Former classmates face off in Taloyoak mayoral race

Council, district education authority positions all acclaimed ahead of Oct. 23 vote

Lenny Panigayak, left, and Charles Pizzo-Lyall are running for mayor of Taloyoak on Oct. 23 (Photos courtesy of Lenny Panigyak and Charles Pizzo-Lyall)

By Jorge Antunes

Leading up to Nunavut’s Oct. 23 municipal elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of races in the territory’s 25 communities.

John Charles Pizzo-Lyall, also known as Chuck, and Lenny Panigayak, went to school together. Both won the Governor General’s Bronze Academic Medal — Pizzo-Lyall in 2006 and Panigayak in 2004 — which is awarded each year to students graduating with their school’s highest grade average.

Now the two are together again, this time running against each other in the race to be mayor of Taloyoak.

Pizzo-Lyall, the incumbent mayor, divides his time between his political duties, working as a co-ordinator for Canadian North, and as the sole proprietor of a truck hauling business.

He said one of his proudest achievements as mayor was helping the community through the COVID-19 pandemic, which started early in his term. He credits the work his team at the hamlet did during the pandemic.

A planned renovation of the hamlet’s youth centre was put on hold because of the pandemic, Pizzo-Lyall said, and the work is on track to be completed by Christmas.

“Once that’s opened, I think it will be one of my biggest accomplishments,” he said, adding the renovated centre will provide new opportunities for local youth.

“We often grow up wishing for this or that in our community, and I’m willing to work my best to try and accomplish our goals,” he said.

Pizzo-Lyall said that before he was elected in 2019, the hamlet was in a “huge” deficit. Now that it’s in the black, he wants to use that financial freedom to continue to make improvements.

“Everything’s a process nowadays. And we’re through the growing pains now and we’re ready to expand,” he said.

He said he is working on a parking grant that would fund a large lot that could be used to store heavy equipment needed to build and grow the community.

Pizzo-Lyall said if he is re-elected, he will continue work on opening a soup kitchen, which is already underway. He couldn’t say exactly when it will open but hopes it is early next year.

Panigayak is a former teacher working now as a medical travel clerk. Until recently, he was president of the Paleajook Co-Op board of directors.

He has also been a hamlet councillor on two occasions, first winning a seat at age 19 and then again at 27. Now, in his 40s, Panigayak has become TikTok famous, sharing Inuit knowledge with his 32,000 followers all over the world.

He said one thing he wants to focus on is programs for the community.

“There aren’t a whole lot of activities,” he said.

“If I do become mayor, my focus will be trying to see what we need.”

Panigayak said his experience working with the Co-op board informed his decision to run for mayor. He said business had been in decline, and part of his job was community outreach to bring customers back.

“There was nobody shopping at the Co-op, but by the end of my term I believe we had about half the town supporting [it],”  he said.

Panigayak described another top priority as transparency and communication, in order to build trust and give hamlet members a say in what happens.

Taloyoak’s races for council and district education authority are all acclaimed.

The new council members are Dora Kelly Quayaut, James Saittuq, Fiona Neeveacheak, Solomon Iqalliyuq, David Totalik, Tommy Aiyout and Cecile Lyall.

For the district education authority, members will be Elizabeth Kakooteenik, Dora Kelly Quayaut, Emelia Jayko, Martha Quqqiaq and James Saittuq.

Share This Story

(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by DrewDew on

    Be a nice change, all of chuck’s wining is getting so old. Never heard someone wine so much about everything. and its not just about things in town that need to get done, its anything. Your a mayor, show a little professionalism on your part of representing our community, stop all the wining on facebook, when you read what he posts, it like listening to a 15 wine about everything, goodness.

  2. Posted by What grade? on

    Former classmates, I wonder how they did in school ? Did they go on to higher education? Highlight the fact that they are former classmates, without highlighting the educational background m for these that want to be leaders of the community?

    • Posted by Lenny panigayak on

      Yes I did do a lot of courses. And I got a Bd of ed.
      Lenny Panigayak

    • Posted by Captain Genius on

      Richard Branson dropped out of High School, and is now one of the most richest men in the world, leading a amazing company. So what are you trying to say? What’s your point sherlock?
      A leader can be anyone, but sounds like they have a winey leader. change is good, god bless Jesus.

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      Obviously they both graduated from high school and won the Governor General ‘s award for the highest marks in their graduating class. Both went on to post secondary education. BTW Captain Genius and Drew Dew it’s “whine” not “wine”. One thing we are too good at in Nunavut is complaining about people or saying negative things about people you don’t even know. People are rarely aware of the work done behind the scenes for the benefit of the community. With all the acclamations for DEA, Hamlets and Mayoral positions around Nunavut, everyone should be glad that there are still people willing to run and work for their communities. Good luck to all who are running and thank you for throwing your hat in the ring.

Comments are closed.