Nunavut votes: MLA incumbent Emiliano Qirngnuq takes on 2 candidates in Netsilik
Taloyoak’s former mayor and the vice-chair of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation throw their hats in the race
In the lead-up to the Oct. 25 territorial elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of the races. Look for articles with “Nunavut votes” in the headline.
In the riding of Netsilik, MLA incumbent Emiliano Qirngnuq faces off against Taloyoak’s former mayor Simon Qingnaqtuq and vice chair of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, Inagayuk Joseph Quqqiaq.
The riding, created in 2013, consists of the communities of Taloyoak and Kugaaruk. Taloyoak has a population of 1,146 while Kugaaruk is roughly made up of 1,180 residents. Data from the Nunavut Housing Corporation found Taloyoak lacks 48 per cent of its public housing needs with Kugaaruk at 63 per cent.
Qirngnuq, 71, has been the riding’s MLA since 2016. Prior to this, he served on the board of directors of the Koomiu Co-op. He was also a hamlet councillor for four years in the 1990s and has been a long-time volunteer firefighter.
As MLA, Qirngnuq has spoken out about concerns around the impact of climate change on local marine life and asked the government to take action. He has pushed back against the territorial government when 31 housing units scheduled to be built in Nunavut were cancelled due to costs of construction. He has advocated for a living wage to be implemented and urged the government to look into replacing Netsilik School in Taloyoak due to health concerns.
Qirngnuq said he hopes to continue to be a strong voice for his community. He said he will put pressure on the government to build the two new fiveplexes put on hold in Taloyoak and advocate for more housing solutions. He said he is especially focused on putting youth at the heart of his agenda.
“I have been approached by our young people in need of housing, asking for support,” he said.
“As a government, we must listen to our young people, lift up this generation. Our youth are our future… we must honour their needs. This is what I will be pushing for, if re-elected.”
Qingnaqtuq, a former mayor of Taloyoak, has served on the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Katimajiit (Katimajiit), an advisory board of mostly elders who provide Nunavut’s government with guidance on implementing Inuit knowledge.
As mayor, Qingnaqtuq was responsible for helping fund a portion of equipment to get the hamlet’s radio station up and running again. He has proposed solutions for housing the homeless and voiced a need for improved security and communications when an influx of cruise ships were passing through the region.
When contacted for an interview to ask about his priorities, Qingnaqtuq’s campaign manager said he was not available.
The third candidate, Quqqiaq, 41, is a newcomer to the politics. In addition to being a member and vice chair for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation Board, he is community service provider for Qiniq in Taloyoak and was appointed to serve on the Kitikmeot Inuit Association until 2024.
During the campaign, Quqqiaq has been active on TikTok, making use of the social media platform as a way to distribute information. He said his priorities are mental health, education and environment and said he would like to see more Inuit representation in the workforce. However, Quqqiaq told Nunatsiaq News that housing would be his main focus if he were elected.
“I would address this issue and help to try create a 10 year strategic plan to help end homelessness in Nunavut as a whole,” he said.
“I believe if we all work together, it can be done.”