Calvin Pedersen is following in the political footsteps of his grandparents.
Pedersen is Kugluktuk’s new member of the legislative assembly, earning that title on Friday by being the sole individual to allow his name to stand in what would have been a byelection.
Becoming an MLA is something his grandmother, Lena, and grandfather, Red, both accomplished. Lena was the first woman elected to the Northwest Territories’ legislative assembly in 1970. She serve the riding then known as Central Arctic.
Red Pedersen served the constituents of Kitikmeot West in the NWT’s halls of governance for two terms, from 1983-91.
In a prepared statement, Calvin extended his gratitude to his grandparents “for everything they have done in raising their families while also paving a path for me in politics. I am extremely proud to be able to call upon both of them for guidance as I believe I am the first MLA to have both grandparents serve as MLA as well… I have some big shoes to fill!”
Among his priorities will be contending with some longstanding issues that affect Kugluktuk and numerous other Nunavut communities: mental health, housing shortages, high suicide rates, high costs of food, high costs of living, along with “many other hardships that we endure in our daily lives.”
“Right now with Covid-19 and its effects on the world, we are all learning to live in this pandemic while some struggle with the issues mentioned,” he said. “I can only hope that I can address these issues with the help of the rest of our government to ensure the safety and well-being of all Nunavutmeot.”
Calvin also acknowledged that he doesn’t have much time to get familiar with the inner-workings of territorial politics as his term begins with only about 15 months remaining until the next Nunavut-wide election.
“In this short year (I) plan to start by grasping the political position of our community and what remains from when former MLA (Mila Kamingoak) left office,” he stated. “This will take me a bit of time before I can start to be of real help and to truly represent my constituents and address their concerns. In all honesty, change takes time and this year will be the first step for me to gain further understanding of the government and for our community to plan for the next term.”