Nunavut premier's community hopes to feel more included
Some people in western region of Nunavut feel alienated from rest of territory
For the first time in Nunavut's history, the territory's premier hails from the Kitikmeot region, from Kugluktuk.
Sitting along the far west end of the Northwest Passage, Kugluktuk is only 55 kilometres from the Northwest Territories border, but more than 2,000 kilometres from Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital.
That vast distance has left some of the 1,500 people in the hamlet feeling a sense of western alienation.
"We're the most western community in Nunavut and we sort of kind of get left out," said resident Connie Pangon.
'Shouldn't be feeling alienated': Premier
"Sometimes we feel like the tail on Nunavut, but now we've got somebody from our community [in the west] who has a very important position in the far end of Nunavut out in the east," said resident Sven Kerkovius.
Peter Taptuna was sworn in as premier of Nunavut mid-November after he was elected as Kugluktuk's MLA.
"They shouldn't be feeling alienated," Taptuna said. "We do have myself as premier and two other cabinet ministers from the Kitikmeot."
The issues facing Kugluktuk are not that different from those that plague other regions — education, employment and housing — and some residents hope those issues will be addressed now that their MLA is in the premier's seat.
"I think it was time we had representation — i.e. the premier part of it — from our area," said Donald Leblanc, senior administrative officer for the hamlet.
"He's a very approachable individual, so I'm sure he'll benefit us from the aspect that, if there is something we need, we can go to talk to somebody that can help us."