Iqaluit city council will avoid call-out to find sixth new member since 2019

Iqaluit city councillors will avoid making a fourth call-out this year for a new member by asking the previous round of applicants if they are still interested in joining.

Council voted unanimously during its Tuesday meeting to ask the top three candidates from October’s call-out — when Coun. Sam Tilley replaced Joanasie Akumalik — to appear in front of council on Jan. 10 if they are still interested.

Akumalik resigned in June after he was charged with aggravated assault.

“I think we had viable candidates that presented themselves at the last call-out,” Coun. Kyle Sheppard said. “There’s no need to go to another call-out and have seven, eight people sit here and speak for an hour.”

Sheppard, who made the motion to go this route, said if only one of the top three applicants is still interested, then council could appoint that person.

The remaining candidates from October are Lili Weeman, Philip Otukol, Gabriel Ross, Swany Amarapala and Robert Bourassa.

A city spokesperson did not tell Nunatsiaq News which of these candidates will be asked back.

When council voted in October to select Tilley, it was done by secret ballot, so there was no public record of the order the other candidates finished in.

Nunavut’s chief electoral officer, Dustin Fredlund, attended Tuesday’s meeting virtually and said the option Sheppard suggested is allowed under the elections act.

“By all means, I think that’s an effective and efficient way of moving this forward,” Fredlund said.

The newest councillor will fill Solomon Awa’s seat.

Awa became mayor after Kenny Bell resigned on Oct. 18. Bell had taken a trip to Iceland to represent the city at a conference in Iceland. He was scheduled to speak on a panel Oct. 14, but didn’t show up.

Awa’s replacement will be the sixth person appointed to council since the 2019 election.

Former councillor Sheila Flaherty resigned in April to focus on her business; former councillor John Fawcett resigned late last year after announcing he and his family were leaving Iqaluit; and Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster resigned late last year after winning a seat at the Nunavut legislative assembly.

Only four original council members remain: Awa, Sheppard and councillors Romeyn Stevenson and Simon Nattaq.

David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News