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Questions and answers with Kivalliq Inuit Association presidential candidate

David Kuksuk weighs in
David Kuksuk is one of five candidates running for president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association. Photo courtesy of David Kuksuk

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

Kivalliq News sent a questionnaire to all five. Samuel Alagalak, Kono Tattuinee and Patterk Netser’s responses were included in the Nov. 29 edition of Kivalliq News. Ross Tatty acknowledged receipt of the questions but has not yet sent answers. David Kuksuk’s answers are below.

The responses have been edited for clarity and grammar but otherwise left unchanged.

David Kuksuk

Q: Please list your name, age, home community and any relevant work or political experience.

A: David Kuksuk, 53 from Arviat. I have been with KIA for nine years: two three-year terms as community director and the past three years as vice-president.

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

A: If elected, my main priorities would be to push the Government of Nunavut to get a boarding home in Rankin Inlet, not only for patients going there for appointments but also for the patients who get stranded going to or from Winnipeg/Iqaluit.

We have one airline, which needs to consider adding planes to its fleet to keep up with demand, or look elsewhere and encourage other airlines to fly in our region. Although housing falls under the VP portfolio, I would help with the knowledge that I have gained during my term as VP. From my term as VP these are my main priorities, but of course I would go to each community and find out what they consider priorities.

Q: What are the biggest challenges the KIA faces?

A: Challenges regarding the boarding home and the housing crisis is that these (issues) are under the GN. In my experience, KIA met with GN ministers once a year except for my entire term as VP we didn’t meet at all. I would be persistent about meeting with GN, hamlet councils, HTOs at least twice a year and working closer with them.

Q: What can the KIA do better?

A: KIA can be more supportive of all Kivalliq communities, communicate with all the Kivalliq, revisit the best ways to run programs and disperse funds.

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

A: For the time that I have served as director and VP for KIA, I haven’t seen much of an increase in the number of Inuit employed at the mines. Today it is at 18 per cent. It needs to be much higher than that and Inuit should be trained to do whatever may interest them while employed there. In the past, I have met with the HTO regarding windmills that the mine wanted to put up and it was decided not to allow the mine to do so. This was in the interest of the HTO and locals closest to the mine. Mines do provide employment to many but in my eyes, not enough for what they gain.

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

A: During my term as VP, housing and infrastructure was my portfolio. I was pleased that KIA was approved for $14 million towards housing and infrastructure and another $75 million to be given by 2027 from the federal government to NTI, who then put it to KIA. KIA would have to keep pushing the federal government.

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

A: I feel that a rehabilitation facility and a safe shelter should have been in place and ready for anyone who may need it at the time of the beer and wine store opening.

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: Because I myself have been stranded in Rankin Inlet or sat at the terminal for hours, I would definitely advocate for a boarding home and also for transportation to and from the boarding home. Not everyone has a place to stay when there are no hotels available, and being stranded is unacceptable.

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

A: I would like to add that a plan was put in place to grow the legacy fund to $100 million and once reached then the president would visit each town and hear what their priorities are. This has been the plan and now it has reached its goal; therefore, the newly-elected president will do as planned years ago.