Filling board positions can be a challenge in Nunavut: there's a lot of them — from land-use boards to social-service boards to festival boards — and only so many people to go around.

"Sometimes it's kind of difficult to select somebody — for instance, if we ask for three positions and we only get one name," said Joe Attagutaluk, secretary-treasurer for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

He's used to recruiting people to serve on boards established by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement such as the Nunavut Planning Commission.


Janet Brewster of Iqaluit serves on five boards, including that of the Oqota men's shelter. (CBC)

QIA has 19 people on its own board and is currently recruiting Baffin beneficiaries to fill 23 other Nunavut board positions.

Attagutaluk said getting lots of candidates, and then managing board members, can also be challenging.

"We have so many different other things that, we (can) kind of overlook our papers — 'Uh oh, your time is up!' — and we have to call for nominations again."

Still, the whole system, like Nunavut, is relatively new and Janet Brewster appreciates that. She serves on five boards, including the Oqota men's shelter in Iqaluit, and understands challenges such as finding time to serve on boards, dealing with board members moving away, making sure enough board members attend meetings and being accountable to funders.

"You know, while there are challenges, there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers in Iqaluit alone that are doing really, really good work," she said.

Brewster praised groups such as the Qulliq Status of Women Council, who teach people how to serve on boards and run organizations.

David Wilman, chair of the Nunavut Liquor Licensing Board, said the nine-member board has had difficulty getting balanced regional, gender and ethnic representation.

In terms of dealing with weather and sickness and getting enough board members together to achieve quorum, he said the board has used teleconferencing.

Then there are challenges like the learning curve for new members and losing knowledge when members leave.

"We've written to the minister making recommendations in the past to do various things," he said.

"One is to lengthen the term of appointment to a minimum of three years, and another is to stagger appointments so that not everybody is appointed at the same time. And we've managed to get some of that built into the system now, so that we have a bit more longevity."