Andrew Nakashuk, 46, says he’s ready to become the voice of Nunavut’s Inuit. (File photo)

For Andrew Nakashuk, now’s the time to seek NTI’s top job

“I have heard a lot of people all over Nunavut. So I want to be that voice,” says veteran of numerous boards

By Jim Bell

To provide information to eligible Inuit voters, Nunatsiaq News is publishing profiles of the two candidates contesting the presidency of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. this Feb. 8.

Andrew Nakashuk of Pangnirtung says now is the right time for him to step forward and ask the Inuit of Nunavut to choose him as their voice.

“I feel it’s my time to do something different and be the voice of Nunavummiut beneficiaries,” Nakashuk told Nunatsiaq News.

When nominations closed last November for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s presidential election, Nakashuk, 46, was the only candidate to challenge NTI’s incumbent president, Aluki Kotierk.

That election was to have been held Dec. 14. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NTI’s board decided to postpone the election until Feb. 8.

Communication beyond the internet

As part of his desire to become a voice for Nunavut Inuit, Nakashuk wants to reach out to people who don’t have access to the internet.

And though Facebook has become the default communications medium for many Nunavummiut, Inuit who don’t enjoy access to digital media often miss out on important information about NTI social programs for elders, youth and hunters, he said.

“I want to communicate the information to people who do not have internet or computer access. I want to be able to keep them up to date on what NTI is up to,” he said.

Another issue that Nakashuk wants NTI to be more vocal about is the Chidliak diamond project.

Now controlled by De Beers Canada, the Chidliak site is located about 120 kilometres northeast of Iqaluit and about 200 kilometres south of Pangnirtung, Nakashuk’s home community.

Direct benefits?

Another big part of Nakashuk’s platform is his advocacy for direct benefits to Inuit, which he wants NTI to offer through transparent funding programs.

One type of program that he wants to push for in every community would see hunters paid for the country food they catch so that it can be distributed to people in the community.

“I would like to have that kind of thing for each community, for the Inuit who do not have hunting equipment, or a woman who does not have a hunting husband,” Nakashuk said.

As for Bill 25, which contained controversial amendments to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act that NTI bitterly opposed, Nakashuk said its passage in the Nunavut legislature should be accepted.

Despite a campaign by NTI that sought to have Bill 25 defeated, MLAs unanimously voted for it.

“It’s already passed and it’s going to be reviewed, so we can always talk about it more later. It’s going to be reviewed,” Nakashuk said.

Learning from experience

Nakashuk has served as a member of the Nunavut Planning Commission for seven years, and has chaired the commission since 2016.

He also served for one year as vice-chair of the Qulliq Energy Corp. and six years as a hamlet councillor in Pangnirtung, as well as chair of the Pangnirtung Inuit Co-op Committee, and board member for Cumberland Sound Fisheries and the Pangnirtung hunters and trappers organization.

All that experience has taught him lessons about the big issues that affect all of Nunavut, he said.

Other items in Nakashuk’s platform include:

• Addressing the housing shortage in Nunavut

• More mental health resources delivered by Inuit to Inuit

• Using more elders to provide advice on Inuit traditional knowledge and to encourage more engagement with youth

• Building Inuit capacity through sustainable economic development

• A precautionary approach to environmental protection and climate change

Pandemic hampers campaign

Nakashuk said that it’s been extremely difficult for him to campaign and get his message out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so he’s limited to Facebook and calling community radio stations.

But that hasn’t softened his determination.

“I have heard a lot of people all over Nunavut. So I want to be that voice. I want to be that voice.”

To be eligible to cast a ballot in the NTI presidential election, a voter must have been 16 or older on Dec. 14, 2020 and enrolled as an Inuk under the Nunavut Agreement. They may also cast ballots by mobile poll, proxy vote or mail-in ballot.

Readers can find a profile of incumbent Aluki Kotierk here.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ever Boring on

    One of the biggest problems we have across the Nunavut political landscape is an abundance of poor choices.

    • Posted by JE on

      Uaa! Sugavilli?

    • Posted by Speak for Yourself on

      There are plenty of people who could be politicians, but as soon as they make themselves known they are negatively attacked. Social media and the ease for people to be bullies is a major deterrent for anyone worthy.

  2. Posted by Hold up on

    Andrew was a member on both NPC and QEC boards and has been completely silent in his roles. We have not seen him stand up for anyone or anything. Both organizations have been know to be lead by toxic leaders and senior Inuit staff left both. He didn’t stand up for them. We heard nothing.
    Andrew, can you speak to what you have done personally to make those organizations better?

  3. Posted by sooo? on

    soooo, not much to say huh?
    Aluki it is, for me anyway

  4. Posted by Bert on

    I am no fan of Aluki, but agree there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about here either.

  5. Posted by What is this on

    Why is it that Aluki Kotierk gets front page treatment on her article, meanwhile Andrew Nakashuk’s profile gets buried to the backpages after barely a morning?

    • Posted by because on

      Because Aluki is out there doing interviews and talking with media, she’s working hard on her campaign, if Andrew whats the same he needs to work harder to get the same. Plain and simple.

  6. Posted by Bora bora on

    Andrew, you say you want to do something different? Like what?

    Aluki is frequently on the radio, does plenty of interviews with the papers and launched Inuit TV with over 2Million bucks from NTI! She reached people through multiple platforms not just the internet.

    He says “I have heard a lot of people all over Nunavut. So I want to be that voice”

    I think he meant he heard *From* a lot of people. How did he hear from them? Huh? How has he reached out? What steps did he take?

    I would have loved to see a debate or a call in radio show.

    Clearly Aluki is well educated and talk the talk.
    This is not a popularity contest. Vote for the person who is well versed and educated in matters that are import to Inuit . Someone who can advocate at the federal level for more bennefits for Inuit. Aluki had the proven track record.

    • Posted by Stop it Aluke on

      Aluke is that you? Stop this smear campaign.

    • Posted by Optical Illusion on

      Aluki does talk the talk, that’s true.. but that never seems to translate into a whole lot.

  7. Posted by Colin on

    Why are people still holding their hands out and want direct payments? This will never happen. It is not feasible to give direct payments, you have to focus the money that is there on programs that will benefit Nunavut the best it can.
    Long term investment, this money is it and if we start doing direct benefits it will be gone in no time and we will have even less for the future generations.
    Its time to stop holding your hand out and look at how you can help yourself and how you can use the programs available to help yourself.
    You are not entitled to free money, no one is, its time to move on from this entitlement thinking which is not helping.

    • Posted by It works on

      I agree with you 100% but the direct handout line works. It won Towtongie a presidency she was not qualify for.
      If Nakashuk is a capable leader he might be able to pull it off, but I think it would be a disaster. Programs is the way to go. If they want to hand out cash, it would make more sense for them to push the GN to greenlight Family Services’ universal income proposals.

    • Posted by bob on

      True. Just to play with some numbers, if NTI received $10M in royalties and that entire amount went to direct cash payments to every Inuk man, woman, and child in Nunavut (about 28,00) it would be about 350 bucks each. Even for a family of 5 it would be less than $2000. Factor in that it would be highly taxed so probably way less. It would be quickly spend on groceries, clothes, maybe something fun like a new phone or laptop. But then it’s gone just like that. If you take that same money and invest it, then use profits to fund education programs or something then that money keeps providing for people for years and years. Gotta watch out for the easy campaign promises of free money! No thanks.

  8. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    I will vote as a beneficiary, will my vote count as a number ?

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