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MLA candidates on the issues: Paul Puqiqnak, Gjoa Haven

Paul Puqiqnak
Paul Puqiqnak, a candidate for MLA in the riding of Gjoa Haven. Photo courtesy of Paul Puqiqnak ᐹᓪ ᐳᕿᖅᓇᖅ, ᓂᕈᐊᒐᒃᓴᐅᔪᖅ ᒪᓕᒐᓕᐅᖅᑎᒧᑦ ᓂᕈᐊᕐᕕᐅᕙᒃᑐᒧᑦ ᑭᒡᓕᖓᓄᑦ ᐅᖅᓱᖅᑑᒧᑦ.

Paul Puqiqnak

Community: Gjoa Haven

Age: 42

Family status: Wife Abby Puqiqnak, three beautiful children, step-daughter Lindsey Rose Anavilok (12), Jaxon Pala Puqiqnak (8) and daughter Allyanna (4)

Career: I currently work at the Continuing Care Centre (CCC) as a recreation therapy worker for the past 11 years. We are very fortunate to have a CCC in Gjoa Haven.

Volunteer or board experience:

I have been fortunate to serve as Hamlet councillor and as deputy mayor for one year. I have listened to community members’ concerns when I was on council. One of the highlights I brought up was building an Elder/youth camp, and it was built. It is important to engage Elders and youth. I’ve also mentioned clean up at a place called Avvaq — it use to be a camp many years ago and a mess was left at the camp. As a Hamlet councillor, I mentioned the area needs to be cleaned up and it was cleaned in the summertime. It brought employment to community members. I’ve sat on the Gjoa Haven District Education Authority (GHDEA) as well — I have served as chairperson, vice-chairperson and member. I’ve attended the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs’ annual general meeting to represent GHDEA. As chairperson for the Gjoa Haven DEA, we sent a letter past premier Eva Aariak to get both schools to get renovated and we have both schools renovated.

Why are you running for MLA?

I want to get programs going in the community, programs to include AA meetings. Encourage mental health workers to come up with an action plan to work with Gjoa Haven community members. I also want to fight violence against women, not only in Gjoa Haven but across Nunavut. I also would like to see Truth and Reconciliation Commission come to community to help with filling out the application form to get the grant that residential school survivors need. Our youth are our future. For many years, we were promised a youth centre and we never got one. As MLA, I would lobby for a youth centre. I also would fight for a shop to include a new Nunavut Arctic College that can train youths in apprenticeships, to receive red-seal journeyman for electrician, plumbing, heavy equipment, carpentry. This would be very beneficial for youth of Gjoa Haven.

How much influence should NTI have in territorial governance?

As a beneficiary of NTI, I would like to see the big game items return to the Nunavut Harvester Support Program. Hunters were getting a boat, Ski-Doos, ATVs, that was very beneficial for beneficiaries. Also, for Inuit businesses, NTI has to inform beneficiaries about grants. A lot of beneficiaries would like to start business but can’t find the help that they need, such as where and how to fill out application forms. I would reach out to NTI for Inuit businesses and help beneficiaries fill out application forms for businesses.

How do you envision economic development in your riding?

Gjoa Haven is a major attraction worldwide. We have two historic ships: the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. I would push for tourism and employment opportunities in Gjoa Haven. Also, work with the Department of Culture and Heritage to expand the Nattilik Heritage Centre. I would fight for more funding to promote and create employment opportunities for residents of Gjoa Haven. As a business owner, I also would like to inform community members we have grants from the Kitikmeot Inuit Association out of Cambridge Bay and Economic Development and Transportation out of Kugluktuk. There is funding available for beneficiaries who want to start businesses.

Are you for or against mandatory vaccinations?

We live in a global pandemic of Covid-19. As MLA, I would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated to fight Covid-19. I would also fight for cleaning supplies for community members to sanitize homes and buildings. It is very beneficial to get vaccinated.