Nunavut votes: Iqaluit-Tasiluk has 4 candidates to choose from

Getting elders home, taking care of families and a new collective agreement top of candidates’ priority lists

Clockwise from top left: incumbent George Hickes, Jonathan Chul-Hee Min Park, Michael Salomonie and James T. Arreak are the four candidates running to represent Iqaluit-Tasiluk in the next territorial 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 Iqaluit-Tasiluk will have four candidates to choose from on their ballots on election day — twice as many as last time they went to the polls, in 2017.

Their incumbent MLA, George Hickes, is being challenged by Jonathan Chul-Hee Min Park, Michael Salomonie and James T. Arreak.

Common priorities among the candidates include public safety, elder care and taking care of families.

George Hickes

Hickes has served two terms in the legislative assembly and is currently the minister of justice and finance. He said he wants to continue the work he’s started.

“Now that I’ve got eight years of experience I’ve seen how the process can work, how you can make headway on priorities and work for your constituents and [people] across the territory,” he said.

There’s still lots of work to do and a re-election would help keep the momentum going and keep some consistency, said Hickes.

If re-elected, some of his priorities include eldercare, creating local employment opportunities and making more health-care services available locally, like cancer care.

Jonathan Chul-Hee Min Park

Park is a criminal defence lawyer who was born in Toronto, moved to Rankin Inlet in 2013, then came to Iqaluit about three years ago.

He said his experience working for legal aid in different communities, like Cambridge Bay, has made him want to help people connect with the government, “whether that’s by helping them understand all of the complicated forms they’re asked to fill out, or bringing their issues to the assembly,” he said.

Park said he decided to run because he’s tired of well-intentioned proposals not helping people in the end.

“Something is getting lost in translation between the idea as it’s proposed and the way people end up receiving the services,” he said.

If elected, Park’s priorities include getting a new collective agreement signed for GN employees, keeping elders close to home, and supporting families.

“A lot of families in Nunavut are trying their best to make it work, but dealing with external pressures they have no control over,” he said.

“They’re getting burnt out trying to live their lives and that is a nightmare of hellish proportions.”

Michael Salomonie

Salomonie was born in Montreal and lived most of his life in Kinngait and Iqaluit.

He currently works for Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit, the Inuit Language Authority, and has over a decade of experience working with the RCMP.

Salomonie said his experience working within governments at the federal, territorial and municipal levels would lend well to the position of MLA if elected.

“I understand the challenges at each and every segment of the government.”

Salomonie decided to run in the election after his mother passed away while in care at Embassy West in Ottawa, he said.

“That was a moment of realization, that we need to look after our mothers better as a government.”

Salomonie said his platform is family-first, with priorities like in-territory elder care, more recreational spaces and childcare.

“[Childcare] impacts employment and everything else that trickles down in our society,” he said.

James T. Arreak

Arreak grew up in Pond Inlet and moved to Iqaluit in the 1990s. He moved on to get two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree, then worked within the GN and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. for over 25 years.

Now, Arreak is an assistant negotiator at Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

“I want to use that [experience] to serve the people,” he said.

While campaigning, Arreak said he’s often heard voters say they don’t know what’s going on within the legislative assembly, so he’d like to give them information directly if elected.

Another priority of his is getting a new collective agreement signed for GN employees and making sure they’re treated as “the most precious resource governments have.”

His platform also includes creating accessible apprenticeship opportunities for youth and repatriating Inuit art and artifacts back to the territory, which he calls the repatriation of Nunavut’s resources.

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(36) Comments:

  1. Posted by Iqaluit on

    Why has the Minister of Finance not increased the $400 homeowner allowance?

    Why has the Minister of Justice not done more to address the public safety concerns in Iqaluit?

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    • Posted by Because on

      Because the GN doesnt want homeowners they want lifers to be stuck in staff housing and anyone else to pay monthly rent. The dream isn’t homeownership. The dream is making it to the top of the public housing waitlist.

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      • Posted by Owl on

        Operating public housing and staff housing costs so much money that of course NHC wants more people to own homes or rent privately. They just seem to be incapable of delivering effective programs.

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        • Posted by Affective programs? on

          They’re in no shortage of budget. Instead of tossing away millions to peoples pockets who clearly sit around on welfare, maybe they should start investing in those who are the economy. I never understood it with the Nunavut government and their actions for socialism. Not everything should be handed to them on a silver platter.

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    • Posted by GN Staff Housing on

      The ‘strategy’ behind promoting homeownership versus GN staff housing is laughable at best. Homeowners get a taxable $4800 per year, so closer to $3000, compared to people in staff housing who get a non-taxable benefit that, in some cases, is likely in the area of $15,000 per year.

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      • Posted by Norman Gordon on

        On top of GN Staff housing
        GN employees get allowance on top of there pay same as GN with own housing
        Difference is no land tax or no fuel purchase as necessary
        so subsidy for fuel is a plus for every homeowner but still

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        • Posted by NUTAAQ on

          Whether you like George or not it is also about new and fresh blood which is good for that riding too. Having 3 run against him might split the votes too far so everyone needs to come onto the same page on who to vote for. VOTE WISELY not on race, family, free rides, etc. but on skill

  2. Posted by Hope he wins on

    Among ministers, Hickes did most of the heavy lifting, usually as Minister of 2 big departments. I’d be scared to see the next cabinet without him if he were to somehow lose.

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    • Posted by Krooked on

      Dang…he voted in favour of Bill 25. Caused lawsuit…

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  3. Posted by Well on

    I hope the person who is elected will interact more with the people and the community. I have never seen Mr Hickes in public EVER!!!!!!

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    • Posted by Well then on

      Well then you obviously didn’t watch any of the daily TV COVID updates last year

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    • Posted by Owl on

      I see him in public all the time. Maybe you just don’t recognize him with a mask?

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    • Posted by CB on

      In 2017, I received my 25 year service award from the GN. My department’s Minister, Deputy Minister and ADM did not bother to show up at the awards ceremony. No regrets were given. I was sitting at a table with my spouse and George Hickes, Minister of Health , still shook my hand and congratulated me and acknowledged my service on behalf of the GN. I do not/did not work for Health. He saw that no one was there for me. Maybe because I wasn’t in the inner clique. He sat at my table with the others from Education who were left I acknowledged and uncongratulated. His kindness is not forgotten.

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      • Posted by Upon Reflection on

        That was very kind and considerate of George. I am happy you experienced that.

        Do you mind if I guess your department? Sounds like Justice?

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  4. Posted by Sam on

    George in a landslide, with this group,George next premier.

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    • Posted by Hope you’re right on

      I wish I shared your optimism for a landslide, but don’t underestimate the Nunavut electorate and its love for religious zealots and spousal abusers.

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  5. Posted by Citizen on

    Why hasn’t George been campaigning? I don’t see any campaign signs or haven’t heard of him campaigning at all. Does he now feel entitled? I remember in his first campaign he went door to door and had signs. I will not be voting for him again as he has clearly shown during the campaign and while Minister that he is not willing to put in the extra effort that Nunavutmiut deserve. He is clearly in his position for the $ and the status.

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    • Posted by Voter on

      He was at my door twice! Great job campaigning in my mind.

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    • Posted by Signs Everywhere on

      George’s signs are literally the only ones I see on people’s houses in our neighborhood? He’s the best choice of the 4 candidates by a longshot. I’m a Health employee and he’s the only minister who has shown staff that he cares about us and our needs.

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    • Posted by ok? on

      Seen signs around my street and he came by my door too. Very capable guy and took the time to answer all of my questions.

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  6. Posted by Frustrated on

    Hickes has been my MLA for 8 years. Not once has he ever come to speak to me and my family. Not once were we ever been invited/notified to learn or be informed of any new programs, developments with the GN that I should know about. Or maybe we weren’t informed on purpose??? We aren’t one of his close friends.

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    • Posted by Makes Sense on

      Right. Because that’s the responsibility of an elected official…to personally visit your home to tell you about every single GN program available to you. Makes sense.

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      • Posted by Frustrated on

        Would be nice to know every change that happens. Makes sense, it does. However, when you have been the Minister for Health, HR, Finance and you know that changes could effect your constituency why wouldn’t you communicate those changes to those most impacted? Right? Especially when it comes to Health

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  7. Posted by Jim on

    George is one of the nicest politicians I’ve run into anywhere in Canada. He’s smart, hardworking and well intentioned. Go George!

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  8. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    Very interesting evening last night at the Iqaluit all candidate’s forum. One of the highlights was hearing Jonathan Chul-Hee Min Park deliver his opening remarks in Inuktitut. You could feel the boom of applause in the room. Quite a moment.

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  9. Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

    Notice how most of the comments on this thread about Mr. Hickes are personal in nature, and involve his personal political style. In other words, everyone in these comments talk about how:
    -George was kind enough to acknowledge my 25 years service
    -George doesn’t keep me informed enough.
    -George isn’t campaigning enough and coming by my house
    -George is campaigning hard, has a lot of signs up and visited me
    -George is a really nice guy, hardworking and well intentioned!!!

    Note that there is no discussion or debate in these comments about George’s policies, what he stands for and what his platform might be. The reason for that is simple: George had no platform, he has no comprehensive and realistic set of policies, and none of the other candidates do either by the way.

    George will win because he is a really nice guy, he’s good with people and well liked by his constituents. But without political parties offering clear comprehensive policy alternatives, that all you’re going to get which is a bunch of nice, likeable people with no policy agenda of where to take the territory for the next four years. That’s not bad but Nunavut could do much better.

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    • Posted by Volunteer on

      We’ve had him for 8 years…he’s had his chance…let the voters choose

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    • Posted by Consistency on

      It doesn’t really matter what the Candidates campagne on.. it really doesnt matter what they say are priorities (Elder care, housing, education, food security, mining…) the Ministers’s dont hold the power to decide what is a priority let alone regular MLA’s, it is the DM’s and ADMs, and their directors that hold the real power. and only every now and then a Minister might push an idea… but really if the DM and ADM dont agree it wont happen.

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      • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

        Their priorities would matter if they formed part of a political party who assumes power. Talk to any DM or ADM down south and they will tell you that their responsibility is to implement the incoming government’s agenda. That’s the whole point!! When these 12 new independent, free agent MLAs are sworn in, the DMs will tell them what to do. That will happen because the MLAs are just a bunch of uncoordinated individuals who will need to take direction from the DMs and ADMs. If you elect a party of MLAs, the situation reverses itself, and the DMs take direction instead!!

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        • Posted by Kraken on

          Not entirely sure what George’s platform is…guess the nice guy approach is his platform as opposed to sweat and good ideas?

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  10. Posted by Tammy on

    One time years ago, my little brother and I were waiting for a taxi. It was a cold, dark and grim day. It was before the days of these new fangled apps you can use on your smart phone to get a cab. It was getting very windy and the temperature must have been minus 60 with the wind chill but we had no choice but to wait. We waited in the blistering cold for what seemed like hours. We couldn’t get to a phone to make another call to the cab and didn’t want to miss ours. Just when we were giving up when, lo and behold, we saw a flash of headlights from a truck coming towards us. It was George. He just happened to be driving by and stopped to pick us up. He was very kind and drove us to our home and he didn’t need to. We never forgot that day.

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  11. Posted by Voter on

    For most of us we never hear from our MLA, the only time that we ever hear from him was when he read a script on TV, besides that no updates, newsletters or FB updates, I don’t know what his platform is or what he has done as our MLA, writing to him we would get a general reply and no follow up, the issues we have here in Iqaluit are many, homelessness, public drunkenness, violence, water, elder care, lack of programs and many many more. Where has our MLA been besides reading scripts on TV?
    For me I will be voting for someone else, someone that I think will work for their constituents for their community.

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  12. Posted by Over there near the red flag on

    I think someone should Google Mike and see what news articles come up?

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