By Stewart Burnett
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Should Jack Anawak earn the vice-president position at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in the Dec. 12 election, he wants to see Nunavut become what it was truly meant to be from the start.
“There’s only one reason Nunavut was created, or the Northwest Territories was divided into two,” said Anawak, who has a long political history, “and that’s because of the Inuit in Nunavut. So that should be the sole concern, or the major concern of Nunavut Tunngavik and the Government of Nunavut, as well as the regional organizations. There has to be a lot more coordination and a lot more cooperation between those bodies in order to ensure that Inuit get the benefit of why we pursued Nunavut in the first place.”
At the top of his campaign issues are social challenges in the territory, namely overcrowded homes. He said there is a need for mental health facilities, Elders facilities, addictions treatment centres and especially more housing.
“There’s starting to be a lot of homelessness in Nunavut,” said Anawak, who added he would like to see housing money go toward rehabilitating and repurposing old units into livable ones.
“Overcrowding causes mental anguish. Sending Elders down south causes mental anguish.”
That is the responsibility of all levels of government, he said, but NTI could better advocate for housing solutions if there were more collaboration between it and the regional Inuit organizations so that they could approach the table with one voice.
“I just think that if we are going to make Nunavut a reality the leaders dreamed of, then we need to do a lot more to better conditions for Inuit,” said Anawak, who is from Naujaat but now lives in Iqaluit.
He added that family illness and loss has interrupted much of his campaigning, but he’s still in the running for the position to replace longtime vice-president James Eetoolook, as are Clayton Tartak, Paul Irngaut and Jacopoosie Peter.
Stewart Burnett is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with KIVALLIQ NEWS, The LJI program is federally funded.