Search and rescue team members face off in Whale Cove mayor race
New member of the community and elder resident share visions to improve hamlet
Leading up to Nunavut’s Oct. 23 municipal elections, Nunatsiaq News is publishing snapshots of races in the territory’s 25 communities.
Two members of Whale Cove’s search and rescue team are facing off for the hamlet’s mayoral seat.
Oliver Shipton also works as a conservation officer for the Government of Nunavut and a volunteer firefighter in addition to his search and rescue duties, while Gerard Maktar is a corporal in the Canadian Rangers with 38 years of search and rescue experience under his belt.
Incumbent Mayor Percy Kabloona is not seeking re-election in Monday’s election.
“I’m proud to be able to call Whale Cove my home,” said Shipton, who moved to the hamlet three years ago.
“There’s always someone willing to help out another person or even volunteer their time.”
Shipton acknowledged he doesn’t have a lot of political experience, but doesn’t see that as a detriment. He said his run for mayor is all about serving the community and making it better for its people.
“This community has been great to me and I love it here,” he said.
“This is somewhere I want to stay for a long time.”
Shipton said his number-one priority if elected would be to reopen the arena, which has been closed for several years. He called the building a mental health support for the community.
“Kids haven’t been able to play hockey and that’s a huge [problem] in this community right now,” he said.
Shipton also described big goals of improving infrastructure, fixing roads, building a fitness centre and digging out a new boat launch. He also said he wants to ensure locals have the opportunity to be involved in community development.
Post-secondary educational support, such as a pre-trades program course to give individuals an extra hand in passing the exam that would enable students to take on trades apprenticeships, is on Shipton’s mind as well.
“I feel with my drive and work ethic I can do a great job in that role if elected,” he said.
Originally from Chesterfield Inlet, Gerard Maktar has lived in Whale Cove for 40 years and is a grandfather of 17. He is a former hamlet councillor and current deputy mayor.
Maktar cited years of political experience in Whale Cove in his goals of continuing the work he’s done thus far.
“My first priority would be for young people,” he said. “The young people in Whale Cove, 16 and up, don’t have a place to go, anywhere to gather.”
Maktar also wants to create more programs for youth and elders. He noted there is a youth centre which primarily serves young children but isn’t really used by young adults.
Maktar hopes to build a new space that can be used by elders as well as young adults, separately or together. He thinks it would be an opportunity for elders to pass on knowledge and share with younger generations.
He noted the roads lack gravel and the municipality needs a rock crusher.
Maktar also noted the community has been working toward building a dock for unloading cargo ships, which adds to the list of things he wants to continue work on. The current small community dock is inadequate, he said, and needs a separate location for unloading cargo.
There is a lot to work on, Maktar said, adding he doesn’t like saying that he is going to focus on just one thing. All of it is important, he said.
If elected mayor, Maktar’s focus would be on the work he has already been doing as deputy-mayor.
“I will work hard,” he said.
Whale Cove also has a race for council, with 11 community members running for eight council seats. Candidates, as listed on the Elections Nunavut website, are Elizabeth Kabloona, Sam Arualak, Eva Voisey, Joefrey Okalik, Manu Nattar, Michael Angutetuar, Mariah Okalik, Terri Rose Teenar, Megan Angootealuk, Molly Okalik, and Guy Enuapik.
The hamlet’s district education authority is acclaimed, with Lavenia Angutituar, Manu Nattar, Patricia Enuapik, Lu-Anne Saumik and Morgan Payne taking on that role.
Its alcohol education committee is also acclaimed. The members are Agatha Ekwalak, Manu Nattar, Molly Okalik, Jonathan Ekwalak and Morgan Payne.