Iqaluit welcomes first blind city councillor

Noah Papatsie was sworn in yesterday in the Nunavut Court of Justice.
Noah Papatsie, shown here in dark glasses, was sworn in as Iqaluit's newest city councillor at a ceremony at the Nunavut Court of Justice yesterday. (CBC)

Iqaluit has a full city council this morning, following the swearing-in of its newest member Monday afternoon. Noah Papatsie was elected to replace the late Jimmy Kilabuk, whose seat in the chambers had been vacant since his death in April.

Papatsie won the seat by 20 votes in a municipal by-election held the same day as the territorial election. Stephen Mansell came second, followed by Lewis Falkiner MacKay and Doug Cox.

“I'm really happy I'm here,” Papatsie said. “I'm surprised still. Still a little bit speechless.I'm really happy this is happening.”

Papatsie and his guide dog, Xeno.
​Papatsie is also the city's first blind councillor. His guide dog Xeno will join him for his council duties, and he’ll have a computer that reads city documents to him.

This was Papatsie’s second try at municipal politics. He ran for mayor last fall, finishing third behind Allen Hayward and current mayor John Graham, but any rivalry that election may have generated is long gone.

“I've known Noah since he was in Cadets with me in the mid-1980s,” Graham says. “And I'm really quite excited that he'll be joining us now on the ranks of the city council.”

“I think councillor Kilabuk would be really proud.”

Papatsie was sworn in at the Nunavut Court of Justice, surrounded by family and friends.

Papatsie says he’ll continue to work on the issues he campaigned on this fall, such as poverty and developing a sustainable city.

Papatsie has a bit of time to get up to speed on council matters, before his first council meeting next Tuesday evening.


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