Kaludjak pledges land claims speed-up at NTI

Will work with Towtongie if defeated, he says



Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. presidential candidate Paul Kaludjak says the organization needs to pick up the pace on land claims implementation, and he’s the one to do the job.

“I want things to happen quicker than they are now. Every year we seem to lose some pace because the government is not reacting to our requests,” said Kaludjak, who is on leave from his job as vice-president of finance for NTI so he can run in the March 16 election.

But when it comes to ideas for speeding up the process, Kaludjak recommends more of the same.

“Open more lines of communication with the federal and territorial governments to advise them that they’ve got some obligations that they’ve got to live up to,” he said in an interview last month from his home in Rankin Inlet.

Though his plans for NTI may not be revolutionary, Kaludjak says Nunavut beneficiaries should choose him to lead the land claims organization because he has the longest track record in Inuit leadership of any of the four candidates, and a lengthy list of accomplishments.

“Right now, NTI has the right policies, which I have pushed to put through,” he said, specifying the new accountability policy and review of spending for elected officials.

Kaludjak said he is particularly proud NTI has produced a surplus each year for the past two years.

“That proves that things are being looked after,” he said.

“I was the one who was pushing for [new programs for] disabled [people]. The new 15-year financial strategic plan is ready to kick in. The review of development corporation operations and funding to make sure they are succeeding is done except for the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation.”

He also responded to statements by incumbent president Cathy Towtongie that he was part of the old leadership, “part of the problem.”

“This is not the case. The organization at the time was very sound,” he said. “She was new in that role [as president]. I hope I have made a difference to that role.”

Towtongie was elected president in a by-election to replace Paul Quassa in December 2001. Kaludjak had served three terms as president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association when he won his seat at NTI by a landslide in the same election. He won 63 per cent of the votes, more than twice that of second-place finisher Goo Arlooktoo.

“I left KIA in great shape,” he said, responding to comments from Towtongie that he hadn’t finished his term as KIA president when he ran in the NTI election in 2001, and that he’s running again, though he hasn’t served out his term at NTI, “NTI is as well.”

“I felt I was ready for this nomination. I accepted it this time around. The first time around, I turned away a supporter,” he said.

He added he was also asked to run in this month’s territorial election. He declined.

“I was happy where I was. I enjoy my role working with Inuit.”

If he doesn’t succeed in his run for the presidency, Kaludjak said he will happily return to his seat as vice-president of finance, and work with Towtongie once again if she is re-elected.

“I feel I’ve been an asset to the executive committee for keeping a team approach,” he said.

“I have no problem going back to VP finance if I don’t succeed this time around. I always try to be a team player.”

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