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In Kugluktuk, it was a brotherly affair in the race for mayor

There are some strong bonds among Kugluktuk's current mayor, runner-up for mayor and previous mayor.

David Audlatak Nivingalok won the mayoral race in Kugluktuk by a single vote over Darren Ihumatak, his half-brother. Nivingalok says he's determined to get a long-term care centre established in Kugluktuk, an initiative started under the previous mayor, his cousin Ryan Nivingalok. photo courtesy of David Audlatak Nivingalok

David Audlatak Nivingalok won a razor-close decision over Darren Ihumatak on Oct. 28. Nivingalok garnered 161 votes to 160 for Ihumatak.

“It's incredible how close the race was,” Nivingalok said.

He and Ihumatak not only shared the ambition of becoming mayor, they share they same father.

Nivingalok is also related to the man whose job he's taking, outgoing mayor Ryan Nivingalok is his cousin. They two were raised together, like brothers, by their mothers' parents, David said.

In addition, David and Ryan are both housing maintainers with the Kugluktuk Housing Authority. Ryan chose not to seek a third term in office, stating that he had to concentrate on his family and his health.

David resolved to step in and carry on with some of the initiatives that his Ryan and the previous council began, namely trying to achieve a long-term care centre for Kugluktuk.

“It's really sad and it's hard to see that our elders always have to leave home to be taken care of. It's 2019 and that shouldn't have to happen anymore,” David said.

While David was concluding his successful quest for the mayorship, thousands of kilometres away in Iqaluit, Health Minister George Hickes was informing his colleagues in the legislative assembly that Kugluktuk's proposal for a long-term care facility – based on fee-for-service arrangement with the GN – is still being examined.

Jobs also a priority

David said he would also like the hamlet to become a greater source of training and employment opportunities for local youth who complete high school.

There are plenty of jobs available through TMAC Resources' Hope Bay project, 125 km southwest of Cambridge Bay, but some young people are encountering a barrier to finding work there, he said.

“Everybody's testing positive for marijuana in their system and can't land those jobs,” he said. “We have to find new ideas and pathways for these (youth) to be successful and acquire these jobs, and lead a good life afterward.”

David served as a hamlet councillor several years ago. He was a vice-president with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association up until last year. He also sat as chair of the Kugluktuk Hunters and Trappers Organization in the past.

There's quite a few newly-elected members of the new hamlet council, but David said many of the newcomers possess at least board experience from other organizations.

“We'll be able to make strong and good, sound decision for the community, for the people,” he predicted.