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MLA candidates on the issues: P.J. Akeeagok, Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu

Home ownership crucial to economic development says candidate
P.J. Akeeagok, a candidate for the Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu riding. Photo courtesy of P.J. Akeeagok P.J. ᐊᕿᐊᕈᖅ, ᓂᕈᐊᒐᒃᓴᐅᔪᖅ ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ-ᓂᐊᖁᙴᒧᑦ ᓂᕈᐊᕐᕕᐅᕙᒃᑐᒧᑦ ᑭᒡᓕᖓᓄᑦ.

P.J. Akeeagok

Community: Iqaluit (originally from Grise Fiord)

Age: 36

Family status: Married with three children

Career: Former president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association

Volunteer or board experience?

I have been on many boards including: Nunavut Tunngavik, Nunasi, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Makigiaqta.

Why are you running for MLA?

I am running for MLA because I want to serve my community. I believe that I can apply my experience in Inuit governance and advocacy to serve my constituents in Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu. We need fresh perspective and new energy at the Government of Nunavut to achieve real change, such as tackling the astronomical cost of daycare and difficulty of accessing housing for families in Nunavut. I believe my experience and knowledge of Inuit organizations and governance will support the GN to improve collaboration and partnerships for Nunavummiut.

How much influence should NTI have in territorial governance?

As the former president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, I know how much can be done by Inuit organizations if you’re willing to work hard and break down silos in government. As such, I’m a firm believer in partnerships and working with all levels of governance to tackle issues such as housing. We can do so much more if we leverage all our resources across all levels of government. Inuit made a very clear decision when creating Nunavut. Both modern treaty and a public government were achieved. Making these governance systems work together is what makes Nunavut unique.

How urgent is combating climate change in Nunavut?

Climate change is an issue that impacts people everywhere, including Nunavut. We know that changing ice conditions and stronger storms are creating hazards for harvesters in our communities, as one example. I think we have an opportunity to be leaders and innovators when it comes to climate change in Nunavut. I’m very proud of the work I led at the Qikiqtani Inuit Association in establishing Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area and Tallurutiup Imanga Marine Protected Area, as well as the Nauttiqsuqtiit Inuit environmental steward program. I think we can explore initiatives that address climate change while also providing opportunities for our people.

How do you envision economic development in your riding?

Economic development needs to be tied to bolstering sustainable industries such as fisheries. We must diversify our economy. With the new port in Iqaluit, and the deep-water port in Qikiqtarjuaq, we have real opportunities with the blue economy. I am also a strong supporter of hiring locally and supporting local firms to increase their capacity. Housing development and ownership are examples of how I plan to support economic development in my riding – home ownership is a crucial step in supporting the contributions families make to economic development.

Are you for or against mandatory vaccinations?

I think vaccination is necessary for public safety. This is not a new issue — as kids we all had vaccine passports. I think Nunavut has been doing well in terms of managing the Covid-19 pandemic; mass vaccination is going well. We’re on track to returning to normal life, as long as we keep on being vigilant. Mandatory vaccination could be a necessary step to community safety. I am eager for the day when all Nunavut youth have the opportunity to receive vaccinations.