Nunakput MLA may leave post if elected Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada president

Nunakput MLA may leave post if elected Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada president

The MLA for Nunakput is seeking work elsewhere.

Herb Nakimayak, MLA for Nunakput and current vice-president of Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada (ICC), has been nominated for the position of ICC president.

ICC chair Okalik Eegeesiak and Monica Ell-Kanayuk, who has served as a politician in the Nunavut Legislature, are also vying for the position.

Nakimayak said he isn't sure what he will do if he is elected to hold the position.

"When it comes to that point in time I would have to make that decision then," he said.

It is unclear if Nakimayak would try to continue acting as MLA for Nunakput if he was elected. Nakimayak could continue serving as an MLA if he became ICC president, according to Danielle Mager, public affairs manager at the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly.

"I have a little bit of time to think about it and see what the possibilities are," he said. 

Nakimayak said the job of ICC president would require more of a time commitment than his current role as vice-president.

MLA absent at N.W.T. meetings

In March, CBC reported Nakimayak missed 15 N.W.T. government meetings between Oct. 17, 2017 and Feb. 6, 2018 because of his position as ICC vice-president.

At the time, Nakimayak said this was because of his work signing onto a ban on commercial fishing in the High Arctic.

Nakimayak said if he won the presidency he would like to do more work on this agreement, and have Canada take on the lead scientific research associated with this project.

Nakimayak was also controversial in 2016, when he started living in Yellowknife. His home community is Paulatuk and his constituency includes Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, and Tuktoyaktuk.

MLA 'addressing all our issues,' says Sachs Harbour mayor

Sachs Harbour Mayor Betty Haogak said she's fine with Nakimayak running to become president of ICC.

"He probably visits twice or three times a year for us and I don't know if that's keeping him too busy," she said. "He's been addressing all our issues in our community."

She said she would like Nakimayak to continue being the MLA for Nunakput, even if he gets the presidency.

"It's the first time we've had someone in a long time to speak up for our region," said Haogak.

Paulatuk Mayor Raymond Ruben said Nakimayak has visited the community more often than past MLAs, because it's Nakimayak's home community.

"There are issues that I guess that northerners across Canada are dealing with … I guess his [priority] is dealing with those issues more nationally than in the territories," said Ruben.

The ICC election will be held in Alaska on July 15.