Pauloosie Keyootak re-elected as head of QIA

Qikiqtaaluk region beneficiaries clearly want Pauloosie Keyootak to get a chance to finish the job that he started a year ago.



IQALUIT — Baffin beneficiaries handed the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s incumbent president, Pauloosie Keyootak, another three years to achieve the goals he set out a year ago.

Keyootak was re-elected as president of the association Monday night, one year after he first took office. Unofficial results show Keyootak won with 50.78 per cent of votes cast. Runner-up Meeka Kilabuk won 28.21 per cent of the votes cast.

Keyootak took the lead immediately when results from the first ballot box in Apex were counted.

Kilabuk beat Keyootak in Nanisivik and Resolute Bay, and tied him in Arctic Bay, but even before the last ballots were counted, a Keyootak victory was a mathematical certainty.

Keyootak waited quietly in QIA’s Iqaluit offices as the results trickled in. Carefully analyzing the numbers, Keyootak managed a small smile as the end result became clear.

As he awaited results from the last community, Cape Dorset, Keyootak said through an interpreter he was really happy with the results. While he didn’t expect such a convincing win, Keyootak said that during the campaign, voters gave him reason to believe he would return to office.

And he said beneficiaries agreed he needs a chance to complete the projects he had set out to achieve last year.

During this year’s campaign, Keyootak said he notified the that Inuit there are responsibilities he hasn’t yet completed. And people are happy with his job he did in this past year, Keyootak said.

During his new mandate, Keyootak wants QIA to help cover travel costs for Inuit who have lost family members.

To do this, Keyootak wants QIA to dip into some of the profits generated by the Qikiqtaaluk Corp.

“One of the two things I’ve been talking about is to help Inuit beneficiaries in the Baffin. Especially those who need to travel because of a loss of a family member,” Keyootak said.

Keyootak also wants to rework some of QIA’s policies and bylaws. In particular, he wants to change the bylaw that allowed him to continue his work as president during the election campaign.

“It’s difficult to be in the same position and to campaign. It doesn’t look all that good,” Keyootak said.

Johnathan Palluq of Clyde River tried to replace Keyootak on a platform that preached giving a voice to all Baffin beneficiaries.

In his first stab at electoral politics, Palluq managed to gain 15.35 per cent of votes cast and a majority in his home community.

After the election, Palluq congratulated Keyootak and conceded that the voters want Keyootak to continue.

“Pauloosie has been in that position and he has been doing a good job. I think the people are looking for continuity,” Palluq said.

This election will provide experience to Palluq, who says he will consider running again for an Inuit organization or the Nunavut government.

“I would show more confidence in my campaign. This is the first time I ran and I didn’t bring out all my qualities,” Palluq said.

Candidate Johnny Kopak’s campaign was stalled by the death of his mother last month. Kopak stopped actively campaigning to travel to Repulse Bay for the funeral. Palluq won 5.66 per cent of votes cast.

“Congratulations to Pauloosie Keyootak. I wasn’t following the campaign. I had a little too much on my mind,” Kopak said. Kopak said he too will run again in future contests.

Final results weren’t expected until Thursday, when ballot boxes from the High Arctic were scheduled to arrive in Iqaluit, said Kathy Oqallak, the chief returning officer for the election. Voter turnout figures were not available.

Voters also elected Mark Evaloarjuk of Igloolik as vice-president. Evaloarjuk replaced Paul Amagoalik of Resolute Bay.

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