Nunavut’s incumbent targets housing, training

Nancy Karetak-Lindell seeks third term in Ottawa



Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Nunavut’s incumbent MP, promises to drum up more federal dollars for housing and training in Nunavut, if she’s re-elected.

Karetak-Lindell, who’s been Nunavut’s MP since 1997, carries a trim campaign platform into the election, on policies specifically related to the territory.

But she says that housing and training remain the largest challenges for Nunavut, and require the most immediate attention.

“If someone asked me what the number-one priority is for Nunavut, I would say housing,” Karetak-Lindell said during a recent stop in Kugluktuk.

Karetak-Lindell, who won the Liberal nomination for Nunavut by acclamation, didn’t have specific answers for how she would improve housing in the territory. She also declined to explain how she would improve training opportunities.

But she said she remains optimistic that she can help create programs that will boost literacy among an otherwise talented workforce in Nunavut.

Karetak-Lindell added that a new funding formula set up under the last Liberal government will make it easier for Nunavut to gain access to funding for housing and other needs.

For years, the federal government awarded funding on a per-capita basis, which left under-populated regions like Nunavut with relatively low funding levels.

Karetak-Lindell, a 46-year-old resident of Arviat, said her connections as a Liberal candidate increase Nunavut’s chances of seeing federal improvements in the territory, such as more housing. With those contacts in mind, she said she decided to run again for MP because she still has “more to do with serving the people of Nunavut” after two terms in office.

Karetak-Lindell, who won by a landslide in each of the last two elections, said she stands apart from the other candidates because of her personal approach to politics. As a bilingual Inuk, she said unilingual Inuit can approach her without worries about communication.

“People come first for me and that’s always been my focus,” she said.

If elected, Karetak-Lindell hopes also to focus her next term on increasing how many Nunavummiut pay attention to federal politics, and wants to help them get involved in the process of keeping their MP accountable.

Karetak-Lindell plans to pique more interest in the federal government by encouraging communities to start educational programs about how the federal system works. She said more Nunavummiut can influence federal policies so they better reflect Inuit culture.

“I want people to take control of their lives,” she said. “When people ask me what changes I would like to see in my work, I’ve always said, ‘getting people to exercise their rights.’ ”

Karetak-Lindell’s campaign, backed by several influential business people and politicians in Nunavut, will take her to most communities in Nunavut.

In 1997, Karetak-Lindell took 47.2 per cent of the vote in Nunavut, comfortably ahead of her nearest rival, Hunter Tootoo, who ran for the New Democrats and took 24.6 per cent of the vote, but by a considerably thinner margin than Jack Anawak, her Liberal predecessor.

In 2000, she won by an overwhelming margin, with 68.5 of the vote. Her nearest competitor, Palluq Susan Enuaraq of the NDP, took just 18.6 per cent.

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