Nunavut mayors speak to strength of residents, hamlet staff

It wasn’t all speeches, workshops and presentations at the Nunavut Association of Municipalities’ three-day annual conference this week in Iqaluit.

On Wednesday, the territory’s mayors each took a turn talking about the positive things and the challenges in their communities, with several complimenting their municipal staffs and residents while saying their hamlets lack good infrastructure.

The mayors made the comments at the Aqsarniit Hotel in Iqaluit, which hosted the conference that wrapped up Thursday.

The mayors’ comments came during a panel discussion where they were called on to list two good things and one challenge in their community.

Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said his community is known to be the friendliest in all of Nunavut.

“We hold that dearly,” he said, adding “staff at the hamlet are like a family.”

Pangnirtung Mayor Eric Lawlor said the two positive things about his community are the senior administrative officer, Jamie Evic, and the community members.

“The people. The people are — it’s the reason why I’ve stayed here for the last 20 years,” Lawlor said. “They’re welcoming, they connect with you and they love to speak up and volunteer.”

Sanirajak Mayor Jaypeetee Audlakiak said he values the support he gets from hamlet councillors and that residents are able to find work at Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River mine.

“We’re grateful as a hamlet,” Audlakiak said.

As for the one bad thing in their community, many mayors spoke about the state or lack of infrastructure.

Igloolik Mayor Erasmus Ivvalu said the community needs a garage to house its heavy machinery and fire trucks, while Clyde River Mayor Alan Cormack said his hamlet doesn’t have enough heavy machinery.

Kinngait Mayor Timoon Toonoo said his community is very friendly, but it’s difficult to maintain a workforce at the hamlet office because of a lack of staff housing.

Baker Lake Mayor Richard Aksawnee said his community struggles to get funding for infrastructure projects, mentioning the 2018 closure of Martha Taliruq Centre, an elders home, due to problems with the building and its operators.

The conference, which brought together municipal officials from around the territory, also heard from Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk and Iqaluit city councillor Paul Quassa.

On Thursday, Nunavut territorial cabinet members provided an update on their work for the municipal representatives.

David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News