Election results show support for legal action, KSB says
Two prominent Makivik supporters defeated
The Kativik School Board says the results of last week’s commissioner election show that Nunavimmiut support the board’s legal action against Makivik Corporation.
Six of the seven school board commissioners seeking another term won re-election in the Nov. 20 vote, while two nominees, considered prominent opponents of the court action by the KSB, were defeated.
“Perhaps, we’re just looking to see if the population is taking note of what we’re doing,” Debbie Astroff, a spokeswoman for the school board, said in an interview this week.
“We were quite happy with the way things turned out. We wonder if it [the number of re-elections] indicates an emerging trend — in terms of those people getting support from the population,”
The school board recently revived a legal action against Makivik seeking an end to its self-government negotiations with the provincial and federal governments.
Makivik negotiators have been developing a self-government framework agreement with their provincial and federal counterparts since August. But KSB is alleging that Makivik does not have the authority to represent the school board at the negotiating table.
It also claims current negotiations, which are based on the Nunavik Commission’s report, are illegal because two of the commissioners did not sign the document. The report was supposed to be a consensus document.
Astroff also suggested the defeat of Harry Tulugak in Puvirnituq and Craig Lingard in Kuujjuaq could be another barometer to gage which side of the debate Nunavimmiut are supporting.
Tulugak is one of Makivik’s three negotiators at the self-government talks and Lingard is an employee of the Kativik Regional Government’s civil security department and a member of Kuujjuaq’s education committee.
“I thought it was interesting that in those two large, very vocal communities these people didn’t get in,” she said. “Part of both of their platforms was working toward a new form of government. Both disagreed with the court action and what the school board was doing and both were defeated.”
Tulugak lost to Thammussie Sivuarapik in Puvirnituq by a vote of 41 to 30. Larry Watt defeated Lingard by 140 to 72 votes.
Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq, however, had the two lowest voter turnouts of all Nunavik communities. Only 12 and 20 per cent of eligible voters turned in ballots in Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq respectively.
The average voter turnout for Nunavik was 33 per cent.
Lingard preferred not to respond directly to the school board’s comments. But he did say he believed Nunavimmiut support both Makivik and the KSB.
“The only thing I’d like to say is that I don’t feel it’s productive, and certainly not our history, to accomplish anything by using the court to resolve issues,” Lingard said. “Certainly, the issues being debated are important to everybody. But having to use the courts to resolve this issue — there’s no future in this.”
He also said he hoped his campaign brought this debate out in the open.
“I hope it brought issues to the forefront and people will think about them a little more,” he said. “I also hope the new commissioners make this issue a priority and that it’s resolved within the coming months.”
Tulugak said the court case was never mentioned in his brief campaign. Instead, he said he ran to increase support for Puvirnituq’s local individual path of learning and new kayak-building programs.
He dismissed suggestions the election results necessarily reflect popular sentiment toward the KSB’s legal action. According to Tulugak, he spent several days at an elder’s conference in Chisasibi recently and their response was a far more concrete test of Nunavimmiut’s reaction to the court action.
“[I asked them] ‘What do you think about the Kativik School Board trying to stop the self-government process?’ …. Their response was ‘You go ahead. You keep forging ahead in this process for Inuit autonomy.’”
The six commissioners who are returning for another term are: Larry Watt (Kuujjuaq), George Haukai (Kangirsuk), Sarah Aloupa (Quaqtaq), Willie Keatainak (Salluit), Alacie Nalukturuk (Inukjuak) and Mary Roussel (Kuujjuarapik).
Only Billy Tooktoo of Umiujaq did not win re-election.
Peter Angnatuk (Tasiujaq), Sophie Keelan (Kangiqsualujjuaq), Lydia Akpahatak (Aupaluk), Lukasi Pilurtuut (Kangiqsujuaq), Adamie Kalingo (Ivujivik), Thammussie Sivuarapik (Puvirnituq), Adamie Alayco (Akulivik) and Robbie Tookalook (Umiujaq) were all elected as new commissioners.
The new commissioners held their first meeting this week in Kuujjuaq where they elected a new executive committee.
Aloupa will return as president but Haukai will replace Nalukturuk as vice-president. Keatainak and Watt were also elected as executive members.