QIA contender says he speaks for young generation

“My kind of politics scares the very old people”


The Apex resident challenging Thomasie Alikatuktuk’s presidency of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association is known for his strong opinions.

During the late 1990s, Jacopoosie Peter was a vocal opponent of the Nunavut Land Claims agreement, arguing that Inuit were being ripped off by ceding their aboriginal title.

Today he believes that Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. shouldn’t even exist, and that the Government of Nunavut is little more than a carbon copy of the old NWT administration it replaced.

“My kind of politics scares the very old people,” Peter said.

Still, the 42-year-old sees himself as part of a younger generation of Inuit, one that didn’t grow up on the land, and one he says will eventually shake up how business is done.

“This election is a crossroads. I think it’ll show a different story from the older generation,” he said. “We don’t come from the land. We don’t, it’s not our environment. It’s not our frame of mind. We have a more global outlook.”

He can’t argue with the financial health of QIA today, which incumbent president Thomasie Alikatuktuk is largely credited for turning around when he became president in September 2001. But Peter says he’s seen QIA become less vocal over the years.

And even with the alphabet soup of organizations in the territory, he says ordinary Inuit he speaks to feel alienated by their leaders today.

“If you talk to regular Inuit, they don’t feel they have someone speaking on their behalf. There’s no one to stand up for the little guy.”

He sees more decision-making at a regional level as a solution. He says regional organizations like QIA should work to uphold the land claim, rather than NTI. Similarly, he says non-elected bodies like the Nunavut Wildlife Board wield more power than regional wildlife boards, and he’d like to see that reversed.

“To me, all this is the result of a leadership vacuum, not just in the Baffin region, but in Nunavut as a whole.”

That leadership should extend from the office and into Iqaluit’s bars, where he says Inuit are commonly discriminated against by servers.

“Our leadership needs to stand up for them. I’m here to say I’m going to stand up for people who want to drink responsibly, and have a good time.”

Peter took a run at the presidency in the early 1990s. He says his defeat was largely due to his body size – Inuit leaders were typically far shorter at the time, he said.

“You had to elect a very short, stout person. I was told you’re not short enough, or stout enough.”

Peter’s public life began in the late 1980s, when he became involved in the Apex recreation committee and organized games, like the four-way rope pull, and other activities.

Later that decade he was acclaimed to municipal council, and one year into his term he was appointed deputy mayor. He later sat on the executive of the NWT association of municipalities.

While Peter has never sat on the QIA board, he says he’s known most of its members over the years, and kept a close eye on their affairs while working as an interpreter for the organization. “I’ve seen them evolve differently over time,” he said.

With the campaign on, he plans to appear on community radio next week, and visit several Baffin communities before the election.

With dwindling turnouts during recent regional elections, he says it’s important for all Inuit to exercise their right to vote, even if they don’t plan to vote for him.

“If we Inuit feel we need a strong voice, in Nunavut and Canada, we need to participate. Whether people agree with me or not, by making your ballot count, you can help us have a stronger voice.”

Share This Story

(0) Comments