Kovic wants team approach at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Contender pledges to open up Nunavut’s policy-making process



Ben Kovic, a long-time organizer of amateur hockey in Iqaluit, wants to bring a team-oriented touch to NTI politics in his campaign for the Inuit organization’s top job.

Kovic, also the long-time chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, said he wants to open up the Government of Nunavut’s policy-making process, which he describes as slow and undemocratic.

Kovic said legislation such as the Wildlife Act, which was initially rejected by Hunters and Trappers Associations, wouldn’t receive such a rough ride if the government consulted more with communities.

Rather than wait for government to take the initiative, Kovic said the head of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. should be opening a channel between politicians and citizens.

“Beneficiaries should be more involved,” Kovic said of the government’s policy-making process. “Things would be done quicker instead. We need a more participatory approach. This has been lacking with NTI’s organization.”

Kovic, a 55-year-old resident of Iqaluit, said if Nunavut wants to solve the pan-territorial issues of housing shortages, education and health, the Government of Nunavut, NTI and communities have to work together.

“We cannot solve these issues individually,” Kovic said.

Kovic criticized NTI as working against the communities when it dissolved a board overseeing the organization’s Social Development Council, which he says now lacks contact with community needs.

If elected president, Kovic promised to re-instate the board.

Much of Kovic’s campaign, which has covered parts of Baffin and the Kivalliq, targets NTI’s core mandate. Asked what the purpose of NTI was, Kovic said he didn’t know, and that the organization needed to consult with beneficiaries to “refine goals and objectives.”

Although NTI’s focus remains fuzzy for Kovic, he promised to start a number of concrete projects if he’s elected president on March 16.

Claiming 30 years of experience in wildlife issues in the North, Kovic said he will bring back a school program developed by elders years ago. Kovic said he worked with elders on a curriculum to teach classes using traditional knowledge about ocean biology, ice conditions and other geography, but classes on the subjects never materialized.

“They came up with an ocean curriculum…. That died, why did it die?” Kovic asked about the program’s alleged disappearance.

Kovic admitted some schools have started Inuit culture and outdoor skills programs, but their arrival has been “very slow.”

Kovic said Nunavut should be using elders more often in the school system to beef up cultural programs.

“We already have elders, we don’t need to re-educate them,” Kovic said. “Why not use them instead of looking for trained teachers?”

Kovic proposed schools could save money by hiring an elder to teach one subject, like ice conditions, for a semester, then bring in another elder as a replacement to teach another subject. The elders could rotate around the communities, instead being hired full-time, he said.

Asked why he was running in this year’s election, Kovic said people were looking for a president who would be results-oriented. Citing his support as management board chair for community-based development projects, Kovic stated simply:

“I seem to be that person who can get those results.”

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