While Grade 9 students at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat have learned enough about the voting process in Nunavut and abroad to be batting a thousand with elections, they’re yet to pick a winning candidate.
Over the past four years, the Naujaat students have held mock territorial and federal elections, and even cast votes for the U.S. presidential race, where they overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton.
Candidates Jack Anawak and Patterk Netser both spoke to the students this year, and although the Grade 9 class backed Netser of Coral Harbour, the majority of the student body went with the local candidate, Anawak.
Grade 9 teacher Lloyd Francis said the candidates discussed the need for more youth infrastructure with the students.
“Patterk (Netser) talked to the kids about possibly placing a turf in the arena during the summer months,” said Francis.
“He said the turf is a relatively inexpensive project that would open the arena to other sports and activities in the summer. The students really seemed to like that idea, but they had a number of other issues they wanted to discuss.
“They wanted to hear the candidates’ ideas on how to lower food prices in Naujaat and provide more housing.”
When all was said and done, the students grilled Anawak and Netser on housing, food and recreation during their visit.
Francis said Anawak and Netser seemed somewhat impressed with the issues the students wanted to discuss, and their knowledge on each topic.
He said both men probably earned themselves some votes among the senior students during their visit.
“I had a well-informed group of Grade 9 students leading up to the territorial election this past month, and those students who worked the polling station in our student election really enjoyed the experience,” Francis said.
“The final tally had Anawak winning 55 to 52, but the exercise is about learning the system, making sure you vote and doing so as an informed voter by following the issues and listening to the candidates.
“If the candidate you vote for wins, great, but with the relatively low number of eligible voters in each Nunavut riding, and about 60 per cent of eligible voters actually voting, every vote is important.”