New Iqaluit Councillors speak up about expectations and goals

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As mayor of Iqaluit, Kenneth Bell has some expectations from his council. He expects his counsellors to represent Iqaluit and come prepared to meetings. By this he is referring to reading documents and showing up on time for sessions.

“I expect people to show up, ready and prepared. I think this group is going to do that. I see a great group in front of me, so we’re hoping for big things,” said Bell.

But what goals have the councillors set for themselves? And, what do councillors expect from their new mayor? To find out, Nunavut News sat down with some of the council members.

Counsellor Romeyn Stevenson works as a Manager at Q-STEP.
Rajnesh Sharma / NNSL photo

Romeyn Stevenson

Romeyn Stevenson has been serving on the Iqaluit city council since 2009. Stevenson chose to run for council again because he believes he would be a helpful addition due to his experience.

“There were a lot of things, ‘unfinished business’, that we’ve been working on that I feel like I can be helpful in guiding this council,” said Stevenson.

More specifically, the experienced councillor is “excited” about completing the waste management solutions for the city. Within the four year term, he also hopes to see a solution decided upon for the city’s water crisis.

“We need federal support to really solve the water crisis,” he said.

Councillor Stevenson expects mayor Bell will keep the interests of Iqaluit known at the federal level of government, in addition to the Nunavut government.

“I expect the mayor to be an excellent leader who will spend a significant amount of time making sure that the city has a high profile within the government of Nunavut. And, making sure that our federal counterparts know what we need here in Iqaluit.”

Counsellor Malaiya Lucassie poses with her son, Ryder Patiq Lucassie at the reception.
Rajnesh Sharma / NNSL photo

Malaiya Lucassie

This is Malaiya Lucassie’s first term as a city councillor. She has “always” wanted to help her community by being a voice for the people.

“My passion is to help people, the community and be the voice of some people who are scared to voice their concerns,” said Lucassie.

Her first priority is to help those who have lost a loved one by addressing the issues surrounding graveyards and the cost of burials.

“The graveyard is completely a big mess. During the summer they have to pump out the water from the grave before they put in the body to bury.”

Also Lucassie explains, while people are grieving, they are stressing about how to come up with enough money to bury their dead. The undertaker will refuse to bury a dead person until payment is made, according to Lucassie.

“So they’re grieving but on top of that, they’re stressed out about making seven grand in two or three days,” said Lucassie.

Lucassie did not state exactly how she hopes to deal with the graveyard and money issues.

When asked about her expectation of the new mayor, she responded, “I expect he’s going to give us great results and hope for a great change.”

Counsellor Joanasie Akumalik is a proud grandfather and NTI Project Manager.
Rajnesh Sharma / NNSL photo

Joanasie Akumalik

Joanasie Akumalik is entering his fourth term on the city council. He already has 10 years of experience under his belt.

Akumalik decided to run for council again due to the encouragement and support of the people. He hopes to tackle the issues about transparency and communication.

He wants the council to be more open with residents, businesses and community about policies and by-laws. Establishing good communication with the public is important to Akumalik.

“We need to be more public,” said Akumalik.

The counsellor also wants to deal with issues concerning the cemetery.

“There’s been a lot of complaints, issues and concerns about the cemetery.”

Akumalik, who has worked with Bell before, recognizes that the new mayor is familiar with the community.

“So my expectations of him (mayor Bell) is that he guides us very well,” said Akumalik.

Counsellor Kyle Sheppard is a Commercial Account Manager at RBC.

Kyle Sheppard

Kyle Sheppard has been serving as a city councillor since April in 2017. Within the past two and half years, he believes a lot has been accomplished but yet knows that more needs to be done. For Sheppard, Iqaluit’s water issue is top priority.

“Our water issue is the first one right now that has to be dealt with before we can deal with a lot of the other issues,” said Sheppard.

The other issues that concern Sheppard are housing, infrastructure and transportation.

“I think we need a public transportation option.”

According to the councillor, specifically what kind of public transportation remains to be seen.

The important thing explains Sheppard is, “we need to do the work to determine what that (transportation) is and provide options for residents.”

Sheppard is “excited” to work with mayor Bell.

“I think he’s going to work very hard. He’s going to represent the city well going forward,” he said.

Councillor Sheppard is also optimistic about Iqaluit’s progress over the next four years.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of good things coming in the next four years.”

Counsellor Janet Brewster is an Executive Director at NACA.
Rajnesh Sharma / NNSL photo

Janet Brewster

Janet Brewster originally wanted to run for the Iqaluit District Education Authority, but instead opted to run for council.

“I was asked by a number of people to put my name forward for city council,” said Brewster.

“After talking to my mom, we agreed that with all my experience, it would be a good use of my knowledge and time.”

This will be Brewster’s first term in municipal politics.

Brewster explains that she has familiarized herself with strategic plan and has had a lot of conversations with people during the campaign period. She is now interested in hearing from the city’s administrative team.

“What I’m most interested in is getting a really good understanding of what the issues that city staff want us to focus on,” she said.

Brewster’s expectation of mayor Bell is that “he ensures that there’s good governance.” She believes the key to success is being organized, focused, and welcoming diverse views.