Rankin Inlet councillor takes on mayor in municipal election

Incumbent Harry Towtongie focuses on continuing projects; Megan Pizzo-Lyall wants to see more mental health and addictions support

Rankin Inlet’s two-way mayoral race is the only competition in the hamlet’s Oct. 23 municipal election. Megan Pizzo-Lyall, left, is a municipal councillor, while incumbent Mayor Harry Towtongie has been in the role for nearly six years. (Photo courtesy of Megan Pizzo-Lyall/File photo by David Venn)

By David Lochead

Leading up to Nunavut’s Oct. 23 municipal elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of races in the territory’s 25 communities.

A Rankin Inlet municipal councillor is taking on incumbent Mayor Harry Towtongie in the community’s Oct. 23 election.

Megan Pizzo-Lyall has served on council for the past two years.

“I’ve always had the motivation to help people,” she said about why she’s running.

Pizzo-Lyall was born and raised in Taloyoak. She spent about 10 years in Iqaluit before moving to Rankin Inlet nearly seven years ago.

She is the manager of operations at Atuqtuarvik Corporation, which provides financing to Inuit-owned businesses, but she has political experience as well. Before moving to Rankin Inlet, Pizzo-Lyall was  a city councillor for two years in Iqaluit and ran for the Liberal Party in the 2019 federal election.

Pizzo-Lyall said one of her priorities is to advocate for more mental health and addictions treatment or support.

“In Rankin Inlet, we currently don’t have those facilities locally and if anything there’s usually a long wait to access those programs,” she said.

Pizzo-Lyall is also pushing for improved water infrastructure in Rankin Inlet, such as replacing or upgrading defunct parts of the water infrastructure and getting upgrades to the hamlet’s sewage lift stations. This is needed so the community can build more housing, she said.

“I want to make sure that I’m there to oversee and push for the next phase of development,” Pizzo-Lyall said.

She stressed that she is not running to make lots of changes in the hamlet, but to continue the work already being done.

“I want to … ensure the right person is in the job to advocate to the government, whether it’s the federal or territorial government,” she said.

Incumbent Towtongie is a heating technician by trade who has run a small business.

Towtongie has served at the helm of Rankin Inlet for almost six years. He said he wants to stay there to address the issues his administration hasn’t had the chance to deal with because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s stuff we have to clean up and get done,” Towtongie said, like fixing the hamlet’s landfill, which he calls an “environmental disaster.”

“We need to keep our land clean and safe for people to be on,” he said.

Towtongie said the hamlet has a good relationship with the Government of Nunavut to get tasks accomplished.

That includes preparing lots for housing and dealing with water supply issues in Rankin Inlet.

“It’s an ongoing [task] that we’d like to see keep going,” Towtongie said of fixing water issues.

When asked why he should stay on as mayor, Towtongie first mentioned the experience he’s built up before going into his desire to give more to his community of over 40 years.

“I just feel like my work is not done,” Towtongie said.

There will be no race for municipal council in Rankin Inlet. The acclaimed councillors are Chris Eccles, Levi Curley, Michael Shouldice, David Kakuktinniq Jr., Danny Kowmuk, Art Sateana and Martha Hickes.

Rankin Inlet’s district education authority members are also acclaimed. They are Sheila Schweder, Ford Widrig, Mike Osmond and Margaret Uruluk Okatsiak.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Infused on

    Best of luck Megan. Rankin is lucky to have you.

  2. Posted by inungmarik on

    when it is nunavut when inuit makes most of decisions, health care, education are over looked. diagnosing individuals, when talking to a mental health care worker, they lead you the wrong way, and are not focusing on inuit values, it focuses on european style where they are designed for non inuit where most of them are in the south. they are meant for southerners non inuit those kinds of mental health. but it is canada where nunavut is our land where we feel comfortable in our home and need to make better decisions.

    • Posted by We’d Be Lucky to Have European Mental Health Supports on

      European? Seriously? I’d say that you’ve had no experience with different European-style mental health systems.

      Canada would be lucky to have European (continental anyway) style mental health treatments. Sadly, we are stuck with a Canadian-style system.

      • Posted by Good point on

        We do get the point, might not be the European way, maybe more of a UK and US way of doing things in southern Canada that are brought up as a cookie cutter approach for pretty much everything for Nunavut which for the most part a lot of it doesn’t seem to work very well as it’s very foreign for Inuit, we have to constantly try to understand why a lot of what is being forced on us and what is not really working but still being used and why other approaches and ways that might work better for Nunavut is never really explored or used instead.
        For the different species smoke, of course we know we are of the same species, but we can be very different from each other at the same time, just like a shih Tzu and a husky, same species but are they exactly the same?
        It’s more complicated than your simple analogy.

        • Posted by Proper Labels Lead to Proper Problem Identification on

          The poster does make a good point. Why do so many in Nunavut refer to things non-Inuit as “European”? It seems that “European” is just a code for “non-Inuit”.

          It certainly shows a view of the country that perhaps doesn’t understand the difference between appearance and culture. To be sure, despite appearances, Euro-ancestry Canadians are not European, any more than Inuit are Asian.

          To your point – yes, culturally appropriate care is a thing. However, it is not being ‘forced’ on anyone. The leadership of our territory, overwhelmingly Inuit, makes these decisions. Nothing is being ‘forced’ on anyone. The Inuit leadership are making these choices and inviting these techniques and service-providers here. The leadership and must believe that these services are in the best interest of the Inuit-majority population that they serve.

          While you concern is a common one, it is completely inappropriate to blame “European’ ways if the services are a poor fit. The blame needs to be directed towards the Inuit leadership who make the decisions. It is easier to blame the ‘other’ than those closer to home, and I get that, but it doesn’t help solve the problem.

        • Posted by Untermensch on

          Genetic variation between dog breeds is estimated at 27.5 percent. By comparison, genetic variation between human populations is only 5.4 percent.

          Your analogy is not only useless, it demonstrates even further your distorted thinking.

          • Posted by Lost I Am on

            Whose comment are you commenting on? I got lost.

    • Posted by Pangloss on

      Identitarian politics has lead many to believe we are entirely different species on this planet. It is a toxic body of thought in so many ways.

  3. Posted by What ever on

    Both of these candidates along with the council don’t listen to the general public – instead take on the role of who yells the loudest at them. (yah yah I should run then… what ever) (and yes I am an Inuk from here)
    Take for instance the B&W store… You think it was the majority of the public that wanted the amounts reduced? Even the RCMP say it won’t make a difference. But why did the council and Mayor decide to write an official letter on behalf of the 10% of the community who yelled and screamed at the council? The majority of Rankin didn’t want changes but mayor and council decided that they couldn’t take the heat and press from the yellers. We are going in the wrong direction, open up more venues, allow restaurants to serve at meals, time to look at opening and actual Bar like Iqaluit, lets start the talks about an actual liquor store that sells everything like the rights of all other Canadians have access to.
    We still have to many unchecked AND ILLEGAL lotteries in our community but you don’t see the Hamlet stepping up to get something done about these issues – why? Hondas without helmets/unlicensed and uninsured (where is the Hamlet?), to many unregistered and unlicensed vehicles (where is the Hamlet?) because the relatives and addicts aren’t at the Hamlet yelling at them.

    Each candidate should come out and discuss their views on the B&W in public and if their relatives are gonna get it shut down cause they got no grit to actually listen to what the Public wants.

  4. Posted by monty sling on

    It takes a Rankiner to understand it’s ppl. Not a yappy…

  5. Posted by Conflict of INTEREST – Running for Council?? on

    Is it possible to have different hat to run in various boards or Hamlet council as couples in household operating a business? It this conflict of interests? or is this only exempt in Nunavut?

    CONFLICT of Interest?
    – Household Couples in HOUSEHOLD?
    – Operating a Business and nominated for Council ELECTION’s?

    This must be considered conflict of interest or in other words CORRUPTION’s?

    • Posted by eskimo joe on

      Do you mean to say if you have a business you’re not allowed to run for any office? business person who wants to serve it’s ppl is corrupt? Canada is a free nation and everyone who want to run for any office is free to do so, look at our currents feds…greatest comedy show on earth: Thanksgiving turkey in major cities $160.00????? so let’s go conservatives.

      • Posted by Municipal Functions Broken System to Skunks works! on

        Just look at chart; running for Council (two couples in household), and other two campaign lists to run, and operating a management under a Corporate entity could be perhaps 3 different business services that is to community (hired to serve local services to public).
        Is this legitimate to IMPROVE local services at local level where infrastructure and services are lacking! or are the elected campaign (monopoly couples) just to gain personal honorarium? This kind of makes you wonder HOW corporate services in remote Municipalities are taken advantage of due to poor monitoring of Corporate Head Office in south.
        This is may perhaps is double dipping (pay cheque to pay cheque), monopolizing cash grab, taken advantage of Corporate operations under the NOSE of Head Office in south.
        What do you think of this broken system?? Sound about right?

        • Posted by Municipal Functions – Skunks works! on

          Is this in part ACL or other businesses contract under GN? Who goof all this!?!


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