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Questions and answers with KIA candidates

Five running in December election for Inuit organization president
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Patterk Netser. Photo courtesy of Patterk Netser

Five candidates are vying for president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association in the Dec. 11 election.

Kivalliq News sent a questionnaire to all five. Ross Tatty and David Kuksuk acknowledged receipt of the questions but did not respond by deadline. The other three candidates’ answers are found below.

Their answers have been edited for clarity and grammar but otherwise left unchanged. Some candidates wrote answers that encompassed multiple questions; we have edited the question list based on the response from each candidate for ease of reading.

Kivalliq News will publish the remaining candidates’ answers if they arrive prior to voting day.

Samuel Alagalak

Q: Can you list your name, age, home community and any relevant work or political experience?

A: Sam (Samuel) Alagalak

Age: 51

Rankin Inlet and Arviat

Experience:

-Current KIA secretary treasurer on leave of absence without pay.

-Experience in finance and bookkeeping, financial planning and reporting

-Certified in negotiation – Osgoode Hall Law School

-Certified in contract law and procurement law and practice – Osgoode Hall Law School

-Human resource management – Government of Nunavut

-Past Kangiqliniq HTO chairman

Q: What are your main priorities to address if you are elected president of the KIA?

A: Communication and working together with other organizations including NTI, GN, federal government for the betterment of Inuit lives. Wildlife and environmental protection based on Inuit values. Mining and exploration transparency. Transparency and accountability. Legacy Fund implementation.

Each community has unique priorities and can be addressed. Some include, based on community feedback:

Dene boundary overlap – Arviat

Heritage rivers - Baker Lake

Homelessness and mining – Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove

Marine protection, and Ukkusiksalik IIBA – Naujaat, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield Inlet

Medical and airline travel – All communities

Qamanigjuaq caribou protection – All communities

Elder care – All communities

Education – All communities

Q: What are the biggest challenges the KIA faces?

A: Communication and transparency, staffing, accountability.

Q: What can the KIA do better?

A: Communication – keep beneficiaries informed. Work with other organizations for the betterment of Inuit lives. Advocate for Inuit rights and Inuit land and businesses.

Implement programs in an open, fair and timely manner.

Q: What is your position on mining in the Kivalliq?

A: We need to work with the mining sector, NIRB, NPC, GN and federal government to ensure jobs for Inuit at management levels. Prioritize Inuit concerns over profit. Caribou management. Protect lakes and rivers.

Q: Do you have any solutions for the housing crisis?

A: NTI introduced the Nunavut Inuit Housing Action Plan (NIHAP) and KIA received $14 million last month and will receive another $75 million over three years for Inuit homeownership programs in the Kivalliq communities.

Build homes that are tailored to Inuit needs. Hire NIHAP implementation manager as soon as possible. Consult with community leaders on community needs. Deliver feasible programs to commence summer 2024.

Q: What is your stance on Rankin Inlet’s beer and wine store and its impacts?

A: Leaders and Inuit have expressed concern over the beer and wine store that led to limited purchases. Advocate for more support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and support centres.

Q: What is your stance on the issue of a medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet, and is it something you would advocate for as president of the KIA?

A: I have been advocating for this for seven years and will continue to do so as president. I will work with the government and offer support to work with authorities to ensure this vital service becomes available as soon as possible. In the meantime, I believe we can work with Calm Air and improve on the waiting room such as provide free wi-fi. Rankin Inlet is the transportation hub of the region and more services are needed.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: My priority as president will be to serve Inuit in the Kivalliq region and to hear their concerns and provide leadership that is needed. I will ensure communication to KIA president is open, all enquiries will be responded to in a timely manner. We need to support Inuit of all ages, we need to take control back as it was intended when Nunavut was created. The Legacy Fund will be implemented if elected in a timely manner to ensure current generation of Inuit benefit fully and ensure the fund continues to grow for our future. I am not new to KIA as I was the assistant COO as well. This means I would not need training and all my work can begin immediately instead of needing training and introduction.

Kono Tattuinee

Q: Can you list your name, age, home community and any relevant work or political experience?

A: My name is Kono Tattuinee, married to Bernadette and I’m 60 years old, currently living in Rankin Inlet.

These are some of my work experiences: started off working for airlines as cargo hand and later in charge of cargo, at the same time being an agent and training others to the trade.

I’ve also worked for the Housing Corporation for the region as well as Nunavut headquarters. My political experience or experiences are as follows: Hamlet council in Arviat for many terms, have chaired for local Co-op boards both in Arviat and Rankin Inlet, later on have also been the board chair at the Arctic Co-operatives, representing 32 member-owned Co-ops in the Arctic. I was also one of the first to sit on the Nunavut Water Board in its initial start-up. During this time in the ‘90s I was the vice-president of Kivalliq Inuit Association and sat on the Nunavut Tunngavik Board. Served as president of Kivalliq Inuit Association 2019 and have decided to run for my second term of office.

Q: What can the KIA do better?

A: There are some things as an Inuit organization that we can improve upon and one of the things we can work more closely with the GN, specifically the Health department for those medical travellers that often get stranded in Rankin. They sometimes have to find a ride to town, and most of them do not find their own hotel or accommodations. Part of the solution could be that to lobby the GN for a medical boarding home in Rankin as it’s the hub of the region. One of the other things the Health department can do better might be to make available hotel for those that have to wait more than four hours and at least make food available for them if the layover is more than two hours.

One issue currently is there needs to be a better job of coordinating financial resources for those pursuing post-secondary education so it’s needs based versus a first come, first-served basis. This means working with all levels of governments, industry and Inuit organizations to see what programs are delivered, including what is funded, and develop programming that complements each for students and their families. One of things that is tied in with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit that’s kind of become very quiet is the trapping industry — as our forefathers had done to provide for family, to put food on the table. We need to look into building a relationship that’ll partner with the GN Environment (wildlife) to see if we can top up the amount the GN currently provides for fur-bearing animals i.e. foxes, wolf, polar bears, to name a few. The KIA can work or partner with the GN to bring this very important life skill to continue something that can help not only young people but the community as a whole. We need to revive this old trade that would again not only teach survival skills but also teach the next generation that they can be proud of.

Q: What is your position on mining in the Kivalliq?

A: First of all, it provides jobs for our people, brings in much needed income, also helps our local economies and the local (regional) businesses that provide spin-off jobs — as long the mines follow the regulations of the land use and respect the environment.

Q: Do you have any solutions for the housing crisis?

A: The KIA has a pot of monies budgeted thanks to the Nunavut Inuit Housing Action Plan sponsored by the federal government to tackle affordable housing and homelessness in Nunavut. While I was president of Kivalliq Inuit, the funds have already been allocated to go towards affordable housing and or towards homeownership. The board had only deliberated and we went over some numbers but nothing was finalized. The funds allocated for Kivalliq is approximately $90 million and $14 million has already been secured for our region in this fiscal year. We have a lot of work to do and need to hear what this region wants.

Q: What is your stance on Rankin Inlet’s beer and wine store and its impacts?

A: I believe the monies or the profits that go into GN should go towards education programs on the effects of alcohol use. Some of that monies should also provide help for those that need help with mental issues as well.

Q: What is your stance on a medical boarding home in Rankin Inlet, and is it something you would advocate for as president of the KIA?

A: This is also much needed in Rankin with Rankin being the hub — to get people that travel on medical travel who have to try and find a place if the hotels are full; and not only those getting medical appointment here in Rankin, but those travelling from Winnipeg and/or Iqaluit get stranded here and they’re the ones that would be able to access the boarding home if GN Health department were able to either build or renovate an existing building in Rankin.

Patterk Netser

Q: Can you list your name, age, home community and any relevant work or political experience?

A: My name is Patterk Netser, 64 years old. Born and raised in Coral Harbour. I am married to Mona Netser. We have six children, all adults now, 20 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren.

I am a former MLA and cabinet member of the Government of Nunavut with various departments: Environment, ED&T, Arctic College and Housing Corporation.

I also worked for former Nunavut MP and federal minister Leona Aglukkaq as her constituent assistant and, later, regional director.

Q: What are your main priorities to address if you are elected president of the KIA?

A: My priorities are as follows and they all have equal attention:

-There’s growing concerns over the Dene land claims currently under negotiations with the federal government that claim to have assertive rights over some of the Kivalliq region as well the Kitikmeot region on mineral rights and land use. If elected, I will vehemently oppose this claim.

-Build a regional rehabilitation centre that will provide a place of treatment for people that have alcohol and drug addictions as well as mental health issues.

-Build a transient centre (boarding home) in Rankin Inlet for the medical patients that are often stranded at the airport due to flight cancellations and for those who go for medical appointments in Rankin Inlet.

-Work with all HTOs on their aspirations for wildlife management and preservation.

-Lobby the federal government on GST rebates on purchases of trucks, snowmobiles, ATVs, freight charges, and other large-ticket items.

-Bring transparency and report on all aspects of KIA operations annually.

-Under the Nunavut Inuit Housing Action Plan, the KIA secured funds of $78 million. I will use that to build homes for young families, similar to the former HAP home ownership programs and renovate existing private homes.

-Provide funding for access roads.

Q: What are the biggest challenges the KIA faces?

A: I think we are swamped with many challenges. Medical care is very high. I would work with the Department of Health for how patients can receive better health care. Many have gone to the health centre for help but have been sent home with a bottle of Tylenol. I would create an office where KIA can be an advocate. Many Kivalliq residents need a voice.

Q: What can the KIA do better?

A: I can’t at this time say where the KIA can do better, but I would consult with stakeholders, business groups, HTOs, education, Arctic College and hamlets on how we can be a better body.

Q: What is your position on mining in the Kivalliq?

A: While I support mining activities as it creates jobs, at the end of life for a mine, mining companies leave with billions of dollars made but do not leave a lasting legacy that will benefit our future generations. We have to make changes so the beneficiary or communities will get lasting benefit from the mining companies working on Inuit-owned lands and throughout the Kivalliq.

Q: What is your stance on Rankin Inlet’s beer and wine store and its impacts?

A: For Rankin Inlet’s beer and wine store, I cannot speak for the community, but (from) reports from RCMP and concerned citizens about the ravages of alcohol, the community would do well with either more control or shutting the store down.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I believe the KIA partnering with both the GN and federal government can do much in addressing our critical infrastructure needs. I am willing to work with the Kivalliqmiut residents to build our region. As your president, I will lead this region to another level. On Dec.11, vote Netser.

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Kono Tattuinee. Photo courtesy of Kono Tattuinee
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Samuel Alagalak. Photo courtesy of Samuel Alagalak