On the closing day of the final session of the fifth legislative assembly, the remaining MLAs took turns reflecting on their terms in office and stating their intentions to run in the Oct. 25 territorial election.
Not seeking another term will be Pauloosie Keyootak of Uqqummiut, Elisapee Sheutiapik of Iqaluit-Sinaa and Allan Rumbolt of Hudson Bay. Rumbolt was first elected in 2008, Keyootak has been serving as MLA since a 2015 byelection and Sheutiapik completed a single term. Two members had already announced their resignations prior to the final legislative session: Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu’s Pat Angnakak and Aggu’s Paul Quassa.
In his farewell address in the legislature on Sept. 16, Keyootak said spoke of the sacrifice involved in holding public office.
“When I began my leadership role my children were very young, as I believe we only had one child when I first started in Inuit politics. My children grew up with me travelling and now my children’s children are starting to have their children, I’m still travelling. We’re looking at 41 to 43 years of travelling,” he said. “I am so thankful to my wife since I have had to leave my wife many times for long periods and she is the one who reared my children. Many of you are, perhaps, in the same boat and you have to be grateful with your spouse as they have to do a lot while we are away and this provides a lot of support, for which I am grateful.”
Of the remaining MLAs, 16 said they plan to stand for re-election. They are Cathy Towtongie, Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet; Patterk Netser, Aivilik; Joelie Kaernerk, Amittuq; Adam Arreak Lightstone, Iqaluit Manirajak; Calvin Pedersen, Kugluktuk; Tony Akoak, Gjoa Haven; David Qamaniq, Tununiq; John Main, Arviat North-Whale Cove; Craig Simailak, Baker Lake; Emiliano Qirngnuq, Netsilik; Jeannie Ehaloak, Cambridge Bay; Lorne Kusugak, Rankin Inlet South; Joe Savikataaq, Arviat South; David Akeeagok, Quttiktuq; George Hickes, Iqaluit-Tasiluk; and David Joanasie, South Baffin.
Margaret Nakashuk, who represented Pangnirtung, didn’t state definitively whether she will run again.
While discussing the ups and downs of life as a politician, Kaernerk had this to offer: “As a member of the legislative assembly, it’s not easy, especially when we try to represent all of our constituents; it is challenging and difficult, and in some cases, you feel like resigning and giving up. However, I think about all of my constituents and they gave me the strength to carry on.”
The deadline for nominations for the upcoming territorial election is Friday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.