Plenty of new faces among mayors elected across Nunavut Monday night

At least five incumbents lose their bids for re-election

A sign outside the Iqaluit Cadet Hall tells voters where to cast their ballots in the Oct. 23 municipal election. Across Nunavut, voters picked their mayors, councillors, district education authority members and alcohol education committee members (File by Jeff Pelletier)

By Madalyn Howitt

This story was updated on Tuesday Oct. 24 at 12:40 p.m. ET 

It was a great night for new mayors across Nunavut, while many incumbents struggled to get re-elected in the 2023 municipal elections.

By 12:45 a.m. eastern time Tuesday, 22 communities had posted unofficial results in their mayoral races. At least five incumbent mayors were defeated in their attempts to get re-elected.

Whale Cove has elected Oliver Shipton as its new mayor, in a two-way race that saw him defeat his fellow search-and-rescue team member Gerard Maktar.

“I just think it’s a great honour to be elected mayor and have the majority vote,” Shipton said in an interview Monday night.

“I’m happy that I get to be a part of Whale Cove’s growth and to make positive changes.”

Shipton moved to the community three years ago and told Nunatsiaq News his priority as mayor is to reopen the hamlet’s arena.

“I’m really excited to start,” he said.

In other election night results, Rankin Inlet’s Mayor Harry Towtongie was re-elected, but with 183 votes only five votes separated him from challenger Megan Pizzo-Lyall, who received 178 votes.

Towtongie said that if a recount confirms confirms his victory, winning the race to be mayor  “feels good. [I’m] thankful to my family and supporters, and good job Megan.”

Yet another mayoral win went to a newcomer over the incumbent, this time in Chesterfield Inlet which elected Simionie Sammurtok. Incumbent Anthony Amauyak came second in the results and deputy mayor Mary Ann Issaluk came in third place.

Gjoa Haven joins the list of communities with new mayors, having elected challenger Raymond Quqshuun Sr. over incumbent Mayor Megan Porter. Quqshuun is employed as a teacher at Qiqirtaq High School.


Lynn Meeka Mike was elected mayor of Pangnirtung on Monday night. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Meeka Mike)

Former classmates Lenny Panigayak and John Charles Pizzo-Lyall went head-to-head in the mayor’s race in Taloyoak, with Panigayak receiving the most votes to become the new mayor over incumbent Pizzo-Lyall.

Panigayak has prior councillor experience and also boasts more than 32,000 followers on TikTok.

In Baker Lake, Kevin Iksiktaaryuk’s second campaign to be elected mayor proved successful Monday, with the hamlet electing him to the role over challenger James Taipana.

Iksiktaaryuk previously was a councillor from 2017-2019 and has experience serving on various local committees.

Lifelong Pangnirtung resident Lynn Meeka Mike has been elected the hamlet’s new mayor.

She handily topped challenger Stevie Komoartok in a two-way race to replace Eric Lawlor, who did not run again. Earlier this month, Mike told Nunatsiaq News she wants to bring in better waste management and beautify the community.

Kevin Tegumiar has been elected mayor of Naujaat, beating out incumbent Mayor Alan Robinson and challenger Joseph Sivanertok in a three-way race.

Igloolik has elected a new mayor. In the hamlet’s battle of the Georges, artist George Auksaq received 85 votes for mayor while George Qattalik got 83 and incumbent Erasmus Ivvalu finished a distant third, with 29 votes.

Elections Nunavut did an administrative recount Monday night, which it’s required to do when there’s a difference of less than five votes.

Joshua Arreak was re-elected mayor of Pond Inlet on Monday night, to serve his third term as mayor.

Arreak defeated competitor David Qamaniq, himself a former mayor of the hamlet, in a two-way race.

Resolute Bay will have a new mayor, after voters elected businessman Aziz Kheraj on Monday night over incumbent Mayor Mark Amarualik and competitor Mike Stephens.

Kheraj is now mayor for a second time, having previously held the role from 2000 to 2001.

Harry Towgongie was elected mayor of Rankin Inlet on Monday night. (File photo)

Nunavut’s smallest community was first to report its results at 7:55 p.m. as voters across the territory went to the polls.

Grise Fiord re-elected incumbent Mayor Meeka Kiguktak over challenger Jaypetee Peter in a two-way race.

That was followed just minutes later by Arctic Bay where voters elected hamlet councilor Olayuk Naqitarvik as mayor, winning over deputy mayor Frank May.

Mayors were acclaimed in seven hamlets: Arviat, Clyde River, Coral Harbour, Kimmirut, Kinngait, Kugaaruk and Qikiqtarjuaq.

Voter turnout in races for mayor ranged from 23.8 per cent in Arctic Bay and 26.4 per cent in Igloolik to 63.8 per cent in Resolute Bay and 69.4 per cent in Grise Fiord.

In three communities, some races will be decided in elections later on. Sanikiluaq’s mayor’s race will be held on Oct. 30 because a second call for candidates had to be made when no one came forward to run by the Sept. 22 deadline.

The same thing happened in Kinngait’s district education authority race, which will be held Oct. 30. And in Gjoa Haven, the election for councilors will be held Nov. 20.

Here are unofficial results from mayoral races that were posted on Elections Nunavut’s website Monday night.

Arctic Bay  — Olayuk Naqitarvik, 63; Frank May 33.

Arviat  —  Joe Savikataaq Jr. (acclaimed)

Baker Lake  — Kevin Iksiktaaryuk, 226; James Taipana, 129.

Cambridge Bay  — Wayne Gregory, 202; Derek Elias, 181; Charles Zikalala, 31.

Chesterfield Inlet  — Simionie Sammurtok, 45; Tony Amauyak, 34; Mary Ann Issaluk, 25.

Clyde River  —  Liemikie Palluq (acclaimed).

Coral Harbour  —  Kupapkik Ningeocheak (acclaimed).

Gjoa Haven  — Raymond Quqshuun Sr., 258; Megan Porter, 139.

Grise Fiord  —  Meeka Kiguktak, 27; Jaypetee Peter, 16.

Igloolik  — George Auksaq, 85; George Qattalik, 83, Erasmus Ivvalu, 29.

Iqaluit  — Solomon Awa, 1,077; Vincent Yvon, 171; Lili Weemen, 90.

Kimmirut  —  Maliktoo Lyta (acclaimed).

Kinngait  —  Jimmy Manning (acclaimed).

Kugaaruk  —  Teddy Apsaktaun (acclaimed).

Kugluktuk  — Ryan Nivingalok, 168; Simon Kuliktana, 75; Helen Qimnik Klengenberg, 52; David Ho, 42; Phillip Evaglok, 7.

Naujaat  — Kevin Tegumiar, 97; Joseph Sivanertok, 24; Alan Robinson, 15.

Pangnirtung  — Lynn Meeka Mike, 230; Stevie Komoartok, 74.

Pond Inlet  — Joshua Arreak, 161; David Qamaniq, 86.

Qikiqtarjuaq  —  Daisy Arnaquq (acclaimed).

Rankin Inlet — Harry Towtongie, 183; Megan Pizzo-Lyall, 178.

Resolute Bay  — Aziz Kheraj, 35; Mark Amarualik, 18; Mike Stephens, 6.

Sanikiluaq  — (Oct. 30 election)

Sanirajak  — (Tie) Ammie H. Kipsigak, 57; Philip Anguratsiaq, 57; Jason Kaernerk, 33; David Curley, 24.

Taloyoak  — Lenny Panigayak, 117; John-Charles Pizzo-Lyall, 80.

Whale Cove  — Oliver Shipton, 67; Gerard Maktar, 46.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect information that came in overnight for Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk and Sanirajak, and to correct the number of votes received by  Olayuk Naqitarvik in Arctic Bay

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Shocked! on

    Congratulations to everyone who ran, regardless of the outcome. It takes a lot of courage to put one’s name forward in an election.

    I am absolutely gobsmacked by the low voter turnout! Igloolik, the fifth most populace community in Nunavut had 168 voters!

    Voting is always important! If you don’t vote, you’re letting someone else decode the future for you.

  2. Posted by No Nonsense Larry on

    I think there the municipal elections should start looking at novel approaches to increasing the voter turnout, 26% of the population is pretty lacklustre..

    • Posted by 867 on

      Free packs and pops at the door would bring those numbers up

      • Posted by Evie Thordarson on

        You shouldn’t have to bribe people with parting gifts in order for the free people to have a vote in their hamlets elections. These positions up for grabs are very important so your hamlet requires the services you need .If you are to lazy to vote then you have no right to complain about anything in your town. Because your missed vote could have made a real difference.

        • Posted by Tired on

          I voted, barely. But if I had chosen not to I wouldn’t lose any of my rights, least of all my right to criticize the government.

          You still have faith in our democracy. Great for you. Many of us don’t anymore.

        • Posted by Ned Flanders on

          Not sure but mayhap the sarcasm (if intended) is misunderstood.🤓

      • Posted by Eskimos Fan on

        …how about FREE Bingo cards.🤣

  3. Posted by Tooma on

    Only thing to worry is addiction issues. COVID was bad, same as sniffing, people’s natural health are pretty healthy, but with covid it was awful. Same goes to addicts sniffers. Marijuana is very useful today especially for addicts. It was illegal back than, but it was hard to find. They did horrible things like sniffing.
    Open addiction sniffing programs for people and Inuit. Correct them, they have brains like 2 years old.

  4. Posted by Mit on

    Congrats Spence bay on electing a tik-toker

  5. Posted by Atatsiak on

    Whale Cove such a disappointment, smoke and mirrors.

  6. Posted by Tired on

    I don’t know if it was the uninspiring options or my below bedrock expectations for any incoming Council but I BARELY voted last night. I completely forgot that the election was even happening and only got to the poll with 10 minutes left.

    I’m glad there was no line though. It would be a shame to wait too long to cast a vote that won’t change anything.

  7. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    With extreme voter apathy and so may positions for Council, mayor and DEA acclaimed it is safe to say that Nunavut in general has reached an extreme don’t give a shit plateau.

    • Posted by maybe social studies teachers can help on

      The voter turnout was very very bad in almost all of the communities and shocking in a few. When only 27 percent of the voters vote on the people to control million-dollar budgets, I worry. Perhaps elections nunavut can work with the schools to enliven up and engage the voters. Nunavut used to have the best voter ratio in the country. We will get what we deserve for sure.

  8. Posted by Hunter on

    I would like to know voter turn out stats per community and weather voter turn out is increasing. These stats really speak volumes of how engage communities are with their local elections.

    • Posted by John WP Murphy on

      I believe you can get that info on the site

  9. Posted by We matter on

    Today having Nunavut own territory for Inuit Canadian eastern arctic is more affordable. When it was with nwt, decisions made in gnwt were NWT natives making all decisions over all of Inuit land.
    But creating Nunavut is more safe to all Inuit, where other aboriginal peoples aren’t making decisions.

  10. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    yay! pretty good turnout gjoa haven!

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