The four candidates here are all locals, all vying to be the first to represent this new constituency.
Tony Akoak, 55, recently returned to Gjoa Haven after 19 years in Taloyoak where he worked as an observer/ communicator at the airport. He’s now the office manager for the Legal Services Board of Nunavut (one of the few government jobs based here as a result of decentralization). Akoak also spent several years working for the Gjoa Haven co-op.
Akoak has never run for election before, but according to him, “you don’t need to be in politics to see where things need to be improved in a community.” He says over the last two years, several people have approached him about running for office. “I told them I’ve never been ready but this year I think I am.”
Akoak says he’s living in Gjoa Haven as an honest, respectable person and that he’d like to represent people of all ages, from babies to elders. As for election issues, he says he sees the same old issues every year, now it’s time to try to find some funding to tackle them.
From 1990 to 1995, and again since 2008, Linda Hunter, 42, has been doing her “dream job” as a community social worker. Before that, she was the district education authority secretary and worked at income support in Gjoa Haven and in Igloolik.
Hunter sits on various councils: she’s the vice-chair of the DEA, chair for the Gjoa Haven health committee, a former regional vice-president for the Nunavut Employees Union and president for the NEU’s Nunavut Area Council. She’s also a director at the local daycare.
Hunter says she’s running because she sees “the day-to-day problems and the realities of life for the people of Gjoa Haven.” If elected, she’ll focus on getting more Inuit into social service roles. She’s also concerned about a lack of mental health services, overcrowding, and fair access to housing across Nunavut. And she’d like to see a local homeless shelter, women’s shelter and a group home for young and older people, so they’re not sent out of the community.
(Editor's note: On October 10th, Andrew Porter announced to Gjoa Haven that he was withdrawing on local radio. "This was the most difficult choice I had to make," he said. His name will still be on the ballot, however, because it's too late to officially withdraw.)
Andrew Porter, 40, was one of the first high school graduates to earn his diploma in Cambridge Bay (previously, students went to Yellowknife for high school). After that, he studied electrical theory at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.
He went on to work in several jobs, from construction in the 1990s to power line work for the NWT government, assistant office manager of the local co-op and local taxi driver. He even ran a small coffee shop, the Northwest Passage Express Cafe, and he runs his own dog team.
Porter says the number one election issue for him is housing. He blames overcrowding for many of Nunavut social ills, from fighting and violence to kids not being able to concentrate in school and even suicide. “It’s all, I believe, due to a lack of space and freedom,” Porter says. He also wants to see more jobs, and more solutions for high school graduates today who are walking the streets without jobs.
George Sonny Porter
Outside of a short stint in Alberta as a kid, George Porter, 53, has spent most of his life in Gjoa Haven. He’s unemployed right now, but in the past he worked on short range radar sites, as a recreation co-ordinator, as CARS operator at the airport and as a sport hunting guide.
Porter says he’s running in this election to make a difference in his community. With 16 grandchildren, he says he wants to make a better life for future generations.
Porter went to Morrisburg, Ont., to get his air brakes and his loader ticket, but he thinks it’s a shame that people need to leave Nunavut to learn these skills. But he says housing is the biggest issue. He’s also concerned about culture, tourism, social programs and airports. “But housing is the main one.”