Former KIA executive runs in election after losing job at association

Sam Alagalak wonders if disagreement with president over Nunavut Planning Commission stance cost him his job

With one hand on the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Samuel Augaajuk Alagalak sits in his Rankin Inlet home on a late October day. Alagalak lost his job at the Kivalliq Inuit Association on Sept. 23. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Sitting in his kitchen on a fall afternoon, Sam Alagalak says he has spent long nights thinking about what he did to lose his job at the Kivalliq Inuit Association.

Alagalak worked as the assistant chief operating officer for 89 days before he was handed a termination notice in September.

“Quite honestly, I’ve thought about it late into the nights and early mornings. What did I do wrong?” he says. “I still don’t know.”

Now, he’s running for the regional Inuit association’s secretary-treasurer position in the Dec. 12 election.

He says things had gone well when he began as assistant chief operating officer with KIA. He tried to align his priorities with that of his superiors, and his staff enjoyed working together, he says.

But a new chief operating officer from the south, who moved up a few weeks after Alagalak started, terminated him and told him it was a business decision, Alagalak says.

President Kono Tattuinee’s executive assistant, Hunter Tootoo, said KIA would not comment on the circumstances of Alagalak’s departure because it’s a personnel matter.

Prior to his KIA job, Alagalak worked as acting director of petroleum products in the Nunavut government’s Community and Government Services Department, and served as the hunters and trappers organization chairperson until July.

He says he joined the Kivalliq Inuit Association because he thought it would give him a chance to work for Inuit.

“I believed there was an opportunity for me to help my fellow Inuit. I have the experience, the knowledge.”

Alagalak brings up one encounter with Tattuinee, the association’s president, over a contentious subject he says may have been a factor in his termination. Asked about Alagalak’s claim, KIA spokesperson Tootoo told Nunatsiaq News “that’s not the case,” but did not elaborate, calling it a personnel issue.

Alagalak was let go Friday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. — one day after the association’s presentation to the Nunavut Planning Commission’s hearing on a draft land-use plan.

The land-use plan is meant to serve as a guideline for miners and regulators on what land in Nunavut can be used for development. The commission has been working on it since Nunavut was created in 1999.

The planning commission released one draft plan in 2016, which Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and regional Inuit organizations opposed because it designated 15 per cent of the territory as protected land, believing it would bar the territory from profiting from mining.

So another plan was released in July 2021. Categorizing land this time as limited use, conditional use or mixed use, it proposes to protect more land in total, but offers companies the ability to mine in previously protected areas.

One area the planning commission thoroughly protected is caribou calving grounds — land where pregnant caribou gather to birth calves. During this time, the draft plan says, the caribou don’t roam from the calving grounds.

“Calving areas are of critical importance for maintaining healthy caribou populations,” the draft plan states. “They are also the places where caribou are most vulnerable to disturbance.”

At the hearing on Sept. 22, the Kivalliq Inuit Association gave a presentation saying there are unnecessary restrictions on calving and post-calving areas, and that if mining exploration happens on calving sites there can be monitors and mitigation measures to protect caribou.

Tattuinee said he wants the association to maintain the ability to have mining exploration take place at these locations.

However, any mining should have to happen under strict conditions, such as the mine having to be underground, no activity during any calving period, and no satellite development, he said.

“The Kivalliq Inuit Association wants to retain flexibility to manage Inuit-owned lands,” Tattuinee said.

“Any development on calving grounds would only occur after thorough consultation — thorough — with affected communities, as well as being in compliance with existing regulatory processes.”

Alagalak says he had a discussion with Tattuinee following the presentation.

“I said, ‘Kono, I think for you — for Inuit — I think you really need to tone this down, what you’re pushing for. This is not what Inuit want.’”

He says he told Tattuinee to wait on the mining development, that there’s no hurry — the land use plan can be renegotiated every five years for a two-year period. Then, if Inuit are ready and the caribou population is doing well, calving grounds could be up for mining exploration, he says.

“I told him, ‘This could wait. Let’s learn to manage the mines that we have now. Let’s get these right. We’re not losing anything but shutting the doors here for a few years.’”

Alagalak says Tattuinee listened to the advice respectfully; they’ve known each other for a long time.

After he lost his job, Alagalak went to a Nunavut Planning Commission hearing in Rankin Inlet in late September and was the final community member to speak on the last day of the five-day hearing. He called out KIA for not listening to Inuit, for not protecting calving grounds from mining.

“That set me free to speak what was really on my mind. I’ve been hearing the HTOs basically crying for the protection of their land. And then you have these strong-arm [governments and organizations] come and say no, don’t do what they’re saying, do this,” Alagalak says.

“I speak the truth. … All I have is my integrity,” he says.



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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    We appreciate you speaking up on the calving grounds.

    It is clear that because you spoke up, your head was placed on the chopping block. That’s very sad to see that it happened and in this day and age I still can’t stomach it. You know Kono better than I do and it is pretty apparent which back pocket he is in.

    I hope things work out Sam. You are a good man.

  2. Posted by Sorry on

    I’m sorry this happened to you buddy, maybe be more cautious and not to put your employer down ever again. Whether it’s the Government or Inuit Orgs or any employer, it’s not right to downgrade especially publicity and not expect to face consequences. Good luck with the election though.

  3. Posted by Frankly on

    Them guys mental attitude is not aligned with his “so” called people! Every president for our designated inuit organizations have always been pro-development to exploit our lands the caribou rely on to continue living , their decisions are purely to please their southern counterparts for recognition all the time , never mind the people if they can gain on themselves rather than the beneficiaries. shame on them for not putting the beneficiaries first .Gn has gone corrupt from our working membrane to adapt southern counterparts brought to the north by none beneficiaries while “we” as inuit know our community and needs of its peoples, not them .

  4. Posted by The machine on

    Hunger games, Nunavut style. A perfect example for Mr. Alagalak, once “they” see you as an outlier they will boot you out just as fast as they accepted you in their inner circle.

    Steps to be accepted in Nunavut:
    1. Always kick back your buddies.
    2. Be a man, more importantly, a “YES” man.
    3. Never let anyone else in without prior approval from the ol’ boys club.

    Good luck to you sir! And may the odds be ever in your favor.

  5. Posted by Nunavut on


  6. Posted by kivalliqmiut on

    This should a surprise to nobody. Hiring a professional politician (with a questionable history) to work with a inexperienced politician was a recipe for disaster and Sam was one of the unfortunate victims. There is no accountability at KIA.

    Where was NTI’s wildlife team throughout this process?

  7. Posted by JOHN ELL on

    It’s good to hear from Sam.
    It’s also an opportune time to change some current KIA mind-set.
    I’m ready to go to the polling station when it opens.


  8. Posted by Sam on

    He left a great job at PPD, for a better job and should have understood the rules, now it’s poor me, poor me, revenge politics, is alive and well, Kono replaced the other guy, in a fair election, and is trying to represent the inuit.I know Kono he is not in anybodys back pocket, which is an overused cliche.

    • Posted by Sam Jr. on

      You and your buddy thought ganging up on the KIA president would fix the solution when the problem was you? It was just down right a personal attack revenge for being fired! Framing Kono to make yourself look good? He did nothing wrong! You on the other hand putting your own employer down? Shake it off your head and learn from your own mistake. Thought you were smarter than that when publicly shaming the Nunavut Government and KIA! GO figure!

  9. Posted by Bemused on

    “We’re not losing anything but shutting the doors here for a few years.”

    Yeah, if only real life worked like that. Once a jurisdiction gets a reputation as being hostile to the industry, whether that is justified or not, or for good reasons or not, it’s not simply a matter of saying “Hey guys, you can come back now.” Now those few years start turning into a decade, then two. You haven’t lost a few years, you’ve lost an entire generation.

  10. Posted by Big Leon on

    Thank you Sam. I agree with you. Keep these mining companies off our land. Permanently.

  11. Posted by Delbert on

    Big leon . keep the miming companies off our land permanently.
    Ottawa and all those colonist from the south. They got lots of cash.
    Those social programs that are being funded by southerns.They are just gonna continue to send it north. Yup we got it made, nooo problem life is good. You see if we don’t let mimers on the land to do any development. That away they won’t realize that weee just don’t want their jobs. Cause we don’t want to work We just the free money.
    Yahoo Gitty up there Big Leon.
    Got other news for you Nunavut is part of Canada. If Nunavut wasn’t part Canada most of those checks yur a gettin. Wouldn’t have Government of Canada on them. Yes sir keep it. None of them southerns aint gonna catch. Big Leon and his crew. No sur ree. Keep a sended them checks. I am a closen them doors permanently now. But I will leave a little room under them doors. For you all from the south to slide them checks under. You all don’t come back now.

  12. Posted by Tabloid Reporting at its Best on

    Typical NN not pudding all the facts out there. Allowing a disgruntled employee a platform to spread his fake news. Trump would be proud of you.

  13. Posted by Nunavummiuq on

    Just wondering if he was responsible for all the fuel shortage around Nunavut. Lack of airplane fuel, shortage on diesel and gas! Just a question.. I don’t know him or judging him, just a question!

    • Posted by Kivalliqmiut on

      I highly doubt it. I don’t think the responsible individual even left PPD yet. A public inquiry would be nice to see as it does drive fuel prices up in Nunavut. Not a buttered up response from the Minister but a full blown public inquiry. Thats the least Nunavumiut deserve.

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