Nunavut separated from the NWT to better look after its own interests and, two decades later, the Kitikmeot region should consider doing the same.
That’s the viewpoint of Charlie Lyall, an entrepreneur and former Kitikmeot Inuit Association president from Taloyoak.
“We’re always treated as a poor cousin,” Lyall says, offering the Republic of Kitikmeot as a possible remedy.
He suggests that he’s not alone in thinking that way.
“There’s always rumblings of it,” he says. “Everybody says when Yellowknife was our capital, we got better treatment. Of course, we’re closer to Yellowknife than we are to Iqaluit.”
He’s critical of elected officials who don’t put the regions on equal footing.
“You hear politicians talk about (how) we’re going to be fair to everybody, but everybody only includes the Baffin and Kivalliq, I think,” he said. “Housing is a huge issue here. Mental health is a huge issue. We need somebody to step up to the plate and say, OK, let’s get this work done right. Right now we don’t have that, obviously.”
Lyall cites an instance when a new health centre was postponed in the Kitikmeot for a couple of years while a similar facility went ahead in the Kivalliq.
“Things like this are constantly happening,” he says.
He was prepared to give the Government of Nunavut credit for its progress on advancing the use of the Inuit language, right up until the last sitting of the legislative assembly.
Earlier this month, Nunavut’s ministers and MLAs voted to pass the Interim Language of Instruction Act, which delays making Inuktut instruction mandatory in grades 4 to 12, which was previously scheduled to happen as of this year.
“It seemed like Inuktitut was going to be the universal language of Nunavut, but apparently not,” says Lyall. “We need the politicians to start being in charge, not the bureaucrats.”
He was in Iqaluit when division occurred in 1999. He remembers a “huge air of anticipation.”
“I think everybody was expecting that things were going to get fixed and things were going to get better overnight,” he says. “That seemed, at that time, to be the feeling.
“And, as we all know, it came to a grinding halt right after that.”