Cambridge Bay municipal candidates face off

Incumbent mayor faces a challenger, while 11 vie for eight council seats

Pamela Hankongak Gross, the incumbent mayor of Cambridge Bay, and Wayne Gregory, who is challenging her for the job, take turns speaking at the podium on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at a candidates forum. The forum, organized by Nunavut Arctic College students, featured the two mayoral candidates and seven of the 11 residents running for council seats. (Photos by Jane George)

By Jane George

CAMBRIDGE BAY—The 40 or so people who turned up for the municipal candidates forum on Wednesday, Oct. 16, had some hard questions to ask the mayoral candidates, Pamela Hakongak Gross and Wayne Gregory.

Those on the floor wanted to know how the two would deal with hunger and the lack of housing in the community.

They also asked for ideas about how to better manage water, sewage and waste services and save energy, improve municipal infrastructure and housing, handle conflicts of interest and avoid nepotism in hiring practices.

And they sought the candidates’ suggestions on how to promote Inuinnaqtun and community wellness.

Speaking at the Oct. 16 municipal candidates forum in Cambridge Bay, Richard Ekpakohak asks the candidates for mayor about how, if elected, they will revive Inuinnaqtun. The forum was conducted in English with the exception of a few words in Inuinnaqtun from the incumbent mayor, Pamela Gross, although an interpreter was providing Inuinnaqtun translation. (Photo by Jane George)

Students in the second year of Arctic College’s office administration program organized the three-hour evening session as part of their coursework on government.

With the students’ instructor, Vicki Aitaok, as moderator, the two candidates for mayor first had 10 minutes each to introduce themselves.

Wayne Gregory, who arrived in Cambridge Bay in 2013 to head the IT section in the Kitikmeot region for the Government of Nunavut, spoke about how he felt immediately welcomed in the community. Since then, he has served as a volunteer for the local fire department, Ikalututiak Elks, community radio station and housing association.

The incumbent, Pamela Gross, who is also the executive director of the Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq/Kitikmeot Heritage Society, spoke her opening words in Inuinnaqtun. She said she had arrived back in Cambridge Bay six years ago, as well, after spending her childhood mainly in the Northwest Territories and then in Ottawa for post-secondary studies in Ottawa, at Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Carleton University.

Seven of the 11 municipal councillor hopefuls were also on hand to talk about why they wanted to be elected.

  • Sandi Gillis of Qillaq Innovations Ltd., a contracting company in Cambridge Bay, is up for re-election. Gillis said she wants to continue to give back to the community that has been her home for 30 years. (Photo by Jane George)

Questions from the audience honed in on the candidates’ approach to leadership in the council: how they would deal with conflicts of interest and contentious issues in council, and whether they thought business owners who provide services to the town should run for council.

To that, incumbent councillor Sandi Gillis, whose company, Qillaq Innovations, provides road maintenance services to the municipality, said there are bylaws that prevent councillors from participating in discussions and votes involving matters in which they have conflicts of interest.

Gillis rejected the idea of preventing some community members from participating because of their links to businesses. That wouldn’t be good, she said, adding that “it takes a whole community to run a community.”

Asked how they, as councillors, would ensure local businesses, and not just larger contractors from the south, benefit from big projects, they suggested looking at ways to keep the money and jobs in Cambridge Bay—an idea that came up, and was set aside, in 2017 during heated council discussions about community development.

Wilf Wilcox, owner of Jago Services Inc., an electrical, heating and plumbing contractor, said “if we want big things we have to learn to work with big contractors.”

To learn more about what the candidates said on Oct. 16, and where they stand on various issues, you can go to the Cambridge Bay’s Facebook news site, which features a posting of recordings from the forum for each candidate.

The advance vote for the Oct. 28 municipal election takes place on Monday, Oct. 21, in Cambridge Bay from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Luke Novoligak Community Hall.

To find election information for other communities, go to Elections Nunavut.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Hmmmmm on

    The need for all elected officials to be held to a higher standard of behaviour is apparent in this. We need people who are responsive and know their job and their community. We also need an active media who will help shine a light on this. Why we are concerned about the decisions our council makes is because we never hear about decisions until after the fact. Some might complian about ‘fake’ news, but without Nunatsiaq, we would not have any local news. I know who i am not going to vote for in our fall election season. And four year terms are too long.

  2. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    things are getting a little out of hand on the campaign trail.

    We have two fine candidates for Mayor in Cambridge Bay. We are lucky to have two people ready and willing and hopefully the right Candidate wins but that is up to your votes. I know who I am voting for and that’s my right as a resident. But some of the questions being raised don’t seem quite right but that’s another debate all together.

    and I agree, the four year term is way too long. look at the Cambridge Bay Hamlet Council near the end, wasn’t there only three remaining Council Members and the Mayor for the last few meetings? everyone else resigned.

  3. Posted by A Keen Voter on

    Both candidates are good. I just hope we dont vote for someone who is barely committed to their office job, because they are on to many positions in every committee in the comunity. That. Voting. Them mayor would mean that they never do the job that they originally hired to do

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