In Nunavut politics, a new generation of young blood
In 1999, Paul Okalik became Canada’s youngest ever premier when he was elected premier of Nunavut at age 34. But since then, many have lamented the fact that few young people seem to enter politics.
Now that seems to be changing.
In the municipal election on Monday, 18-year-old Scott Sammortok's name was on the ballot in Chesterfield Inlet.
He says he was nervous, then shocked, when he won a seat as a hamlet councillor.
“Youth here need a representative for what should be happening in this community,” Sammortok says, “and that's an important role to me because growing up here in Chester there wasn't a lot of activities. Hopefully I can help the youth to get more programs, activities and after school activities going.”
“We shouldn't be afraid to be disappointed or be defeated in an election- Tommy Akalukjuk
Tommy Akulukjuk of Pangnirtung just turned 31. On Monday, he was elected as the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's community director.
“We are so used to the older generation always being involved in politics and it doesn't mean that it's only their job.”
Akulukjuk thinks more young people should take the plunge.
“We shouldn't be afraid to be disappointed or be defeated in an election,” he says. “I think that is the biggest hurdle that young people have is being afraid of failure."
Simeon Dion says it was an elder who encouraged him to take the leap into politics.
This week, the 29-year old was elected as the mayor of Coral Harbour.
In October, David Joanasie was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for South Baffin.
Just 30 years old, he's the youngest MLA in Nunavut's history.
"There are different ways you can be a part of decision making process,” Joanasie says. “I encourage people to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves."
All of the young politicians hope more youth in Nunavut will look to politics as a way to have a say in what happens in the territory.