Nunavut votes: Recently acclaimed MLA looks to keep seat in Kugluktuk
4 candidates vying to be MLA in Kugluktuk
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.
Calvin Aivgak Pedersen is facing competition from three other candidates in Kugluktuk after being acclaimed in a byelection last year.
Kugluktuk has a population of 1,517, according to 2020 Government of Nunavut data.
Before becoming an MLA Pedersen was a field technician with Polar Knowledge Canada and a program officer with the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation. Pedersen is the grandson of the community’s former MLA and mayor, Red Pedersen.
He was unavailable to comment for this interview due to a hunting trip.
Bobby Anavilok, 60, is a stone carver who has worked in parks planning and with the hunters and trappers organization in Kugluktuk.
Angele Kuliktana, 56, said she has worked as an Inuinnaqtun interpreter and translator, assistant to managers at the Ekati mine and sat on the board of the local district education authority.
Rounding out the candidates is Genevieve Nivingalok. Nivingalok, 37, is a resource worker with the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services and was previously a community case worker for the government’s Department of Justice.
The main issues for these candidates include housing, mental health, education and employment.
Anavilok says the lack of housing in Kugluktuk leads to other problems, such as mental health challenges.
“There’s too many people staying in a dwelling,” Anavilok said.
Overcrowded housing can lead to eroding life conditions and eventually suicide, he added.
Nivingalok also said issues such as housing and mental health are connected. She adds that lack of health services lead to what is one of her larger issues, reducing poverty.
Nivingalok said she will address the issues caused by poverty by consulting with people in the riding and bringing their issues to government if she is elected.
Identifying themselves as Inuinnaqtun speakers, both Kuliktana and Anavilok said that preserving their language is important.
“Education needs more programming to encourage Inuinnaqtun language use,” said Kuliktana.
Kuliktana said from daycare up, there needs to be more of a focus on Inuinnaqtun to preserve the language.
Both Anavilok and Kuliktana also said that Kugluktuk’s economy needs to strengthen.
Anavilok said he will focus on ensuring that jobs in Kugluktuk are available for people in the hamlet instead of from southern Canada.
Kuliktana said that the government should look to hire more locals for entry-level positions that are available.