be a five, 10, 20-year plan, I’d like to identify some milestones we can hit,” he said.
Another priority for Iksiktaaryuk will be economic development and improved infrastructure.
“We all know the mine isn’t going to be there forever,” he said of the Meadowbank mine.
He said better infrastructure will improve access to community facilities and create better spaces for businesses so they can be open more often.
He also said he wants new infrastructure for water, sewer trucks and emergency service vehicles.
As mayor, Iksiktaaryuk said he would like to improve communication between the hamlet, organizations and government departments within the community.
“I feel like having open lines of communication will increase transparency in what the hamlet is doing and allow the community to work better together,” he said.
Running against Iksiktaaryuk is James Taipana.
Taipana declined to be interviewed by Nunatsiaq News.
He said he was not available because of work and campaigning as a response to Nunatsiaq News’ first two requests for an interview.
When recently asked for an interview over Facebook, Taipana said, “I’ll talk to my fellow Baker Lake residents instead of the news.”
Information on his campaign that was posted on the Baker Lake Public Bulletin Facebook page states Taipana’s priorities include improved housing and education management, Kivalliq Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. legacy funds, as well as mental health and efficiency.
Taipana stated that his reason for running is to improve community resources.
He said he has been a KIA director for Baker Lake, a district education authority board member and involved in housing, the hunters and trappers organization and search and rescue.
Outside of the mayoral race, there are 12 people running for eight spots on Baker Lake council.
The candidates are Eva Elytook, David Owingayak, Adham Adose, Trevor Attungala, Aquilla Amaruq, Michael Akilak, Becky Tootoo, Siobhan Doherty-Iksiktaaryuk, Eric John Tapatai, Salomonie Pootoogook, Michael Mautaritnaaq and Grace Tagoona.
There will be no race for the district education authority, as Siobhan Doherty-Iksiktaaryuk, Naomie Hope Itqiliq and Darlene Nukik are acclaimed.
Advance voting for the election is on Oct. 16.