Inukjuak mayor on leave for alcohol addiction treatment
Inukpuk undergoes six-week program in Oka
Inukjuak’s municipal council has forced the town’s mayor to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
Shaomik Inukpuk agreed to undergo treatment after councillors made him choose between resigning or seeking help during a council meeting on Nov. 12.
Inukpuk was elected mayor of Inukjuak by a slim majority last November. But, according to some municipal workers, his alcohol addiction has affected his performance as the head of municipal council ever since he took office.
“Not necessarily in town but outside of town [it was a problem],” Johnny Williams, Inukjuak’s town manager, said in an interview this week.
“If he goes where drinking is, like in Montreal or in Kuujjuaq where there is a bar, he would miss meetings…. His performance was not acceptable by council. He’s a very good mayor. He’s one of the best mayors we’ve had but he has a drinking problem.”
By about last Christmas, Inukjuak was virtually left without a mayor when council gave Inukpuk a one-month suspension after accusing him of spending a week boozing in Montreal instead of attending business meetings.
At the time, Inukpuk refused to apologize for his actions, insisting councillors had been misinformed. Instead, he reportedly thanked council for the month-long holiday.
But Inukpuk is now participating in a six-week program at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Oka, Que., Williams said.
Onen’to: kon Treatment Services in Oka was founded in 1987. The 16-bed facility has a solid reputation for helping aboriginal people over 18 years of age battle both drug and alcohol addictions.
The centre would not confirm if Inukpuk is a resident.
Council expects the mayor to resume his duties after he completes his treatment program in late December. In the meantime, councillor Andy Moorehouse has assumed Inukpuk’s mayoral duties.
Williams said he hopes when Inukpuk returns he will be well on his way to recovery and able to continue his work.
“He’s a great mayor. He’s not racist, he treats everybody alike. He’s not rough. He’s tries to find out what’s going on before making a decision,” Williams said. “He doesn’t make decisions on his own. He goes to council and listens.”
If the problem continues however, council may find it difficult to force Inukpuk out of office. Under current legislation, a town can only remove its mayor from office if he or she has broken the law.