Iqaluit Coun. Paul Quassa under fire for ‘homophobic’ comments
Councillor stands by statement in interview with Nunatsiaq News
An Iqaluit city councillor is facing criticism for comments he made during Monday’s finance committee meeting about children being exposed to Pride.
An audio recording of the meeting is posted to the city’s website. During a discussion about roads, Coun. Paul Quassa can be heard raising 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.”
Across Canada, rainbow crosswalks have become a symbol of inclusivity, tolerance and support for the LGBTQ community. Volunteers, including Coun. Romeyn Stevenson, helped paint three rainbow crosswalks in Iqaluit this summer, including one near Joamie Ilinniarvik Elementary School.
Quassa said during his statement that he is not against Pride, but was merely relaying concerns that Pride is a new idea to Inuit culture, and that he’d heard from Inuit members of the community concerned that children were being exposed to what it represents.
“When it is time, let them hear about these ideas,” Quassa said. “When it is their time. I am not against the Pride idea, I just wanted to say what I’ve heard from the Inuit people.”
Deputy Mayor Kyle Sheppard, who was presiding over the meeting, said there are hundreds of LGBTQ Inuit and others in the community who would disagree with Quassa’s statement.
“I am extremely disappointed to hear that tonight,” he said. “Totally, totally disappointed.”
Stevenson also responded to Quassa during the meeting, saying that Pride merely represents a pride in oneself, inclusion, and care for others.
“Those aren’t new ideas, and they are not ideas that Inuit don’t espouse,” he said.
“Inclusion and making kids feel like they are accepted for who they are, that I’ve witnessed in this society and culture and this town.”
Without naming Quassa, Coun. Kimberly Smith reached out to Nunatsiaq News on Tuesday, saying “homophobic” comments were made Monday night in council chambers, and that she plans to make a statement about what was said during Tuesday night’s regular council meeting.
It is unclear if any of Quassa’s colleagues plan to seek a formal apology from Quassa, or discuss whether his statements violated council’s code of conduct.
Quassa stood by his comments when interviewed Tuesday by Nunatsiaq News.
Asked how many people are coming to him with concerns about the issue, he said he’s received a few emails, as well as people coming up to him in person to share their thoughts.
“As a council we have to listen to our residents, who voted us in,” he said.
Quassa also stressed that his concerns are not with LGBTQ rights or Pride itself, but with the way children are educated. He described his own childhood, where it was custom to not let children listen to adult-themed conversations, no matter the topic.
“We have [Inuit] values, that’s why we negotiated Nunavut in the first place,” he said.
“And we don’t want to run like any other southern community. We act different. Our language is different. Our societal values are very different than the rest of Canada.”
This isn’t the first time an Iqaluit city councillor has brought up Pride and Inuit values.
In 2014, Coun. Simon Nattaq criticized the city’s decision to raise the Pride flag.
“People tell me it is not an Inuit custom to be gay,” Nattaq told council at the time.
The comment sparked response on both sides of the issue.
Then-Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Cathy Towtongie spoke out in Nattaq’s defence, while in an open letter artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory defended Pride as representative of Inuit values.
Can we get some fresh blood in our governance please? Get rid of these backwards geezers.
“Geezers” made me lol
Good for him for sticking to what he said and what he meant. Different cultures have different values, and the activists have been inventing a make-believe past that really didn’t exist, and getting way too many people to believe it.
Stick to fighting discrimination against gays, and stay away from grooming the kids into adopting the lifestyle. People are much more accepting of difference when you’re not trying to get them to adopt your views and lifestyle into their own culture.
How is teaching acceptance grooming kids?!
if you see it that way you need some therapy, there’s some deep seeded things you need to deal with.
What is he is stating the fact that too many of us are being forced to buy into this main stream narrative of LGBTQ+2S being forced down our throats. We don’t need to celebrate everything, we don’t need a holiday or a month for everything. The older generation has developed the wisdom that this new woke generation will never achieve. Back in the days things worth fighting for were land and hunting rights for natives across this country and now we are being indoctrinated to be offended by a football team name or that we must embrace diversity in all its forms and that includes telling kids its ok to take sex hormones at a young age and that if you question that your a biggot. What ever happened to morality and critical thinking. Now this poor guy will get cancelled for speaking what most of us are feeling.
Luckily, the people who share your opinion are just loud and obnoxious, not numerous. nobody is running into the schools and yelling ” have gay sex and please take these hormones”
these crosswalks represent acceptance. and nothing more,
don’t disguise being an actual bigot, by pretending to care.
get your BS fox news facts out of here, Nobody is grooming your kids.
Something very wrong with Nunavut Iqaluit teachers and schools forcing their ideology into our kids,leave our kids alone,if they want to be gay or not when they old enough to chose it and understand, then its kinda more normal then forcing them to walk for this or that,teachers keep your foolish ideas to yourself,and swalow your own pride,we dont need school to corrup our and change our kids and brainwash them.calling all parents,take a stands now
Your child doesn’t choose to be gay once they gain sexual maturity. The same way I didn’t choose to be straight.
What they’re actually choosing is to tell you because they feel strong enough to stand on their own or with the group that supports them.
How old were you when you chose not to be gay?
You blame teachers because you are unable to accept that your children are more advanced than you and are quickly leaving you behind.
Ah yes, this is going to be good.
He is just relaying what people say, whatever the woke views beat inuit values all the time!
He is a representative of ALL who live in Iqaluit. If a few of them said they wanted more pride cross walks and Flags would he also say that in the chamber? Not if he didnt believe it. So by saying what he did I would say that shows what he believes, but is trying to put it off as doing what the consistence has told him.
Lets list a couple of Inuit societal values that Quassa is hiding his homophobia behind
• Inuuqatigiitsiarniq: Respecting others, relationships and caring for people.
• Tunnganarniq: Fostering good spirits by being open, welcoming and inclusive.
“Respecting others” “Welcoming and inclusive”
these are the exact ideals behind the pride symbols to begin with, being accepting to someone no matter who they are.
If Quassa has a problem with these values being taught to kids. maybe it’s less about the values themselves and more about the same sex of it all.
I hope Quassa learns something from this, but it sounds like he’s defending his statements. it’s time to be open, welcoming and inclusive. Otherwise, Maybe you shouldn’t be on this council.
Do you imagine IQ principles to say Inuit should always accept new sets of values unconditionally?
His comments were well measured. I don’t see some glaring contradiction here. Maybe my imagination is not as good as yours?
Annoyed says “it’s time to be open, welcoming and inclusive. Otherwise, Maybe you shouldn’t be on this council.”
It seems the people who pretend to care most about ‘inclusivity’ run a very ‘exclusive’ club.
Are they self aware at all?
The “club” they runs exclusivity is based on pretty much one factor.
Be a tolerant and decent human being.
If the circles you run in don’t meet that prerequisite maybe you are doing something wrong
And if they chose not to meet that requirement I feel absolutely zero need to accommodate them.
It doesn’t though really, it runs on conformity and group think.
what ever happened to saying anything you wanted ?
Doesn’t have to be about orientation.
More about the right to say anything.
I thought school only suppose to teach,math,Inuk,English,why schools and teachers force our kids to walk for this and that? So when my son graduate Iqaluit school all he’s gonna have to enter the job market is a diploma in Pride printed on a rainbow paper ?
Paul Quassa for Mayor please
Please read first comment.
Quassa for Mayor, let is see what happens…
An understanding and charitable reading of Quassa’s statements shows he is concerned with exposing children to sexual ideas at a young age.
Whether you agree or not this, to me, seems like a valid concern in and of itself and one that in a more ‘inclusive’ world that embraced true ‘diversity’ could prompt a productive discussion. There needn’t be anything ‘homophobic’ about that. Am I missing something?
To properly frame the pearl clutching and moral grandstanding of Quassa’s fellow councillors, most of whom appear to be non-Inuit, we might understand their response as a manifestation of a particular strain of their own progressive culture (some call this ‘woke’).
With that in mind let’s show a little compassion for Kyle Sheppard, for Romeyn Stevenson and Kimberly Smith. Their inability to do anything but react with performative outrage is a symptom of a larger problem that they have no control over. They need to act outraged and disappointed, they need to be shown in deep moral distress lest they too become the victim of a headline accusing them of ‘Homophobia.’ What an unfortunate burden for them to carry, the resulting neurosis makes it impossible for them to be anything but dismissive of the feelings of many Inuit in their community.
This is the single most condescending comment I’ve ever read on here.
Pride is not exposing kids to “sexual ideas” they are teaching kids that some people have two dads. Some people are black. Some people might dress differently. And that’s all okay.
You are associating acceptance with sexual brainwash. And thats a talking point lately that has no basis in actual fact and says a lot more about you than it does them.
It’s gone a LOT further than some kids having two dads, and not only do you know it, everyone else has noticed too. When you never declare victory in your activism, and keep moving the goalposts, and pushing, pushing, pushing to see how much you can get away with, and get theatrically offended at any slightly different point of view… eventually you do meet a bit of resistance, and here we are.
Hi Disgusted, thanks for responding.
Here’s the crux of my point; from the perspective that there is a sexual dimension to Pride, which seems obvious, Paul’s concerns are reasonable enough to warrant understanding without labeling him ‘homophobic’ or excoriating him in the press for ‘wrong think. If we truly want a diverse and inclusive society, it seems the standard should be having conversations that include people with diverse views.
I’m curious why you think I am “associating acceptance with sexual brainwash”? I see someone did make that point above, I don’t share that view. I agree pride is about acceptance and I accept LGBTQ people.
There is only a sexual dimension to pride because cis and straight people sexualize 2SLGBTQIA people.
Saying we want to live in safe communities free from harassment for living as openly as any straight or cis person becomes “grooming children” or “teaching them about sex”.
Straight people show off their sexuality all the time, when they hold hand with their partner, say they’re married, keep a picture of their family in their office. Cis people dress as their preferred gender all the time without question.
A rainbow crosswalk says “this town/school is inclusive regardless of your orientation or gender” and it is not inherently sexual.
I’m not arguing against rainbow sidewalks, so if that is a line of attack in your mind it is a red herring.
What I am trying to point out is that what many progressives are calling ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’ is really a foil for puritanism and conformity. If you are truly committed to those values, you need to reflect on your approach.
‘Fire Quassa! Kick him off Council!’
These comments are more reflective of a Salem Era witch hunt than an exercise in Inuuqatigiitsiarniq, diversity, Tunnganarniq or inclusivity.
You don’t have to agree with him, I don’t necessarily agree with him. But I think he raises a point that can be seen as valid (this does not mean correct) and discussed without the need to activate full on limbic system outrage and the need for quick revenge.
To progress and get along in a modern, truly diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan society we need better conversations and far less outrage and misunderstanding, which many people here seem entirely committed to.
I have heard from more than one source that traditionally Inuit children were not allowed to listen in on adult conversations about adult topics, such as sexuality. This was the case, too, when I was a child in Southern Ontario. Before we reached puberty, sexuality was never discussed by my parents in our hearing, and we were not allowed to read or watch movies or tv that touched on it – we were too young.
Because of newspapers, however, we did know about racial discrimination, although our town was practically all-white, so my father did talk to us about racism, and made it very clear that it was utterly unacceptable.
The problem that Mr. Quassa is describing is that times have changed. Large communities and modern communications technology make it almost impossible for a child not to hear something about sexuality at a very young age.
If I were asked about rainbow crossings by a young child, I would say they are a reminder to treat all people well. If the child asked sex-specific questions, I would give an age-appropriate answer, just as I would if a child asked where babies come from.
May God the father forgive us all for mocking His rainbow by LGBQ.
[RELIGION has entered the game]
I don’t need your god’s forgiveness.
In 2017, Pauktuutit launched Tavva, a national Inuit Sexual Health Strategy aimed at creating meaningful Inuit involvement in sexual health programs that allow Inuit to be healthy throughout their lives. It was launched partly due to the terrible toll sexual violence and HIV/AIDs has taken on Inuit society. One priority of the strategy is “Deliver comprehensive, Inuit culture based, age-appropriate sexual health education in schools from kindergarten to grade 12. ” Another is to “Develop public awareness campaigns on sexual violence, sexual diversity including, LGBTQQ issues, gender identity and relationship choices.” This is the best advice we have from Inuit women working in the health field that know what they are talking about, and who are parents and elders too. So, when I hear someone saying that it is the Inuit way to shelter Inuit children from sexual education, orientation and diversity issues including from something as innocuous as a rainbow flag, I really have no idea what the heck they are talking about.
Nothing homophobic about his comments. He even explicitly said he has no problem with pride or gay people – just that he ponders whether or not children should learn about these dynamics, given his particular worldview about child rearing. I happen to think that they should and there’s no harm in it but what he said is a far cry from being homophobic or offensive. Cancel culture has gotten out of control.
Remarks like Quassa’s and Nattaq’s anger me so much. Typical, ignorant old men!
My son was 13 when he understood that he was gay. Bullying, ignorance, fear contributed to him ending his life at 15. He was a beautiful Inuk gay boy. He was so much more than those ignorant old men can ever be. Blind and ignorant people think that being gay is a choice. I will never forgive Quassa or Nattaq.
I’m sorry for your son’s death, that must have been a terrible thing to experience. I don’t see anything in Paul’s comments here that suggests rejection of gay people at all. If I am wrong please point me to what has been said. Otherwise, leveraging your family tragedy to score a few points against Quassa is the real ‘problematic’ thing here.
By implying that rainbow crosswalks are somehow sexual and will teach children inappropriate things is vilifying a movement about inclusivity and anti-bullying.
Paul Quassa gave credence to these comments, which frankly have no basis in reality and these types of beliefs are what contribute to bullying and harassment of 2SLGBTQIA young people.
My sincerest condolences to the original poster and it’s because of people like their child that I’m commenting today. Ignorance and homophobia can’t remain unchallenged if we’re to keep 2SLGBTQIA children safe.
I am so sorry for your loss. Sharing your story and pain is not “leveraging”. Beautiful people like your son are why many of us go out of our way to show our friends and family that they are accepted and loved no matter what their sexual or gender identity is.
Cats out the bag Paul!! We all have friends or family that are part of the LGBTQ community, and you just told the world how you really feel. I surprised you never used the term, “asking for a friend”. Shame on you Paul, one of the founders of Nunavut whom got taken out of a leadership role a few years back, and we all new your old school ways would not be a path for what Government is now and future roles it has, you wanted to keep Nunavut locked behind closed doors with know outside influences, sad,
That’s about enough from the old school Inuit who repeatedly stand up and say that being gay is not part of Inuit culture. As if being LGBTQ were somehow linked to a cultural rather than a biological imperative. To say that there have never been gay Inuit because the “culture” doesn’t recognize the concept is just about as puritanical as one can get in the modern age. Time to take off the blinders.
Who said that, exactly? Paul? Why don’t I see it in the article?
Quass said he “Was merely relaying concerns that Pride is a new idea to Inuit culture”. Good enough for you?
Isnt this the same Paul Quassa that misused NTI funds?
Whatever Kyle! I’ve heard you make obscene derogatory comments about gay people more than once,twice, thrice and now you’re “Totally, totally disappointed”?! I don’t believe you. You only said that because you knew it would go public, but behind closed doors, the real Kyle comes out. Kyle has said many times he thrives on the misfortunes of other people, and this time he is thriving on Quassa’s comment. I wonder which councillor Kyle will thrive off of next.
One of the other councillors sure gets protective treatment by Nunatsiaq News. She must have some friends in the newsroom, because you can write pretty much whatever you want about whoever you want in the comments, but even if you quote this particular councillor’s social media, it will get rejected.
My child loved the rainbow cross walk. Every time we drove over the rainbow, she would get excited and wanted to talk about the pretty colours. Not once did she ask me any LGBT questions. She was just happy to see the pretty colours.
During the LGBT week, she came home and explained to me that she learned that she can marry a boy or a girl when she gets older. We are accepting of LGBT, and have a family member in a same sex marriage. This was not new information for her. I know that other parents were upset over their children being taught this.
is it so hard for someone to say i dont want my kids to learn homosexuality in school? if its so important then why not teach your own kids about it at home.. some are religious or cultural respect it also
No one is “learning” homosexuality in school, and a crosswalk isn’t curriculum.
It’s perfectly appropriate to teach children to be kind to each other regardless of differences, and that just because someone dates, falls in love with or marries someone of the same sex, this doesn’t give you permission to treat them differently or be mean to them.
It’s perfectly appropriate to say that while some people keep the gender they were assigned at birth, that some people are actually a different gender and will live that way.
We talk about who we are partnered with and what our gender is all the time as a society, but cis and straight people try to vilify these normal conversations when it’s a 2SLGBTQIA+ person.
All banning talk of gender and sexuality in schools does is for young queer people to hide and be ashamed of who they are. Schools should be safe places for everyone, not just cis and straight people
this has been force down our throat since obama we have accepted you even though many were lost culturally religiously… but enough is enough its time to say its also okay to practice culture and religious while being acceptable to bring back lost souls.. we have enough of you saying what your doing is bad
Math becoming more complicated, science grabs everything and forces you to think, physical education made to exhaust you physically, and everything ‘Social’ is no longer like the Social Studies curriculum we’re forced to learn? And quite suddenly, sexual orientation is “pick this side” because it was presented? Let them children grow, they’ll realize on their own. Stop forcing growth to become immediate, just because you learned it
No one is forcing growth. Rainbow crosswalks are a sign of inclusivity so young 2slgbtqia students know that they are in a safe place and can learn without bullying.
Teaching students that 2SLGBTQIA students exist and should be treated with respect is key to stopping bullying.
Look at these comment and the voting ratio.
What a trashy community I was born in.
It is so disappointing. I thought our community was better than this nowadays. I grew up ashamed and hiding my identity. I did not feel comfortable enough to tell my friends or my family. I thought for sure that I would be bullied or ostracized. In the past few years I started living as “out”. Now I worry that there are many more homophobes in our community than I thought. If they are going to be upset about seeing a colourful crosswalk, how are they going to react when they see me holding another woman’s hand?
As these people are left farther and farther behind socially and intellectually their voices will get louder. But I’m confident that this is just a matter of concentration; like a liquid that becomes more potent as you boil it away.
These people are sludge at the bottom of the pot. Their voices are artificially amplified because their inherent fear of “the other” brings them out in droves. We see this play out consistently with our conservative electorate every four years or so.
Stay strong; these obsolete voices are on their way out.
John, do you not see the irony in referring to conservatives as sludge on the bottom of a pot, while referencing their fundamental fear of the ‘other’?
We should be careful in how we communicate with these ‘others,’ if you have studied history you know its arc is almost never linear.
Can you quote the part of my comment where I called conservatives sludge? Or are you insinuating that this homophobia is an inextricable aspect of conservatism and therefore conflated the two in response to my comment?
“These people are sludge at the bottom of the pot. Their voices are artificially amplified because their inherent fear of “the other” brings them out in droves. We see this play out consistently with our conservative electorate every four years or so.”
This is not exactly a cryptic message
He should be removed. Disgusting. I am Inuk and proudly bisexual and a politician. Quit blaming your derogatory and bigotry on Inuit societal values. Just because people did not publicly talk about being gay, didn’t mean it didn’t exist. You blame the church and Christianity indoctrination being forced down Inuit throats – wtf do you think you are doing now? Repulsive. If you your religion or personal beliefs cause you to hate someone else or not like a certain group, then buddy you need a new religion! Don’t use our Inuit culture to hurt people or as a scapegoat. Don’t force feed constituents. Just because you hate a group people for their sexuality, doesn’t mean most Inuit feel this way. Quit force feeding us bullshit. He should be reprimanded, publicly censured and removed. Thats my belief as an Inuk!
oh no, the comments are on fire
I wouldn’t want my children or any of my nephew/nieces to learn about this yet
I mean not until they are old enough but for sure my kids would love to walk on the rainbow sidewalk. they loves colors
We need Kenny back. Things are gone off the rails already, perhaps a crosswalk could have prevented that
Maybe Kenny can give that crosswalk a good old stanky leg special.
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.
Yikes, not a good look for you Paul.
Do you think BIM is happy they have him as their spokesperson?
They painted the whole crosswalk without thinking outside the box?
Totally putting Quassa’s aside, if parents etc are so concerned about what is being taught in Iqaluit schools, have they contacted the DEA? The Dep’t of Education? Ask questions? Start a dialogue or discussion? I’m a retired teacher, and such topics were not in my Curriculums in Nunavut.
If Paul is worried about children being exposed to sexual content too early at school, can we talk about the number of predators and pedofiles that exist in Nunavut?? The damage is usually done before children enter school! Or how about the pedofiles that work in schools?????
As an INUK mother of young INUIT adults that are gay and transgender, I find all your comments gross and disrespectful. My family is Inuk and by you saying that we should shun or not teach our children to accept and love themselves non matter their sexual preference makes me so angry, with suicide in Nunavut being the HIGHEST in the world you would think that people would want to lift their children up and teach them to accept themselves and others. All this lateral hate is disgusting and SHAME on all of you for saying this is not the Inuk way or that we are shoving this down their throats…NO IT IS NOT!!!! It is teaching our children the IQ values that everyone is always cramming down our throats, come on people get a grip!!! ABSOLUTELY makes me ashamed to be Inuk!!!
It is truly sad to see how this comment section has become a platform for hate and intolerance. Nunatsiaq’s allowance of what is clearly hate speech should be sent to the press council. As a moderated forum, they a liable for the content posted.
They have been rather laissez faire on this thread. I’ll take that over an anodyne discussion sanitized by a panel of puritans.
As an emerging Inuk elder (late 60s in years), I, too, was brought up in an era, where I was not permitted to listen in or take part in conversations that my parents and elders deem not suitable to my young years. In that respect, I can fully understand Paul’s comments on kids been excluded from adult-theme complicated subjects. This does not mean that he is automatically against PRIDE and what it stands for; he has said as much. It is unfortunate that some members of the City Council are crying Homophobia.
Inuit society is, in part, based on harmonious relationship and this was very important when Inuit still lived in small groups where their very survival depended on getting along together. For someone like Kimberly Smith to stand up and cry ‘HOMOPHOBIC’ because she doesn’t fully understand or appreciate, where the principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuuqagit are based on leaves alot to be desired.
Thank you for trying to shed some light and balance on this discussion.