Natan Obed to seek 3rd term as ITK president

If elected again, Obed says it will be his last at the helm

Natan Obed, seen here at Nunavut Arctic College Wednesday, has said he will run for another term as the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Natan Obed will run for president of Canada’s national Inuit organization for the third time because, he says, he’s not ready to leave.

“We just seem to be in this moment where so many things are coming together,” he said. “And I feel like my work at [Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami] is not done and that I would like to see a number of these big initiatives through.”

Obed confirmed his intentions while answering questions from the media Wednesday at Nunavut Arctic College during a federal government announcement.

ITK announced last week it is opening the nomination period for candidates interested in leading the organization. The next president will be picked after its annual general meeting, to be scheduled for September.

A long-time member of ITK who has held the presidency since 2015, Obed describes his leadership style as “Inuit-specific, evidence-based and globally informed” — which is the organization’s mantra.

During his time in office, ITK has launched the National Inuit Health Survey, Qanuippitaa?, received funding for an Inuit Nunangat university and created the Inuit-Crown partnership committee — all of which, Obed says, still gets him excited about going to work every day.

“I’m really proud about the conversation about Inuit in Canada,” he said, pointing to examples of this which include politicians and media using the term “Inuit Nunangat” and the inclusion of money specifically for Inuit in this year’s federal budget.

Obed says he spent his first few years as president making connections with politicians, governments, and familiarizing himself with the subject matter. Now that he has those relationships formed, he says it opens the organization up to new opportunities.

“It’s taken me a long time to get to the place where I feel like I can do that very confidently,” he said. “I feel as though in the next four years, we could do some pretty amazing things that depend partly on the continuity in leadership.”

He said won’t seek a fourth term if he is elected again.

If he does get elected, Obed said he wants to focus on bringing Inuit together politically and get them more involved at the national level.

He also critiqued himself, saying he hasn’t done enough to learn Inuktitut during while in office, but it’s a task he is still committed to accomplishing.

“That’s something that does gnaw on me as I do my job — knowing that I should be able to converse more and take pride in our beautiful language,” he said.

ITK’s next president will have to get seven of 13 votes from group of delegates representing Inuit organizations from each of the four Inuit regions to win the election.

The deadline for nominations is Aug. 18.

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Why? on

    All he did was change the name of Edmonton Elks. He should’ve worked harder on the core problems of Nunavut.

    • Posted by *All he did?? on

      Are you kidding? There has been so much accomplished since Natan became president. Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee. Distinctions-based funding. Housing strategy, reserach strategy, money for post-secondary education and Inuit-led programming of all kinds. Even an Inuk GG.

      ITK under Natan has changed the way the feds engage with Inuit orgs. The combo of a wise progressive president and a willing federal government has produced results. It’s now up to the regions to make good use of all of these gains.

      If you don’t see the shift, you’re not paying attention.

      • Posted by Igunaq on

        You mentioned G-G is now Inuk, And, she is making concerted effort to learn French. The G-G’s first language is Inuktut of course. Kisiani, Natan did not lift a finger to learn how to speak the language.

        • Posted by Of course on

          Hmmm….someone making a fool of herself on the national stage and accomplishes exactly nothing, claims it’s because she’s too Inuk.

          Someone accomplishes something on the national stage and doesn’t make a fool of himself, he’s not Inuk enough.

          Glad to see everyone’s priorities are straight.

    • Posted by Jack Napier on

      Actually it was after visiting the Elks club in Cambridge that inspired the name change.

  2. Posted by eskimo joe on

    13 voters? acting on all behalf of 30K plus Inuit, something is wrong here although I support this guy, stable as rock unlike the past top Inuks. I advise the next top Inuk to put together a scheme to have the whole of Canadian Inuit to participates in the installation process.

    • Posted by Eskimo Jane on

      Actually, at there was a total of roughly 65,000 Inuit in Canada in 2016, including 30,100 in Nunavut, 12,000 in Nunavik, 2,300 in Nunatsiavut, 3,100 in NWT and 17,700 spread across “Southern Canada”.

      • Posted by eskimo joe on

        Eskimo Jane, it’ even worst than I though, again I was thinking of Nunavut population. 13 to install a top inuk. some politics are crazy, I might as will ask Hamlet office where I am from install me as ITK boss.

  3. Posted by Concern on

    Oh no, there should be a general election for all Inuit.

  4. Posted by Old timer on

    I think it’s time for someone that will inform Inuit what is going on with ITK time for change 👍

  5. Posted by Third time’s a charm on

    I figured he would have left after this term, and made changing the name of the Edmonton Eskimos his lifelong legacy.

    I wonder what he has planned for his third term? Now that that is out of the way, maybe he can start focusing on real issues like pushing NTI to use their deep pockets to help fund housing or no more boil water advisories?

  6. Posted by Pork Pie on

    Thought I have been critical of some of Nattan’s work at times, I want to also point out some of the positives I see here too. When he talks about the importance of building relationships I think he has clearly honed in on a key to success for any political figure, even non-political ones for that matter. This is critical lesson for any aspiring leader, wherever they are.

    • Posted by Too true on

      You’ll notice this quality in a good manager, and its absence in a poor one.

    • Posted by At The Feet of the Master on

      Yes, why I don’t agree with much of Obed’s agenda or vision, he is a leader and a politician for sure. There is much that our MP could learn from him.

  7. Posted by M Center on

    ITK Elections should be Democratic Public Voting of Naming and Selecting a National Representative as Head of Inuit State. Make it National Inuit Voting. After all, all the RIO’s is THE Board of Directors and they can collectively change Voting Policies and Procedures to open ITK to Inuit Specific National Election for Top Seat that Represents Inuit across Canada so make it a democratic process versus few current “Inside Voting for Head of State”. Hmm, just a thought. But, that’s too generic of simple logic to discuss or consider IMO.

    • Posted by Let’s B Real on

      The President of ITK is not the head of any state, come on…

      • Posted by M Center on

        Sorry, Nation…. Inuit Nation. Come on.

        • Posted by Let’s B Real on

          I can agree to ‘nation’, though I know many who won’t, but there is a significant difference between that and a state.

  8. Posted by Pitsulala on

    Way to go! I hope you are elected again! You have proven yourself to be the best so far!

  9. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    That would be a sad day.
    His management of his department at NTI was deplorable – the worse run department at the time.
    I can see nothing appreciable with his tenure at ITK.

  10. Posted by Rotations on

    A concern for the interest of other regions should come up. The presidency should be man or womaned by regional rotations. ITK is suppose to represent all regions.

    • Posted by Jack Napier on

      Yes, it is also culturally appropriate too work in circles.

  11. Posted by I am tired of listening to air on

    I listened to the indigenous leaders on live tv the other week on residential schools and each leader had something to add and when it came to this Inuk leader, all I heard was nothing for 5 minutes. Dead air! Please find a more substantive person to make us look like we have a head. He can go be the PR person for the Edmonton Eskimos already.

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