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Karen Nutarak to fill vacant Nunavut cabinet seat

Tununiq MLA Karen Nutarak, pictured in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly in March 2024. (Nick Murray/CBC News - image credit)
Tununiq MLA Karen Nutarak, pictured in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly in March 2024. (Nick Murray/CBC News - image credit)

Tununiq MLA Karen Nutarak will be the next member of Nunavut's cabinet.

Her appointment will be made official Monday when the motion is brought to the floor of the Legislative Assembly. Notice was given Friday the motion would be presented.

The rookie MLA from Pond Inlet was selected by her colleagues Thursday at a full caucus meeting. She was the only MLA to express interest, sources say.

"I'm excited," Nutarak told CBC News Friday. "I've been thinking about it for quite some time, and we have five more sittings left and it's a good opportunity to learn the operations of the government."

Nutarak's experience before becoming an MLA extends from education work to tourism, according to her profile on the Legislative Assembly's site. She cofounded the Pirurvik Preschool in Pond Inlet and previously worked as an adult educator with the Nunavut government. She also owns a tourism business.

Nuratak joins a cabinet that has seen the resignation of four ministers since the leadership forum in 2021. When MLAs needed to select two new cabinet ministers in September 2023 after the resignations of Craig Simailak and Joanna Quassa, four MLAs were nominated — though one rejected the nomination. Nutarak wasn't nominated.

Notably, Nutarak's predecessor Joe Enook — who died in 2019 after serving in the legislature since 2011 — consciously avoided a cabinet posting in his eight years in office, according to friends who spoke following his death, because they said Enook feared it would distract him from representing the needs of his constituents.

"What I've learned from Joe is you have to try," Nutarak said. "You have to try new things and experiences. Inuit are capable."

Nutarak said she will meet with Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok in the coming days to discuss portfolios. She declined to comment on what portfolios might suit her, pending her meeting.