Coun. Sheila Flaherty resigns from Iqaluit council

For second time this year, city will seek applicants to fill a vacant seat

Sheila Flaherty has resigned from her spot on Iqaluit’s city council, saying she needs to focus more on her business. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Coun. Sheila Flaherty has resigned from Iqaluit city council, saying it’s time for her to move on to other ventures.

“It’s a combination of things, really,” she said in an interview Wednesday. “It just feels like it’s the right time for me, Sheila, to move on.”

Flaherty said she had a deep period of reflection when Pope Francis apologized on April 1 for the abuse Indigenous children suffered from some Roman Catholic clergy in Canada’s residential schools.

It made her consider what path she wanted to take in life.

Ultimately, she decided to focus her attention on Inuit- and Indigenous-led projects, including her new culinary company, Sijjakkut, and her seats on the National Indigenous Tourism Board and National Indigenous Culinary Board.

“Sometimes people change jobs,” Flaherty said. “I hope people can appreciate that I’m only one person and I really need to focus myself.”

During her two and a half years on council, Flaherty tried to bring awareness to safety needs at the IOL Beach and was passionate about Inuit women’s representation on city council.

“I hope our community sees that I tried my best to raise issues and concerns from the community,” she said.

Council voted Tuesday to seek applicants interested in filling the seat left vacant by her resignation.

Flaherty recognizes that now that she has left, it’s possible there will be one less Inuk woman on council, a prospect she said added to the weight of her decision.

In October, when a council seat became vacant, councillors endorsed Flaherty’s motion to have the city issue a call for candidates with the aim of attracting Inuit women to the position.

Coun. Kyle Sheppard also made a motion last year that during the selection of new councillors, more consideration be given to Inuit women candidates.

Both motions were approved.

When council voted March 8 to fill two vacant seats left by the departures of Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, who was elected MLA, and John Fawcett, councillors Ookalik Curley and Paul Quassa were appointed.

Flaherty said she had hoped two women would have been appointed to fill those seats, and that she voted to prioritize representation.

She said Quassa will bring a “tremendous amount of wisdom and experience” to council, but that council didn’t vote the way of the motions that were passed.

“Now that I’ve resigned, it’s not my worry anymore,” she said. “Hopefully, my time, my tenure on council, hopefully I’ve made an impact on council.”

She said she hopes it’s a woman, or an Inuk woman that replaces her.

Her departure doesn’t mean she’s leaving with any ill will toward her fellow councillors, she said.

“I really valued my time on council,” she said, reflecting on the 2019 election and the inspiration she gained from family and Inuit leaders. But that doesn’t affect the fact she’s leaving on good terms, she said.

“I wish them all the best,” she said.

Mayor Kenny Bell announced Flaherty’s resignation at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“Thank you very much to Coun. Flaherty for her service to the community,” he said. “And I wish her luck in all of her future endeavours.”

Bell laid out the options for filling Flaherty’s seat. They include leaving it empty, appointing the person with the next highest vote count from the 2019 election, or putting a call out for applicants.

Sheppard proposed council appoint Kimberly Smith to the vacant seat, saying she narrowly missed the last open seat during the last round of appointments in March.

Coun. Simon Nattaq seconded the motion, but it was defeated in a 4-3 vote.

Flaherty said it’s a shame it didn’t pass.

“Kim Smith is a very impressive young woman in this community. A lot of young people and older people like myself … have high regards for her,” she said.

Council then voted unanimously to put out another call for people interested in filling the new vacancy.


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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by DJ Khaled voice: “Another One” on

    There should be no turnover on Council. Instead, twice in a few months.

    Councilors should be penalized somehow for stepping down midterm, unless it’s due to illness. You run, you get elected, you finish your term. It’s your duty.

  2. Posted by Mosesi on

    Good for her! Having a conscience in NU break the seams…we need rebels once in a while to succeed.

  3. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    “Thank you very much to Coun. Flaherty for her service to the community,” he said. “And I wish her luck in all of her future endeavours.”

    If that doesn’t sound like a thank god you’re leaving, I don’t know what is.

    Councillor Flaherty had more class and chose not to be so curt in public although now I believe she may have had reasons to.


  4. Posted by pissed off on

    Enough of these elected or appointed people that quit halfway through their mandate . This is what could be called the “ butterfly syndrome“
    I stay on that branch just long enough for a better opportunity to come along and then GOODBYE . How much is that costing the operations of a reasonable government institution on top of stalling a number of valid projects all over the territory???
    And how about the jobs in particular. Jump from a trainee position to another one that offers better benefits. Jump from a good paying job to a better paying one and so on and so forth.
    How much is this costing in money and efficiency for the society. This lack of commitment is chocking all efforts at a better future for Nunavut.
    How about a bit of decent commitment to your public life.

  5. Posted by Ringing a little hollow on

    I can’t help but feel that Shiela has given up some of the moral high ground she once claimed (or that Nunatsiaq claimed for her) when musing that she hopes to see more Inuit women occupying a city at council.

    • Posted by Action vs Words on

      Not a pretty comment (no reference to the mangled syntax), but when Sheila says “she had hoped two women would have been appointed to fill those seats, and that she voted to prioritize representation” I just want to roll my eyes a little.

      Sheila, you were given the opportunity to show us all the benefits of “representation.” Instead you walked away when things got hard. This really isn’t a resounding endorsement of your words.

      • Posted by Nunatsiaq’s little project gone awry on

        A few months ago when Nunatsiaq ran a gushing piece about the glorious representation of an Inuk woman, you would thing we were about to witness a radical transformation in our politics, ipso facto. Yet you might also notice that none of the standard non-sense our ‘local’ journalist – activists sang in those moments of pure rapture told us anything about how this new found ‘representation’ would work its magic (as if Iqaluit has never had a woman or an Inuk in council before). I suppose this is to be expected when local journalists have such short histories and shallow roots here, or even when they live in the south and email their pieces in. Now we see what a weak artifice it was all along, though some of us already knew that.

  6. Posted by Gen Z on

    Reading some of these comments, makes me think that a lot of people don’t understand the emotional turmoil the apology from Pope Francis could be for some people. Sheila is still committed to bettering indigenous and Inuit organizations, sometimes people pick more up than they can handle and It’s OK. It’s OK to leave, it’s OK to focus on her business and these other organizations. Yes the City is seeing another empty seat but it’s nothing new. She did her duty, and as mentioned, she thought hard on this before resigning. Thank you, Sheila.

    • Posted by We need reslience on

      You’re right it was too much for her. It’s best for all of us that she stepped aside. Let’s hope we find a more resilient representative next time

  7. Posted by Name withheld on

    She must’ve gotten a good offer from NAC to leave.

    Honestly I feel that if you have lived in Iqaluit for a long period of time and plan to make it you’re home . By all means run for council. But if you are looking to get popular and want quick fix. Please don’t bother running. As you gotta be in it for a long run!!

    Changes, improvements don’t happen overnight. It takes time and having commitment!!

    • Posted by Qualified>? on

      What will she be doing at NAC?

    • Posted by Look! on

      Look at the past few city councils. 1/2 the people running, and 1/2 the people elected were relative newcomers to Iqaluit. With a few exceptions, the people who seem to give a shit about the city don’t bother because the City is a mess of nepotism and old boys.

      The last few councils included: a “popular” young woman who promptly went back to Rankin; a tech dude who appeared in Iqaluit a few years ago unwilling to discuss where he came from or why he was here, got on council, quit and went back to the maritimes, and publicly declared himself to be debt free on social media after soaking in Nunavut money for a few years (smooth move John); and Sheila who showed up a few years ago, spends most of her time in Ottawa, and has the charisma of a potted plant.

      And thats just the people who won, nevermind who ran (like that young woman who’s been in Iqaluit for 5 minutes and tried to campaign to replace John and Janet).

  8. Posted by The four year terms need to be reexamined on

    I wish the departing counsellor all the best. There are many reasons for departure and I wont comment on that aspect. Maybe the four year terms need to be looked at again. This was required of all communities to switch to the four years from two years. I think the preference would be three years because four years is a long time in one chunk. Maybe some one should ask this question about 3 or 4 years. I think a lot of communities are having issues with turn over.

    • Posted by Old formula on

      Why is lowering the bar always our first response to adversity here?

  9. Posted by Umingmak on

    Why even run if you’re just going to quit early? Finish your term instead of disrespecting the people you’re supposed to represent.

  10. Posted by Think about it on

    After reading the criticism constantly thrown at all elected official at all levels; municipal, territorial and federal it is amazing that anyone would sacrifice their time and effort to represent such an ugreatful lot.

  11. Posted by Waste on

    Why did she run to begin with? Ego?
    A waste of time and effort, when someone effective could have been in her place.

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