Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated benefits all Inuit, all Inuit should be invested in who will lead the organization
The issue: NTI election
We say: Make your voice heard
Starting Dec. 7, Nunavummiut aged 16 or older as of Dec. 14 that are enrolled under the Nunavut Agreement can vote – in advance polls – in the leadership race for Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI).
Dec. 14 is the official date set for the election, but there are four other ways to vote: in-person, by mobile poll, proxy vote or mail-in ballot.
Whether you support incumbent Aluki Kotierk or challenger Andrew Nakashuk, it is clear that all Inuit beneficiaries should be invested in having their say on who leads the conversations and makes the big decisions on where the nearly $2-billion Nunavut Trust is invested.
As the body that “co-ordinates and manages Inuit responsibilities set out in the Nunavut Agreement and ensures that the federal and territorial governments fulfill their obligations,” per their mission statement, NTI fulfills a vital role in the territory.
It is an organization that leads the charge on a multitude of issues: culture and language rights, setting policy and advocating for Inuit health, economic development and managing the impacts of those developments on the environment, not to mention the elephant in the room – housing.
Ensuring that all Inuit have access to services and education in Inuktut is one piece of the puzzle and it is an important act of reconciliation. With the Government of Nunavut’s recent passing of Bill 25, it will be up to NTI to continue to work with governments and Nunavut Arctic College to build capacity in Inuktut-fluent teachers, especially when one considers “every year Nunavut loses approximately 35 per cent of its teachers and almost 50 per cent of its administrators,” according to John Fanjoy, president of the Nunavut Teachers Association.
NTI’s Nunavut Infrastructure Gap Report released in October pointed out the interconnection of social issues facing the territory. It’s a tough job to balance the needs of so many when it seems the need only grows with every dollar promised to address a problem.
The core issues of housing and food security require creative thinking and endless lobbying. The individual elected to this office will need to have the stamina to push for Nunavummiut’s needs to be met, to help Nunavut move from surviving to thriving.
Many beneficiaries are asking NTI to take a more active role in the housing crisis. Former Housing minister Patterk Netser advocated for it in June 2019, saying “I voted for Nunavut too and those of us who are beneficiaries of Nunavut are a part of the people who are experiencing a housing shortage.”
Others, such as MLA Cathy Towtongie – a former NTI president herself – cautioned against dipping into the trust fund, worried it may set a precedent NTI may not be able to keep up with when Nunavut’s high birth rates are taken into account, adding “I am inclined to say the Government of Canada should step up.”
Perhaps NTI could find a middle ground by providing greater funding toward training opportunities in construction and related trades. Building capacity and training Inuit to fill more of these roles in their homeland will only make for a stronger and more self-reliant Nunavut.
Regardless of who you cast your ballot for, be sure to vote. Better still, engage your leaders and make sure they’re doing the work that you’ve elected them to do.