Nunavut votes: Lorne Kusugak looks to keep seat in Rankin Inlet South
Incumbent faces challenges from political veteran Tagak Curley and newcomer Bobby Oolooyuk
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.
Lorne Kusugak is looking to fend off one well-known challenger and a newcomer to territorial politics in the riding of Rankin Inlet South.
With a population of 3,026 according to the Government of Nunavut’s 2020 data, Rankin Inlet is the hub of the Kivalliq region and is split into two ridings.
Kusugak is seeking his third term as MLA. Over his last term he served as minister of health, community and government services, human resources, and was also the minister responsible for seniors and suicide prevention.
Kusugak was first elected as MLA in 2008. Previously he served as the mayor of Rankin Inlet. He is also one of the founders of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation.
Nunatsiaq News reached out to Kusugak for an interview but he did not respond.
In his campaign brochure, Kusugak said he will continue to push for the construction of new homes in Rankin Inlet. He added that he will push for a homeless shelter, as “it is very stressful for our residents who do not have a place to call home.”
His brochure also says a mental health centre is needed in Nunavut and that he will continue to work to get such a facility in Rankin Inlet.
Challenging Kusugak is another well-known politician from Rankin Inlet, Tagak Curley.
Curley, 77, is a former MLA and a founder and first president of the organization that would become Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
During his time as president he sat on the steering committee that would establish the Nunavut land-claim negotiations.
Curley said homeownership programs in Rankin Inlet need to be improved through more engagement with the community.
“That isn’t happening enough,” he said.
Curley named mental health as another priority, saying formal certification should not be needed to be a mental health counsellor. He added that community members with an understanding and connection to the people of Rankin Inlet should be able to be mental health counsellors.
Bobby Oolooyuk is a first-time candidate. Oolooyuk, 55, said he has worked in management-level positions, such as a maintenance technician with Community and Government Services and a manager of the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. Harvester Support program.
Oolooyuk said to fix housing he wants more jobs available to residents in Rankin Inlet, instead of contractors being brought in from outside the territory.
“That will strengthen the economy in this community and create more jobs,” he said.
Oolooyuk also said he wants to see a homeless shelter in Rankin Inlet, and more treatment centres, especially for addictions treatment.