Iqaluit city councillor makes official complaint over ‘homophobic’ remarks

Coun. Paul Quassa raised concerns about children exposed to rainbow crosswalks during a committee meeting

Coun. Kimberly Smith, left, speaks at an Iqaluit city council meeting on Tuesday, where she called out comments made by Coun. Paul Quassa about Pride at a previous meeting Monday night. Coun. Romeyn Stevenson looks on. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

An Iqaluit city councillor has filed a code of conduct complaint against one of her colleagues over a series of comments she says are homophobic.

During a discussion about roads on Monday, Coun. Paul Quassa raised the topic of rainbow crosswalks painted near the city’s schools.

“Not many Inuit are very happy about this idea out there,” he said in Inuktitut, through an interpreter.

“They just don’t want the kids to think like adults yet, while they are still kids.”

At Tuesday night’s regular council meeting, Coun. Kimberly Smith said she is disappointed by Quassa’s comments.

“Bigotry and homophobia have no place in our community, and certainly no place in these chambers,” Smith said.

“Unfortunately, discrimination persists, and I will not stand for it. Kids should never feel ashamed for being who they are. Nobody should.”

The city’s code of conduct bylaw for councillors states that council members can submit complaints about the conduct of a councillor directly to the city’s mayor.

Smith said Quassa violated sections of the bylaw that state councillors must “treat all members of the community honestly and fairly and in a way that does not cause offence or embarrassment to individuals or groups” and “respect the diverse nature of council and the citizens of Iqaluit.”

“To members of the Pride community, you are valued and important citizens of Iqaluit,” Smith said. “To the children and youth who may be listening, you are also worthy, loved and important citizens of Iqaluit and members of society.

“I encourage anyone who wants to know the true meaning of Pride, to take the time to learn about this beautiful, accepting, and inclusive community, a community that I am proud to be a part of.”

In reply to Smith, Quassa said he was representing the concerns of his constituents when he made his comments Monday.

“Inuit wanted this brought up,” Quassa said in Inuktitut through an interpreter.

Quassa also said he did not intend to offend anyone with his comments and that he does not have concerns with LGBTQ rights or Pride itself.

According to the code of conduct bylaw, Mayor Solomon Awa will now investigate Smith’s complaint.

From there, Awa has several options: he can choose to bring both parties together to resolve the dispute, appoint a mediator, or ask the chief administrative officer to carry out a confidential code of conduct review.

According to the city’s bylaw, the mayor and rest of council have several actions available for dealing with a member found to have violated the code of conduct.

They range from issuing a reprimand or requesting an apology, to public censure or restricting that member’s access to city hall or another city facility.

In October 2020, Iqaluit city council unanimously called for the immediate resignation of Malaiya Lucassie over a comment she had put on Facebook regarding another person’s post on abortion and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Although Lucassie apologized for the comment, council ruled it was a violation of its code of conduct. Lucassie resigned that evening.

 

 

 

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(43) Comments:

  1. Posted by Putting this out there on

    I am curious as to Paul Ideas to kids (under 19) having babies? I guess none of his family had babies young right? because having sex and making babies is kind of an adult themed activity. and He described his own childhood, where it was custom to not let children listen to adult-themed conversations, no matter the topic.
    But I know elders and adults who still encourage teens to have babies. and there are still babies being born in overcrowded homes where there is NO privacy so the kids are already aware of what is happening, as are the other adults in the home.

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    • Posted by sure on

      Also what about other topics that could be seen as being adult; abuse, drinking, death, and suicide for some.
      We have a lot in our history (and still happening, even by some of our leaders and family members/ Friends) that are subjects that should be classified as adult themed but are happening so often that it is not possible to keep your kids away from it.

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  2. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    Why do the editors keep putting the word homophobic in quotes when the comments were clearly homophobic? I would recommend having a third party translate Councillor Quassa’s remarks from the budget meeting. The simultaneous interpreter was not repeating everything the councillor said or completing some of his sentences. Someone in the media should do a deep dive on those statements and remarks. The public deserves further clarity.

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    • Posted by Far from Clear on

      Except that they aren’t ‘clearly’ homophobic, or else much on the conversation below wouldn’t be happening.

      Some may see them as homophobic, but many don’t – hence the quotes.

      The situation has been properly handled by the editor – which is a pleasant surprise.

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      • Posted by QueerHere on

        He’s saying that queer children are too young to exist. How is that not homophobic?

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        • Posted by Semantics and Clown Antics on

          This take is delusional, hyperbolic non-sense. How do you expect to be taken seriously when you say things like this?

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          • Posted by QueerHere on

            You don’t dispute the accuracy of my comment, only assert that you do not like it. Therefore, I assume you agree that it is accurate and that your only concern is it conflicts with your transphobic tenancies.

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  3. Posted by Jennifer on

    His concerns are ‘valid.’ If his head is not under a rock he knows what it stands for and is hearing parents in his community not wanting their children exposed to such ‘teachings.’
    .
    Inclusion is for everyone, not one specific sexually oriented group. There are privileges being promoted and given to people over others which is the exact opposite of inclusion. We are all alive and know the different variations of relationships that exist. Most people are getting tired of having rainbows jammed down our throats. The streets, stores, and ALL public spaces should be NEUTRAL! Otherwise the purpose of inclusion is defeated.
    .
    As for schools there should be no mention of this especially at the elementary level. Parents must be given a choice of attendance if teachers plan on teaching controversial topics. And the reason they are controversial is the nature of the topic. It has noting to do with racism, preference, etc. I would never tolerate teachers doing morally based teachings outside of general arithmetic. That is outside the scope of their job. Math, science, the base topics is all schools should be allowed to do. Anything outside of general studies should be optional and require parental consent!!!
    .
    Hearing the books read aloud that are being placed in public schools across the country do not have the Childs best interests in mind and it is obvious in the literature. As much as I personally dislike Paul, he is not wrong by standing with these concerns. Neutral spaces is the only way that everyone can get what they want. Rainbow spray-paint is not the answer here, and is a total misuse of monies.

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    • Posted by Ignorance and Homophobia on

      It would be really bleak to live in the world you just described. Part of the role of schools is to raise good citizens and teach people the skills they need to understand the world and their place in it.

      Children aren’t their parent’s property and they have their own needs and their own thoughts and feelings and rights. Teachers shouldn’t avoid teaching topics that could save a student’s life or keep them safe simply because it offends someone who doesn’t see 2SLGBTQIA people as deserving of respect.

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      • Posted by To Each His Own on

        I expect my child’s teachers to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

        I do not want the socially unacceptable and culturally insensitive southern teachings around ‘gender identity’ that are being forced on us by transients.

        We need to take back control of our schools and curriculum. I hope that Quassa leads a conversation and change on this.

        Let the southern ways stay in the south.

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        • Posted by John K on

          Too bad.

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        • Posted by QueerHere on

          Forgive me, but if you call your son a boy then you are the one forcing gender identity onto them. Educating them about the existence of a gender identity separate from sex is giving them an option in their gender identity. I would ask that you not mistake making children aware of their options for forcing gender identity onto them, but we both know you know exactly what you are doing. You aren’t misunderstanding you’re being willfully ignorant at best but most likely are simply a liar. Stop politicizing queer existence, let us be who we are. No one is telling you to stop being hetero and cis.

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          • Posted by Save The Words for the Appropriate Situation on

            Correction – on to him. You have just highlighted the issue – you have just forced a trans identity onto my boy. Never do that again – that is for us to decide as a family, and for him to decide as an individual when he is old enough whether he agrees or disagrees. He is less than two, so he’s got a few years to figure it out.

            If you ask me to call you with the trans identify of them, fair enough, but if you put a trans identity onto someone (my son) without checking, you are way out of line. It is this sort of aggressive mis-gendering that can turn many people off.

            The arrogance that you have just shown by forcing your worldview onto one you don’t even know is disturbing. Save the trans pronouns for the trans.

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          • Posted by Pushing Your Worldview on

            Yet you are doing just the same thing by referring to the child by the trans pronoun them. Leave it to the family, or later the child, to decide the pronoun choice. You as outside have no voice.

            Pushing a trans pronoun onto someone you don’t know can be seen as an act of aggression. It is certainly pushing your worldview onto others who didn’t ask for it.

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        • Posted by Sorry not sorry on

          Quassa isn’t going to lead a change on this, because luckily the majority doesn’t want this to change.

          most elected officials are fine with this, most of the council is fine with this,

          it’s Quassa and a few older people in town that either don’t understand or are just plain uncomfortable with homosexuality.

          It’s not going anywhere

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        • Posted by Keith on

          I take it you are therefore going to insist that all references to “wife” or “husband” in relation to a single family be removed from schools, as that promotes both a form of sexuality and gender identity, that bathrooms not be marked as separate for boys and girls, and that promotes gender identity, and the existence of heterosexuality in any form be prohibited as that, again, references sexuality.

          Or, you could be honest and admit you’re not opposed to schools mentioning gender identity and sexuality as long as it’s the ones you approve of.

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    • Posted by No Moniker on

      Sorry you don’t know what validity means. This unfortunate flaw in the design of our education system created a crack you clearly fell through.

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    • Posted by John K on

      Your kids will learn whether you want to disadvantage them or not.

      Welcome to the future.

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    • Posted by Jayjay on

      You say neutral but I think you mean heteronormative. When businesses display the pride flag it is to show that they are a safe place for people of all sexual and gender identities.

      Are you opposed to the health education in elementary schools which includes topics such as consent and puberty? Do you tolerate “moral” teachings such as anti-bullying and anti-littering? Are you opposed to the mentioning of heterosexual relationships in schools? What books are Nunavut students reading that you think are inappropriate?

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      • Posted by We Have Norms for A Reason on

        That’s the thing, hetero is the norm. There is nothing wrong with stating this as a fact. Anything else is a deviation from the norm, that is also a fact.

        Deviancy is not a crime, but society is built around norms. Norms change over time, but Nunavut is much more conservative than other parts of the country. If accepted norms are to change, they have to change at the pace of the society they are in. Nunavut is not Vancouver or other gay/lesbian/trans friendly societies – it will change – if it wants to – at its own pace. Forcing southern mores (because they are most certainly not universal) on the population will lead to backlash – as we see in these comments.

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        • Posted by QueerHere on

          You prioritize the comfort of the ignorant above the lives of queer children in moving slowly, and we are already moving at a glacial pace. I do not think we could ever move slow enough for people like yourself, because any progress is too much for you.

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        • Posted by Social Democratic on

          The irony is that Nunavut’s values seem to be a strange mix of conservative and socialist. We all want free housing and government cheques, but have a hissy fit when someone challenges what should be seen as “traditional inuit values”. A strange set of values gives Nunavut some sort of identity crisis. If so much energy would be put into actual problems in Nunavut like teen pregnancies and dropping out of school at a young age, maybe there would be some level of hope for a bright future.

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        • Posted by Keith on

          You know what else is a deviance? Being left handed. Only 10% or so of people are left handed. People were even punished for it in schools! Here’s another one: drinking milk as an adult. Something like 68% of adults around the world cannot digest the lactose in milk, making those who can deviants. So unless you’re going to start yelling “DEVIANT!” to left handed people and adults drinking milk, stop pretending your opposition is based on some kind of rational analysis based on population stats. It’s not.

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          • Posted by Today in False Analogies on

            Ummm, what. Your examples actually support the OP. Left handers used to be punished in school for not being normative, but now there are left-handed scissors, etc. Things changed and the deviancy became normalized.

            This is happening with gay/lesbian/trans issues in much of the Western world. It is not going to happen overnight, the same way that it took decades for left-handedness to be de-stigmatized and accepted.

            Your arguments are specious.

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    • Posted by QueerHere on

      Madam,

      Queer children have just as much a right to be represented in history, sexual health and youth literature as anyone else. When they see themselves in their education, they see a future for themselves and with that comes hope. Without hope, love and respect children cannot thrive. Why would you deny them this, knowing they are at greater risk of suicide?

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  4. Posted by John K on

    If the use of the word “homophobe” bothers you then perhaps you should try some self reflection and consider not being a homophobe any more. Just a thought.

    I’ve learned a lot about the community I was unfortunate enough to be born to.

    Get rid of these obsolete elders who only represent the people who share their irrational fears.

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    • Posted by Step away from the keyboard on

      Time to take a break, John. You used to write thoughtful comments, as this goes on your unhinged, petty tyrant has begun to take over.

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      • Posted by John K on

        Lol, tyrant …

        Please, spare me the sanctimony.

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  5. Posted by confused on

    Did the guys who painted the crosswalk get permission or approved by the city council?

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  6. Posted by Walter White on

    Walter White never died, he moved to Iqaluit and become a councilor.

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  7. Posted by Tooma on

    That’s it quassa keep it up. Good job to our leaders.

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  8. Posted by The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on

    This is what happens when you let the extreme left come to power. If you even raise a concern about kids being too young to be taught this stuff, you are instantly called homophobic. Nothing is rationale anymore. The extreme right and extreme left have different views but their thinking process is just the same -black and white. Goodbye rationale middle!

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    • Posted by QueerHere on

      You weren’t boycotting the sleeping beauty – a fairytale whose big finish is a non-consensual kiss – so why are you boycotting material which acknowledges the existence of gay and trans people?

      But you already know what you’re about. We all know that respecting trans peoples’ preferred pronouns saves lives. We all know that comprehensive sex education that includes queer people in it saves lives, prevents unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs. So I’m simply not inclined to think that you’re just pretending to be ignorant. If you don’t know now, you should. Educate yourself, or keep your mouth shut.

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    • Posted by Random on

      Kids aren’t being taught anything appropriate,
      pride is just literally about acceptance and tolerance. nobody is teaching young kids sex acts or anything.

      a lot of the backlash coming from people in support of qaussa do come from a place of misunderstanding or fear of the unknown, but a lot of the support does come from a place of hatred.

      nobody is saying “hey kids heres what two men do behind closed doors” they’re saying “hey kids. it’s okay to be yourself, be who you want to be, and you’ll still be loved and accepted”

      if that teaching bothers you, then the problem here isn’t what you say it is.

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  9. Posted by S on

    It is embarrassing to be represented by people who wear material or moral masks in public

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    • Posted by anon on

      It’s embarrassing that you think your opinion on my decision to wear a mask matters.

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  10. Posted by Concerned citizen on

    Too many of these counsellors were not elected. There needs to be an election as so many that were elected are now gone and replaced by a mayor who is also now gone and not responsible for his own actions in the role or in the community for that matter.

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  11. Posted by QueerHere on

    Make no mistake: pride and trans flags, early exposure to the existence of queer people and respecting peoples pronouns are all suicide prevention. If you say you are against these things, you are saying you would rather queer youth kill themselves than be queer.

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  12. Posted by modern times on

    Paul’s comments is a very good example of traditional Inuit values, of which, we carry some today. For Thousands of years, our culture was static, did not change…we’ve changed so much in the last generation that our old generation can’t keep up.
    he may sound not politically correct, but thats the old tongue, not ashamed of today, but trying to alleviate any negative thoughts. I am an Inuk, i have many bisexual friends of both sexes, men and women. If our old politician saw how it really is today, and can accept it as that, we could move on. some people say “thats not the Inuit way”, but it is, and has been for thousands of years ,they just have a hard time accepting other opinions and realities….taima

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    • Posted by times of change on

      Some of the older generation very much use “not the inuit way” as a shield for them when the more appropriate term would be “I dislike it” Inuit values are all about acceptance, tolerance and being open.

      Quassa used his shield of “not the inuit way” But everything he spewed was in the exact opposite of inuit values.

      he was certainly not tolerant or accepting of people’s life choices and cultures.

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    • Posted by QueerHere on

      In all the world there is not a single culture in which trans, gay and intersex people do not exist. It is no more possible than a culture without men and women. The suggestion that it could be otherwise is simply queerphobic propaganda.

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  13. Posted by confused on

    come on this is about the paint on the crosswalk, the guy in this picture is one of the painters.

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  14. Posted by This is Wrong, Nunatsiaq on

    I used to think Nunatsiaq News did a good job of being unbiased. But for some reason, it is clear that they are protecting the complainant councillor from her own recent history of making disparaging remarks based on gender and race. There is definitely something ethically wrong with this journalism practice.

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