Nunavut votes: Iqaluit-Manirajak’s incumbent faces challenge from veteran city councillor

Adam Lightstone and Joanasie Akumalik vie to represent riding

Adam Lightstone (left), and Joanasie Akumalik are running to represent Iqaluit-Manirajak in the next Nunavut legislature. (Photos courtesy of Elections Nunavut)

By Mélanie Ritchot

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.

Voters in the Iqaluit-Manirajak riding will have two names on their ballots next week — incumbent MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone and a long-time Iqaluit city councillor, Joanasie Akumalik.

Lightstone was one of the youngest to be elected to Nunavut’s legislative assembly when he became MLA at 30 years old in 2017, alongside David Joanasie, who was elected at the same age that year.

Akumalik, on the other hand, does not have experience in the legislative assembly, but has worked within different governments and Inuit organizations longer than Nunavut has been a territory.

Adam Arreak Lightstone

Lightstone was born in Rankin Inlet and has spent most of his life in Iqaluit.

He has completed a four-year term as the MLA representing Iqaluit-Manirajak and said now, he wants to continue the work he’s started.

On top of raising issues within the legislative assembly, Lightstone made a habit of attending meetings of city council, the district education authority and other organizations. He is also often seen at community events.

“That allows me to keep myself informed [and] to get out and speak to individuals directly,” Lightstone said.

In the last four years, Lightstone said he has been very vocal about many issues in the assembly, including child abuse and domestic violence.

“These are issues that are impacting every community across the territory and I believe we can no longer allow ourselves to be silenced or sweep these issues under the rug.”

Lightstone said no longer being a rookie MLA if re-elected would be a big advantage.

“There’s a considerable learning curve attached to [the job], he said. “I believe being a veteran member has substantial benefits.”

Joanasie Akumalik

Akumalik grew up in Arctic Bay and moved to Iqaluit in the early ’80s.

He worked as an interpreter and translator for the Northwest Territories government before Nunavut became a territory and has been involved with land claims organizations for most of his life, he said.

In Iqaluit, he has worked as a city councillor for 14 years and is also a project manager for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., where his job is to locate graves of Inuit who died of tuberculosis in southern Canada.

Akumalik said he decided to run for the position of MLA because he felt the community and territory could use better representation in the assembly.

“I’m a good communicator, I speak both English and Inuktitut, and I’m a good listener,” he said.

His list of priorities includes public safety, mental health and affordable housing.

He also wants to focus on getting funding to improve the causeway, and the cemetery in Iqaluit, which is prone to flooding, he said.

Another area on his to-do list is revisiting acts that didn’t pass in the last assembly, like a proposed liquor tax act, he said.

Akumalik said he has spent time consulting with different communities in Iqaluit, including Muslim, Black, Filipino and French residents — in addition to Inuit — to understand their cultural values.

“I want to make sure these values are also heard when making important decisions,” he said.

The territorial election will take place on Oct. 25.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Thoughts on

    Who is more likely to push for a NEU deal?

    Who is more likely to push for remote working?

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  2. Posted by Plateau Resident on

    Vote for a city councilor guy does not live in the riding and whos platform is to do city council stuff at the legislative assembly or a guy who lives in the riding his running for and whos platform seems to be more related to government structure.

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  3. Posted by stay the course on

    Adam is the best choice. He was very vocal in the last legislative session, with questions that were to the benefit of all constituents. It was great to finally see a MLA govern. He may have been a rookie MLA but his leadership and education showed and he was miles a head of many longer serving MLA’s. It would be good to see him with a bigger portfolio this time around and I hope he keeps his voice in the legislature

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  4. Posted by River Rat on

    I prefer George but unfortunately he is only allowed to run in one riding. It’s too bad Iqaluit wasn’t just one riding. He would be the best choice to represent us all. Stand up guy and a seasoned politician with the experience to lead us best. Good luck in your riding.

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    • Posted by NOT on

      abostout4ly not NO WAY George has not done anything and we need new ideas and new energy. NOT George

      • Posted by River Rat on

        George did lots of stuff! Just ask anybody and they will tell you. All I’m saying is that he would make a fine candidate for the plateau.

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  5. Posted by Staff Housing on

    Adam voted against a program that would have helped my family afford a downpayment on a house and get out of our cramped staff housing. He has been more focused on being right than doing right, and insulted GN staff in the process by insinuating that departments are incompetent. His ego has run amuck.

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  6. Posted by Home Owner on

    Adam voted against it because it was just for GN employees and no one else…i am proud of Adam for voting no, he was thinking of others who do not work for the GN. VOTE FOR ADAM FOR MLA..

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    • Posted by Staff Housing on

      This may just be for GN employees but it helps everyone. Staff housing is only for GN employees, which takes up units that could be for public housing. If there’s a program to get more GN workers to leave staff housing, then there’s more public housing. In this case it was for GN employees to set aside apart of their paycheck to save for a down payment so they free up that unit for someone else.

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